Why don’t women like when their spouses ask, “what can I help you with?” after a meal, or after having guests over to the house? Such a simple question comes with complex answers to be discussed. This makes women feel as though these tasks are only her job, and he is just a helping hand. Taking out the trash, refilling the dog’s water bowl, washing the dirty dishes in the sink, wiping down the counters, cleaning the floor, etc. All of these tasks have been predominantly thrown onto just women, specifically mothers.
Dad’s across the world get praised for being ‘the best fathers’ or even looked at as a single dad who’s doing ‘the best they can in their situation,’ when they are literally just holding their babies, or taking them on walks in a stroller, or even through a drive thru. In a recent TikTok I saw, a dad had his child in a baby carrier and was holding them while doing things around this house. He ordered groceries to be delivered to his house, and the instacart worker said, “Oh my gosh you’re such a good dad.” How does a dad holding his baby qualify him as an ‘amazing father’? If the roles were reversed, the instacart worker would have never said anything like that to the mother.
Traditionally, the mother was the nurturing one and the caregiver who interacted with the kids all day, and the father was the primary financial provider, the one who disciplined the kids, and decision-maker whose word went ‘unquestioned.’ These norms need to be reversed and have been throughout the course of many years and even decades. The traditional way of parental roles started so long ago when the world was a completely different place. This was a world where women married men to gain property rights or even move up in social status. At this point, wives did not have any legal identity, as the wife and husband were considered one entity under a condition called coverture. This was also around the time of many wars, including World War I and World War II. During these times, the husbands and men were getting drafted to fight in the wars, meaning the wives had no choice but to take on the nurturing, caregiving role in parenting.
Obviously, times have changed drastically in how America even views marriage, let alone parental roles in the household. Dads and moms are becoming equal partners in the lives and development of their kids. Both parents caring equally for their children is how the family should operate, especially since it’s now 2022.
So going back to the question, why don’t women like when their spouses ask, “what can I help you with?” Small changes within households can make this question not feel like men are putting these tasks solely onto you. Personally, a rule in my household that my parents stand by is if there is absolutely anything that can be done or any task around the house that needs completed, such as taking out the trash, cleaning anything in the house, or even putting water in the dog bowl, then the question, ‘what can I help you with?’ is not allowed to be asked. As soon as everything is done, then the question is allowed to be asked, so it doesn’t come off as derogatory. That rule also stands for everyone in the house, including me as the child. Implementing these small ‘rules’ to live by can help men and everyone else to see the norms within the household are changing, as women have full-time jobs now just like men do.