The Family Memoir
Distribution of household work in different families varies from one family to another. After being brought up in a family of four with my sister, everything looked simple. Duties were distributed equally among the three; mum, dad and my elder sister. Mum and the elder sister took the largest percentage of the household chores, while dad took the rest. Mostly mum and my elder sister shared the household duties on a 50-50 basis until her marriage. Due to my tender age, I had no duties to perform, until I was six years old. At the age of six, my sister got married; therefore, I was introduced into household chores and manly duties. Mum showed me the ways to handle the female duties, while dad taught me the manly duties. I admit that household duties take the largest percentage among all duties.
The most valued thing in our family is having meals together as a family. We must take at least two meals in a day together, which are mostly breakfasts and dinners. This helps to bring our family together and to keep us in harmony with each other. My dad and I always help mom in preparing the meals, which we enjoy working together on. Just like in our family, mealtimes can be the best moments in all families; especially, when prepared together by the family members. My parents argued that by performing household duties, we developed a sense of responsibility, and that it has built our character. According to Goldscheider and Weite (2007), our experiences during childhood play a very important role in the families that we later form on our own. Boys tend to feel uncomfortable performing female duties, even as they become adults with their own homes to take care of (Carrington, 2008).
The number of duties performed by children in rural and urban areas differs with a very large percentage. It is evident that the number of duties reduces among those living in the urban areas, because they are only subjected to the household chores, unlike those living in the rural areas that do duties on the farm. According to Devault (2008), the childhood socialization helps to reproduce sex segregation of household duties among husbands and wives; hence, called the family “gender factory”. Children’s duties in women-headed families tend to be higher, because these women are the bread winners; hence, they have more duties to perform, as compared to those in a marriage, and in the long run they subject their children to more household chores.
Some women prefer to do the cooking without the help of other family members, because they are aware of the majority cooking rules. In our family I tend to enjoy more the food made by mum. Though duties are shared among the family members, there are those performed perfectly by a certain gender. Mum and my sister made the most delicious food, while dad perfected in duties, such as repair and taking care of the lawn. Also for those families living along the sea, the men are the best sea hunters, and the household duties are preserved for the female population.
Children exposures vary in different types of families, such as those in complete families with their biological mothers and fathers, step families, and single mother families. Those in step families or with one step parent, such as my sister, are subjected to more and different duties. This happens because they come across the duties that were not in the other set of family, and are subjected to others, such as babysitting. My sister, for example, was added the duty of babysitting me until she got married and moved out of our house.
Men and women view sharing of duties from the different perspectives. Men view this as a way of spending leisure time together, while women view this as responsibility and leisure. My mother was always saying that she was involving us in the household chores in order to make us responsible in future or even in our own families. Dad made me think that it was quite enjoyable working together at home. Duties at home changed with time because I had to be more involved in manly duties like dad, and mum would do more of the household duties alone. The duties that I have been performing at home have made me to be a responsible person, just the way mum wanted.
Though most families try to share their duties equally, very few are successful in this. According to Daly (1996), women in most families continue to put their families before their paid jobs and take responsibility for housework and childcare. There are conflicts in many families due to the issue of duty sharing. Women generally tend to perform more duties no matter whether they are in a marriage or single mothers. Those in marriages tend to perform more duties than the single mothers, because of the differences in careers, where men’s careers are lucrative; hence, the women are left to take care of the home. According to Glenn (2007), the expectations of men’s entitlement to service from women are powerful in most families; these expectations often thwart attempts to construct truly equitable relationships and sometimes even lead to violence.
When it comes to the food preparation, even those men, who help their wives, always take directions from their wives. Some men refer to women as to being organized in that domain of food preparation; therefore, must take orders from them. More conflicts are witnessed in the families, where the husband was brought up in a family, where the boys were introduced into manly duties and girls helped their mothers with housework. It is very difficult for a man, who performed the manly duties in his childhood, to help his wife in performing household chores. My father was brought up in a family, where everybody would do a certain duty, whether it was a male or female one; hence, he has no problem in assisting my mother in performing household chores. Careers also tend to affect the participation of husbands in the household duties. Those men, whose careers are supervisory, tend to have problems with helping their wives, because some tend to supervise rather than help, hence, causing more conflicts.
The sources of income in the different families affect the distribution of duties among the parents. Families with single or dual income have a different way, which they share their household chores in. In a housewife situation, the wife does all the household duties, while the husband becomes the income earner. In such a situation, the wife does not complain or want to be assisted in performing the household duties, unless the husband does it willingly. The wife is left alone at home in the morning doing cleaning and cooking, and in this case leisure is evident, when the husband decides to help their wives at home, for example, during weekends.
Families with dual income from both husband and wife often conflict, when it comes to the duty sharing. In this case, the wife feels that the husband should assist her in their household chores, while the husband feels that the wife should do it on her own and that male careers are lucrative. In this case, the children might be subjected to more household duties, because their parents are conflicting over the same duties. The parents are then supposed to agree on the way the duties are to be performed without overworking their children. Children, especially the stepchildren, tend to suffer a lot in such situations, since they have to babysit their younger sisters and brothers. My parents were able to overcome this because they agreed on the way the duties were to be performed without conflicts or overloading one person or a certain gender. Children brought up in such a family with conflicts might grow up responsible or hating the household chores. To ensure that the children have grown up responsible, it is important for the parents to define their duties according to the gender in a family consisting of both boys and girls.
Most men view families as a woman thing; hence, evasion from the duties at home. As noted by Beuku (2000), despite feminist analyses that discredit the home as a safe place for women, the myth is still deeply entrenched into very many cultures. A family is a very important entity in the issues such as accountability and responsibility for the young children, so that they can reciprocate them to their families when they get married. My sister is now very responsible in her marriage and educated well enough how to raise her children. A family develops character for the different family members and can either be good or bad. Men, in my opinion, should not just ignore housework and leave it for the women and girls alone. They should engage themselves into family activities as a way of helping out; in the long run, all the duties are performed without overloading a certain gender of people.
Culture is another problem in the issue of duty sharing, especially in the traditional families, where a home was a woman’s thing. In many of these families the husband was the breadwinner, while the wife performed all duties at home. Children, especially girls, brought up in such a family setting are very responsible at their homes, because their mothers ensured that they were aware of all the duties that a woman should do at home, so as to satisfy their husbands. Today the modern family has overcome this cultural effect, where the wives and girls are subjected to all the housework.
Apprenticeship was very important in these families, and members came out very responsible and accountable. Wives from such families ensure that they do much of the cooking and cleaning of the house and are only assisted by the girls, while the boys assist their fathers. Though apprenticeship is still being practiced in the modern families, some duties are not defined, and children are introduced into all the duties no matter whether they are male or female ones. In my family, for example, I was introduced to all the duties, including the female ones, such as cooking, by mum. Out of it I feel comfortable to assist my wife after marriage, just like my dad does.
As Thackeray noted (1990), family time encompasses a wide spectrum of activities and has a strong flavor of sentimentality that is rooted in notions of togetherness, intensive interaction and pride. The traditional families used occasions, such as Christmas, to go visiting friends, but today’s families have made such occasions a family thing, where they spend time together. Though the modern families are trying hard to spend time together, certain careers are still not allowing it. During this family time, the family members are supposed to do the household chores together and not just supervising some of the family members. Sharing duties during such times becomes enjoyable and brings the family members together.
Technology has assisted many families in coming together; for example, those that watch TV together, in comparison to others, who do not share this activity. Heavy viewers spend more time with their families than the light viewers (Daly, 1996). Though watching involves actually looking at the TV set, there is a feeling of togetherness among the family members. Family time differs from sleeping, sharing meals, housework, shopping, personal care, and recreation time. Gaming is another thing, which has helped families to come together. An example is the indoor games, such as table tennis.
Family members are quite often engaged in qualitatively different activities during these times. Leisure time spent by families can be constrained, scheduled, informal, or preferred, and also shared or individual (Devault, 2008). In our family leisure time was shared, and everybody was expected to participate. Every time my parents tried to maximize the amount of time they spend with us. My parent used this time to guide and teach us concerning certain responsibilities. This has made us responsible and accountable; hence, my parents trust that we can do many duties without supervision now. My sister, on the other side, is still happily married and is able to take care and control her family just like my mother does to our family.
In conclusion, a family is the basic social unit, where behaviors and responsibilities are nurtured. Parents teach their children to be responsible through giving them certain responsibilities, such as housework. Sometimes children do not always enjoy the housework but it makes them responsible in the long run. Men view sharing responsibilities as leisure, while women view it as responsibility and leisure. Families should maximize the time that they spend together, so as to nurture the behavior of the children. In addition, parents should avoid using abusive language in the presence of their children, because they are very good learners and can adapt fully to what their parents are doing.
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