Our research confirmed that us women believe that we do the lion’s share of the household and parenting chores. And when men do chores, we don’t think they do them all that well. Initially, I took this data to be unequivocal proof that I am hard done by. As a mother, it’s harder for me to advance my career, I do more housework, I do more of the no-fun drudgery jobs of parenting. I see chores men never knew existed such as cleaning of skirting boards and cutting of offspring’s toe nails. I am Inbetweener woman, hear me moan!
But then I started to think about the generational change - how far Inbetweener man has evolved from his father’s generation. If your point of comparison is between the sexes, then Inbetween man is a bit of a loafer. If however, you compare across the generations, he becomes a bit of a legend. Chances are he grew up with your traditional Dad. A hardworking gentleman perhaps, but a role model who would have been more passive than active when it came to parenting and domestic chores.
It is a lovely moment when a grandfather first gets to hold their grandchild. However, the sheer awkwardness of the physical handling of the newborn will often be enough to make you want to cut this lovely moment short. There is something quite sporting in the grip, very suggestive of getting a hold on something that needs to be thrown. Even from the get-go, traditionalist Dad would have been less hands-on that our Inbetween man. After conception, his next baby related role was as driver to hospital, followed by a bit of waiting room tension and cumulating in head wetting duties. Inbetween Dad has had to live every week of the pregnancy, whether he wanted to or not, and must witness the grand finale to be ever grateful that he is a man.
Traditional Dad didn’t do nappies, never knew what Santa was bringing, didn’t believe in food allergies, was uncertain as to the names of their children’s best friends and looked forward to sharing a drink with them on their 18th birthday. Inbetween Dad knows who Gina Ford is, got in a fist fight for the right Elsa doll, brought all his daughters’ friends to 1D concert, regularly clears his sons’ Google history and wants to stay friends with his children all his life. He is actively parenting not ‘dading’ and is immersed in the constant and evolving rollercoaster of emotions that this brings.
The speed of evolution in this sphere is less dramatic. Men still tend to the traditional chores such as gardening and taking out rubbish. However there are some clear improvements from this generation. Traditional Dad had one signature dish – a breakfast fry-up on a Saturday. Inbetween Dad can deliver a meal for all day parts and for any day of the week. Traditional Dad bought the wine. Inbetween Dad collects club points on the weekly shop.
It’s a scientific fact that women see things differently from men. How male hormones effect neuron development in the visual cortex can explain why men are better at seeing quick moving detail from afar, and women are better at distinguishing differences close at hand with static objects. This is science for why men can’t see there is still food stuck to the edges of the saucepan that they swilled water in but very good at catching something flung at them. So unlike gatherer woman, hunter man might not register the close-by bedlam. That might be why they grade themselves as B- for household jobs while us women rate them as a C-. However they are great Dads. We grade them as a C+, which is only slightly lower than the B- they give themselves.
What I have learnt from Inbetweener Dad is to focus your field of vision wider. Grade him not on what he does versus Inbetween woman, but on where he has come from. As a Dad he probably deserves to go up to an A for effort. While housekeeping might still languish in the low honours, Millennial man might be the generation to push the boundaries on this skill set. The other thing I have learnt from him is why not give yourself higher grades than others give you? Us Inbetweener woman should start to go easier on ourselves and give ourselves the grade bump we deserve.
Tara Finnegan is Strategic Planner
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