Thandi Vellem, life coach and neurolinguistic practitioner, says that the role a father plays in a little girl’s life has become underrated in today’s society.
“A lot of women have moved towards the whole ‘I’m emancipated; I’m independent; I don’t need a man, including my dad, for anything’. Yet there’s a vacuum that’s created when your dad isn’t there or when he is present but [not really attentive],” she says.
But one study found that little girls who witness their fathers participating in household chores are more likely to opt for male-dominated and higher-paying jobs.
“This study is important because it suggests that achieving gender equality at home may be one way to inspire young women to set their sights on careers from which they have traditionally been excluded,” said psychology researcher and study author Alyssa Croft, a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia’s department of psychology.
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“‘Talking the talk’ about equality is important, but our findings suggest that it is crucial that dads “walk the walk” as well – because their daughters clearly are watching,” Croft said.
Vellem agrees with the study, saying that society should be progressively moving towards a position where women and men see each other as equals and people who co-share when they’re in a relationship.
“I grew up seeing my dad doing chores at home and I respected him so much because it was also at a time when the equality talk wasn’t around. He would wash dishes with me!” Vellum says. “I do think there is a correlation between girls being more driven because they’ve seen their fathers not conform to gender roles. My dad made me feel like anything is acceptable to anyone beyond the household chores; that I didn’t have to be restricted by my gender,” Vellem says.
When your dad involves himself in household chores, it gives your mom time to do what she wants to do and chase her career
Onke Dumeko, who grew up in a household where her father was very involved in household chores, says that she completely agrees with the study, saying that both her father and mother taught her the importance of having a work ethic through their non-conformance to gender roles in the home.
“I think it’s a combination of two things. When you grow up in a household and your mother works, you get to see the importance of having a work ethic and what it means to do something that’s not the traditional make-up of what a wife’s supposed to do and what a husband is supposed to do,” Dumeko says.
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“It shows you that work is work and it needs to be done and that it doesn’t have any title. If supper needed to be made and my mother wasn’t there, my dad would cook with no qualms. It teaches you as a girl that there’s no work that’s labelled for boys and for girls. It must just be done.”
She says that she’s seen her dad pack lunchboxes, take turns with my mom to bathe us and clean the house.
“When your dad involves himself in household chores, it gives your mom time to do what she wants to do and chase her career. And because you see your mother doing this, it tells you as a little girl that ‘I can be whatever I want to be and my role is not only in the kitchen’ – that’s the indirect correlation.”