I wrote in an earlier post about gender roles and how women, in particular, have to make choices about what roles they will play in society and in their family. Today I want to talk more about making those choices with your partner in how you will run your household.

I have always believed that every member of the household has to contribute in order to make the household function successfully. Any person enjoying the benefits derived from the smoothly running home should contribute his or her share.

This becomes especially important when both parents are working, as is so often the case in modern times. A career woman pays a price. Society expects her to handle the household work that is still waiting when she gets home. But there is no reason why husbands and children can’t participate in the household chores, and in fact, there are ample reasons to support both her decision to work outside the home and the sharing of responsibilities.

There is a widely held belief that full-time homemakers are better parents than those in the workforce. Research does not support this, however. Depending on job satisfaction, support with housekeeping chores, and child care, women who contribute significantly to family income report more self-esteem and power of decision making in the family than do full-time homemakers.

If the woman is taking on a larger burden than everyone else, she will become burned out, overtaxed, and ultimately unhappy. If the children are not contributing, not only are they not removing some of the burden from the parents, they are also missing out on learning an essential life lesson about responsibility that will serve them in every aspect of their personal and professional lives.

Dividing and conquering with shared responsibility among all members of the family leads to a healthier, happier family with a household in good working order. Everyone wins!

It’s important to discuss these things with your spouse before you begin your life together in one household and again before your family grows with the birth of a child. These questions go far beyond who will do laundry and who will do the cooking. Determining whether one or both partners will work outside the home is a huge decision that requires careful consideration by both affected parties. Get these issues on the table early and help ensure a smoother transition into this new period of your life and ultimately help make for a happier household!

-Dr. Erica Miller