Traditional roles still dominate American homes

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Stuck for a Valentine's Day gift, guys?

You might spring for a few hours of house cleaning if your wife works outside the home, and especially if she's the primary breadwinner.

There's a good chance she didn't take that role by choice, and a better chance she's not happy with the situation, according to a survey by Working Mother media.

After a 2013 Pew Report found that in 40 percent of U.S. households with children, women are the primary breadwinner, almost two-thirds of them single moms.

Despite years of social change, the survey found that most of us would still prefer traditional roles, given a choice.

Highlights of the survey:

Only 29 percent of moms surveyed became breadwinners by choice, vs. 59 percent of the dads.

The majority of breadwinning moms who made a conscious decision with their partners to be the main earner in the family reported that they are more ambitious than their husbands (87 percent), more dedicated to their careers (75 percent) or more likely to be promoted (85 percent).

Seventy-four percent of breadwinning moms and 72 percent of dads both say they believe society is still more comfortable with men as the primary earners.

That means breadwinning dads are more pleased by their status than their female peers. Seventy-two perent of male primary earners are satisfied with their spouses contribution to the family's finances, while only 58 percent of the female breadwinners are. Some 22 percent of breadwinning moms believe their partners should make a bigger monetary contribution to the family, and 21 perent would prefer their partner to be the primary earners, while only 2 percent of the dads felt that way.

As you might expect, moms are less satisfied than dads with how at-home tasks are divided by a 16 percentage-point margin, (60 vs. 76 percent). However, both men and women report a relatively high satisfaction with their relationship with their partner, 80 percent for the dads vs. 72 percent for moms.

The demographics of the 2,000 respondents were: 50/50 male female, 51 percent professional/technical/manager with an average age of 38. The group was 75 percent married with an annual income of $85,600.

However a couple divides the work, both inside and outside the home, the only satisfying arrangement is one that is fair and mutually agreed upon. Even strong marriages could do with some outside counseling once in a while to help sort through the complicated issues.

Come to think of it, a little help with the housework is a good Valentine's Day idea regardless of whether the lady of the house has outside employment or is a full-time mom.

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