Future Families will Share Childcare More Evenly –
Today’s teens will face a challenge when they are adults: How to divide child-rearing responsibilities more evenly between husband and wife than did their parent’s generation.
“As today’s teens move out into the workforce and begin to face these things, they might start working on trying to change the workplace so it’s more family friendly and trying to get men to take a larger role” in household duties, says Kristina Gupta, Assistant Professor, Wake Forest University, Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. “It has to be an equal issue for both men and women.”
Parents Should Talk About Work Family Balance
Parents should start having these conversations with teenagers now, Gupta says. She says current generations were raised to think, “you are special and wonderful and you can be anything you want to be.” However, it’s important that kids learn earlier that it’s not easy to balance career and family. She recommends parents have more realistic conversations with their kids about how many hours a day a career will demand and how much time it takes to raise kids.
Girls Must Demand Fair Division of Household Labor
While teens in high school and college might perceive there is gender equality, once they enter the workforce the girls especially may find it hard to combine childrearing with a fulltime job. Even these days, when a husband and wife are both in the workforce, the women still handle a disproportionate amount of childcare and household duties, Gupta says. “It often ends up there is a division of labor where the man focuses more on the career and the woman tries to combine the home and the career and becomes overwhelmed and frustrated. It needs to be an equal partnership. You need to tell your sons, this is going to be your problem. They don’t want a partner who resents them. You need to teach your daughters to stand up for themselves in the workplace and in their relationships.”
Gupta says that a better future will require changes in terms of male roles and male attitudes. It will also require more family-friendly workplaces that allow things like telecommuting and job sharing, she says.
Teens Are Exploring Feminism
Although many celebrities these days identify themselves as feminists, including singers Lady Gaga and Beyonce, the word has a stigma for most teens.
“Some perceive feminists as people who hate boys and men,” Gupta says. However, she says a number of teenagers are coming to feminism when they get fed up with the portrayal of women and girls in advertising or when they notice a double standard at school whereby boys who date a lot are praised while girls who do the same thing are labeled sluts. Gupta concludes, “Teenage girls have started campaigns against the airbrushing of models in ads and have organized protests against slut-shaming. Many of today’s teens are making their voices heard.”