One might that that having two houses could reinforce sex-stereotyped roles. After all, my TV never shows the football game, nor do I enjoy fart jokes, two things I hear happen with some regularity at Daddy’s house. It is only at my house that our children regularly do chores, read books, or do art projects. But I think in our case the divorce actually reinforces feminism.
At my house, the boys watched me change their diapers, take out trash, mow the lawn and shovel snow. At Daddy’s house they watched their father change diapers, make dinner, mow the lawn, and shovel snow. You will note that they didn’t watch me make dinner because when they were toddlers all we basically ate was dinosaur chicken and EZ Mac, both of which go from the microwave to table—ok, couch, who am I fooling—in under a minute. My point is that single parents don’t get the luxury of sex-stereotyped roles.
Daddy and I both do an equal share of taking kids to the doctor and nurturing them when they are sick, or soothing nightmares in the middle of the night, just like we both spent countless hours pitching a baseball in the backyard or cheering on hockey games. I’m not saying that my ex-husband goes out of his way to role model feminism, but the divorce gives him little choice in the matter.
As a result, our kids—now 9 and 12—don’t understand the notion of “man’s work” or “women’s work”—it’s all just work to them. Laundry and dishes are things that everyone hates to do, but everyone is responsible for doing.
As James Baldwin said,
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but have never failed to imitate them.”
As a divorced parent I often wonder how my decision to leave our marriage will affect my children’s future views on marriage and relationship stability. But maybe it’s not all bad news. I’m not saying that in order to obliterate sex-stereotyped roles one should run out and a get a divorce, but I am just taking a moment to appreciate this one small benefit of raising children in two houses.