Father Responsibilities

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In an editorial in the December issue of the Ensign, it states:

“Disease, disability, death, divorce, and other disruptive factors can create challenges. In such situations, “individual adaptation” of roles may be necessary. A father may need to take on additional household and nurturing responsibilities. . .”

What additional household or nurturing responsibilities should fathers in such situation take upon themselves that couldn’t have been done before?

38 thoughts on “Father Responsibilities

  1. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, instead of just doing his own chores the newly widowered / divorced husband will also have to do his wife’s chores too. Not like they should have needed to point that out though.

  2. why does it mention to the wife when all those D words happen to her?? Does she get the privilege of all the extra responsibilites and nurturing on top of what she already does???

    I find that statement very condesending

  3. Condescending indeed.

    The whole concept of fixed roles based on sexuality is rediculously dated.

    Why not just wear a sandwich sign that reads ‘Stuck in the 50’s’?

    Because we all know that men do the thinkin’ and women do the nurturing, right?


  4. I think most households have a division of labor. And considering LDS families are expected to have the mom stay home full time, it’s not ridiculous to assume the mother does a lot of household chores the father doesn’t.

    I’d like to read the rest of the article but I don’t get the Ensign.

    When my husband worked fulltime and I was home, it was my job to take care of the household duties and things like running the kids around, parent-teacher conferences, etc. When I worked fulltime and my husband was home, we switched roles. We’ve switched those rolls more than once in our marriage. We both understand what it’s like to work fulltime and be the only financial support of the family, and what it’s like to be home fulltime running the household and caring for the kids. It’s really given us a good perspective on both.

  5. I think each couple needs to decide what chores they like to do (or least hate) and split them between each other in a way that is seems fair and balanced to both of them.

    It’s obvious that if death, divorce, or special circumstances take either the husband or the wife out of the picture then the other will have to do all the chores.

    The fact that they point it out for men specifically does seem sexist but I think it’s possible (though in this case I should admit I was being disingenuous) to give the Ensign the benefit of the doubt and assume they are talking about splitting the chores evenly.

    So in answer to your question, “Which of those wife’s chores should the husband not already be doing?”

    The husband could but shouldn’t be expected to do the ones that they have agreed the wife will do.

  6. Kim: Your original question was about responsibilities that COULDN’T have been done before. But the Ensign article doesn’t say that Dad couldn’t do something before a major upheaval in his life. It just assumes–quite reasonably–that he wasn’t doing EVERYTHING before. If a couple are both contributing to the work done in the home (that is, “household or nurturing responsibilities”), then it’s inevitable that when you subtract one member of the couple, the other will have to do more.

    The article does discuss adaptations by both husbands and wives in terms of their traditional roles (husband = breadwinner, wife = homemaker). Why shouldn’t it? Those are the roles that the Prophets and Apostles who lead us consistently urge us to take in the family. The mission of the Ensign is to promote their messages, so naturally the Ensign discusses these things with a paradigm of following the counsel of Prophets.

    Sally: You ask if the article also addresses the issue of wives also having to adapt when they lose husbands. The answer is yes, in the very next sentence.

  7. ltubgraf,

    There is a difference between increasing the amount of time you spend on current responsibilities and taking on additional responsibilities.

  8. Rick: I notice that you consistently refer to certain ideas, especially those ideas about the family that are taught by Prophets and Apostles, as being “dated.” (You also seem to have a special aversion to the 1950s.)

    I’ve been wondering about this, because it appears on several threads. What is it about an idea being old that makes it illegitimate or wrong to you? Are new ideas inherently superior to old ones? What about some really, really dated ideas such as “Thou shalt not kill,” or the idea of representative government? Aren’t those too dated to take seriously? Isn’t Canada stuck in the middle ages by having a Parliament?

  9. Kim: “There is a difference between increasing the amount of time you spend on current responsibilities and taking on additional responsibilities.”

    If I regularly put child number 2 to bed and my wife regularly puts child number 3 to bed, and then I have to take on putting child 3 to bed, I’ve just taken on a new responsibility. If my wife regularly cooks dinner on Thursday and I regularly cook on Friday, and then I have to cook dinner on Thursdays, I have taken on a new responsibility.

    (By the way, are you DELIBERATELY spelling my moniker wrong every time you type it? I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but you’re so consistent in getting it wrong, I have to wonder.)

  10. Those two examples are not additional responsibilities, but increasing the work you put into your current responsibilities. In both examples, you are still putting children too bed, but now you are putting two to bed. In both, you are still cooking, but now you’re cooking more. I do not see them as additional responsibilities.

  11. Kim: “I do not see them as additional responsibilities.”

    I’m not at all sure the editors of the Ensign agree with your narrow interpretation of the term “additional responsibilities.” I don’t. (I’m going to resist the temptation to demand a reference to support your definition.) :)

    For the sake of argument, I’ll change the hypothetical: Let’s assume that Mom regularly cooks all the meals and Dad regularly puts all the kids to bed. If Dad has to cook the meals, he’s taken on an additional responsibility. That doesn’t mean there was something sexist or oppressive about the way they did it before. It also doesn’t mean that Dad COULDN’T cook before. It just means that the couple had a way of doing things, and that when a major life change happened, Dad had to do more. In other words, he had to take on additional responsibilities.

  12. Kim: “Exactly.”

    Not sure if I follow you when you say this. Are you agreeing with all of my statement, or just this sentence? What do you have to say about the rest of it?

  13. Kim makes most of the meals in our house. But I don’t see it as additional responsibilities. We all have to eat, we all eat. I stay at home, do the bulk of the laundry and housework, homeschooling and mothering. But I don’t see it as primarily what I am “supposed” to do. What I am “supposed” to do is breastfeed my baby because no one else can do that. Everything else is up for grabs.

  14. Mary: If you suddenly couldn’t do ANY of the work, then Kim would do more at home. In other words, he would have to take on additional responsibilities.

    That’s all the Ensign article is saying–that when one person is subtracted from the equation the other has to adjust by doing more, sometimes much more. For some reason, there’s a desire to read something sexist or sinister into it. Why?

  15. Mary: You seem to think I’m suggesting that cooking is an additional responsibility for men, because it’s less traditional for them. I’m not. If you just read what I’ve posted you can see very clearly that I’m not.

    Those responsibilities may already be his, as in Kim’s case. I just used a hypothetical example of a couple that have chosen to divide their labor a certain way, and then have to change it. The particular tasks could be something other than putting children to bed and cooking. They could be mowing and window-washing. I don’t really care what the tasks are. When one partner takes on more of the work, that partner is taking on additional responsibilities.

  16. “If you suddenly couldn’t do ANY of the work, then Kim would do more at home. In other words, he would have to take on additional responsibilities.”

    I wouldn’t have any additional responsibilities. Beyond nursing, Mary does not do anything at home that I do not do. Granted she does each task more often, but there is a not a task she does that I do not do. If she could not do any work, the number of responsibilities I would have would not increase, only their frequency.

  17. I have a tendency to skim so I wasn’t suggesting you were saying otherwise. All I am saying is I don’t think Kim takes on any “additonal” responsibilities, because he does them all.

  18. Kim: You’re still insisting on an artificially narrow definition of “taking on additional responsibilities” so that you can score points against the Ensign. Taking on more responsibilities simply means having to do more at home. It’s that simple. Your definition is too narrow. It’s wrong. You’re wrong in insisting on it.

  19. Huh? How am I taking points against the Ensign? I haven’t said anything about the editors of the article being wrong. In fact, I can think of a few situations where if the wife could not work, the husband would indeed need to take on additional responsibilities. For that matter, most of those same situations could do well to have the husband taking on additional responsibilities (or any for that matter) right now.

  20. OK, no points.

    Now, what about the following, which you still haven’t addressed:

    1. The article isn’t talking about additional responsibilities that “couldn’t have been done before,” so why are you?

    2. The need to take on more work at home is as valid a definition of “additional responsibilities” as the one you’re insisting on.

    3. What on earth did you mean at 15:24 by “Exactly”?

  21. You apparently share in all your home tasks. Some couples choose to do otherwise, as, for example, by having the husband do all of one thing and the wife do all of another. Are you right while they’re wrong? Why?

  22. First of all, I am under no obligation to address any points you bring up, no matter how much you demand it. Let’s be certain about that. That being said, I will humour you and address your three points.

    1. Because it’s my blog and if I feel like posting about a topic, I will. If someone doesn’t like it, they can find another blog to read.

    2. Okay.

    3. What I have been trying to say in all my other comments.

  23. I’m sorry. I thought the fact that you were answering my posts and challenging me to answer yours meant you were interested in discussing and debating the topic. But please, feel no obligation to give a serious, thoughtful, complete or logical answer. It’s your blog.

  24. No, I am not saying they are wrong. People can do what they like. It’s the article insinuating that home responsibilities are primarily the wife’s that is somewhat archaic.

  25. ltbugaf said: What is it about an idea being old that makes it illegitimate or wrong to you? Are new ideas inherently superior to old ones?

    The age of the idea is not a problem for me.
    I take special issue with the social contract as defined by the decade that was the fifties.

    The inflexible gender-based roles inflicted on families in the fifties was as counterproductive to society as the cold-war mentality.

    It just so happens that the majority of the apostles seem to hearken toward the fifties as some sort of golden time, when everything was right in the world, when in truth it was a decade of closet alcoholism, marital abuse, misogyny, paranoia and bigotry.

    I fundamentally disagree with forced gender roles. When I see statements which seek to enforce these roles, given by LDS speakers, it frustrates me. When members of the seventy say on one hand that the women are respected and then talk about how things should be like in the fifties, it makes no sense.

  26. Rick: I would suggest, then, that you discuss the fundamental rightness or wrongness of an idea, rather than whether it’s “dated.” The date has nothing to do with it.

  27. By the way, all the decades before and after the 1950s have also been decades of closet alcoholism, marital abuse, misogyny, paranoia and bigotry.

  28. Yes, but you should note that most of the septuagenarians who tell you what is right and wrong would have been in their heydays during the fifties.

    The death of the fifties, in north america at least, holds a special status because it is from that decade forth that many of the social injustices began to get sorted out i.e. minority issues, women’s rights, the sexual revolution etc.

  29. You’re correct in saying that much social progress was made in the 1960s. Of course, much significant progress was made in the 1950s, as well, such as the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.

    It’s also worth mentioning that the 1960s was a decade of drug addiction, promiscuity and violence.

    I hope you’ll also keep two other things in mind: (1) Most of the Seventies aren’t septuagenarians. They’re likelier to be in their fifties. (2) Most of the men who are in their seventies–the ones you’re denigrating–are of the same group who risked (and in hundreds of thousands of cases, sacrificed) their lives to fight social injustices such as fascism, totalitarianism and genocide, during WWII and the Korean War. I think you shouldn’t be too hard on them.

  30. ltbugaf, most of the first quorum of the seventy are in their seventh decade of life (60-somthing) so technically I’m incorrect, but I think it served my point.

    In regard to the “who risked… their lives to fight social injustices such as fascism, totalitarianism and genocide, during WWII and the Korean War”; I think you’re just buying in to the party line here. I certainly don’t agree with this line of thinking, although it’s very American of you to say it. Perhaps as a Canadian I have a different perspective on the acts you’ve noted.

  31. I suppose I am very American to think that fascism, totalitarianism and genocide are social ills, but I thought those views were also shared by most Canadians.

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