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Surprise! Dads Think They Do More

Dads like to think they pitch in around the house. More than that, a good 55 percent of fathers say that they do an equal share of the child care and housework in their homes. Moms, however, beg to differ. In a recent survey conducted by Procter & Gamble, only 29 percent of moms agreed that housework and child care were shared eqjually in their homes.

That disconnect, among other parenting dilemmas, was the subject of a panel discussion that mom.me attended in New York City, hosted by P&G's Thank You Mom team. Professionals and parents, including actor Andrew Shue, father of three and stepfather of two, and Mary Lou Retton, Olympic gold medalist and mother of four, discussed everything from children with special needs to laundry duty.

Here are some of their reactions to the survey on The Changing Role of Parents Today:

When it comes to child care and housework, 55 percent of fathers say that duties are shared equally between partners, but only 29 percent of mothers agree.

These results got a huge laugh. Moderator Dana Point, editor-in-chief of Parents and American Baby wondered if we should attribute this to women’s need for perfection. Retton chimed in, “I am a perfectionist! Imagine that!” Retton, the mother of four daughters ages 18, 16, 12 and 10 admitted that she used to do everything around the house, rather than nag. But then she realized she wanted her girls to pitch in and learn how to take care of themselves. She admits to traditional roles with her husband at home, “My husband does the yard work and landscaping; I do the majority of the housework. We are pretty traditional, but I don’t mind; it’s what I want to do for my family, but I do put high expectations on myself.”

"I come from nothing, a little bitty town in West Virginia. I am a coal miner’s daughter, but I was lucky and blessed to be given the opportunity to do a sport and move up, and I thank my mom for that." –Olympic gold medalist and mom Mary Lou Retton

Shue, now on his second marriage “to a perfectionist,” laughed and added that he has learned a few things since his first marriage. “No woman, or any person for that matter, wants to do all of the work; take the opportunity to be a team. How can you do it together? If she cooks, I assist, and vice versa. Laundry and folding, we do together. In my first marriage I didn’t do any of this, but now I do! Just some advice from the second time around!”

Today, 73 percent of parents believe they have a tougher job parenting than their mothers/fathers, due to advances in technology and social media.

Shue feels the challenges. “I think that kids are deluged with so much information and stimulation because of technology, that I think their curiosity has waned.” He also thinks that our kids lack the manners and respect they should have toward adults because they feel so powerful through social media. “Their society is being amplified by the ‘look at me; here’s my new profile picture!’ attitude. How do we get back to respect and curiosity? How do we get them to go out and do great things and not feel the pressure of the crazy, competitive world?”

Retton, who admits to being an "uncool" mom when it comes to technology, will not allow her youngest on social media yet, and follows her two eldest girls on Facebook and Twitter. “If I see something inappropriate, it has to come down. They hate that I follow them. Too bad—I do.” And she is a stickler for good manners. “They need to be taught; it’s a big deal in our household.”

I asked these parents what impact their mothers had on them. “My mother was the core of my faith; she instilled God into our lives, and that remains the core of who I am in my morals and values.” Says Retton. “Mom was my biggest supporter in my athletics, she was there for me, but never pushed me, and she was always there as a shoulder to cry on, or for a big hug. I really appreciated it because I saw those helicopter moms put so much pressure on their kids. I had the passion, I had the desire, but she wasn’t living through me. I come from nothing, a little bitty town in West Virginia. I am a coal miner’s daughter, but I was lucky and blessed to be given the opportunity to do a sport and move up, and I thank my mom for that.”

“My mother was a single mom for many years,” says Shue, “and when I became a dad, she shared a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: ‘You do what you have to do.’ I think that sometimes you have to have a tough backbone. Mom was strong, and she persevered through some pretty rough times with four kids. Anytime the going gets tough, I remember her advice.”

And what will they be doing this Mother’s Day? Retton laughed: “I’ll be at a gymnastics meet. My 16-year-old daughter made the U.S. Junior Olympics Nationals. I’ll be cheering her on!” Shue, the dutiful husband, will be in the yard with his wife: “She loves planting!”

Here are some more results of The Changing Role of Parents Today: Nationwide Parenting Survey

Parenting & Social Media

  • Today, 73 percent of parents believe they have a tougher job parenting than their mothers/fathers, due to advances in technology and social media.
  • 9 out of 10 (90 percent) of parents agree that a child’s online habits must be monitored. And only 25 percent of parents have installed software to monitor their child’s online activity.
  • 54 percent of parents think that it should be mandatory for your child to accept your “friend request” online.
  • 59 percent of parents have imposed age restrictions on when their child can create a Facebook account, with the average age being 14.

Traditional Families & Parenting Roles

  • 68 percent of parents believe that nontraditional families are more accepted in today’s society, including stay-at-home fathers, single parents, gay couples, etc.
  • When it comes to child care and housework, 55 percent of fathers say that duties are shared equally between partners, but only 29 percent of mothers agree.
  • 64 percent of single parents say they feel single parenting is easier today because of better support systems
  • 89 percent of moms say they are happy to be turning into their own mother when it comes to parenting.
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