Parenting is Hard Work: Inside & Out

I have been in conversation with several parents of adolescents regarding our current economic environment and their home life. The economy is one of a myriad of stressors in families with adolescents. Mid-points in careers, changing physiology, care for older parents, and slowing metabolism coupled with decreased endorphin levels are internal and external causes of perceptions of “quality of life” and “satisfaction.”

Task Female Partner Male Partner
Cleaning 4.76 hrs./wk 1.51 hrs./wk
Cooking 6.9 hrs./wk 4.0 hrs./wk
Childcare 19.68 hrs./wk 12.18hrs./wk

Youthworkers should bear in mind that all persons are looking for affirmation for the ways they are serving God and humanity. One glaring example of a “common ignorance” is division of domestic labor. In other words, between the sexes, work by either the male partner or female partner is measured on house chores that are accomplished day-to-day. In a recent study* of dual income households in the US, female partners are putting in nearly double the hours on home chores compared to their male counterparts. (See the Table below.) This has lasting consequences. According to several leading marriage experts, parents of adolescents boast the highest divorce rate across all age groups. Increased levels of stress may also cause heart disease, loss of sleep, low self-esteem and depression.

Beside hosting a “RED ALERT: Parents of Youth Your Life Is Beginning to Stink Let’s Do Something About It” Retreat, what can we do?! Here are three easy ways to recognize and affirm the parents in your program.

  1. Host a Mom’s Night Out. There are several places in your community that would love to give a discount to a group from your church. Try not to over program the event. This is an opportunity for mom’s to share from their experiences. Also, don’t go. Let the moms of your youth share life together without the “insider” or “expert” there. Remember it’s great advertising for the restaurant too.
  2. Encourage family time. If you know families that are trying to “do it all” before their child is 18, help them to realize that being over-tasked means being over-spent. Ask your youth program team, “How much time do we leave a month for family time?” There is a poignant commandment of the Ten we often leave out . . . Remember the Sabbath, keep it holy. Not hosting youth events after a busy weekend in the community or before/after a major holiday may be a good start. Talk to the parents in your youth program about how they are taking family time to be together.
  3. Create a career event. Many schools host career events, but I have not heard of many churches who have done so. Parents boast a multitude of careers go to your church. Imagine the pride for both parents and youth to share from their everyday experience. If you are bold, you’ll invite each representative to answer the question, “How does your faith help you in your profession?” This type of event may also serve the purpose of marketing for parents who have found themselves out of work for some time.

* Poortmam, A-R., & van der Lippe, T. (2009). Attitudes toward housework and child care and the gendered division of labor. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71, 526-541.

Rev. Andy Stoker    , PhD
Associate Minister
Lilly Resident
(214) 220-2727 ext 222
1928 Ross Ave.
Dallas Texas   75201

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