Father's Day is right around the corner, and I've been thinking about how my life has changed since I became a dad. But I've also been thinking about three things I've read recently about the roles of mothers and fathers.

The first is a comic called "You Should've Asked," which tells the story of a mom whose job at home grows bigger and harder--mainly because she winds up having to plan everything that goes on in their family. The dad, on the other hand, only has to execute part of the plan that she comes up with.

(I'm realizing that description hardly does justice to the comic; trust me, it's better, and it made me think more about this phenomenon called the mental load. You can read it here.)

The second thing I've been thinking of is a survey by a company called Credit Sesame, that asked 1,000 people to weigh in on how much, in dollars, they thought a mom's work was worth. Their average answer: $70,811.

Finally, "thing number three" is that it turns out that Credit Sesame has actually done a follow-up survey, asking people how much they thought dads were worth. And that's where things get a bit surprising.

Moms v$. Dads

We all know about the wage gap, of course--the fact that women on average earn about 80 cents for every $1 than men earn in comparable positions.

But when it comes to how people think moms and dads should be compensated, the wage gap goes in the opposite description (at least in this survey).

On average, both men and women thought dads deserved a salary of about $48,423--which you'll notice is more than $20,000 less than they thought moms were worth. In other words, moms would get about a 46 percent bump over dads.

The median household income in the U.S., for comparison's sake, is $58,673.

Whose role is that?

What's missing from these surveys, is what's addressed in the "You Should've Asked" comic: Namely, what the different roles of mothers and fathers actually are in 2017.

There's no blanket answer, of course. Some families still cling to traditional parent and gender roles; others are more equitable. And I'll bet there are even a few parents reading this article who would say that the mental load I was talking about earlier is actually borne by the dad in their family.

Fair enough. But the surveys didn't specify which parent carried which parts of the work of running a home and raising kids. And I think the assumptions people brought to their answers are very revealing.

Just a card, please

There are a few other interesting insights in the survey, too.

Women gave higher proposed salaries than men for both moms and dads. And, people in the Northeast and the South suggested higher theoretical salaries across the board than people in the Midwest and West.

Also, it turns out the older Millennials and Generation Xers think dads are worth more than Baby Boomers and younger respondents. I'm not sure whether that's because they have different assumptions about what a father's contribution is--or if older Millennials and GenXers are more likely to be currently raising kids.

Regardless, for Father's Day, while I'm going to bask in the fact that I'm a dad (seriously, the role I was born to play)--but be sure to thank my wife (a/k/a, my daughter's mom).

We get it: you really do work harder. And it's okay if you want to skip the presents: just a card and a hug will be fine. (All right, maybe a nice breakfast, too.)

Published on: Jun 16, 2017
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