Several of the comments from recent posts have got us thinking. They've been about the way that specific tasks reflect on only one gender in our society, such as how the kids are dressed (Mom's kudos or fault) or how the lawnmowing is kept up (Dad's pat on the back or shame). As one reader so aptly suggested, this can cause us to focus on the chores for which we'll take the heat if they are done poorly - and put off or ignore those that will reflect on our partners.
All of this very true social stigma and very human behavior can work to undo ESP over time, unless a couple happens to assign all tasks along gendered norms. And what's the fun of that?!
So we've been thinking of a possible way out of this dilemma. Let's say a couple decides to sign up for bringing cupcakes to their son's school holiday party. Then, let's say that they assign Dad to take on this duty. Like a good ESP mother, Mom then lets go of the task - no laying out the ingredients, reminding Dad of the party date, or interfering in any way. And then Dad forgets. Whether he will admit it or not, we suspect that culture would have played a role in his 'forgetting' since even the most well-intentioned of males might have prioritized remembering just a bit more if it was clear to the world that he screwed up. It's not that he's incompetent, but that the task never rose to an importance level in his mind that kept him on his toes. So he forgets and the party goes on cupcake-less.
What if, being a fantastic ESP father, he realizes the cultural consequences of his goof? And what if he then actively made an effort to take the social fall for his actions? This could take the form of a simple comment in drop-off line to the room parent the next day about how bad he feels for having forgotten the cupcakes yesterday followed by a clear, "And it was fully my responsibility, too." Or perhaps he does this in an email or phone call.
This would go both ways, of course. If Mom was supposed to haul out the trash to the curb this week and forgets (again, probably influenced by the fact that neglecting this task will not hurt her outside image one bit), she could tell the family she'd been the one to forget as a way to show her children that this job was indeed her responsibility - not Dad's. She could, if applicable, laugh about her lapse in memory to the next door neighbor who notices overflowing trash cans over the next few days.
Each of these small gestures would take back ownership from the grip of culture - not entirely, but as a start. They may make each parent more likely to remember his/her duties in the future too.
What do you think of this idea? Should it be recommended to ESP couples who might want to crack these culture barriers?