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The Strategic Involvement of Children in Housework: An Australian Case of Two-Income Families

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image of International Journal of Comparative Sociology
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Two conflicting views emerged from the accounts of two-income parents about their children's participation in housework in an in-depth study conducted during 1991 in NSW, Australia. On the one hand, parents felt the need to socialise children through housework responsibilities and on the other hand their contribution was perceived essential due to a lack of resources. Parents strategically used discipline and, positive and negative reinforcement to integrate children in household division of labour. Parents assigned simple chores to the younger children, complex chores in the later years, and expected more advanced housework such as cooking family meals, lawn mowing, wood cutting, car washing, etc. from teenagers. Mother's time spent in the work-force increased children's task performance, especially girls, as they helped in twice as many tasks compared to boys. Even though parents believed that they should not pay children for housework they encouraged them to earn pocket money for chores such as tidying their own room, ironing, washing the family car, lawn mowing, etc. Children performed about 20 per cent of the household tasks and pitched-in when and where necessary.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351


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