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Men: #LeanInTogether With Women You Love

Women’s rights aren’t only about women. It’s about society. We all benefit if our home life and our workplaces are more equitable. Men and women must work together as a team to create a society where no one is bound by their gender, where all can approach life freely, making choices that work best for themselves, their partners and their families.

That’s why Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In movement is reaching out to men this March to get everyone involved in creating that balance that makes life better for both sexes. Through #LeanInTogether, they’re appealing to men to join the effort to make equality a reality.

Right now, despite women being half of the workforce, women who work still do 40 percent more childcare and 30 percent more housework than their husbands.

For men who want to the women in their lives “lean-in,” men need to do a little leaning in themselves … in the household.

Sandberg’s group offers the following tips:

Be a 50/50 Partner

Despite family life being hard work, it’s often still “women’s work.” This mean mothers aren’t getting the support they need at home despite many of them being the primary or co-breadwinner in the household. Only 9 percent of dual-income marriages share childcare, housework and bread-winning equally.

So get out there and do some “choreplay.” Doing the laundry and dishes without asking, creating a schedule so you share childcare duties can mean less exhaustion for your significant other, a happier partner and more sex for both of you! Commit to do your share of the cooking, cleaning and running after kids. Don’t wait for her to say something. Lean into those dust bunnies and get work!

Be an Active Father

Children need their fathers. Repeat! Children need their fathers. An involved dad means higher self-esteem and fewer behavioral problems for children. They will have better cognitive and social skills and will do better in school.

And being a doting dad works both ways. Fathers who are active in child-rearing and care-giving are more patient, empathetic and flexible, they enjoy their jobs more and even have great health benefits, like lower blood pressure, lower risk of heart disease and longer, more fulfilled lives. So help with homework! Change some diapers! Drop them off and pick them up from school! You don’t have to be perfect, but you have to be there for your children … and their mother.

Close the Wage Gap at Home

If you give your son $10 to mow the lawn, but only give your daughter $5 to clean the entire kitchen, you’re sending a message – the work of men is worth more than the work of women. Dole out the cash equally for your kids when they do chores, do their homework or get good grades. Reward fairly and make sure your son spends as much time busting suds and clearing the dinner table as his sis. There should be no such thing as “girl” chores and “boy” chores. Taking out the trash (and its intrinsic worth) is not related to gender, so don’t treat it that way. Give your kids equal chores and equal allowances and lead by example by fairly sharing chores with mom.

Challenge Gender Stereotypes

Your kids learn about themselves and others from the world around them. Unfortunately, girls are routinely sent the wrong messages – their toys focus on appearance and care-taking, while toys marketed to boys are often about competition and skill. Children’s books are two-times more likely to have a male main character than a female and women are routinely reduced to sexual props in television, film and advertising.

To offset this, fathers should try to provide their children a variety of toys and activities that challenge their cognitive and social skills. Listen to what your kids ask for and pay attention to what they read and watch, talking to them about what messages they’re getting from the media about gender.

Help Your Daughter Lead

Girls are often labeled “bossy” when they stand up for themselves or speak up in class, but when boys do it, they are seen as strong leaders and are encouraged. Don’t let your daughter lose her shine. Celebrate when she shows initiative. Praise her when she takes the lead and give her the advice, support and encouragement she needs to press on. Teach her how to give a firm handshake. Let her order for herself at restaurants. Let her learn from her failures, but cheer her on to keep with it. And get her involved in sports, scouts or other organized activities where kids are encouraged to flex their leadership muscles.

Don’t Tell Your Son to “Man Up!”

Boys are bombarded with images of men who are strong, aggressive and rarely vulnerable. This gives them a very simplified view of manhood when actually, being a man is much more complex. Keep him out of the macho trap by showing him all the different ways men can express themselves. Show him the importance of fairness, empathy and equality and he will grow up to value these things in his personal life, his friendships, his love life and career. Avoid negative gendered language, like telling him to “man up” or that he’s “acting like a little girl.” Teach him the value of intelligence and thoughtfulness and how life is more than simply being tough.

These previous tips aren’t just about helping women. They help everyone. Studies show that men who are active fathers and care-givers are healthier and happier with healthier and happier children. And couples who share the family workload have stronger marriages and more sex.

Women need men at their sides, supporting them, cheering them on. When we feel loved, we return that love, and the end results are healthy, balanced relationships were couples can be honest and caring for one another, where children can grow up feeling good about themselves and their lives.

Let’s all lean in together.