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Daddy Does the Dusting

Ever wish your husband helped out more around the house? Well, you’re not alone. For 20 years, Oakland psychiatrist Joshua Coleman has heard that same lament from many of his clients.


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To help all the frustrated wives out there, the Orinda resident wrote The Lazy Husband: How to Get Men to Do More Parenting and Housework. And his book has touched a nerve. Coleman has already shared his tips on CNN and Good Morning America, and participated in reality-show–style therapy sessions on 20/20.

Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A:For many of the women in my practice, it’s a very common complaint. “How do I get my husband to do more? He’s not very involved as a dad. He won’t do any housework.”
But that sounds so retro. As a society, haven’t we come a long way in redefining gender roles?
There was a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics study that showed that even working women are doing twice as much housework as their husbands.

Q: How can you convince men to do the dishes?
A:The benefits to men are enormous. A recent study showed that men who do more housework have wives who are much more interested in sex.

Q: Why are sex and housework connected?
A: Women have more energy; they don’t feel taken advantage of; they don’t feel resentful. It’s a collaborative relationship.

Q: What should women do to let the games begin?
A:Lower their housekeeping standards a little. Consider eliminating some of the chores. Look closely at what is essential to your well-being and which activities you do out of habit or to please others.

Q: How much housework should men do to reap the benefits?
A: If you make a move in the direction that your partner is requesting, you get a lot of points.

Q: What else can women do?
Women shouldn’t micromanage men in parenting. Studies show [that] if mom gives dad space to be dad early on, that dad tends to go much more into the parenting role. They not only do much more as a dad, they also do much more housework.

Q: How can dads be better parents?
A: Ask the kids about their day; be involved with their lives. There’s all this research that shows that an involved and empathic father is really important to children’s development. Men, overall, tend to be a little more strict, a little less feeling-based. If men can be more feeling-based, their children do better overall.

Q: For example?
A:The kid comes home from school and says, “The kids made fun of me.” One unhelpful response would be to say, “Quit complaining,” or “Did you kick their ass?” A more helpful response would be to ask what it was like, to be empathic about it. Don’t go into problem-solving mode.

Q: What do dads do right?
A: In general, dads are more adventure-based; they encourage more risk-taking; they tolerate frustration longer. A man’s laid-back style is equally valid. It’s useful sometimes to say “Buck up” or “Deal with it.”

Q: What Father’s Day gift would you recommend?
A: Date night would be good. Couples spend less time together than they ever have. They’re either working or parenting. If all you have is stress and work, and focus on your children, you’re going to get bored with each other quickly. And there’s not going to be any oil in the machinery when the inevitable gears start to grind together from all the stress.

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