Contribuciones a la familia: las ideas de padres e hijos sobre las tareas domésticas

Translated title of the contribution: Family contributions: parents' and children's ideas about household work

Jacqueline Goodnow*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper takes a general issue and focuses it on a specific content area. The general issue has to do with the nature of the ideas and principles that parents and children bring to their interactions with one another: ideas and principles that sometimes agree and sometimes do not. The specific content area concerns children's work contributions to the household: an area that involves ideas about topics such as who should make what kind of contribution, whether work may be paid for, or whether it can be moved from one family member to another. The paper reviews a series of studies and outlines some possible future directions, based on the general conclusion that work arrangements and work perceptions often have less to do with labour than they have to do with ideas about the relationships that should exist among family members. 1. It notes that, within the widespread emphasis on cognitive aspects, the larger share of attention has been given to parents' ideas. The paper outlines the background to this emphasis and argues for attention to both parents' and children's ideas, and to the conditions under which these converge or diverge. 2. A particular content area is proposed as a promising basis for empirical research: one that is relevant to both generations and that offers opportunities to observe similarities and differences across generations, among children of different ages and across social groups. This content area concerns the work contributions that children may make to a household: a content area that covers ideas about the contributions children should make, which jobs a parent may easily ask another child to do, whether work may be paid for, whether one child may delegate his or her work to another, how this should be done and who is to blame if the work is then not done. 3. A series of studies are reviewed, some concentrating on parents' ideas, some on ideas held by children of different ages. 4. Emerging from these studies is the methodological value of (a) distinguishing among contributions (jobs that involve «self-care»—e.g., looking after one's «own» possessions, or cleaning up after oneself—do not involve the same principles as jobs that involve «other-care») and (b) exploring ideas about two particular aspects of work: the appropriateness of particular rewards (e.g., money) and the «moveability» of work (what one should do oneself, what can be asked of another person, and the circumstances under which a move may be regarded as reasonable). 5. Emerging also is the general conceptual value of regarding ideas about work as being very often ideas about relationaships. Assignments of work to children may then be regarded as lessons about family relationships or as messages about the place of a child in the family. Debates about work may be regarded as expressions of interest in clarifying a relationship or in changing its definition. 6. Three possible future directions are noted: (a) exploring ideas about responsibility that goes beyond looking after what is one's «own» (one's «own» space, «own» possessions, «own» tasks), (b) linking theories of work to theories of relationships and (c) specifying the several steps by which the ideas of one generation may or may not be conveyed or «transmitted» to another.

    Translated title of the contributionFamily contributions: parents' and children's ideas about household work
    Original languageSpanish
    Pages (from-to)19-33
    Number of pages15
    JournalInfancia y Aprendizaje
    Issue number73
    Publication statusPublished - 1996


    • cross-generation agreement
    • family divisions of labour
    • family obligations
    • parents' beliefs
    • relationship norms


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