Absence of Mother and Gender Roles

Image credit to Wikimedia Commons (Labeled for re-use with modification)

Everyone has a dream of their perfect job and strives to reach their dream. People may try to reach their dream for years and years, but still never reach it. When that opportunity comes to have a shot at reaching that dream, there is not waiting since it could be the only shot at the dream. Kate recently sent in her book to a publisher and later receives a call from her publisher saying that she would like to publish her book. Publishing the book also means that Kate has to go on a book tour as soon as possible (Levy, Cheaper by the Dozen). This meant that Kate would have to fly to New York for a week, leaving Tom with the twelve children by himself while he also tries to juggle his new job as a football coach.

Tom is left to care for all of the kids all by himself, which he has never done before. Kate even asks him if he will be able to handle taking care of the family, since Tom is not the primary caregiver of the family (Levy, Cheaper by the Dozen). Tom believes that he is able to juggle taking care of the whole family and coaching his new football team. It quickly comes to Tom’s attention that taking care of twelve children at once is a challenging task. As seen in the clip from the film, Tom has to cook dinner for the whole family, clean up messes, and supervise the children all concurrently (Movieclips “Dinner Complications”). Kate is a crucial component of the family and is needed to help keep all of the children and house in check. Women in society were looked at as the caretakers of the family and men were known as the ones who are working a lot and traveling for work since they are the money providers of the family. These standards have been reformed and gender roles are not as clearly defined anymore. Gender roles are not as defined in society today and the film exemplifies how these stereotypical roles are changing. Cheaper by the Dozen shows the old societal gender roles reversed as Tom is the one who is staying and caring for the kids while Kate is away for work. This shows that these societal standards are not really followed anymore.

Dinner Complications. Credited YouTube and Fandango “MovieClips”

These reversed gender roles have a positive effect on the children and are seen through the children, but stereotypical gender roles are also exemplified within the film. According to a study on the gender role attitudes, children are less likely to uphold or believe in gender role stereotypes if they have parents who do not show gender stereotypes (Marks et al., 2009). It is seen that the reverse gender roles of the parents positively impact the children. As the children see their father doing household, “wifely” duties, they see that mothers and fathers do not have specific roles within the family and are able to do any chore in the house. The children are seen throughout the film doing chores around the house like helping cook, unloading the dishwasher, and even helping out with their other siblings (Levy, Cheaper by the Dozen). Although there seems to be no stereotypical gender roles from the children, the parents exemplified these gender roles a few times. When the family is getting ready for an interview of Tom about his team, Kate tells all of boys to clean up outside of the house and the girls are told to clean up inside of the house (Levy, Cheaper by the Dozen). This simple command shows the stereotypical gender roles by putting the boys outside, where it is dirty, and the girls inside to clean the house. Societal standards say that males are the ones that are supposed to get dirty and females are supposed to stay clean and proper. Kate commanded  it this way due to her background and how she was raised because her parents would have lived in a time where old societal gender roles were prevalent. Since Kate now lives in an age where gender roles are being redefined and are not as clear cut, she does not exemplify the old stereotypical roles as frequently. As the study found, Kate exemplifies these gender roles since her parents showed the old roles. She does not exemplify these roles much anymore since she now lives in a time where roles are not as prevalent.