Change in family dynamics

In the past dads have passed on “male” skills onto their sons, however over the last couple of decades, fathers have become busier (or absent) and have not instilled these skills into their sons and as a result there has been a decline of “male skill” in the home. Additionally, in this era of outsourcing, men are as likely to hire a handyman or employ the services of specialist trades to get these tasks done. The loss of these male skills is a reflection of changing needs, changing technologies, redefined roles and new interests.

Last year McCrindle Research undertook research to examine the decline in these male skills — below are the percentage of men under 30s who are able to perform the following tasks:
  • Tying a reef knot: 44%
  • Building a cubby or tree house: 46.5%
  • Fixing a leaky tap: 55%
  • Repairing a punctured tire on a pushbike: 60%
  • Changing the car’s oil: 63%
Lighting a wood fire (63%) and putting up a shelf (68%), were also ranked badly, with a third of the male population lacking the skills to confidently perform these tasks.

The reason why I found this interesting was when my son called DH to come and fix a leaky tap as he didn't have a clue how to do it nor did he know where in the hardware store to find what he needed - he is one of the 45% of under 30's who cannot fix a leaky tap.

Social Researcher Mark McCrindle said, “What we are seeing is not so much a decline in ‘man skills’ but rather a change in family dynamics, reflecting that both parents are likely to have full time jobs and greater demands on their time than ever before. Although skills such as mechanical repairs and home maintenance are on the decline, men are broadening their skills to include cooking, ironing and being hands on with the kids. The advent of lifestyle cooking shows have also raised the status of cooking from a domestic chore to a creative pursuit. Some of these new skills have much more appeal for men today than being up to their elbows in mechanical grease or puncture repair kits” McCrindle continued.

However are men broadening their skills (as can be seen in the list below) because more women are in full-time employment and there is now an expectation that dad will help around the home doing what was traditionally work that mum would do? And is this at the cost of dads losing their “male skills”?

Percentage of Australian Generation Y men who can confidently perform the following tasks:
  • Helping to cook dinner: 72%
  • Helping with the grocery shop: 71.5%
  • Stacking the Dishwasher, helping to wash up: 70.6%
  • Dropping the kids at school: 71.4%
  • Clothes shopping: 68.0%
  • Helping with the washing: 65.6%
  • Doing the ironing: 61.2%
  • Reading to the children: 62.0%
The question is, does it matter that men are now taking on different roles?


  1. So interesting...most of the skills my sons have learned, from home repairs to car repairs were assisted by me or I found out how to do husband was raised where everything was hired out, I was raised where you my sons have learned to fix dishwashers, disposals, and many other skills from me...I was the one who owned the tools not my husband.
    However, my husband is the one with all the musical ability and he passed his passion and skill onto his sons in that way.

    My theory has always been if you can afford repairs than great, but if not then you need to know how to do it...I have saved a lot of money repairing myself...just recently my 15 year old and I put in new door handles on my car

    So I guess whoever knows how should pass their skills down.

    Wow on the skills that most men in Australia do!

  2. This is a VERY interesting subject! I think it is very sad that male skills are being lost, but on the other hand, I think it is good for men to learn at least some skills within the family unit. I think I would prefer them to learn a moderate amount of every skill!!!
    One other thing - I think it is very MANLY and pleasingly masculine when a man is able to do repairs etc ... In my personal opinion, a man who can't do repairs shows signs of being a bit of a sissy - to me, a man should be able to do those manly things!! That's just the way I feel (even though I know that some men just aren't made to be able to figure out those kinds of things)!!

  3. This is so interesting! My dh's dad is a builder but he is not very good at this stuff and he was very upset when he didnt want to follow in his footsteps and be a builder. I think some men are just made differently! My dh is the literary type of person and he really struggles with this stuff not that he doesn't want to though:) just wanted to share my experience:) And yes he is very hands on with our dd:) I generally agree though that roles are changing somewhat and that has probably caused that to be reflected in those statistics:)

  4. They don't make 'em like our daddies any more :-0
    Snags are great but as mentioned above I find it appealing that a bloke can do a bloke's job! We are trying to train our boys with some of these skills while making them good husband material in the previously female dominated areas.
    We tried to bring our girls up to be handy but emphasised the more feminine jobs.. Pretty traditional house hold here.

  5. Considering the cost of tradesman it is a good reason for our men to learn how to fix taps etc..

  6. Very interesting Jo.
    There certainly does seem to be a change. Young men are not quite as 'handy' as their fathers or grandfathers while young women are not as 'domestic' as their female forebears.
    It goes to show that we need to reinforce traditional gender roles or risk losing sight of real manliness and femininity.

  7. Sometimes we men men don't know how to do things our fathers did, simply because they never tried to teach us when we still lived at home. That's my personal experience - my Dad just taught himself from books how do do things (his Dad never taught him, because his Dad was a total non-handy man) and never tried to teach me how to fix minor plumbing issues, etc.
    I disagree with the assumption that "traditional gender roles" are necessarily all intrinsically right or that "real manliness and femininity" are defined by such traditions. Betsy and I were horrified to read in a well-known Christian family life book written in the 1970's that men should NOT change nappies etc. otherwise their sons will become confused and effeminate! We believe that SOME of these "traditional roles" demarcations were unhealthy and better changed - Stephen


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