Stay connected

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts.


You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB

Join us on Facebook

Division of Labor: How It Affects Relationships

teen doing homework

Photo by Daniel Chekalov on Unsplash

“When parents let their teen believe they are too special to do ordinary work, they raise “handicapped royalty” — young people who study brilliantly and are full of conviction but don’t know how clothes get clean or how to read a credit card bill.”  — Dr. Wendy Mogel, The Blessing of a B Minus

I could smugly say my kids are not “handicapped royalty” because they know how to use the washing machine, but the truth is, they don’t do much else around the house unless their fun activities or car use is threatened.

I will admit, we have fallen prey to the almighty importance of good grades and college acceptances. Here in the suburbs of Minneapolis, ACT prep classes are ubiquitous and extracurricular activities better elevate your college application or they are not worth doing.

Hours of homework and after-school activities trump helping mom take out the trash or putting away laundry. Those kinds of tasks are for chumps, i.e. mom and dad or a cleaning person.

Studying and extracurriculars are exalted and household maintenance is menial. The problem is a good portion of life is maintenance. For example, once we’ve earned a nice home by means of our exalted work, we have to maintain it.

I am often hesitant to ask for household help because I see how loaded my kids’ schedules are. I want them to have some downtime. I know the importance of downtime.

Success first

It is also an unspoken rule that parents need to devote their lives to supporting and fostering the highest potential in their children. This means don’t bother them with pesky chores, but do bust your butt to get them to any and all sporting events and music lessons. It seems like what a responsive parent would do but is it teaching a one-sided, non-collaborative lifestyle?

The real purpose of homework

Learning to juggle a schedule that includes menial as well as exalted work, teaches kids self-discipline. Sticking with a task even when it is boring or uncomfortable gives a child a fortitude that will take her far in the real world. Dr. Wendy Mogel, child psychologist, says homework is a menial task that teaches delayed gratification and persistence more than it teaches the subject of the homework. My kids think homework is worthless.

Kids are capable

The more we help with homework, the more the message gets sent that our kids need us to do it with them. We are subconsciously telling them they are incapable of finishing it and doing it well themselves.

I believe it is OK to help with homework, but not take it over or correct it. That said, I have a hard time leaving errors in my kids’ essays. I try to circle the problem and let them figure out what is wrong, but often I just tell them what to change. I know! I’m weak, but learning.

You’re loved based on what you contribute

I have concluded that often we end up feeling love is conditional. Kids have to succeed at school or some other talent to receive love. Parents put their work and adult relationships aside to earn society’s star of approval and their childrens’ love.

When parents finally get the nerve to ask for their kids’ help, because they feel resentful and burned out, do kids feel the withdrawal of our support as a withdrawal of our love?

Romantic relationships

Romantic relationships feel the imbalance of exalted and menial work too. We are not living in the 1960s Feminine Mystique times, but there is still often a division of labor which has the smaller breadwinner taking on the menial jobs around the house.

I think this is why the children are so hell-bent on being a big bread-winner — no menial tasks in their future then either.

The imbalance of honor for the different types of work, can create a chasm between partners. The one doing the menial, less lucrative jobs, is at risk of feeling less respected or appreciated. When differences are exploited more than appreciated, distance between lovers grows.

My ex- husband used to always say, “She’s the boss.” to his friends and family while referring to me. It never felt genuine. I stayed home and handled most of the day-to-day household maintenance, including childcare. I knew my jobs were important but when dinner time rolled around and all eyes and ears were on my husband at the head of the table, my work didn’t feel like it was important.

It was easy to resent my husband and get disconnected.

I’m curious if this kind of imbalance of power and labor is as common in lower socioeconomic levels.

washing dishes

Photo by Catt Liu on Unsplash

Why we should do menial jobs

The truth is the small menial tasks and maintenance create order and serve society. Dr. Mogel says they elevate society by lightening the load of individuals and letting everyone feel the satisfaction of contributing and belonging.


What is considered exalted work in your home? Does everyone help with menial tasks? Do you ever feel you do more than a fair share of menial work?


About the Author:


  1. J Katz July 14, 2018 at 7:58 am - Reply

    This is such a great post, Brenda. 🙂

    I work as a secretary and I can always tell the difference between supervisors who appreciate the role support staff have in the functioning of an organization and those look down with disdain and snobbery on their assistants- or worse, make jokes about ‘cheating on ones wife with ones secretary’ (ugh).

    To be honest, I like performing a support role as long as I am respected and paid well enough. To some extent, I find performing menial tasks more relaxing than exulted tasks because the focus is on getting the thing done for the sake of having it done rather than on showing off and competing.

    However, sometimes this kind of work can become quite burdensome and stressful if you’re the only person performing it and if others treat your work as invisible. In family relationships especially, I agree that it is frustrating when menial work is not appreciated. And I like to spend some of my free time on academic and artistic passions- which I can’t do if I’m constantly expected to do chores all day long.

    • Brenda Knowles July 18, 2018 at 2:49 pm - Reply

      Hi J! Thanks for your comment. I loved your point about performing menial tasks because they are more relaxing and not focused on competing or showing off. I agree, sometimes I think exulted work has a lot of ego behind it.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: