Summary: According to researchers, parenting carries more stress and strain for moms.
Source: Cornell University.
A new study from a Cornell University sociologist shows that while parents enjoy the time they spend with their children, parenting carries more strain for mothers.
That is likely, the researchers found, because moms spend more time with their kids while doing more onerous chores like basic childcare, cooking and cleaning, whereas dads spend more time with children in enjoyable, low-stress activities like play and leisure. Mothers also do more solo parenting, experience more sleep disruptions and have less leisure time, which are all associated with lower levels of well-being.
“It’s not that moms are so stressed out with their kids, but relative to fathers, they’re experiencing more strain,” said Kelly Musick, associate professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell and co-author of the study, “How Parents Fare: Mothers’ and Fathers’ Subjective Well-Being in Time with Children,” which appeared in the American Sociological Review.
“Mothers are doing different things with their children than fathers are, things that we know aren’t as enjoyable,” Musick said. “Playing with their kids is a particularly enjoyable experience for parents. And dads are doing more play as a share of the total amount of time they spend with their kids.”
And much of the time that fathers spend with children is family time, when the mother is also present, Musick said, so, men don’t have sole responsibility for the children as often as mothers.
She pointed to a soccer analogy from late sociologist Suzanne Bianchi, who compared mothers to “sweepers” in soccer; they do what they must to defend the goal.
“They’re going to play when they have time to play, but they’re going to make sure they have everything else covered,” she said. “Dinner is made, the kids are bathed, laundry is folded. They do play with their kids, but when you take account of all the things they’re doing, it’s just a smaller share of their time.”
The researchers mined a new source of data and took a novel approach to get these results.
Analyzing time-use diaries from the American Time Use Surveys from 2010, 2012 and 2013, the researchers looked at reports from 12,000 parents about how they felt and what they were doing during three random periods during a 24-hour day. For each period, the parents rated how happy, sad, stressed and tired they felt and how meaningful they considered the activity they were doing. The researchers then compared how the parents felt doing activities with their children to how they felt doing the same kinds of activities without their kids.
“A lot of how parents feel about parenting is based on incidental moments with kids,” she said, “like hanging out on the couch or going grocery shopping. There’s a lot of parenting involved in those small moments.”
Musick hypothesizes that perhaps mothers do more of the onerous parenting work because the expectations are higher for them than for fathers. Differences in society’s parenting standards for moms and dads in turn make it difficult for mothers to demand less of themselves as parents.
“As a sociologist, I wish we, as a society, could let go of some of the assumptions and constraints we place on the mother and father roles. The mom and the dad are interacting within a societal framework that is out of their control to a great extent,” she said. “Couples can try work together to change how they parent, but that’s not really the solution. The solution is that we collectively rethink what we expect of fathers and what we expect of mothers.”
Source: Rebecca Valli – Cornell University
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Abstract for “How Parents Fare: Mothers’ and Fathers’ Subjective Well-Being in Time with Children” by Kelly Musick, Ann Meier, and Sarah Flood in American Sociological Review. Published online September 2 2016 doi:10.1177/0003122416663917
[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]Cornell University “Children Mean Stress for Mom and Joy for Dad.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 7 October 2016.
<https://neurosciencenews.com/children-maternal-stress-5236/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]Cornell University (2016, October 7). Children Mean Stress for Mom and Joy for Dad. NeuroscienceNew. Retrieved October 7, 2016 from https://neurosciencenews.com/children-maternal-stress-5236/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]Cornell University “Children Mean Stress for Mom and Joy for Dad.” https://neurosciencenews.com/children-maternal-stress-5236/ (accessed October 7, 2016).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]
Unsupervised learning in probabilistic neural networks with multi-state metal-oxide memristive synapses
The shift to more time-intensive and child-centered parenting in the United States is widely assumed to be positively linked to healthy child development, but implications for adult well-being are less clear. We assess multiple dimensions of parents’ subjective well-being in activities with children and explore how the gendered nature of time potentially contributes to differences in mothers’ and fathers’ parenting experiences. Relying on nationally representative time diary data linked to respondents’ feelings in activities from the 2010, 2012, and 2013 well-being module of the American Time Use Survey (N = 12,163 persons and 36,036 activities), we find that parents consistently report greater subjective well-being in activities with children than without. Mothers, however, report less happiness, more stress, and greater fatigue in time with children than do fathers. These gaps are relatively small and can be accounted for by differences in the activities that mothers and fathers engage in with children, whether other adults are present, and the quality of their sleep and leisure. We go beyond prior work on parental happiness and life satisfaction to document how contemporary parenting is woven differently into the lives of mothers and fathers.
“How Parents Fare: Mothers’ and Fathers’ Subjective Well-Being in Time with Children” by Kelly Musick, Ann Meier, and Sarah Flood in American Sociological Review. Published online September 2 2016 doi:10.1177/0003122416663917