Pew study: Mothers’ and fathers’ roles in household converging more and more

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The roles of mothers and fathers in the American household are increasingly converging, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

The roles of mothers and fathers in the American household are increasingly converging, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

DENVER — The roles of mothers and fathers in the American household are increasingly converging, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

While neither has overtaken the other in their “traditional” realms – men still do more work outside the home while women take a larger role in child-rearing – parents seem to be “crossing over” more than ever.

Roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under age 18 have two working parents. In those households, on average, fathers spend more time than mothers in paid work, while mothers spend more time on childcare and household chores. However, when their paid work is combined with the work they do at home, fathers and mothers are carrying an almost equal workload, the study said.

Interestingly, the genders appear to have different priorities at work. Dads are much more likely than moms to say they want to work full time. And when it comes to what they value most in a job, working fathers place more importance on having a high-paying job, while working mothers are more concerned with having a flexible schedule.

And despite how parents may actually be spending their time, a mere 16 percent of everyone surveyed said they would consider a household with a mother who works full-time to be an “ideal” situation.

The tough economy seems to be changing attitudes as well: Among mothers with children under age 18, the share saying they would prefer to work full time has increased from 20 percent in 2007 to 32 percent in 2012.

There were a few things everyone could agree on, though. The Pew Research survey found that about half (53 percent) of all working parents with children under 18 said it is difficult for them to balance the responsibilities of their job with the responsibilities of their family. And 33 percent of working parents said they were not able to spend enough time with their kids.

The study  findings are based on a new Pew Research survey of 2,511 adults nationwide conducted Nov. 28-Dec. 5, 2012, and an analysis of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS).

For more details and full methodology, visit Pew’s website.

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