Parenting Bulletin    
Recent News |  Archives |  Tags |  Newsletter |  Message Board/Forum |  About |  Links |  Subscribe to ParentingBulletin.com RSS Feed Subscribe


More Articles
Improvements in fuel cell designImprovements in fuel cell design

Rediscovering Venus to find faraway earths

Archaeologists discover bronze remains of Iron Age chariot

Researchers resolve the Karakoram glacier anomaly, a cold case of climate science

Fish tale: New study evaluates antibiotic content in farm-raised fishFish tale: New study evaluates antibiotic content in farm-raised fish

New 3-D display technology promises greater energy efficiencyNew 3-D display technology promises greater energy efficiency

Researchers break nano barrier to engineer the first protein microfiberResearchers break nano barrier to engineer the first protein microfiber

Magnetic mirrors enable new technologies by reflecting light in uncanny ways

Structure of an iron-transport protein revealedStructure of an iron-transport protein revealed

First step: From human cells to tissue-engineered esophagusFirst step: From human cells to tissue-engineered esophagus

Lift weights, improve your memory

Spiders: Survival of the fittest group

Autophagy helps fast track stem cell activationAutophagy helps fast track stem cell activation

Myelin vital for learning new practical skillsMyelin vital for learning new practical skills

More physical activity improved school performanceMore physical activity improved school performance

Around the world in 400,000 years: The journey of the red foxAround the world in 400,000 years: The journey of the red fox

Engineering new vehicle powertrainsEngineering new vehicle powertrains

Active aging is much more than exerciseActive aging is much more than exercise

Study: New device can slow, reverse heart failureStudy: New device can slow, reverse heart failure

Are the world's religions ready for ET?Are the world's religions ready for ET?

Gut bacteria, artificial sweeteners and glucose intoleranceGut bacteria, artificial sweeteners and glucose intolerance

Recreating the stripe patterns found in animals by engineering synthetic gene networksRecreating the stripe patterns found in animals by engineering synthetic gene networks

Laying the groundwork for data-driven scienceLaying the groundwork for data-driven science

Nature's designs inspire research into new light-based technologiesNature's designs inspire research into new light-based technologies

Missing piece found to help solve concussion puzzleMissing piece found to help solve concussion puzzle

Biologists delay the aging process by 'remote control'Biologists delay the aging process by 'remote control'

Geography matters: Model predicts how local 'shocks' influence U.S. economyGeography matters: Model predicts how local 'shocks' influence U.S. economy

Identified for the first time what kind of explosive has been used after the detonationIdentified for the first time what kind of explosive has been used after the detonation

Copied from nature: Detecting software errors via genetic algorithmsCopied from nature: Detecting software errors via genetic algorithms

Thinking about family matters linked to stress for working moms, not dads (8/23/2013)

<
Tags:
balance, culture, daycare, emotions, family, fathers, fear, gender, labor, lead, mothers, parents, stress, thinking, work

Although working mothers and fathers are almost as likely to think about family matters throughout the day, only for mothers is this type of mental labor associated with increased stress and negative emotions, according to new research to be presented at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

"I assume that because mothers bear the major responsibility for childcare and family life, when they think about family matters, they tend to think about the less pleasant aspects of it -- such as needing to pick up a child from daycare or having to schedule a doctor's appointment for a sick kid -- and are more likely to be worried," said study author Shira Offer, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

Much has been written about the unequal division of household labor and childcare, but the overwhelming majority of studies in this field examine specific behaviors, Offer said. "These studies focus on the physical aspect of tasks and demands, which can be measured and quantified relatively easily," she said. "However, much of the work we do, both paid and unpaid, takes place in our mind. We are often preoccupied with the things we have to do, we often worry about them, and feel stressed not to forget to do them or to do them on time. These thoughts and concerns -- mental labor -- can impair our performance, make it difficult to focus on tasks, and even hurt our sleep. This mental labor is the focus of my study."

The study relies on data from the 500 Family Study, a multi-method investigation of how middle-class families balance family and work experiences. The 500 Family Study collected comprehensive information from 1999 to 2000 on families living in eight urban and suburban communities across the United States. Most parents in the 500 Family Study are highly educated, employed in professional occupations, and work, on average, longer hours and report higher earnings than do middle-class families in other, nationally representative samples. Although the 500 Family Study is not a representative sample of families in the U.S., it reflects one of the most time pressured segments of the population. Offer's study uses a subsample from the 500 Family Study, consisting of 402 mothers and 291 fathers in dual-earner families who completed a survey and a time diary that collects information about the content and context of individuals' daily experiences, as well as the emotions associated with them, in the course of a week.

Overall, Offer found that working mothers engaged in mental labor in about one fourth, and working fathers in one fifth, of their waking time. This amounts to approximately 29 and 24 hours per week of mental labor for mothers and fathers, respectively. However, mothers and fathers both spent about 30 percent of the time they were engaged in mental labor thinking about family matters. "I expected the gender gap in mental labor, especially those aspects of it that are related to family, to be much larger," Offer said. "What my research actually shows is that gender differences in mental labor are more a matter of quality than quantity."

As for why, engaging in family-specific mental labor negatively affected the well-being of mothers, but not fathers, Offer said she thinks societal expectations push mothers to assume the role of household managers and lead them to disproportionately address the less pleasant aspects of family care. "I believe that what makes this type of mental labor an overall negative and stressful experience for mothers only is that they are the ones judged and held accountable for family-related matters," she said.

Offer also found that while fathers spent a greater percentage of the time they engaged in mental labor thinking about work-related matters than mothers, thoughts and concerns about work were less likely to spillover into non-work domains among fathers. Twenty-five percent of the time fathers engaged in job-specific mental labor, they did so in non-work contexts, compared to 34 percent among mothers.

"We know that mothers are the ones who usually adjust their work schedule to meet family demands, such as staying home with a sick child," Offer said. "Therefore, mothers may feel that they do not devote enough time to their job and have to 'catch up,' and, as a result, they are easily preoccupied with job-related matters outside the workplace. This illustrates the double burden -- the pressure to be 'good' mothers and 'good' workers -- that working moms experience."

Offer said she was surprised by the relatively low level of work-related spillover for fathers. "I thought that in an organizational culture that requires workers to be accessible and available 24/7 no matter where they are, highly educated fathers holding professional and managerial positions would often be preoccupied with job matters when doing things such as housework or during their free time," she said. "It appears, however, that fathers are quite adept at leaving their work concerns behind and are better able to draw boundaries between work and home. I believe that fathers can afford to do that because someone else, namely their spouse, assumes the major responsibility for the household and childcare."

In terms of policy implications, Offer said her study suggests that fathers need to take a greater role in family care to make mental labor less stressful for working mothers and ease the double burden that they experience. "It is true that fathers today are more involved in childrearing and do more housework than in previous generations, but the major responsibility for the domestic realm continues to disproportionately fall on mothers' shoulders," she said. "This has to change."

Fathers have to be encouraged, rather than penalized, for being more active in the domestic sphere, Offer said. "This encouragement should take place at the federal, state, and organizational levels by making it possible for fathers, for example, to leave work early, start work late, take time off from work, and take pauses during the work day to deal with family-related matters," she said. "I think that if fathers were able to do this without the fear of being viewed as less committed workers, they would assume greater responsibility at home, which would lead to greater gender equality."

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by the American Sociological Association

Post Comments:

Search
New Articles
Certain parenting tactics could lead to materialistic attitudes in adulthoodCertain parenting tactics could lead to materialistic attitudes in adulthood

Even expectant dads experience prenatal hormone changes

A 2-minute delay in cutting the umbilical cord leads to a better development of newborns

Study finds low weight gain in pregnant women reduces male fetal survivalStudy finds low weight gain in pregnant women reduces male fetal survival

Prenatal exposure to common household chemicals linked with substantial drop in child IQ

Are you helping your toddler's aggressive behavior?

Punishing kids for lying just doesn't work

Higher birth weight indicates better performance in school

Are the benefits of breast milk stimulant worth the risk?

Many chest X-rays in children are unnecessaryMany chest X-rays in children are unnecessary

Why does physical activity during childhood matter?

Heavier newborns show academic edge in school

Why don't children belong to the clean plate club?Why don't children belong to the clean plate club?

New study examines the effect of timing of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy

Full-day preschool linked with increased school readiness compared with part-day



Archives
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010




Science Friends
Agricultural Science
Astronomy News
Biology News
Biomimicry Science
Cognitive Research
Chemistry News
Tissue Engineering
Cancer Research
Cybernetics Research
Electonics Research
Forensics Report
Fossil News
Genetic Archaeology
Genetics News
Geology News
Nanotech News
Microbiology Research
Physics News
  Archives |  Submit News |  Advertise With Us |  Contact Us |  Links
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. All contents © 2000 - 2019 ParentingBulletin.com. All rights reserved.