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Mom Still Does Lion’s Share of Bringing up Kids

Update Date: Jul 13, 2012 09:15 AM EDT

There are periodic movements in liberation and gender equality issues. Though they generate new ideas on handling conflicts, there has been little shift on the ground, reveals a new study published in Gender & Society.

Succumbing to society's pressure to get involved in their children's lives many middle class men are turning to sports as one method of nurturing them. But the researchers found that this extension of activities does not change traditional behavior at home - where household chores and other parenting responsibilities are still seen as mom's job.

"Women may be unhappy about this inequality, but at the same time they value the fact that their partners are involved with the kids -- even if it is mostly manifested on the soccer field," says Dr. Tamar Kremer-Sadlik, director of Programs of the Social Sciences Division at UCLA and co-author of the study Fatherhood and Youth Sports: a Balancing Act between Care and Expectations.

The study, co-authored with Prof. Lucas Gottzén-from Linköping University- Sweden, appears in the current issue of Gender & Society.

Drawing on a large research project conducted by the UCLA Center on Everyday Lives of Families, the study ran from 2002 - 2005. It included middle-class families in the Los Angeles area (each with two to three children) and both parents working.

Researchers found that while some fathers may push their children to achieve athletically and using time with the team to become emotionally closer to their kids. However, when researchers studied how these families dealt with housework and childcare, they found that women "did the lion's share of these tasks."

"Critical research on men, masculinities, and fathers' involvement in youth sports is limited. Many studies have looked at men and sports, but not how sports relates to fatherhood," says Kremer-Sadlik. "The fathers we studied are finding ways to create a new ideal of fatherhood, but they are not creating a new ideal with their partners."

Some fathers may even use involvement in their children's sports to get out of household chores and other parenting tasks.

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