Modern Parenthood...the Converging Roles of Mom & Dad

A recent report from Pew Research says how mothers and fathers spend their time has changed dramatically in the past half century.  Dads are doing more housework and child care; moms more paid work outside the home.  Neither has overtaken the other in their “traditional” realms, but their roles are converging.

The amount of time parents spend doing housework is a good indicator of the converging roles.  Fathers’ time spent doing household chores has more than doubled since 1965 (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours).  Mothers’ time doing housework has gone down significantly over the same period (from 32 hours per week to 18).

Mothers’ attitudes toward work have changed considerably in recent years.  Among mothers with children under age 18, the share saying they would prefer to work full time has increased from 20% in 2007 to 32% in 2012.  Tough economic times may have ushered in a new mindset, as women in the most difficult financial circumstances are among the most likely to say working full time is the ideal situation for them.

Feeling rushed is also a part of everyday life for today’s mothers and fathers.  Among those with children under age 18, 40% of working mothers and 34% of working fathers say they always feel rushed.  The report finds that about half (53%) of all working parents with children under age 18 say it is difficult for them to balance the responsibilities of their job with the responsibilities of their family.

With so many demands on their time, many parents wonder whether they are spending the right amount of time with their children.  Overall, 33% of parents with children under age 18 say they are not spending enough time with their children.  Fathers are much more likely than mothers to feel this way.  Some 46% of fathers say they are not spending enough time with their children, compared with 23% of mothers.

The good news...the amount of time parents spend with their children continues to go up.  Fathers have nearly tripled their time with children since 1965.  Mothers’ time with children has also increased, and today’s mothers spend more time with their children than mothers did in the 1960s.

Here are more results of the study.