Modern Parenthood: Roles of Moms and Dads Converge as They Balance Work and Family

Mar 14, 2013 | by
  • Description

A lot has changed for women and men in the 50 years since Betty Friedan wrote "The Feminine Mystique". Women have made major strides in education and employment, and the American workplace has been transformed. But with these changes have come the added pressures of balancing work and family life, for mothers and fathers alike. Trends in time use going back to 1965 clearly show how the increased participation of women in the workforce has affected the amount of time mothers devote to paid work. In 2011, mothers spent, on average, 21 hours per week on paid work, up from eight hours in 1965. Over the same period, the total amount of time mothers spend in non-paid work has gone down somewhat. For their part, fathers now spend more time engaged in housework and child care than they did half a century ago. And the amount of time they devote to paid work has decreased slightly over that period. Fathers have by no means caught up to mothers in terms of time spent caring for children and doing household chores, but there has been some gender convergence in the way they divide their time between work and home. The report is divided into two main sections. Section I, Public Opinion Survey Findings, is based mainly on the new Pew Research survey and includes three chapters. Chapter 1 looks at women's growing presence in the labor market and explores changing attitudes about work. Chapter 2 looks at the challenges mothers and fathers face in attempting to balance work and family life. Chapter 3 explores how these challenges are affecting parents -- both in terms of their overall happiness and in how they evaluate the job they are doing raising their children. Section II of the report, Time Use Findings, primarily draws from time use surveys and includes public opinion questions related to time use when available. Chapter 4 provides an overview of how mothers and fathers spend their time in the workplace and at home and how they feel about their time. Chapter 5 goes into detail about the long-term trend in time use among men and women -- and fathers and mothers -- over the past five decades. Chapter 6 looks at current time use patterns among parents of different family types and living arrangements.