Pew Study Gender Difference Parent Duties
October 9, 2013

Pew Study Uncovers Differences In How Moms And Dads ‘Feel’ About Their Duties

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

A new Pew Research study found that parents are likely to find taking care of their kids not only more tiring, but more rewarding than what they do for a paycheck. The study also touches on differences in gender, noting that moms report feeling drained by several areas of their lives, including career, child care, housework and even leisure.

Fathers are also now more likely to help out around the house as well as with the kids, reversing a long-running trend which spans many generations. Fathers and mothers spend nearly the same amount of time in leisure activities while the time dedicated to child care and housework are becoming increasingly equal.

According to the study, fathers are still spending more time at work than mothers, and while both are helping out around the house, mothers are still more likely to handle the “personal care” of their children. These chores includes changing diapers, nursing a sick or injured child, cooking and cleaning. While fathers are pitching in with the cooking and cleaning, they’re the parent most likely to perform household maintenance and other repairs around the home.

From bathing, cleaning, playtime and everything in between, American parents surveyed said they found 62 percent of the time spent with their child to be “very meaningful.” The same parents said they could only say the same of their paid work about 36 percent of the time. When asked how tiring both these modes of work make them, parents said 12 percent of child-care activities tire them, compared to five percent of paid work-related tasks.

The work parents do for their children makes them "very happy" about 35 percent of the time, according to the survey, compared to 19 percent while at work. At 35 percent, parents reported time spent with their kids makes them nearly as happy as leisure time spent on their own.

The way parents feel about their work both in and out of the home differs between genders, however. When asked, mothers were more likely to feel that what they were doing around the house could be considered “highly meaningful.” Moms said they felt 46 percent of their housework could be considered very meaningful, while fathers only felt this way about 28 percent of their household chores. Mothers were also more likely to feel positive about the time they spent in leisure; on average mothers said they found meaning in 63 percent of their leisure time compared to 52 percent by fathers.

Where the two genders are equally matched, however, is in how they feel about the time they spend caring for their children. Mothers said they found 63 percent of child-care activities to be very meaningful and fathers agreed. Of all the time they spend with their kids, fathers said they found 60 percent of child-care time to be very meaningful.

The data for the study, compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and analyzed by Pew Research Center, is the first of its kind to ask how parents feel about the time they spend at home and away.

"We know a lot about how parents' roles have changed and how today both moms and dads balance work and family, but what we don't know is how they feel during various activities. This data set answers that question and gives us a very accurate recording of exactly how they feel," explained Wendy Wang, the report's primary author.

How parents feel, it turns out, largely depends on their gender. Though mothers were more likely to feel tired and stressed in all areas of their life, they were also more likely to say time spent with the kids made them “very happy.”