Dads are now as stressed as moms

Men are still the major breadwinners in most families, but over the past few decades they’ve been expected to pull more weight at home. Wives now ask husbands to help around the house, share in child-care, and take leadership in areas other than career and finances. 

Men are finding this very stressful, according to an article in The New York Times yesterday:

For decades, the debate about balancing work and family life has been framed as an issue for women. Many studies have shown that motherhood is more taxing than fatherhood; mothers typically reported higher levels of unhappiness than women without children or men in general. Over the years, this disparity has helped fuel the gender wars, in policy debates and at home, often over a pile of dirty laundry…

But several studies show that fathers are now struggling just as much — and sometimes even more — than mothers in trying to fulfill their responsibilities at home and in the office. Just last week, Boston College released a study called “The New Dad” suggesting that new fathers face a subtle bias in the workplace, which fails to recognize their stepped-up family responsibilities and presumes that they will be largely unaffected by children.

The studies suggest (but do not prove) that fathers are less happy than mothers with all this multi-tasking. This despite the fact that moms who work outside the home are still putting in double the hours of their husbands on housework.

Of course, the genders disagree as to how things really break down:

In the 2008 Families and Work report, 49 percent of men said they provided most or an equal amount of child care. But only 31 percent of women gave their husbands that much credit. The perception gap continued for cooking and housecleaning — more than 50 percent of men say they do most or half the work; 70 percent of wives say they do all of it.

This isn’t surprising. Women underestimate the contributions men make, and men don’t appreciate that women still feel the “psychological responsibility” for home and child care.

 

Zoe Romanowsky

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Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in "Catholic Digest," "Faith & Family," "National Catholic Register," "Our Sunday Visitor," "Urbanite," "Baltimore Eats," and Godspy.com. Zo

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