Dads are Fun, Moms are Shrews

Moms are for cooking and dads are for story time — or so claims a new study out of Ohio, which claims that not only do dads make better playmates and moms better caregivers to their small children, but that sticking to those roles actually make for “stronger relationships.”

Via Forbes:

In a study of 112 couples with four-year-old children, both mothers and fathers were asked how often they were involved in play activities with children (Shoulder rides! Yay!) versus how often they were involved in caregiving activities (Bathtime! Boo!).

The families were then observed, with both parents helping their child to draw a picture and build with blocks. The test? To detect how much the parents or supported each other or underminded each other in parenting their child.

From the study’s press release:

Results showed that couples had a stronger, more supportive co-parenting relationship when the father spent more time playing with their child. But when the father participated more in caregiving, like preparing meals for the child or giving baths, the couples were more likely to display less supportive and more undermining co-parenting behavior toward each other.

The results were surprising, and may be disappointing for people who believe mothers and fathers should share equally in the caregiving for their children, said Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, co-author of the study and associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.

The study hints that it’s mom’s tendency to question her husband’s capability to perform such caregiving–and traditionally female–tasks as bathtime that generate the friction.

So, mothers “undermine” their husbands when they try to do caregiving tasks? Sounds like this study was commissioned by dads looking to get out of the mundane parts of parenting.

 

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75 comments

jane richmond
jane richmond6 years ago

Dads come home and play with the kids for and hour then it's mom's job to finish off the day by sending them to bed. Mean Mommy just when Daddy and I start to have fun she says bedtime.

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Rose N.
Past Member 6 years ago

Thank you for posting.

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Lika S.
Lika P6 years ago

As a mom who went through that as a working mom, I always appreciated when "Daddy" took his share of child care so I could catch up on much needed sleep. I started to get resentful when he started to get further away from his fatherhood role, and then started accusing people of trying to steal his son away from him... It got too far and I ended up divorcing him because of the lack of help. I felt like I was a single mom of 2, cept the older one is older than me...

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Emily W.
Emily W6 years ago

In my family the men are usually the cooks. None of our family members have ever been through a divorce....

In my marriage both of us do childcare. We have to, since we both work. Our marriage is stronger than most couples. My experience in 'studies' tell me to look at all the variables before considering a "study" reliable.

For example: Did they take into consideration that most men still expect their wifes to do things like cook and clean and childcare because their mother did this? This variable could very easily make a couple unhappy if the wife didn't do all the childcare/housework.

Did they ask the couples how traditional they were? Because it is shown that if both believe in strinct gender roles than most likely the relationship is fine with the mother doing all the caregiving.

These variables need to be taken into consideration. Your study seems to have bias, not including all variabals.

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Christina Carlson

Imagine my surprise when I found myself upset and feeling downtrodden when I was relegated to the role of provider for my family simply because I had the higher income! My husband is the best father I've known and yet I played into my own critical nature, judging his parenting performance by the ideal of what I might have been as the family caregiver were the roles reversed. It might just be that we are too young in our evolution to truly treat one another as equals even when we do see ample evidence of it. I guess my point is that I would have been angered if I'd been denied the right to be the bread-winner but I was jealous and felt displaced as a caregiver. No question that I'm of two minds on the topic and my husband as well. Now our focus is on unity and partnership and treaating eachother as individual people with our own unique needs. We could stand forever pointing blame at our upbringing but ultimately we need to take responsibility for our own actions and decisions as well as our emotions. I think that most of the things worth having are those we would fight for and what is more precious to us than our offspring? I hope my boys grow into men who can find the beauty in all ways of being an individual who harms none and can find the same strengths in others, however they are expressed. It was exhausting to grow up in a world where I was forever pushed-pulled by the perceived limits and strengths of my gender but having that struggle also made me who I am.

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Fred Hayward
Fred H6 years ago

I want to apologize that my comment below was repeated 3 times. It appeared to fail being posted the first 2 times I tried. On my third try, all 3 appeared.

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Fred Hayward
Fred H6 years ago

Betsy M says "Society is more judgmental of female parenting." There is some truth in that, but the reality is far more complex than your sweeping statement.

Indeed, male parenting very LITERALLY must pass judgment. No father is allowed to actively parent without someone's permission (either the mother, or a court). For mothers, on the other hand, no matter how ill-prepared they might be, parenting is a birthright, a right taken for granted.

Many (if not most) fathers I know (including myself) have experienced being treated like a molester simply for taking our own children to a park or a restaurant. We have endured suspicious glances, harsh questioning, and police intervention.

So, please, don't think fathers have no experience being "judged."

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Fred Hayward
Fred H6 years ago

Betsy M says "Society is more judgmental of female parenting." There is some truth in that, but the reality is far more complex than your sweeping statement.

Indeed, male parenting very LITERALLY must pass judgment. No father is allowed to actively parent without someone's permission (either the mother, or a court). For mothers, on the other hand, no matter how ill-prepared they might be, parenting is a birthright, a right taken for granted.

Many (if not most) fathers I know (including myself) have experienced being treated like a molester simply for taking our own children to a park or a restaurant. We have endured suspicious glances, harsh questioning, and police intervention.

So, please, don't think fathers have no experience being "judged."

SEND
Fred Hayward
Fred H6 years ago

Betsy M says "Society is more judgmental of female parenting." There is some truth in that, but the reality is far more complex than your sweeping statement.

Indeed, male parenting very LITERALLY must pass judgment. No father is allowed to actively parent without someone's permission (either the mother, or a court). For mothers, on the other hand, no matter how ill-prepared they might be, parenting is a birthright, a right taken for granted.

Many (if not most) fathers I know (including myself) have experienced being treated like a molester simply for taking our own children to a park or a restaurant. We have endured suspicious glances, harsh questioning, and police intervention.

So, please, don't think fathers have no experience being "judged."

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Rachel H.
Rachel H6 years ago

Moms are for cooking? Try telling that to my parents. ;) My dad is and always has been the chef in the house. The first time my mom made steaks for both of them, my dad had to scrape all the salt off with his fork before he could eat it. My mom does have my dad beat in the pancakes and dessert-making department though. But that's probably just because he doesn't usually eat desserts and thus, does not have a lot of practice.

This is ultimately, however, a far more complicated issue than the author seems to imply. There are years of societal influences and unconscious psychological pressures at work here. And despite what people may think, there ARE psychological differences between males and females. Women, in general (note general, it's not all), are more emotion-oriented than men. Men tend to be more action-oriented. This has contributed, in the past, to men playing with the children (action) and women caring for them (emotional).

What I think this study reflects is that we've reached a point where men and women are both equally capable in the play-care capacity, but our society hasn't really caught up yet. Regardless, this study doesn't mean a whole lot. You will always have moms and dads who go against the norm by switching roles, like it was in my family.

As an aside, Daddies really do give better shoulder rides, because they're taller (just watch out for door frames!).

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