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.”
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.