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Who helps with homework? Parenting inequality and relationship quality among employed mothers and fathers

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Schieman, Scott, Ruppanner, Leah & Milkie, Melissa A.
Publication Date: 
12 Sep 2017


This study investigated the relationship between parenting inequalities and feelings of relationship quality, and whether those patterns differed for women and men. Using data from the nationally representative 2011 Canadian Work, Stress, and Health Survey (N = 1427), we documented the relevance of perceived unfairness of the division of parenting and the ways that employment status and work hour preferences (“mismatch”) modify those relationships. We found that mothers in dual-earner households experience greater parenting inequalities than do similarly-situated fathers, net of housework inequalities. The negative association between parenting inequality and relationship quality was stronger among mothers—but that was due to perceived unfairness in the division of parenting tasks. We also observed that the detrimental effect of parenting inequality was stronger for mothers who worked part-time—but that was because of work hours mismatch: they tended to prefer to work longer hours. Our results contribute to the gendered nature of the division of parenting labor and its intersection with work hours and preferences.