Womens and mens employment patterns and the parental roles in the family

relations between employment patterns of both women and men and their family roles are increasingly being recognized (Deutsch, 1999; Gottfried, Gottfried, Bathurst, and Killian, 1999; Hoffman, 2000). In this subsection, a variety of issues concerning the links between the worlds of work and family is considered to illustrate the impact of recent shifts in work patterns on both men's and women's family roles. The impact of changes in the rate of maternal employment on both quantitative and qualitative aspects of father participation is examined, as well as the influence of variations in family work schedules.

Since the mid-1950s, there has been a dramatic shift in the participation rate of women in the labor force. The rise has been particularly dramatic for married women with children. Between 1950 and 1996, the employment rate for married mothers of children has increased dramatically to over 70%, and among mothers of adolescents it is even higher (80%) (Hoffman, 2000). How have these shifts affected the quantity and the quality of the father's contribution to family tasks such as housework and childcare?

Problems arise in interpreting the main data source—time-use studies—because these studies often fail to control for the family size and the age of children. As Hoffman (1984, p. 439) noted, "Since employed-mother families include fewer children, in general, and fewer preschoolers and infants, in particular, there are fewer childcare tasks to perform." Therefore the differences between families with employed and nonemployed mothers may, in fact, be underestimated. A second problem is that, as noted earlier, the differentiation of tasks performed by fathers is often very crude, and in some studies it is impossible to determine what specific aspects of the father's family work—such as primary childcare, non-care-related child contact, or housework—are affected (Coltrane, 1996, 2000). In spite of these limitations, some trends are clear.

One estimate by Coltrane (1996, pp. 173-174) suggests that "men's average contributions to inside housework have roughly doubled since about 1970, whereas women's contributions have decreased by a third... the late 1980's men were doing about 5 hours per week or about 20-25% of the inside chores." These trends are slightly higher in the case of dual-career families. For example, Bailey (1994) and Bonney et al. (1999) found that among European Americans, father participation in childcare was higher when mothers were employed outside the home. Similar findings are evident for African American and Mexican American fathers as well. Fagan (1998) found that as the number of hours that wives work increases, the amount of time African American fathers spend playing, reading, and directly interacting with their preschoolers increases. Evidence (NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2000) suggests that the relation between maternal employment and father involvement is, in part, dependent on fathers' childrearing beliefs. When mothers do not work or work only part time, fathers are more likely to participate in caregiving if they hold nontraditional views of parenting; when mothers are employed full time, father participation in caregiving is higher regardless of fathers' beliefs. However, there are exceptions to this overall pattern. Neither Kelley

(1997), in a study of low-income and blue-collar two-parent African American families, nor Hossain and Roopnarine (1994), in a study of middle-SES African American families, found a relation between maternal employment and paternal involvement in childcare. Similarly, Yeung et al. (1999), in their national sample, found no evidence of an increase in fathers' childcare responsibilities on weekdays as a function of the number of hours of maternal employment.

These trends do not negate the fact that the majority of household tasks are still performed by women, including childcare (Pleck, 1997). Moreover, this increase often emerges as a result of wives' reducing the amount of time they devote to housework and childcare rather than as a result of increases in the absolute amount of time men devote to these tasks. In a time-diary study of housework and childcare, Walker and Woods (1976) found that husbands' proportion of all family work (i.e., combining that performed by both husband and wife) rose from 16% (1.6 of 9.7 hr) to 25% (1.6 of 6.4 hr) when wives were employed. Other studies confirm the general finding that fathers' proportional shares increase, in part, because they are contributing more absolute time and because mothers are spending less time on home tasks (Pleck, 1983; 1997; Robinson, 1988; Robinson and Godbey, 1997; Shelton, 1992). These findings are not without significance for children's development because the impact of the mother and the father on children is likely to be different in families in which the father and the mother are more equal in their household participation.

However, there is less evidence for absolute increases in fathers' contributions to family work when wives are employed, especially in father-child contact. Although some investigators report a modest increase in absolute level (O'Connell, 1993; Pleck, 1997), other studies report no absolute increase (Blair et al. 1999; Gottfried et al. 1994) in father contact as a result of maternal employment.

One of the problems in this literature is the failure to recognize the importance of the temporal patterning of both mothers' and fathers' work hours and the degree to which there is overlap in the work schedules of mothers and fathers. As several investigators have found, as the overlap in spouses' work schedules decreases, husbands become more involved in family work (Presser, 1994) including childcare (Brayfield, 1994).

The observed proportional increase in father participation when mothers work outside the home fits well Rappaport's concept for a psychosocial lag (Rappaport, Rappaport, and Strelitz, 1977). According to this concept, men's roles in the family change at a slower rate than do shifts in women's roles in paid employment. Part of the explanation for the relatively modest size of the shift in men's family work when women enter the job market, according to Pleck (1983, p. 47) may be that there has been a "value shift in our culture toward greater family involvement by husbands... which has effects even on those husbands whose wives are not employed." A similar trend is found in the reduction in time devoted to household tasks by nonemployed women as well as by employed women (Coltrane, 2000; Hoffman, 1984; Robinson, 1988; Robinson and Godbey, 1997).

Unfortunately, a number of problems limit the value of these findings to our understanding of historical trends in fathering. Most of the available data come from cross-sectional comparisons of families in which wives are either employed outside the home or not. Although it is assumed that these concurrent data can be extrapolated backward to provide a picture of how men's participation in family activities has shifted across time as a result of the historically documented increases in women's presence in the work force, longitudinal studies of the same families as well as repeated cross-sectional comparisons across time are necessary to place this issue on a firmer empirical basis.

In current literature, cohort, time of testing, and age of children are often confounded. For example, in the studies that show that the fathers' participation is higher when infants and young children are involved, it is not clear whether this is due only to the age of the children or to the difference in the cohorts whose children are younger at the time of evaluation. Value shifts may elicit greater involvement in the current cohort of new parents that may not have affected more seasoned parents. Moreover, once a pattern of father participation has been established, possibly these families will continue to participate more equally in childrearing. If this analysis is correct, future surveys may indicate that father participation extends into later childhood age periods. Alternatively, fathers who are involved early may feel that they have contributed and do less at later ages. The importance of considering the timing of the mother's employment as a determinant of the degree of father involvement is clear. Age of the child is not the only variable, however; other factors such as employment onset in relation to the family's developmental cycle as well as the reason for employment need to be considered. Both the age of the parents and their point in the occupation cycle will affect paternal involvement and may interact with maternal employment.

Examination of the quantitative shifts in father behavior as a consequence of maternal employment is only one aspect of the problem; it is also necessary to examine the impact of this shift on the quality of the father-child relationship. Some evidence suggests that shifts in the quality of father-infant interaction may occur as a function of maternal employment. In one study, Pedersen, Anderson, and Cain (1980) assessed the impact of dual-wage-earner families on mother and father interaction patterns with their 5-month-old infants. Fathers in single-wage-earner families tended to play with their infants more than mothers did, but in the two-wage-earner families the mothers' rates of social play were higher than the fathers' rates of play. In fact, the fathers in these dual-wage-earner families played at lower rates than even the mothers in the single-wage-earner families. Because the observations took place in the evenings after both parents returned from their jobs, Pedersen at al. (1980, p. 10) suggested that the mother used increased play as a way of reestablishing contact with her infant after being away from home for the day: "It is possible that the working mother's special need to interact with the infant inhibited or crowded out the father in his specialty." However, as studies of reversed-role families suggest, the physical style of fathers play remains evident (Field, 1978). Together with the study by Pedersen et al. (1980), these data suggest that both mothers and fathers may exhibit distinctive play styles, even when family role arrangements modify the quantity of their interaction. However, the father-infant relationship appears to be altered as a result of maternal employment. Specifically, insecure infant-father attachment is higher in dual-career families, although only for sons and not for daughters (Belsky, Rovine, and Fish, 1989). Other evidence suggests that fathers in dual-earner families are less sensitive with their male infants at 4 and 12 months of age. These sons were more likely to have insecure attachments with their fathers (Braungart-Rieker, Courtney, and Garwood, 1999). Grych and Clark (1999) report similar findings, namely that in families in which mothers work full time (defined as 25 hr or more), fathers were more negative in interacting with their infants at 4 months of age, although the relation was not evident when their infants were 12 months of age. In contrast, in homes with a nonemployed mother, father caregiving participation was related to positive affect and behavior during play when their infants were 4 and 12 months of age and at 12 months for fathers whose wives worked part time (fewer than 25 hrs a week). Fathers whose wives do not work outside the home are likely to engage in these activities because they enjoy it, whereas fathers with full-time working wives are pressed into service and experience more tension in balancing work and home duties (Grych and Clark, 1999). Finally, McHale, Crouter, and Bartko (1991), in a sample of fourth- and fifth-grade children, found that both work status of spouses and role arrangements in families (traditional vs. egalitarian) may, in fact, be independent. To understand the effects of father participation on children, it is important to understand both the work status of parents and family type (traditional vs. egalitarian). McHale et al. (1991) found that an inequitable division of parents' work and family roles relate to poorer socioemotional adjustment of children. Children from traditional dual-earner families were more anxious and depressed and rated themselves lower in terms of both peer social acceptance and school competence than did children from families characterized by an equitable division in parents' work and family role (e.g., traditional single-earner and egalitarian dual-earner families).

Father's work quantity and quality and father involvement. Instead of examining whether or not one or both parents are employed, researchers have begun to address the issue of the impact of the quantity, quality, and nature of work on fathering behavior (Perry-Jenkins, Repetti, and Crouter, 2000). In terms of quantity, several studies found that fathers who are employed for more hours were less involved in caregiving than fathers who worked fewer hours (Coltrane, 1996; NICHD Early Child Care Network, 2000). Yeung et al. (2001, p. 148) made the following estimate: "for every hour a father is at work, there is an associated one-minute decrease in time a child spent with him on weekdays (mostly in play companionship activities)."

In terms of the quality issue, Crouter (1994) noted that there are two types of linkage between father work and fathering. One type of research focuses on work as an "emotional climate" (Kanter, 1977) that, in turn, may have carryover effects to the enactment of roles in home settings. The focus is generally on short-term or transitory effects. A second type of linkage focuses on the types of skill, attitude, and perspective that adults acquire in their work-based socialization as adults and on how these variations in job experience alter their behavior in family contexts. In contrast to the short-term perspective of the spillover of emotional climate research, this type of endeavor involves more enduring and long-lasting effects of work on family life.

Work in the first tradition has been conducted by Repetti (1989, 1994), who studied the impact of working in a high-stress job (air traffic controller) on subsequent family interaction patterns. She found that the male air traffic controllers were more withdrawn in marital interactions after highstress shifts and tended to be behaviorally and emotionally withdrawn during interactions with their children as well. Although high workload is associated with withdrawal, negative social experiences in the workplace have a different effect. In addition, distressing social experiences at work were associated with higher expressions of anger and greater use of discipline during interaction with a child later in the day. Repetti views this as a "spillover effect" in which there is a transfer of negative feelings across settings. Similarly Crouter, Bumpus, Maguire, and McHale (1999) found that mothers and fathers who felt more pressure on the job reported greater role overload, which, in turn was linked to heightened parent-adolescent conflict (see Perry-Jenkins et al., 2000, for a review).

Other research suggests that positive work experiences can enhance the quality of fathering. Grossman, Pollack, and Golding (1988) found that high job satisfaction was associated with higher levels of support for fathers' 5-year-old children's autonomy and affiliation in spite of the fact that positive feelings about work were negatively related to the quantity of time spent interacting with their children. This finding underscores the importance of distinguishing quantity and quality of involvement. One caveat: In contrast to the Repetti studies, the study by Grossman et al. focused on general job satisfaction and demandingness rather than on daily fluctuations in the level of positivity or negativity experienced in the work setting. Future studies need to assess these two aspects of job-related affect and involvement separately.

Work patterns have long-term links with fathering as well. Fathers on air traffic controller teams with a poor social climate had less positive and more negative emotional tone in their interactions with their children (Repetti, 1994). This line of research underscores the importance of distinguishing among different types of work-related stress on subsequent father-child interactions and of considering the direct short-term carryover effects versus long-term effects of work on fathering. In fact, relatively little attention has been paid to the types of local events that account for daily fluctuations in fathering behavior.

Research in the second tradition of family-work linkage, namely the effects of the nature of men's occupational roles on their fathering behavior, dates back to Kohn and Schooler (1983) and Miller and Swanson (1958). Men who experience a high degree of occupational autonomy value independence in their children, consider children's intentions when considering discipline, and use reasoning and withdrawal of rewards instead of physical punishment. In contrast, men who are in highly supervised jobs with little autonomy value conformity and obedience, focus on consequences rather than on intentions, and use more physical forms of discipline. In short, they repeat their job-based experiences in their parenting roles (see Parcel and Menaghan, 1994, for a review of the impact of mother's work characteristics on parenting).

Greenberger and O'Neil (1991) extended the original work oh Kohn and Schooler (1983) by focusing on the implications of job characteristics not only for the parenting behavior of both mothers and fathers but, in turn, the effects of these variations in parenting for children's development. Fathers with more complex jobs (i.e., those characterized by mentoring others versus taking instruction or serving others) spend more time alone with sons and more time developing their sons' skills

(e.g., academic, athletic, mechanical, interpersonal), but this is not the case for daughters. In fact, they spend more time in work and work-related activities if they have daughters. In addition, these fathers tend to behave more warmly and responsively to sons and use less harsh and less lax control of sons, but report more firm but flexible control with daughters. Fathers who have jobs characterized by a high level of challenge (e.g., expected to solve problems, high level of decision making) devote more time to developing sons' skills, give higher-quality explanations to their sons, and use less harsh and more firm but flexible control in their interactions with their boys. Finally, fathers with time-urgent jobs (work fast most of the day; have difficulty in taking a break) spend more time on work activities, less time interacting, and use less lax control if they have daughters. To summarize, when fathers have complex, stimulating, and challenging jobs, their boys seem to benefit much more than their girls do. According to these researchers, different processes may account for the work-home linkages because of stimulating or challenging jobs and complexity of occupation. Greenberger and O'Neil (1991, p. 13) argued that "spillover of positive mood" may account for the relationships between stimulating-challenging jobs and good fathering, whereas, "complexity of work with people may increase fathers' intellectual and emotional flexibility in dealing with their sons." Similarly GrimmThomas and Perry-Jenkins (1994) found that fathers with greater complexity and autonomy at work reported higher self esteem and less authoritarian parenting. Similarly, in a sample of European-American, rural, dual-earner couples, Whitbeck et al. (1997) found that fathers with more job autonomy had more flexible parenting styles that were linked to a sense of mastery and control in their adolescents. Interestingly, some evidence suggests that the effect of these job characteristics may be more evident for fathers than for mothers. Although some studies find that job characteristics are associated with maternal parenting (Parcel and Menaghan, 1994), others (Greenberger and O'Neil, 1991; Whitbeck et al., 1997) find that mothers' job qualities are less predictive of their parenting than are fathers' job attributes. Perhaps mothers show fewer links because of the more heavily culturally or evolutionary scripted nature of maternal roles (Parke, 1996).

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