January 31, 2011

Study implies that “traditional” parenting roles may be better for children

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:22

Cue the outrage:

Despite the long push for more equality in parenting duties, new research suggests that mothers and fathers may actually get along better when parenting roles are divided along more traditional lines — that is, when fathers back off caregiving duties, such as feeding and bathing, and put more effort into playtime.

[. . .]

Families in which fathers were more involved in play activities had more of what researchers called supportive interaction between the two parents.

In contrast, more of what is described by researchers as “undermining behaviour” was seen among families in which fathers do more of the caregiving.

[. . .]

It is unclear why the study yielded the results it did, but Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, a professor of family science at Ohio State University and one of the study’s co-authors, suggested parents may be subconsciously bothered when parenting roles conflict with their pre-conceived ideas.

From the mother’s point of view, it could be a function of “maternal gatekeeping,” she said. “For mothers, maybe, it’s hard to give up some control to the father. That could be a total social effect, but there could some sort of biological underpinning to it.”

It’s a single study, so the results are hardly conclusive, but the general tenor of the study will not be popular in certain academic and political circles.

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