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Archive for Friday, March 7, 2008

Fathers doing more at home, with kids, research finds

March 7, 2008

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On the street

Who does the majority of the housework where you live?

Since I’ve recently retired, I do. We share the load pretty well, actually. I do the basics, and then she comes around and improves on my work.

More responses

— Fathers are taking on bigger shares of chores and child care, recent surveys show, and marriage experts say that it's probably good for their love lives.

The trend in helpfulness, which has some skeptics, updates a generation of reports that working mothers got little relief at home.

Instead, the latest data "paint a largely optimistic picture of trends in marital equality," according to Stephanie Coontz, the director of research and public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, an alliance of researchers, clinicians and writers.

The increases in helpfulness reportedly are greatest for two groups of husbands: young ones who say they believe in sharing equitably with their wives and older ones who have adapted to their wives' years of working outside the home.

"But the tide is also rising in places you wouldn't think: Men married with stay-at-home wives are changing, too," said Scott Coltrane, a sociologist at the University of California in Riverside who studies patterns in domestic life.

"In fact, men are doing at least a little more in industrialized countries all across the globe," Coltrane said. That includes Mediterranean countries in which the domestic roles of men and women traditionally have been very distinct.

Wives still do far more than husbands do on domestic fronts. Among married U.S. couples with children younger than 18, for example, wives do twice as much unpaid work as men do, according to a 2006 analysis by a team of sociologists at the University of Maryland in College Park.

But the fathers' share is increasing, and when the researchers added paid and unpaid work for both sexes, the result was a virtually equal 65 hours a week for mothers and 64 for fathers.

A more intriguing matter is the certainty among marriage experts that helpful husbands have more sex.

"When I ask men about this, they all say no," said psychologist Joshua Coleman, a marriage counselor and author of the book "The Lazy Husband."

"But when I ask women about it, they all say yes," Coleman said.

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