Parents’ Involvement in Childcare: Do Parental and Work Identities Matter?

Ruth Gaunt, Jacqueline Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The current study draws on identity theory to explore mothers’ and fathers’ involvement in childcare. It examined the relationships between the salience and centrality of individuals’ parental and work-related identities and the extent to which they are involved in various forms of childcare. A sample of 148 couples with at least one child aged 6 years old or younger completed extensive questionnaires. As hypothesized, the salience and centrality of parental identities were positively related to mothers’ and fathers’ involvement in childcare. Moreover, maternal identity salience was negatively related to fathers’ hours of childcare and share of childcare tasks. Finally, work hours mediated the negative relationships between the centrality of work identities and time invested in childcare, and gender moderated this mediation effect. That is, the more central a mother’s work identity, the more hours she worked for pay and the fewer hours she invested in childcare. These findings shed light on the role of parental identities in guiding behavioral choices and attest to the importance of distinguishing between identity salience and centrality as two components of self-structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-489
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - 26 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The research leading to these results received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no 253022.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2014.


  • child care
  • identity
  • parental involvement
  • self-concept


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