Time with children and employed parents' emotional well-being

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41 Scopus citations


Using the experience sampling method and survey data from the 500 Family Study this study examined how parents feel when they spend time with their children and whether their emotional experiences differ by type of activity and the parent's gender. I found that mothers spent more time in childcare than fathers but this disparity was primarily due to mothers' more frequent engagement in activities that were not child-centered (i.e., non-focused and passive childcare). Multilevel models further showed that engagement in these activities was related to higher positive affect. Shared meals and leisure activities were particularly beneficial to parents' emotional well-being and the likelihood of engaging in them was not affected by parents' paid work hours. By contrast, routine childcare was associated with increased stress and lower engagement but only among mothers. Mothers were also less likely to provide childcare in conjunction with their spouse. These findings reveal the subtle dimensions of the unequal division of childcare by gender.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-203
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science Research
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Dual-earner families
  • Experience sampling method
  • Gender inequality
  • Parental childcare time
  • Well-being


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