Parents spend at least as much time caring for their children as parents did in the “golden age of family togetherness” 40 years ago, concludes a University of Maryland study published as Changing Rythms of American Family Life.
U.S. mothers and fathers have increased the hours they devote to enriching activities such as reading and playtime, as well as to basic child care such as feeding and dressing.
But the “intensive parenting” fad makes middle-class parents feel they’re not doing enough.
To make time, mothers have reduced their housework hours over the years by an amount the authors said matches their increase in paid work hours. They have cut their free time, including hours spent on civic activities, according to time diaries cited by the authors. Employed mothers spend less time with their husbands, and have given up time with friends and relatives. Fathers have reduced the hours they spend on personal care.
. . . Time diaries indicate that married fathers spent an average 6.5 hours a week caring for their children in 2000, a 153 percent increase since 1965. Married mothers spent 12.9 hours, a 21 percent increase. Single mothers spent 11.8 hours, a 57 percent increase.
Married mothers continue to work fewer hours than their husbands outside the home while putting in more unpaid hours taking care of the family.