Are Mothers and Fathers Interchangeable? Parental Gender and Child Flourishing
Catherine R. Pakaluk & Joseph Price (2020) Are Mothers and Fathers Interchangeable Caregivers?, Marriage & Family Review, DOI: 10.1080/01494929.2020.1778318
Posted: 7 Dec 2014 Last revised: 17 Jun 2020
Date Written: December 5, 2014
We examine preliminary evidence on the interchangeability of parents. First, we present evidence of custody decisions and de facto living arrangements of children post-divorce that point to a robust norm in favor of children residing with mothers. Second, we provide some evidence based on time-use data which points to the fact that fathers and mothers have distinct parenting styles and this is particularly apparent in homes with single-earner families where the mother is the breadwinner. Third, we present and discuss some intriguing differences between men and women in occupational choice, propensity to commit violent crime, and protective roles in the household and neighborhood. These findings have relevance for questions related to division of labor within the household, especially as a growing number of dads report being “stay-at-home” fathers. They also affect large-scale national debates about whether children need a parent of each gender — such as in divorce law, and same-sex marriage laws.
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