Date: 29 Nov 2014

Fathers’ and Mothers’ Involvement in Parental Tasks: An Unequal Division

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This chapter looks at the division of parental tasks by focusing on the gender relations at play both in the parents’ generation, as they tie in with other social relations approached through demographic and socioeconomic characteristics (age differences between partners, educational level, occupation, income, work time, etc.), and between parents and children. The aim is to verify whether, in addition to gender relations in the parental couple, family composition—number, age and especially gender of the children—has an influence on fathers’ and mothers’ day-to-day involvement in childcare. Less involved in routine daily tasks, fathers still appear to be secondary players in the education and care of their children. Paternal investment varies according to the types of task involved, however (dressing the children, putting them to bed, taking them places, leisure activities and homework), and according to the characteristics of the couple and the children. Questions of identity and gender relations within the family thus explain the persistently wide gender gap in parental involvement.