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Sharing child caregiving may increase parental conflict, study finds
Date:1/26/2011

' education and work hours, family income, family size and the length of the couple's relationship.

She noted that this study only included children as they moved from 4 to 5 years old. How father involvement relates to co-parenting may be different with younger or older children.

The results of this study fit into other work by Schoppe-Sullivan that found mothers can act as "gatekeepers," either fostering or curtailing how much fathers are involved in caring for their children.

Even though fathers' involvement in child rearing has increased over the last few decades, mothers still do more child care, even when they work full-time, she said. Many mothers still feel they are in charge of child care.

"There might be some ambivalence on the part of mothers in allowing fathers to participate in day-to-day child care," she said. "But fathers might be ambivalent too, and may not be happy about shouldering more of the caregiving. That may contribute to less supportive co-parenting."

Even if both parents want the father to contribute more, it can be difficult to share responsibilities without some disagreements.

"If the mother is solely responsible for child care, she gets to determine how it is done. But if she is sharing those duties with the father, there is more opportunity for conflict about how tasks should be done," she said.

Overall, Schoppe-Sullivan said the results show that each couple has to decide for themselves which way works best when it comes to taking care of their children.

"There is more than one path to an effective co-parenting relationship," she said.

"Effective co-parenting is not necessarily synonymous with equally sharing caregiving duties."


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Contact: Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan
schoppe-sullivan.1@osu.edu
614-688-3437
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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