Mothers are more stressed and less happy than fathers in parenting

parenting stress

In the US, more and more parents spend longer time to take care of their children. This is good to children’ health, but it is unknown if parents can get health benefits too.

In a recent study, scientists find that mothers had less happiness and more stress in time with children than fathers. The finding is published in American Sociological Review.

Researchers from Cornell University and University of Minnesota conducted the study. They measured multiple dimensions of parents’ well-being in activities with children.

Importantly, they focused on how gender effect contributes to differences in mothers’ and fathers’ parenting experiences.

The data were from the 2010, 2012, and 2013 well-being module of the American Time Use Survey (12,163 people and 36,036 activities). Researchers analyzed the diary content linked to respondents’ feelings in activities.

The result showed that parents all reported greater subjective well-being in activities with children than without. Mothers, however, reported less happiness, more stress, and greater fatigue in time with children than do fathers.

These gaps were relatively small and might be related to differences in the activities that mothers and fathers engaged in with children, whether other adults were present, and the quality of their sleep and leisure.

Researchers suggest that parenting experiences can influence the lives of mothers and fathers differently. For both of them, parenting is meaningful but also stressful and tiring.

But mothers can be bothered by interrupted sleep and daily feeding and bathing. Fathers should spend more time with kids, so that mothers can get more leisure time and relax.

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Citation: Musick K, et al. (2016). How Parents Fare: Mothers’ and Fathers’ Subjective Well-Being in Time with Children. American Sociological Review, Published online. DOI: 10.1177/0003122416663917.
Figure legend: This image is for illustrative purposes only.