April 1, 2015

Working-mom guilt? Many dads feel it too

A recent study, published in the April 2015 issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, suggests that kids’ academic and emotional well-being is not necessarily contingent on the amount of time they spend with their mothers. The takeaway for some commentators: It’s time for busy moms to let go of the guilt they feel about not spending enough time with their kids.

Among Working Parents, Fathers More Conflicted About Time Spent with KidsIt turns out today’s working fathers are just as likely as working mothers to say that finding the right balance between their job and their family life is a challenge for them, Pew Research Center has found. Fully half of working dads say it’s difficult for them to balance these competing responsibilities; 56% of working moms say the same. And about the same share of working dads (34%) and moms (40%) say they “always feel rushed” in their day-to-day lives.

But when they’re asked about the time they spend with their children, dads are much more likely than moms to say it’s not enough. About half (48%) of working dads say they spend too little time with their kids, compared with just 26% of working moms. Most working moms (66%) say they spend the right amount of time with their kids.

It’s true that today’s moms spend significantly more time, on average, taking care of their children than dads do. Analysis of recent time diary data shows that dads spent about seven hours a week on child care, compared with moms’ 14 hours. But those seven hours represent a significant increase from a generation ago. And nearly half of today’s working dads (46%) say that they spend more time with their kids than their parents spent with them.

For Working Dads, Time Spent with Kids and Parenting Success Go Hand-in-HandWhen it comes to parenting, dads are harder on themselves than moms are, especially dads who say they don’t spend enough time with their children. Among working dads who say they spend too little time with their kids, only 49% say they are doing an excellent or good job as a parent. In contrast, among dads who say they spend the right amount of time with their kids, 81% give themselves high marks for their parenting.

The journal article found that – just as with mothers’ time – the amount of time dads spend with their children does not have a significant impact on the children’s well-being. But the researchers did find that time spent with both parents can make a difference in the behavior of teenagers.

Topics: Work and Employment, Parenthood

  1. Photo of Kim Parker

    is director of social trends research at Pew Research Center.


  1. Alex Jennings2 years ago

    I’m interested to know more about this journal publication. Although it suggests that kids’ academic and emotional well-being is not necessarily contingent upon time-allocation with their mothers, I’m sure that it is contingent upon social interaction at some quantified level with their parents. If the mother and father are both working—thus minimizing the amount of time spent with their children—doesn’t that affect their relationships and ability to form emotional connections to their family, and, eventually, people in society?

    Alex Jennings | smallworldearlylearning.com/Pres…

  2. oil painting2 years ago

    Accompanied by parents is good for children to grow, but now busy working parents, the child’s lack of companionship, in fact, they are more eager to spend a day with the kids around, and they grow together.

  3. Ron Lee2 years ago

    I feel that social and criminal behavior has increased among the younger generation due to the disintegration of family life. Parents are not able, or desire, to teach there children the correct morals for a peaceful society. Perhaps Pew Research could do an analysis of parental guidance associated to crime?

  4. Brandon2 years ago

    Another interesting factor is if Moms see their division of labor as part of being a good Mom–that the role “Mom” has come to mean more than just being at home with the kids but has embodied the complex multitasking entity that the modern Mom often finds herself in. If so, this would allow many more to feel positive about their roles without the guilt.

  5. Carol2 years ago

    Having read the following article, is it possible dads are feeling guiltier because they are generally working more hours outside the home? It looks like your other research has shown mothers do (paid) work on average 21 hours per week vs 37 hours for men. Just curious if that was taken into account. Thanks! pewsocialtrends.org/2013/03/14/m…