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Parenting and Household Tasks: How Dads Contribute

Based on our recent Moms on the Mother Load study, we found that moms say they are the carrier of the mental load, which includes the organizing, planning, and reminding of family tasks, but what do dads say? Data from the same survey reveals that dads contribute to household and parenting tasks in a different way, and the divisions of labor are quite clear.

To highlight the differences in responsibilities among co-parents, we used an index to compare the co-parenting dads who say they’re primarily responsible for each task against all co-parents in our sample. An index above 100 indicates that dads who co-parent are more likely than moms who co-parent to say they are primarily responsible for that task.

Household tasks
Our data shows that co-parenting dads are 79% more likely (179 index) to say they are primarily responsible for mowing the lawn than co-parenting moms.  According to dads, they are also more likely to maintain the vehicles (175 index), take the garbage out (153 index), and pay the bills (131 index).

Where do co-parenting dads index below the average?  Laundry, cleaning the house, and cooking dinner are the least likely household tasks to be primarily handled by dads. This ultimately means that all these tasks, which are done frequently and regularly, are more likely to be the responsibility of moms who co-parent.

It is interesting to note, however, how the tasks are divided.  Our research illustrates that co-parenting dads are more likely to be responsible for about half of the household tasks listed, with co-parenting moms being more likely responsible for the other half. When it comes to parenting tasks, however, this division is not as equal.

Parenting tasks
Of the 21 parenting tasks listed in the survey, including everything from making doctor’s appointments to organizing playdates, dads who co-parent reported that they are less likely than moms to be the primary person responsible for almost every task with the exception of one.  Preparing for a child to attend college (109 Index) is the only item in the list of parenting tasks where dads index above 100 and therefore means that this is sole task where dads are more likely to be responsible for than moms. Dads do index closest to the average, however, when it comes to changing diapers, exposing children to religion, and taking children to and from activities and school.

Where the household task data shows clear groups of tasks that co-parenting dads primarily do and tasks that co-parenting moms primarily do, the parenting task data does not show the same type of division. There are very few parenting tasks that co-parenting dads are more likely to report being primarily responsible for, compared to co-parenting moms.

Overall, these findings support the conclusions drawn in our Moms on the Motherload study, that even with another parent to help, co-parenting moms are the primary motors that keep the home and family running. But as society evolves and dads continue to become more involved in parenting than their own fathers were, it will be fascinating to see what the division of labor looks like in the future.

Index
Index is a measure that allows for comparison of a certain population against an average. An index of 100 represents the average. A target population has an index of 100 when it exhibits the same proportion of a characteristic as the average.

How the study was conducted
In August 2018, Edison Research conducted an online national survey of 966 parents of children age 21 and under and asked them to indicate who does what in their household and how they feel about their responsibilities.