By Krysti Dagley
With many working mothers now being outside of the home for as many hours as their husbands, the division of household chores and childcare is now being investigated by researchers.
Lauren Barnes, BYU Marriage and Family Therapy graduate student, recently explored how division of labor affects parenting and the marital relationship. Barnes said this study highlights fathers’ contributions to childcare more than previous studies because the division of labor questionnaire included tasks that are traditionally more father-oriented such as bringing a child to activities or going to games.
Barnes found that equally sharing responsibilities predicted greater relationship quality for mothers’ ratings of the marital relationship. However, the division of responsibilities did not influence fathers’ relationship quality. The study also found that fathers who reported higher marital relationship quality were observed to have more positive parenting interactions with their children.
These positive parenting interactions included parental influence, quality time, consistent discipline and child monitoring.
“This study proves the systemic nature of families, “she said. “The couple’s relationship impacts children directly and indirectly."
So what is the take home message? According to Barnes, it's important as a parent to nurture your relationship with your spouse because the quality of this relationship will impact your children.
“I like to tell couples to go out on weekly dates as one of the first assignments when they come to therapy,” Barnes said.
As a new mother herself, Barnes said she’s found that nurturing her marriage improves her family life and helps her husband feel more involved and more inclined to help out.
“Husbands and wives who share household chores enhance their marriages and help their children to thrive,” she said.