Division of Labor Among Gay Fathers: Associations with Parent, Couple, and Child Adjustment

Tornello, Samantha, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Patterson, Charlotte, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

In the family, division of labor (i.e., how a couple designates who will perform specific tasks in their household), is an important part of the co-parenting relationship. Along with the allocation of household tasks and childcare, the degree to which a couple agrees on how to divide these tasks has been associated with an array of factors relating to individual, family, and child adjustment. The present study is designed to examine the division of household and childcare labor among gay fathers and to explore the associations of their divisions of labor with aspects of the family system. The sample consisted of 335 self-described gay fathers who took part in an internet-based study. All of the participants identified themselves as gay fathers who currently had male partners and at least one child under 18 years of age residing in their home. The study had three main aims: first, the study replicated and extended past findings by examining the current and ideal division of labor among gay couples of different types. Second, the study tested three theories of division of labor to gain a greater understanding of the factors that play a role in how labor is divided in these families. Lastly, the study evaluated associations between discrepancies among current and ideal divisions of labor, on the one hand, and parent well-being, couple functioning, and child adjustment, on the other. In all, gay fathers reported having and desiring an egalitarian division of labor, this pattern remained relatively stable over time, and results supported the time-availability theory along with some aspects of life course theory were supported. Lastly, discrepancies between actual and ideal division of labor were associated with parental well-being and couple functioning but not children’s adjustment. These results contribute to greater understanding of the role that division of labor plays in parent, couple, and child adjustment among gay father families.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Sexual orientation, Parenting, division of labor, fatherhood, gay, surrogacy, adoption, developmental psychology, well-being, couple functioning, child adjustment
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