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Involvement in Childrearing and Mothers' and Fathers' Adjustment


  • The Pennsylvania State University, Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development, 420J Marion Place, University Park, PA 16802.

The National Center for Children & Families, Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street, Box 39, New York, NY 10027 (


Combining social construction of gender and equity perspectives on parents' division of labor, this study extended research on associations between parents' childrearing involvement and adjustment by (a) differentiating between types of childrearing activities (task focused vs. relationship focused), (b) examining patterns of differences in these links for mothers versus fathers, and (c) testing whether gender-role attitudes regarding family labor moderated these associations. One hundred sixty-nine mothers and fathers reported on perceptions of their involvement in relationship-focused and task-focused childrearing, gender role attitudes, and their adjustment (parenting efficacy, depression, parenting stress, and role overload). Results indicated that fathers benefited from greater overall childrearing involvement, whereas higher relationship-focused care was linked to more negative adjustment for mothers. Gender role attitudes moderated these links for fathers, such that traditional fathers who were more involved in childrearing reported better parental adjustment. The within-couple complexities of involvement in childrearing and implications for parenting programs are discussed.