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Gendered Expectations? Reconsidering Single Fathers’ Child-Care Time


  • This article was edited by Ralph LaRossa.

Department of Sociology, Pennsylvania State University, 211 Oswald Tower, University Park, PA 16802 (


We take a fresh look at an important question in the sociology of gender and family: Do single fathers “mother”? We add to the theoretical debate by proposing that single fathers face competing interactional pressures, to simultaneously act like mothers and men. Using nationally representative data from the American Time Use Survey 2003 – 2006 (N = 16,654), we compare the time single fathers spend on child care to other parent types, paying special attention to differences in employment profiles, household composition, and care arrangements. Accounting for these differences, single fathers spend slightly less time caring for children than do mothers, but more time than married fathers. Interesting differences emerge, however, depending upon the age of the youngest child in the household.