UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families Working Paper No. 8 2002
Predictors of change in fathers’ and mothers’ perceptions of child caregiving involvement were examined. Middle class two-parent families (131 mothers and 98 fathers) with a target school-age child participated. Fathers and mothers completed annual questionnaires for 3 consecutive years. Latent growth curve modeling suggested that fathers were likely to increase their relative contribution to child caregiving over the course of 3 years when they had a greater proportion of male children in the family, and when life events—particularly changes in employment and financial status—were experienced by the family. Although mothers were responsible for more of the caregiving, their relative level of involvement tended to decrease when there were no young children in the family. Two-parent families may adapt to varying family contexts and life circumstances by shifting caregiving roles and responsibilities over the course of years.