New study finds that fathers should play with children and mothers should care for them

Found here in the Courier and Mail.


A study suggests that couples have a stronger relationship when the father spends more time playing with their child.

But when he participates in care-giving such as giving baths, parents undermine each other.

The study in the Journal of Developmental Psychology involved 112 couples with four-year-olds.

They were asked how often they played with their children and were involved in care-giving.

The US researchers looked for signs of supportive co-parenting, and for evidence of couples criticising or trying to “outdo” each other.

A year later the couples took part in a similar activity and results showed when fathers played more with their child at the beginning of the study, the couple showed more supportive co-parenting in the second session.

But when fathers took part more in care-giving, the couples showed lower levels of supportive co-parenting a year later.

It’s a small study, so I would like to see another one that is bigger.


10 thoughts on “New study finds that fathers should play with children and mothers should care for them”

  1. Yes, that is a small sample size. It’s so different to what I’ve seen too. The moms I know are only too grateful when hubby helps change baby’s nappy or rock baby to sleep. Perhaps it’s because some men are a little clumsy with babies? I don’t know. But I know I’d love it if my husband helped out and be very appreciative.


  2. As much as I would love more help from my husband around the house, the truth is he is home way less than I am. I work as a receptionist at a high school from 730 to 430 and my husband is a high school football and softball coach. He usually is at home around 730pm and the kids (who are 6 and 3) go to bed at 800pm. His is there in the morning when they get up for about 45 min before they go to school. Other than that he is not home on Tuesday and Friday nights due to games and almost every saturday due to tournaments and scrimmages. When he is home they paly and play and i think that is what they need, the bonding, the laughter, and the good memories they will carry from the little time they get are much moe important to me than who does the dishes, sweeps the floor or washes the laundry.


  3. Hi,
    I saw this section on the show and i immediately thought of the relationship that I have with my parents. My dad is very much the one that plays and jokes with me, and my mom is the one that I want to be with when I am sick. This worked perfectly when I was little and my parents were still together. But when my parents got divorced, the balance that they had went away. Its hard to have a serious conversation with my Dad and its hard to joke with my mom like I do with my dad.


  4. Hmmm.

    They can do as many studies as they want.

    I’m still going to play with my kids.

    On a different note, perhaps one of the reasons fathers don’t pitch in is because moms, who have done the lion’s share of care, have it perfected to an art. And they know just the right way to handle things and are a little too picky when the dad joins in, because he didn’t do it the way she would.

    Some moms need to lighten up and give dads room to learn how to take part in care giving, in their own style.

    Both care-giving and playing create bonds between parent and child. Neither parent should have to follow strict rules that cheat them out of either sort of bonding.


    1. Great insight Mara. Dr. Laura talks about this in PCF Husbands. Men hate to be assigned a task and then micro-managed. We want to do it our way or no way, and we don’t want meddling or assistance. We want to be thought of as indispensable and then complimented and encouraged.

      Regarding the play/care balance, I think I agree with the study and not the equality view.


      1. Women don’t like meddling or being micro managed either. And studies and men who want to meddle with the way I parent, how much play/care giving etc, can go meddle somewhere else.

        Grrr. ;)


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