Advertisement

Sex Roles

pp 1–20 | Cite as

Invisible Household Labor and Ramifications for Adjustment: Mothers as Captains of Households

  • Lucia CiciollaEmail author
  • Suniya S. Luthar
Original Article

Abstract

We address the issue of invisible labor in the home by examining how the distribution of the mental and emotional labor inherent in managing the household between spouses may be linked with women’s well-being, including their satisfaction with life, partner satisfaction, feelings of emptiness, and experiencing role overload. In a sample of 393 U.S. married/partnered mothers, mostly of upper-middle class backgrounds with dependent children at home, results showed that a majority of women reported that they alone assumed responsibility for household routines involving organizing schedules for the family and maintaining order in the home. Some aspects of responsibilities related to child adjustment were primarily handled by mothers, including being vigilant of children’s emotions, whereas other aspects were shared with partners, including instilling values in the children. Responsibility was largely shared for household finances. Regression analyses showed that after controlling for dimensions of emotional and physical intimacy, feeling disproportionately responsible for household management, especially child adjustment, was associated with strains on mothers’ personal well-being as well as lower satisfaction with the relationship. The implications of our work highlight the need to consider the burden of household management on mothers’ well-being and speak to mothers’ own needs for support and care as the primary managers of the household. In future research on division of labor, it will be useful to measure these critical but often neglected dimensions of who coordinates the household, given potential ramifications of this dimension for the quality of marriages and women’s personal well-being.

Keywords

Division of labor Well-being Partner satisfaction Intimacy Motherhood 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Masters and Doctoral students in Luthar’s prior lab at Teachers College, Columbia University, and funding by the National Institutes of Health (R01DA014385; R13MH082592). This work was supported with funds from Authentic Connections.

Author’s Contributions

LC performed the statistical analysis, participated in the interpretation of the data, and drafted the manuscript. SSL conceived of the study and participated in its design and coordination and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding

This research was supported with funding by the National Institutes of Health (R01DA014385; R13MH082592).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

The authors report no conflict of interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Study oversight was obtained from Arizona State University Institutional Review Board.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11199_2018_1001_MOESM1_ESM.docx (52 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 51.9 kb)

References

  1. Ahn, J. N., Haines, E. L., & Mason, M. F. (2017). Gender stereotypes and the coordination of mnemonic work within heterosexual couples: Romantic partners manage their daily to-dos. Sex Roles, 77(7–8), 435–452.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0743-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bianchi, S. M., & Wight, V. R. (2010). The long reach of the job: Employment and time for family life. In K. Christenson & B. Schneider (Eds.), Workplace flexibility: Realigning 20 th -century jobs for a 21 st -century workforce (pp. 14–42). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bianchi, S. M., Robinson, J. P., & Milkie, M. A. (2006). Changing rhythms of American family life. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  4. Birch, E., Le, A. T., & Miller, P. W. (2009). Household divisions of labour: Teamwork, gender and time. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bird, C. E. (1999). Gender, household labor, and psychological distress: The impact of the amount and division of housework. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 40, 32–45.  https://doi.org/10.2307/2676377.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bodenmann, G., Ledermann, T., & Bradbury, T. N. (2007). Stress, sex, and satisfaction in marriage. Personal Relationships, 14, 551–569.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.2007.00171.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. (2015). Employment characteristics of families – 2014. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/famee.pdf.
  8. Cavanaugh, M. A., Boswell, W. R., Roehling, M. V., & Boudreau, J. W. (2000). An empirical examination of self-reported work stress among U.S. managers. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85(1), 65–74.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.85.1.65.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Celello, K. (2009). Making marriage work: A history of marriage and divorce in the twentieth-century United States. Chapel Hill: UNC Press.Google Scholar
  10. Christensen, K., & Schneider, B. (2010). Workplace flexibility: Realigning 20 th -century jobs for a 21 st -century workforce. Ithica: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Coltrane, S. (2000). Research on household labor: Modeling and measuring the social.embeddedness of routine family work. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(4), 1208–1233.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2000.01208.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Crittenden, A. (2004). If you’ve raised kids, you can manage anything: Leadership begins at home. New York: Gotham.Google Scholar
  13. Crnic, K. A. (1983). Inventory of parent experiences. University Park, PA: Penn State University.Google Scholar
  14. Daly, K. (2002). Time, gender, and the negotiation of family schedules. Symbolic Interaction, 25(3), 323–342.  https://doi.org/10.1525/si.2002.25.3.323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Darrah, C., Freeman, J., & English-Lueck, J. A. (2007). Busier than ever! Why American families can’t slow down. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Dempsey, K. (2002). Who gets the best deal from marriage: Women or men? Journal of Sociology, 38(2), 91–110.  https://doi.org/10.1177/144078302128756525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Diener, E. D., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction with Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.  https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327752jpa4901_13.
  18. Dyrbye, L. N., Shanafelt, T. D., Balch, C. M., Satele, D., Sloan, J., & Freischlag, J. (2011). Relationship between work-home conflicts and burnout among American surgeons: A comparison by sex. Archives of Surgery, 146(2), 211–217.  https://doi.org/10.1001/archsurg.2010.310.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Eagly, A. H., & Wood, W. (2012). Social role theory. In P. van Lange, A. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories in social psychology (pp. 458–476). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Eichler, M., & Albanese, P. (2007). What is household work? A critique of assumptions underlying empirical studies of housework and an alternative approach. The Canadian Journal of Sociology/Cahiers Canadiens de Sociologie, 32(2), 227–258.  https://doi.org/10.2307/20460633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ely, R. J., Stone, P., & Ammerman, C. (2014). Rethink what you "know" about high-achieving women. Harvard Business Review, 92(12), 100–109.Google Scholar
  22. Enders, C. K. (2010). Applied missing data analysis. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  23. Erickson, R. J. (2005). Why emotion work matters: Sex, gender, and the division of household labor. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67(2), 337–351.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0022-2445.2005.00120.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Field, T. (2010). Touch for socioemotional and physical well-being: A review. Developmental Review, 30, 367–383.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2011.01.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Galinsky, E., Bond, J. T., Kim, S. S., Backon, L., Brownfield, K., & Sakai, K. (2005). Overwork in America: When the way we work becomes too much. New York: Families and Work Institute.Google Scholar
  26. Goldberg, A. E., & Perry-Jenkins, M. (2004). Division of labor and working-class women's well being across the transition to parenthood. Journal of Family Psychology, 18(1), 225–236.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3200.18.1.225.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  27. Harrington, B., Fraone, J. S., Lee, J., & Levey, L. (2016). The new Millennial dad: Understanding the paradox of today’s fathers. Research report. Chestnut Hill: The Boston College Center for Work & Family. Retrieved from http://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/centers/cwf/pdf/BCCWF%20The%20New%20Millennial%20Dad%202016%20FINAL.pdf.Google Scholar
  28. Harryson, L., Novo, M., & Hammarstrom, A. (2012). Is gender inequality in the domestic sphere associated with psychological distress among women and men? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 66(3), 271–276.  https://doi.org/10.1136/jech.2010.109231.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Heilman, M. E., & Chen, J. J. (2005). Same behavior, different consequences: Reactions to men's and women's altruistic citizenship behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(3), 431–441.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.90.3.431.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Hochschild, A. R. (1989). The second shift. New York: Viking Penguin.Google Scholar
  31. Holt, H., & Lewis, S. (2009). ‘You can stand on your head and still end up with lower pay’: Gliding segregation and gendered work practices in Danish ‘family-friendly’ workplaces. Gender, Work and Organization, 18, e202–e221.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0432.2009.00501.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hui, T., Vincent, C., & Woolley, F. (2011). Challenges to Canada’s retirement income system: Understanding gender differences in retirement saving decisions. Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC). Retrieved from http://www.srdc.org/uploads/gender_differences_en.pdf.
  33. Jacobs, J. A., & Gerson, K. (2004). The time divide: Work, family, and gender inequality. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Jolly, S., Griffith, K. A., DeCastro, R., Stewart, A., Ubel, P., & Jagsi, R. (2014). Gender differences in time spent on parenting and domestic responsibilities by high-achieving young physician-researchers. Annals of Internal Medicine, 160(5), 344–353.  https://doi.org/10.7326/M13-0974.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  35. Kalil, A., Ryan, R., & Corey, M. (2012). Diverging destinies: Maternal education and the developmental gradient in time with children. Demography, 49(4), 1361–1383.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-012-0129-5.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  36. Kanter, R. M. (1993). Men and women of the corporation. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  37. Lachance-Grzela, M., & Bouchard, G. (2010). Why do women do the lion’s share of housework? A decade of research. Sex Roles, 63(11–12), 767–780.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9797-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lareau, A. (2002). Invisible inequality: Social class and childrearing in black families and white families. American Sociological Review, 67, 747–776.  https://doi.org/10.2307/3088916.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lareau, A., & Weininger, E. B. (2008). Time, work, and family life: Reconceptualizing gendered time patterns through the case of children’s organized activities. Sociological Forum, 23, 419–454.  https://doi.org/10.1111/cdep.12075.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. LeBaron, A.B., Holmes, E.K., Yorgason, J.B., Hill, E.J., & Allsop, D.B. (2018). Feminism and couple finance: Power as a mediator between financial processes and relationship outcomes. Sex Roles, Advance online publication, 1-17.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-018-0986-5.
  41. Luthar, S. S., & Ciciolla, L. (2015). Who mothers mommy? Factors that contribute to mothers’ well-being. Developmental Psychology, 51(12), 1812–1823.  https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000051.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  42. Luthar, S. S., & Ciciolla, L. (2016). What it feels like to be a mother: Variations by children’s developmental stages. Developmental Psychology, 52, 143–154.  https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000062.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Luthar, S. S., & Eisenberg, N. (2017). Resilient adaptation among at-risk children: Harnessing science toward maximizing salutary environments. Child Development, 88, 337–349.  https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.1273m.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Luthar, S. S., Barkin, S. H., & Crossman, E. J. (2013). “I can, therefore I must”: Fragility in the upper-middle classes. Development and Psychopathology, 25, 1529–1549.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579413000758.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  45. Luthar, S.S., Curlee, A., Tye, S. J., Engelman, J. C., &. Stonnington, C. M. (2017). Fostering resilience among mothers under stress: “Authentic connections groups” for medical professionals. Women’s Health Issues, 27(3), 382–390.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2017.02.007.
  46. Mackey, R. A., Diemer, M. A., & O’Brien, B. A. (2004). Relational factors in understanding satisfaction in the lasting relationships of same sex and heterosexual couples. Journal of Homosexuality, 47, 111–136.  https://doi.org/10.1300/J082v47n01_07.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Mano-Negrin, R., & Katz, R. (2003). Money management patterns of dual-earner families in Israel. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 24(1), 49–72.  https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022483020352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mattingly, M. J., & Sayer, L. C. (2006). Under pressure: Gender differences in the relationship between free time and feeling rushed. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68(1), 205–221.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2006.00242.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mederer, H. J. (1993). Division of labor in two-earner homes: Task accomplishment versus household management as critical variables in perceptions about family work. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 55, 133–145.  https://doi.org/10.2307/352964.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Meier, J. A., McNaughton-Cassill, M., & Lynch, M. (2006). The management of household and childcare tasks and relationship satisfaction in dual-earner families. Marriage & Family Review, 40(2–3), 61–88.  https://doi.org/10.1300/J002v40n02_04.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Money Magazine. (2014). Poll: How husbands and wives really feel about their finances. Time Money: Family Finance. Retrieved from http://time.com/money/2800576/love-money-by-the-numbers/.
  52. Nahrgang, J. D., Morgeson, F. P., & Hofmann, D. A. (2011). Safety at work: A meta-analytic investigation of the link between job demands, job resources, burnout, engagement, and safety outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96, 71–94.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021484.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Nomaguchi, K. M., & Milkie, M. A. (2003). Costs and rewards of children: The effects of becoming a parent on adults' lives. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65(2), 356–374.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2003.00356.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Offer, S. (2014). The costs of thinking about work and family: Mental labor, work–family spillover, and gender inequality among parents in dual-earner families. Sociological Forum, 29(4), 916–936.  https://doi.org/10.1111/socf.12126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Offer, S., & Schneider, B. (2011). Revisiting the gender gap in time-use patterns multitasking and well-being among mothers and fathers in dual-earner families. American Sociological Review, 76(6), 809–833.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122411425170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ogolsky, G. B., Dennison, R. P., & Monk, J. K. (2014). The role of couple discrepancies in cognitive and behavioral egalitarianism in marital quality. Sex Roles, 70, 329–342.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-014-0365-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Parker, K., & Wang, W. (2013). Modern parenthood: Roles of moms and dads converge as they balance work and family. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/03/14/modern-parenthood-roles-of-moms-and-dads-converge-as-they-balance-work-and-family/.
  58. Ramey, G., & Ramey, V. A. (2010). The rug rat race. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 41, 129–176.  https://doi.org/10.3386/w15284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Riina, E. M., & Feinberg, M. E. (2012). Involvement in childrearing and mothers' and fathers' adjustment. Family Relations, 61(5), 836–850.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3729.2012.00739.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Roxburgh, S. (2004). There just aren't enough hours in the day’: The mental health consequences of time pressure. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 45(2), 115–131.  https://doi.org/10.1177/002214650404500201.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Saginak, K. A., & Saginak, M. A. (2005). Balancing work and family: Equity, gender, and marital satisfaction. The Family Journal, 13, 162–166.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1066480704273230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Schneider, B. (2006). In the moment: The benefits of the experience sampling method. In M. Pitt-Catsouphes, E. E. Kossek, & S. Sweet (Eds.), The work and family handbook (pp. 469–488). Mahwah: LEA.Google Scholar
  63. Schneider, B., & Waite, L. J. (2005). Being together, working apart: Dual-career families and the work-life balance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  64. Senior, J. (2014). All joy and no fun: The paradox of modern parenthood. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  65. Shaltout, H. A., Tooze, J. A., Rosenberger, E., & Kemper, K. J. (2012). Time, touch, and compassion: Effects on autonomic nervous system and well-being. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 8(3), 177–184.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2012.02.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Shaw, S. M. (2008). Family leisure and changing ideologies of parenthood. Sociology Compass, 2(2), 688–703.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9020.2007.00076.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sherman, G., Lee, J. J., Cuddy, A., Oveis, C., Renshon, J., Gross, J., & Lerner, J. (2012). Leadership is associated with lower levels of stress. Proceedings in the National Academy of Science, 109(44), 17903–17907.  https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1207042109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Thorne, D. (2010). Extreme financial strain: Emergent chores, gender inequality, and emotional distress. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 31, 185–197.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-010-9189-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Thurston, R. C., Sherwood, A., Matthews, K. A., & Blumenthal, J. A. (2011). Household responsibilities, income, and ambulatory blood pressure among working men and women. Psychosomatic Medicine, 73(2), 200–205.  https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0b013e3182080e1a.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  70. Tsugawa, Y., Jena, A. B., & Figueroa, J. F. (2017). Readmission rates for Medicare patients treated by male vs female physicians. JAMA Internal Medicine, 177(2), 206–213.  https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.7875.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  71. Walzer, S. (1996). Thinking about the baby: Gender and divisions of infant care. Social Problems, 43(2), 219–234.  https://doi.org/10.1525/sp.1996.43.2.03x0206x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wilcox, W. B. (2010). When marriage disappears: The retreat from marriage in middle America. In W. B. Wilcox & E. Marquardt (Eds.), The state of our unions: Marriage in America 2010 (pp. 13–60). Charlottesville: National Marriage Project & Institute for American Values.Google Scholar
  73. Winkler, A. E., & Ireland, T. R. (2009). Time spent in household management: Evidence and implications. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 30(3), 293–304.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-009-9160-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Yavorsky, J. E., Kamp Dush, C. M., & Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J. (2015). The production of inequality: The gender division of labor across the transition to parenthood. Journal of Marriage and Family, 77(3), 662–679.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12189.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

Personalised recommendations