A new study suggests that thinking about family matters throughout the day is associated with increased stress and negative emotions in mothers more than dads.
Study author Shira Offer, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Bar-Ilan University in Israel said that the reason behind such behaviour is that because mothers bear the major responsibility for childcare and family life, when they think about family matters, they tend to think about the less pleasant aspects of it and are more likely to be worried.
AdvertisementThe study, which focuses on mental labour, used a subsample from the 500 Family Study, consisting of 402 mothers and 291 fathers in dual-earner families who completed a survey and a time diary that collects information about the content and context of individuals' daily experiences, as well as the emotions associated with them, in the course of a week.
Offer found that working mothers engaged in mental labour in about one fourth, and working fathers in one fifth, of their waking time.
This amounts to approximately 29 and 24 hours per week of mental labour for mothers and fathers, respectively. However, mothers and fathers both spent about 30 percent of the time they were engaged in mental labour thinking about family matters.
As for why, engaging in family-specific mental labour negatively affected the well-being of mothers, but not fathers.
Offer also found that twenty-five percent of the time fathers engaged in job-specific mental labour, they did so in non-work contexts, compared to 34 percent among mothers.
The research is to be presented at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.
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