Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Sex role, Parents-Psychology, Parenthood-Psychological aspects, Sexual division of labor, Gender roles, Division of labor, Father involvement, Intervention, Qualitative


This qualitative study explores gender role dynamics between couples in early years of parenthood. Forty-nine individuals in heterosexual couple relationships participated in phone interviews where they described their experiences making decisions and resolving conflict with their partners about the division of family labor. The families in this study had participated in the Supporting Father Involvement Project in Alberta, Canada. Findings of this study confirm existing research that gender roles become more traditional among heterosexual couples after parenthood, with mothers carrying out the majority of household tasks. Participants described a complex and challenging set of internal and external factors that were related to their decisions and feelings about gender roles, including logistical barriers, cultural narratives, and ideology from families of origin. Methods of resolving conflict about the division of labor corresponded with how satisfied participants felt with their relationships and roles. The responses highlighted a process by which parents became both more aware of and empathic towards their partners' perspectives. This process led to greater flexibility within gender roles, and parent descriptions of increased marital satisfaction, closeness, and family well-being overall.




ii, 116 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 42-48)