Things have changed a lot in terms of household structure in the past 50-60 years. In fact, in many cases it has been turned on its head! Gone are the days when women, if they had a job, would give it up when they got married, ready to devote their their days and nights to raising children and making and happy home.
Today, stay-at-home mums are a rare breed, and in many cases are being replaced by stay-at-home dads who want a slice of the joy that comes from bonding with their children on a deeper level, while mothers are climbing the career ladder and bringing home the bacon.
While this no-doubt works for plenty of families, researchers at the University of Illinois have conducted a study which suggests that perhaps the switching of traditional gender roles doesn’t work as well as many people think.
The researchers examined data from wellbeing surveys conducted on nearly 1,500 men and 1,800 women, and found that men’s wellbeing dropped after leaving the workforce to become homemakers, while women’s wellbeing was unaffected by leaving the workforce to care for their children.
“The results supported the overarching hypothesis: well-being was lower for mothers and fathers who violated gendered expectations about the division of paid labor, and higher for parents who conformed to these expectations,” said Karen Kramer, lead researcher.
The study suggests that it could be society’s negative view of these deviations that impact the mental well-being of men and women who take on the ‘opposite’ gender role.
Interestingly, while women’s mental health improved when they perceived themselves as equal to their partner in financial earnings and care-taking, men’s wellbeing took a hit when their wife’s income exceeded their own.
The study’s finding were presented to the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting in Montreal.