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

Lucia Ciciolla, Suniya Luthar

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    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.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalSex Roles
    DOIs
    StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

    Fingerprint

    Social Adjustment
    Mothers
    labor
    well-being
    responsibility
    Emotions
    satisfaction with life
    division of labor
    intimacy
    management
    spouse
    middle class
    finance
    emotion
    marriage
    Marriage
    Spouses
    manager
    regression
    Primary Health Care

    Keywords

    • Division of labor
    • Intimacy
    • Motherhood
    • Partner satisfaction
    • Well-being

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Gender Studies
    • Social Psychology
    • Developmental and Educational Psychology

    Cite this

    Invisible Household Labor and Ramifications for Adjustment : Mothers as Captains of Households. / Ciciolla, Lucia; Luthar, Suniya.

    In: Sex Roles, 01.01.2019.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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