Keeping a Nontraditional Division of Domestic Work After First Parenthood

Marta Dominguez Folgueras
Journal of Family Issues
  • Hitty Elve, For toy sunday theme: cleaning (CC BY-NC-ND)Hitty Elve, For toy sunday theme: cleaning (CC BY-NC-ND)

Against the Odds?
Keeping a Nontraditional Division of Domestic Work After First Parenthood in Spain

Marta Dominguez Folgueras

Journal of Family Issues, First Published September 9, 2017

Marta Dominguez Folgueras (OSC)This article analyzes changes in the division of routine domestic work after first parenthood. We wanted to know whether and how it was possible for couples to resist the trend toward traditionalization that has been shown in the literature. To do so, we analyze semistructured interviews with 27 Spanish couples who were expecting their first child in 2011 and interviewed them again in 2013. The couples were selected from a bigger sample because of their nontraditional practices preparenthood. Our results show that 17 of them were able to maintain a nontraditional division of domestic work, whereas 10 traditionalized. In our analysis, relative resources and time availability did not sufficiently explain the changes in the division of work, but specific characteristics of the division of work before childbirth—men’s active participation, the routinization of tasks, and flexible standards—emerged as key factors to resist the trend toward more traditional arrangements.

This article draws on a research project that interviewed 68 dual-income couples in four Spanish towns. Couples were interviewed while expecting their first child—first Wave of interviews—and 18 to 24 months after birth—second Wave. Most couples (53) were contacted through childbirth preparation courses, which most women attend free of charge. (...) Some couples (13) were contacted through social networks, and two were snowballed by participating couples.

Couples were selected according to a nonprobabilistic but stratified purposive sampling.

Results: None of the traditional couples in the original study became nontraditional after childbirth, but for the 27 nontraditional couples, we observed two different evolutions concerning the division of domestic work: 17 Couples managed to resist traditionalization, whereas 10 couples traditionalized. We will examine the factors that influenced these different transitions...

Donwload the PDF document.