Unpacking the parenting well-being gap: the role of dynamic features of daily life across broader social contexts
Social Psychology Quarterly (2020), forthcoming
Although public debate ensues over whether parents or nonparents have higher levels of emotional well-being, scholars suggest that being a parent is associated with a mixed bag of emotions. Drawing on the American Time Use Survey for the years 2010, 2012, and 2013 and unique measures of subjective well-being that capture positive and negative emotions linked to daily activities, we ‘‘unpack’’ this mixed bag. We do so by examining contextual variation in the parenting emotions gap based on activity type, whether parents’ children were present, parenting stage, and respondent’s gender. We found that parenting was associated with more positive emotions than nonparenting, but also more negative emotions. This pattern existed only during housework and leisure, not during paid work. Moreover, patterns in positive emotions existed only when parents’ children were present; patterns in negative emotions were primarily observed during earlier stages of parenting. Results were similar for men and women.
Keywords: USA, gender, individual welfare, life cycle, mental health, parenthood, time series