Not just mom and dad: The role of children in exacerbating gender inequalities in childcare

Ching Wu Lake LUI, Susanne Y. P. CHOI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

Abstract

This article investigates how children actively influence the division of childcare between couples in intact families in Hong Kong. Past studies that draw on West and Zimmerman’s perspective of “doing gender” have focused narrowly on the dyadic interactions between couples that produce, reproduce, or challenge the unequal division of household labor, but these studies have left unanswered the question of the role children play in shaping and sustaining relations of inequality in families. Using data collected through participant observation, in-depth interviews, and focus groups, we show that children make choices based on the gender of their primary caregivers. Specifically, they use strategies such as emotional displays and protests to obtain the compliance of their mothers. Mothers resist these emotional manipulations, but their resistance conflicts with cultural scripts of ideal motherhood and intensive parenting, and it is undermined by their desire not to be demoted in the hierarchy of love. Copyright © The Author(s) 2013.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1829-1853
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Volume36
Issue number13
Early online date12 Nov 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Citation

Lui, L., & Choi, S. Y. P. (2015). Not just mom and dad: The role of children in exacerbating gender inequalities in childcare. Journal of Family Issues, 36(13), 1829-1853. doi: 10.1177/0192513X13510300.

Keywords

  • Division of childcare
  • Gender inequality
  • Chinese families
  • Doing gender
  • Parenthood

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