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Dads do significantly more child care since the pandemic -- but it's still not nearly equal

Alfred Lubrano, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Parenting News

When the pandemic locked down America three years ago, Eric Hailey, 41, saw for the first time how much his wife, Carla, did to support their family.

"When she said before how busy she was with the house and the kids, I didn't realize how much she did," said Eric, who owns Max Fitness gym in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. "But when I stayed home from work for COVID, I got a lot of appreciation for it. And I tried to do more to take the burden off her."

Since returning to work, Eric has continued his stepped-up contribution. "It was an awakening of roles and balance," said Carla, also 41, the general operations manager of the gym, and a dispatcher for a transportation company in Pennsauken. "He's definitely helping with the kids more. I didn't even have to ask him."

The Haileys' transformation highlights a post-pandemic trend, according to survey data released earlier this month: Twenty percent of fathers who got more involved in child care during the pandemic have maintained that increased activity even after returning to work. And, 25% have continued to do more housework than before COVID-19.

Both findings demonstrate movement toward equal division of labor and gender equality, according to an analysis of the survey, The Future of Gender Equality: What's Happened and What Are We Learning from the COVID-19 Pandemic?

The data are from a survey of 1,000 married men and women with children conducted between April 2020 and October 2022.


"By working from home, fathers were more exposed to domestic labor and likely had more time to perform these tasks, reducing mothers' burdens," reads the analysis written by sociologists Daniel Carlson of the University of Utah, and Richard Petts of Ball State University.

Petts said in an interview that the pandemic provided a "silver lining" for fathers who otherwise would never have had time to be home and engage more fully with their children.

As a result, he added, "for many men, it really changed them."

Local families interviewed for this article agreed that the pandemic had a significant effect on how kids and housework are addressed.


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