'Sometimes they just want to cry for their mum': couples negotiations and rationalisations of gendered divisions in infant care
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This study investigates how couples negotiate and rationalise gendered divisions in infant care. We take a social constructivist approach to analysing qualitative data from 11 couples with infants (aged 6 to 8 months). We find that even where fathers are actively involved in infant care there are strong gendered divisions in the types of care that parents provide. These divisions are rationalised by gendered discourses regarding mother's superior ability to care for and nurture infants and embedded in the ‘silences’ or taken-for-granted gendered assumptions within couple's accounts. Dominant gendered discourses implicitly defend a father's decision to opt out of infant care tasks they find more difficult, such as soothing an irritable infant. Our study contributes to work and family policy by capturing couples' care negotiations in the early stages of the parent-child relationship. This is a critical time when gendered care patterns are established within families.
Journal of Family Studies
Sociology not elsewhere classified