We Are Family: Fathers' Time with Children and the Risk of Parental Relationship Dissolution
Ariel Kalil and Mari Rege
Photo: Oxford Journals
Social Forces, volume 94, pp. 833 - 862, 2015
Resident fathers have increased the time they spend in active childrearing in recent decades. This paper examines how fathers' time in childrearing is associated with relationship dissolution. We use longitudinal survey and time-diary data on young children from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC; n = 5,604). We investigate mothers' and fathers' parenting time, alone and with each other, in a wide variety of activities. Controlling for a rich set of demographic characteristics and the quality of the parental relationship, we find that the sole correlate of parental relationship dissolution is shared time spent in family meals. This correlation holds only for shared family mealtime in which families are not simultaneously watching television. Further analysis suggests that high-quality shared family mealtimes may lower the risk of relationship dissolution by enhancing mothers' perceptions of marital quality and relationship happiness and reducing maternal depressive symptoms.