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Parenting Perceptions Differ During COVID-19 Pandemic

Published December 16, 2020
A recent New York Times poll indicated that working parents in heterosexual marriages are weathering this pandemic in different ways. While men are typically able to focus on work, working mothers are taking on more domestic responsibilities. This discrepancy may eventually lead to marital strife.

As schools throughout the country, including in Oregon, remain closed until at least the fall of 2020, parents are finding themselves juggling multiple roles and responsibilities in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While parents themselves must adjust to working from home, working additional hours as an essential worker, or searching for a job after being laid off in this economically unstable time, they are also tasked with overseeing the distance learning of their children. This monumental responsibility may lead to increased arguments between spouses, especially when the perceptions of each parent do not quite align with reality. 

Major Discrepancies in Remote Learning Responsibility

According to a recent poll conducted by the New York Times, nearly half of fathers of children under 12 claimed that they were spending more time than their spouses were on homeschool-related activities. However, only 3 percent of women said that their husbands were taking the lead on remote learning. A full 80 percent of mothers reported that they spend a considerable amount more time overseeing their child’s learning. 

Mothers Report Feeling More Fragmented 

In couples where both parents have been forced to work remotely full-time, mothers overwhelmingly felt that they had become less productive. While 19 percent of men working from home reported that they were working less than usual, 28 percent of women stated that they felt unable to devote as much of their time to their jobs. According to one sociologist who analyzed the survey responses, “being forced to be at home is amplifying the differences we already know exist.” So, as women have traditionally taken on more housework and childcare responsibilities than men, the work-from-home transition has only made working mothers feel more divided and overwhelmed with multiple roles and responsibilities.

Interpreting the Results

So, what accounts for these key differences? In many heterosexual marriages involving working parents, the man’s job is prioritized over the woman’s. The American workplace still places high expectations on men to put their job responsibilities first, while the other parent typically assumes the role of the “default parent.” This creates a dynamic in which the (usually male) partner can work for longer without being interrupted, while the other parent is more fragmented, distracted, and stretched thinner. Over time, relationship experts warn, this dynamic can cause arguments, resentment, and—in some cases—divorce.


If you and your partner are facing new challenges during this unprecedented time, Lee Tyler Family Law, P.C. is here to help you discuss your goals and explore your options. Call (503) 233-8868 today to arrange a consultation with a dedicated and compassionate Portland divroce and family law attorney.

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