The Repercussions of Gendered Division of Household Labor for Stepparents’ Experience with Raising Children

Katya Ivanova , Tilburg University

In this contribution, we examine the conditions which potentially exacerbate the difficulties which stepparents experience in raising non-biological children. Guided by the concept of structural ambivalence, we investigate whether stepparents (and stepmothers in particular) who played a more focal role within households, experienced their stepparent role as more stressful than stepparents who shared household labor more equally. We use data from the ‘Parents and Children in the Netherlands’ survey (OKiN, Ouders en Kinderen in Nederland; Kalmijn et al., 2018), which is based on a systematic random oversample of adult children who grew up in non-intact families. Both the grown-up children (25 to 45 years old at the time of the interview) and their biological and, if present, stepparents were surveyed about a range of family-related experiences and concurrent individual well-being. Our analytical sample was composed of the stepparent figures in the alter sample (N = 3,909, 51.7% female). We found that a more traditional division of household labor was more strongly associated with experiencing stepparenthood as challenging for stepmothers than for stepfathers. Importantly, the association between traditional division of labor and life-satisfaction was only significant (and negative) for stepmothers (and not for stepfathers, or for either of the biological parents).

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 Presented in Session 103. Children in Diverse Family Structures