Attachment parenting among middle-class couples in Spain: gendered principles and labor divisions

Núria Sánchez-Mira*, Dafne Muntanyola Saura

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The time that middle-class fathers and mothers devote to care activities has significantly increased over the last two decades in Spain. In a context of increasingly widespread intensive and child-centred parenting styles, the attachment parenting movement draws on a gender-essentialist interpretation of attachment theory to prescribe a series of practices that place great pressure on women’s time, minds and bodies. Such burdens are likely related to the gendered division of household roles, but this issue remains largely underexplored in research. This paper aims to fill this gap in the literature by exploring the links between gendered interpretations of attachment parenting principles and gendered patterns of labour division. The methodological approach consists of 28 semistructured interviews conducted separately with mothers and fathers from heterosexual couples with professional or managerial jobs and children under three years of age. The findings show that the gender essentialist interpretation of the attachment relationship rather than the amount of attachment parenting performed seems more determinant of task segregation. Prolonged breastfeeding stands out as a major barrier to a more egalitarian division of tasks, even for couples who are critical of the gendered interpretation of the attachment figure.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Family Studies
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted in press - 2020

Keywords

  • Attachment parenting
  • gender boundaries
  • gender division of labour
  • intensive mothering
  • shared parenting

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