Cover: How Did Telecommuting Fathers Navigate Work and Family Responsibilities During the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic?

How Did Telecommuting Fathers Navigate Work and Family Responsibilities During the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Published in: Social Currents (2024). DOI: 10.1177/23294965241262218

Posted on rand.org Jun 20, 2024

by Angela Clague

The global outbreak of COVID-19 abruptly upended work and family life. Yet, little is known about how fathers combined paid and unpaid labor during this unprecedented historical period. Drawing on 35 semi-structured interviews with fathers who primarily telecommuted from home, I identify four strategies fathers used to combine paid and domestic labor: interim primary caregiving, egalitarian tag-teaming, transitional tag-teaming, and hands-on traditional fathering. Findings suggest that these work-family strategies primarily depended on wives' physical presence in the home. The fathers who described doing the most domestic labor said their wives worked outside of the home. When wives were physically present in the home, fathers' domestic behavior varied by the extent to which they endorsed the new fatherhood ideal—defining good fathering as involvement in both paid and domestic labor. Yet, change in fathers' domestic behavior was limited. None of the fathers I interviewed described doing most of the domestic labor when their wives were physically present at home. Taken together, fathers' domestic behavior depends on wives' physical presence in the home and their normative perception of men's responsibility to the family, suggesting that fathers do not perceive domestic time availability simply by differences in the couple's paid work hours.

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