Parenting, play and the work-family interaction

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    This article explores the recreational time of parents with young children and the ways it can influence practices reconciling work and family. The aim is to examine the internal dynamics and the emotional side of family life vis-à-vis parents' time structures. Children's organised and spontaneous activities have received scant attention in work-family studies and this lack of conceptual development around the quality of time use is unfortunate, if we take the work-family interaction to be more than the sum of strategies aiming at balancing both domains. In this analytical framework special attention is then placed on play and on the activities parents set up with children during their recreational time. We find that especially play and loosely structured recreational time becomes important for parents because this time strongly characterises their home experience and through it they construct emotional bonds with their children. In this research, the concepts of 'parent-initiated play' will be introduced and used to find that play and activities with children are linked to asymmetric gender practices of care and bonding. The dual nature of parents' time with children is considered crucial in understanding the construction of family life and the strains around the work-family interaction.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages11
    JournalSociological Research Online
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2014


    • Children's activities
    • Gender
    • Parenting
    • Play
    • Work-family interaction


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