Role strain and coping among dual-career men and women across the family life cycle

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Differences in role strain and coping across five family life cycle stages were assessed using responses from 329 dual-career women and men. MANOVA on role strain confirmed a significant effect by gender. Women reported a significantly higher level of personal role strain than men. Coping strategy use differed significantly by gender and life cycle stage. Women utilized the coping strategies Cognitive Restructuring, Delegating Responsibility, Limiting Responsibility, and Using Social Support significantly more often than men. Dual-career men and women without children at home used Balancing Work and Family significantly less frequently than men and women with children. Respondents whose oldest child was under 6 reported less use of Delegating Responsibility than those with an oldest child age 13-18. Limiting Responsibility was used less by participants with children under age 6 than by those with older children. Bivariate correlational patterns for male and female respondents were similar across roles. The results are discussed from a family life cycle perspective.