Despite their strong commitment to their professional careers, women still bear an enormous portion of parental responsibilities on the threshold of the 21st century in France. This portion slightly decreases as the children grow older, when a true sharing of responsibilities and recreational activities increases. The roles of fathers and mothers seem to be more equal when it comes to making decisions about disciplinary rules or participating in extra-curricular activities. Although parents’ attitudes are largely adapted to each child’s age or their position in relation to their siblings, strong socio-economic differentiations are linked to mechanical effects (the pressure of work hours and financial resources), or to more cultural elements: thus, working-class fathers with little education take care of their children less due to their very traditional perception of male and female roles; contrarily, parents benefiting from a high level of education are very attentive to their children’s social and intellectual development, limiting the importance of passive recreational activities and favouring friendly relationships and participation in sports, artistic and cultural activities. Overall, parents endeavour to accompany their children’s intellectual and physical growth as well as they can, but the evolution towards a better balance of maternal and paternal implication is still in its infancy.
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