TIME

What the Toddler-Hating Diner Owner Teaches Us About Parenting

There's a limit to "It takes a village..."

It’s a strange world when a person shouting at a child can make international news. But that’s what happened when the fed up proprietor of a Maine diner lost her temper with a screaming toddler.

The child’s parents, who have yet to step forward, took to social media to complain that they were having breakfast at Marcy’s Diner in Portland, Maine, when the “insane” proprietor shouted at their nearly 2-year-old child. The unrepentant owner then took to her own social media to say the parents had it coming, after ignoring their wailing offspring for 40 minutes, not feeding her the pancakes they ordered and disregarding the peace and quiet of other diners. [Update: the parents went public and pointed that it was raining, so they couldn’t take the kid outside.]

Since nobody can resist a story in which there are so many directions for fingers to point, the story quickly went national and international. Everybody had an opinion, none of it moderate.

Parents don’t have time for bad journalism. Sign up for TIME for Parents, a weekly roundup of only the good stuff.

The “Marcy’s Diner Incident” is a new iteration of an old problem, made worse by social media. Earlier versions involve wailing toddlers on airplanes, a crying baby on a bus and even a crying baby in church. The tension between the different ways we react to kids has even spawned a book and TV show: The Slap.

Turns out there are hard limits to the “It takes a village to raise a child” theory. It sounds lovely, but there are practical issues that have to be ironed out. Some people aren’t really very good at dealing with children, or have other legitimately more important things to do than nurture someone else’s kids.

Moreover, we live in an era of strong opinions about the most optimal way to bring up offspring. We even have names for our various parenting philosophies. And since “bad parenting” is the go-to reason given for many of society’s ills, the stakes are high. Mistakes feel like catastrophes rather than what they usually are, which is rounding errors.

So it’s not surprising that a lot of parents take umbrage when other humans attempt to casually raise their offspring. Partly because some people are inexperienced or because they were raised differently, so their efforts are somewhat ham-fisted, counterproductive or not in line with a parent’s chosen style. But also because, thanks to the twin specters of social media and Sigmund Freud, parents feel very judged, so they get defensive.

There is no real (humane) way to stop toddlers from having the occasional meltdown. At that age, they’re a bit like a cheap car alarm: their switch is easy to trip and the resulting siren is hard to shut off. And there is only one guaranteed cure for getting annoyed by it: having a kid. For non parents, a crying child on a plane will provoke feelings of rage. For people with a recent memory of parenting, that same crying child will provoke feelings of sympathy for the parent—and perhaps a little relief that it isn’t their problem this time.

It’s like a vaccination; once you’ve had kids, you’ve heard so much relentless crying, your brain has developed an immunity. That’s probably why the allegedly inattentive diner parents didn’t even hear what so vexed the diner owner.

So apart from segregating all parents away from non-parents in any enclosed environment, there’s nothing to do but cut each other a little slack. The proprietor might want to take it up with the parents instead of the kid next time. The parents might want to bring a little snack or simple toy to the diner, to keep the kid amused.

As for the kid, he or she is probably no worse for wear. Unless it was really scary, toddlers don’t have much of a memory. They’re a bit like social media that way.

TIME Marriage

Math Says This Is the Perfect Age to Get Married

170956781
Cultura/GretaMarie—Getty Images/Cultura Exclusive

A new study suggests that people should get married between the ages of 28 and 32 if they don’t want to get divorced, at least in the first five years.

Before we proceed to the explanation: Don’t shoot me if you’re older than that and not married yet. These are just statistics and can in no way account for your personal situation, or that last cheater/psycho/narcissist you wasted 18 months on. Nobody’s blaming you. You are a wonderful and entirely loveable person.

Now, moving on.

The study was done by Nick Wolfinger, a sociologist at the University of Utah, and published by the generally pro-marriage Institute of Family Studies. It suggests that people who get married between 28 and 32 split up least in the ensuing years. This is a new development; sociologists formerly believed that waiting longer to get hitched usually led to more stability, and there was no real sell-by date.

Wolfinger analyzed data from 2006-2010 and the 2011-2013 National Survey of Family Growth. He found a sort of upside down bell curve. “The odds of divorce decline as you age from your teenage years through your late twenties and early thirties,” he writes. “Thereafter, the chances of divorce go up again as you move into your late thirties and early forties.” For each year after about 32, the chance of divorce goes up about 5% says the study.

Divorce chart

 

Some wag over at Slate called this the Goldilocks theory of getting married: you have to be not too young and not too old.

There are lots of reasons why late 20s/early 30s would make sense as a time to start a lifelong partnership with someone: people are old enough to understand if they really get along with someone or are just blinded by hormones. They’ve already made significant life choices and taken on some responsibilities. And they may be just financially solvent enough to be able to contemplate supporting someone should the need arise.

On the other hand, they’re not so old and set in their ways that they can’t make the myriad of little adjustments in habits and lifestyle and goals and personal hygiene that marriage requires. They probably don’t have ex-spouses or children among whom they to divide their time, resources and loyalty.

Wolfinger says the curve persists “even after controlling for respondents’ sex, race, family structure of origin, age at the time of the survey, education, religious tradition, religious attendance, and sexual history, as well as the size of the metropolitan area that they live in.” He thinks the reason might be selection bias. “The kinds of people who wait till their thirties to get married may be the kinds of people who aren’t predisposed toward doing well in their marriages,” he writes. This also means “people who marry later face a pool of potential spouses that has been winnowed down to exclude the individuals most predisposed to succeed at matrimony.”

(Again, I refer you to my caveat in paragraph two. It’s Mr. Wolfinger suggesting singles over 32 are not marriage material, not me. )

Other sociologists who cover this waterfront were quick to weigh in with doubts. The University of Maryland’s Phillip Cohen used a different set of data, from the American Community Survey, to say that getting older didn’t mean your marriage had less chance of survival. According to his analysis, the perfect age to get married if you don’t want to get divorced is 45 to 49, which, he notes, is why people shouldn’t make life decisions based on statistical analyses on the Internet.

Philip N. Cohen

The truth is: divorce is a difficult social pattern to measure. Many states decline to collect data on it. And since a growing number of people are opting for living together without getting the government seal of approval, counting divorce is becoming less useful as a way of measuring family fracturing.

Still, there are a few truisms backed by research: Having money and a college degree reduces your chances of getting divorced, as does getting engaged before moving in together and waiting to have kids until after the nuptials. Those you can pretty much take to the bank.

Until the next study.

Read next: The 25 Most Influential Marriages of All Time

Download TIME’s mobile app for iOS to have your world explained wherever you go

TIME Parenting

What Parents Can Learn From Inside Out

disney, pixar, inside out, amy poehler, mindy kaling, lewis black, movies
Pixar/Disney Amy Poehler stars as the personification of Joy, left, with Phyllis Smith starring as the voice of Sadness.

It's the anti-helicopter parenting movie

All parents want their kids to be happy. I mean, obviously. But for most of history in most of the world that has meant keeping them from hunger and death and physical bodily harm. What happens when those threats aren’t quite so looming? Pixar’s new movie is an examination of our modern obsession with keeping our kids in a permanent state of delight. It could be the ultimate anti helicopter-parenting movie.

Of course, like all Pixar movies, it’s also about eccentric characters going on an unlikely adventure. In this case, our heroines are exploring the inner workings of that undiscover’d country, the brain. And those heroines are Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler, this generation’s go-to embodiment of spunk and optimism) and Sadness (voiced, with wonderful melancholy, by The Office’s Phyllis Smith).

Joy is a type-A workaholic, running around manically to make sure the little factory that is the brain of Riley, a Minnesotan girl who has recently moved to San Francisco, is always fully stocked with upbeat feelings. She tries to keep her co-workers, Anger, Fear and Disgust in line. But most of all she wants to sideline Sadness. Sadness’s chubby little blue hands are not allowed to touch any of the childhood memories that roll like marbles into Riley’s brain.

Especially precious are the more brightly gleaming marbles that represent the core memories. When one of those arrives in the processing room and it’s blue, not chatreuse, meaning it’s sad, not happy, Joy takes extreme steps to prevent it from finding its permanent place in the brain. And ultimately, that puts Riley at risk.

The parallels with modern parenthood are hard to miss here. Feeding and protecting kids from existential threats is no longer the absorbing task it once was, but the instinct to raise happy kids doesn’t go away. So parents try to stave off any potential source of distress—a failure, a loss, a heartache—by flooding the zone of childhood with delight.

For a start, this is exhausting—anyone with less energy than Amy Poehler would just lose her mind—and secondly, it’s counterproductive. Without sadness or failure, kids can’t build resilience. The little islands of security that Joy has built in Riley’s brain, with very little input from Fear, Anger, Disgust or most of all Sadness, prove to be quite fragile and not very colorful.

In his book on building resilience in kids, Grit, Paul Tough quotes the principal of a prestigious U.S. school: “The idea of building grit and building self-control is that you get that through failure. And in most highly academic environments in the United States, no one fails anything.” Spoiler alert: Joy comes to understand that sadness has its place too, that it’s a useful and necessary emotion.

Inside Out doesn’t just gently and comically suggest that perhaps we are making our kid’s lives unhappier by trying to make them happy, it offers an alternative: Riley’s actual parents. Her dad has moved to San Francisco for a startup and is obviously under a bit of stress. Her mom is distracted by the stress of finding a missing truck with all their belongings. (Some Pixar peeps clearly have their issues with moving companies.) But they’re there for Riley. They ask if she wants them to take her to her new school; she doesn’t, so she goes alone. They find a new hockey league for her, but don’t make her join. They make a fool of themselves to support her, when that seems appropriate.

They don’t notice her unhappiness, and she makes a few ill-conceived decisions, but, of course—spoiler alert again!—she realizes her error. Pixar has always made movies for adults cleverly disguised as movies for kids, and and Inside Out is no exception. It simplifies certain concepts in brain science, but it illustrates others in a way that almost anyone could grasp —the dream studio is a particularly inspired sequence—and that may make it simpler for grownups and kids to realize why they’re feeling as they do. As Tough says, “Any time you need to use the term hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal in order to make your point, you’ve got trouble.”

One note of warning. Some people have labeled the movie PMCIFOTC. (Parents May Cry In Front Of Their Children.) Adults should be accompanied by an understanding minor.

Please subscribe to TIME’s weekly parenting newsletter here. All the fun, none of the scolding.

TIME Parenting

How Deadbeat are Deadbeat Dads, Really?

New study suggests they give stuff rather than money

There are fewer pariahs more deeply loathed by society at large than the deadbeat dad, the fully-grown man, who, having had his fun, abandons his responsibilities. And the numbers of men who pay little or no child support has always been staggering. In 2011, only 61% of child support payments were made by men to the mothers of their children.

But as with most pariahs, things are more complicated than they seem. The Census reports that in 2011 about the same percentage of moms who didn’t live with their kids paid all the child support they owed as dads who didn’t. And a new research paper suggests that baby dads are not quite as useless as the numbers and their popular image would imply.

The study, which appeared in June in the Journal of Marriage and Family, finds that many fathers who don’t pay child support in cash, nevertheless make a significant contribution in kind. Almost half of the fathers in the study who were cash-poor nevertheless tried to contribute in other ways—providing baby products, clothing, school expenses and food—worth an average of $60 a month.

“The most disadvantaged dads end up looking like they’re completely distanced from their kids but they’re actually giving quite a lot,” said one of the authors, Kathryn Edin, a sociologist and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Distinguished Professor. “I was really surprised by how much these disadvantaged guys, these truly marginally employed men, are putting all of this thought and what little resources they have into showing their children that they care.”

Of the 367 lower income, noncustodial dads studied in three different cities, only 23% gave what the courts would recognize as child-support through the system, but 46% contributed in-kind support and 28% gave cash straight to the mom, says the study, which is the first to look specifically at the more informal ways dads try to look after their kids.

Sixty six of the dads in the study were what’s considered the full-on deadbeat, giving absolutely no cash support to the 95 children they fathered between them. But the researchers found they gave $63 per child a month through in-kind support — support that doesn’t show up in statistics.

Edin, with her husband Timothy J. Nelson, has done extensive study of so-called deadbeat dads; together they wrote the book Doing the Best I Can about inner city fatherhood. She may be one of the nation’s foremost experts on non-custodial fathers and is certainly one of the group’s biggest (female) defenders.

Many sociologists believe that the current system of child support payments often leads mothers to deny fathers access to their children until they have paid what they owe, thus souring the relationship between all three. Indeed, the study found that fathers who did not visit their kids gave only about half as much in-kind support as those who spent at least 10 hours a month with them.

Why do dads prefer to buy stuff for their kids, rather than give money to the kids’ moms? Because they get more recognition for these acts from their children. It’s a way, says Edin, of bonding. “We need to respect what these guys are doing, linking love and provision in a way that’s meaningful to the child,” she said in a statement accompanying the release of the journal. “The child support system weakens the child/father bond by separating the act of love from the act of providing.”

For the most interesting parenting news from all over the web, subscribe here to TIME’s weekly parenting newsletter.

TIME Family

What Sheryl Sandberg Learned About Motherhood Through Grief

Grief sends some people scurrying into isolation and silence; the pain makes them want to shut out any light or human connection. Sheryl Sandberg is not one of those people.

In a heartrending post on Facebook, under a photo of her late husband Dave Goldberg and her in a particularly, now gutwrenchingly, carefree moment she talks in depth about grief and how it feels. “I have lived thirty years in these thirty days. I am thirty years sadder. I feel like I am thirty years wiser,” she writes.

It’s a very Sandbergian post, full of things she’s learned and hopes to pass along. But it’s also quite unSandbergian: raw and much less levelheaded than the cool, reasonable tone of Lean In. “I still hate every car that did not move to the side, every person who cared more about arriving at their destination a few minutes earlier than making room for us to pass,” she writes of her ambulance ride to the hospital with Goldberg.

One of the things Sandberg addresses first is what she has learned about motherhood. “I have gained a more profound understanding of what it is to be a mother,” she writes, “both through the depth of the agony I feel when my children scream and cry and from the connection my mother has to my pain.” To be a mother, she suggests, is to double down on the pain. But to be a mother is also to have a potential source of joy. “As heartbroken as I am, I look at my children each day and rejoice that they are alive,” she writes. “I appreciate every smile, every hug.”

The Sandberg family has always been tight knit. Her sister lives close by and her parents, who reside in Florida, are very frequent visitors to the Bay Area. Spend any time with Sandberg’s parents and you’ll realize that her father is the calm, steady brainy one and her mom, while also whipsmart, is the passionate, activist one. And she’s the one Sandberg thanks first.

“She has fought to hold back her own tears to make room for mine,” Sandberg writes. “She has explained to me that the anguish I am feeling is both my own and my children’s, and I understood that she was right as I saw the pain in her own eyes.” She goes on to say that her mother has been lying in bed with her at night, “holding me each night until I cry myself to sleep.”

While expressing grief so openly and vulnerably on Facebook may seem a strange thing to do—has any other COO of a huge multinational media concern ever used their own company’s product for such purposes?— it’s not at all uncommon. Since the disappearance of most of our public mourning rituals, such as wearing black armbands or veils or wailing in the public square, social media has become one natural replacement.

Facebook is already used for checking in with folks, displaying evocative photos of a loved one, reminding the world at large of the amazingness of a certain person. So while experts do not agree about whether public expressions of bereavement are always healthy, for those for whom it’s helpful, social media would seem to be a boon. Especially since farflung friends of the bereaved can be regularly expressing condolence and support without being intrusive.

Grief is a nasty, wily changeling, and can overcome people without much warning. Sandberg acknowledges she can’t always been the rejoicing, expressive, I’ll-make-everyone-feel-comfortable mom. “I went to Portfolio Night at school where kids show their parents around the classroom to look at their work hung on the walls,” she writes. “I looked down the entire time so no one could catch my eye for fear of breaking down. I hope they understood.”

Not every mother’s mourning will be as widely noted as Sandberg’s (within two hours, it had been shared more than 18,000 times), but at least her public declaration of vulnerability and loss might make less connected widows feel less alone.

Sign up for TIME’s free weekly parenting newsletter here.

TIME Parenting

What We Can Learn From Insanely Rich Parents

Florence Fancy The Florence Fancy children's store on New York City's Upper East Side

In Primates of Park Avenue, an anthropologist researches her neighbors

Motherhood, like yoga or eating, is not supposed to be a competitive sport. But some people can’t help themselves, and just as with yoga or eating, among certain types of humans, it can become quite a contest.

Take the moms of the upper east side of Manhattan, one of America’s—if not the world’s—most well-provisioned regions. The moms there have everything a parent could want for their offspring: the most delectable food, the most meticulous childcare and education and the most adorable woolen toddler clothes with French names.

They even have amenities other parents never get around to wanting, like a pre-labor blowout, an annual bonus for being a wife, a closet just for handbags and a person who organizes things when said bonus brings forth more handbags than closet.

You’d think, with all this, those moms would be super chill with their lot. But, according to a book out on June 2, they’re not. They’re competitive and fearful and ruthlessly hierarchical. “Being a mommy here is a cut-throat, high-stakes career, stressful and anxiety producing,” writes Wednesday Martin, a former player on the Upper East Side parenting circuit. Now she’s a commentator, kind of like John McEnroe, only the sport is high-end mothering.

At least that’s the sell. Martin’s training is in anthropology and in Primates of Park Avenue, she uses her education to try to bring insights into the behavior of insanely wealthy moms. She identifies “alloparents” (nannies); faces down women who, in the manner of aggressive chimpanzees, “charge” lesser females on the sidewalk (literally barge past them and force them to give way) and analyzes a condition known as “ecological release,” which results when natural cycles and rhythms are no longer an issue—the families of this region are immune to such vagaries as seasons or drought or grey hair.

But, unlike most observers of primate behavior, Martin scrutinizes all this not as an outsider. She’s right in the 10021 zipcode. It’s as if she is writing about gorillas while married to a silverback (her husband, Joel Moser, is the CEO of a finance company) and chewing on stems and bamboo shoots. She’s gone native. (Or went; the Martin-Mosers moved to another part of town after about six years.)

A primatologist’s take on the most moneyed of the Great Apes is a pretty irresistible premise for a memoir. The habits of well-provisioned humans have always been of interest to the other 99% of the species, partly because bystanders to displays of wealth, as to any spectacle, always suspect that in the same circumstances they could do so much better.

Subscribe to TIME’s weekly parenting newsletter, with stories from all over the web, tips and more…

So what happens when there’s no competition for resources? People manufacture needs to compete for. Thus, getting a 2-year-old into the right pre-school becomes for these mothers an Iditarod of phone-calls, interviews and favor-trading. Organizing playdates is akin, in Martin’s telling to getting a home loan with suspect credit. Her kid only succeeds in landing any, she says, because his mom “happens” to charm an alpha dad. Martin spends about an eighth of book detailing her long, arduous quest—full of setbacks and heartstopping turns of fortune!— for a certain handbag.

The book has caused something of a stir. First, there’s the revelation that some women in this world get a so-called wife bonus: an annuity given to a female spouse by her husband for meeting certain benchmarks. Martin uses this act of largesse as an example of the asymmetrical power between the two halves of the marriage, but the idea was seized upon in the public sphere as the most deliciously repellent kind of excess, a big bag of bills for doing things all moms do everywhere.

In response to the uproar, one brave woman even stepped up to explain why the wife bonus made her feel like a good feminist, because staying at home looking after the kids is as important to her family as what her oil-company husband does. (She apparently did not feel like a bad feminist for spending much of it on shoes.)

But the wife bonus, like so many of our outrages, turns out really just to be a new name for something that surprises no-one—guys with a lot of money telling their wives how much they can spend on things that are not strictly part of the household expenses: shoes, a charity, whatever.

Are there real discoveries in the book? Some. I lost faith in some of Martin’s science after a passage that compared pregnant women to kangaroos having to decide whether to eject their joeys (offspring) when running from predators. Apart from humans, kangaroos don’t really have predators. And they definitely don’t run.

But what the book does make clear is that we are, as a species, prone to fear. Even if resources are plentiful, we humans fear scarcity. Even if opportunities and promise are obvious, we fear failure. Even if our children have never had a need or a whim unanswered, we fear we are not doing enough. And that fear makes us forget that we are stronger as a group. Our gains and losses are better shared than fought over. When Martin’s family suffers a sad blow, her erstwhile rivals surround her and lessen the impact. Of course.

Perhaps that’s why Martin’s book, eventually, reads as a pretty gentle and generous analysis of her former neighbors and their mothering abilities. Another thing that’s not supposed to be a competitive sport: memoir writing.

Read next: 19 Secrets Your Millionaire Neighbor Won’t Tell You

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Parenting

Why Millennials Are Giving Their Kids Weird Names

And because Millennials love small brands

Every time the Social Security Administration releases the list of most popular baby names in the U.S. for the prior year, observers of the human species try to figure out what the significance of the most popular names are. This is not so surprising since we are the only species on the planet that gets to name its offspring (as far as we know.) Some of these explanations are more speculative than others, but none feels completely right.

Now that this year’s list is out, name-watchers have noted that J-names are getting unpopular while names starting with vowels are hot. Names that end in a plosive (Pete, Jack, Kate) are less popular than names that end in a fricative or a vowel. People seem to be losing interest in New Testament names (Mary is thin on the ground and Michael, who had a 45-year reign as male baby name No. 1, is trending down.) But Old Testament names (Noah, Jacob, Ethan, Abigail and Daniel) are enjoying a spike.

Now comes Goldman Sachs, pointing out in a study of Millennials, that even the most popular names these days aren’t anywhere near as popular as those of yore. Twenty five years ago, 3% of American babies were called Michael, and 2.3% were called Jessica. But Michael and Jessica, who are now of childbearing age, are giving their kids names that fewer kids share. The most popular names in 2014, Noah and Emma, accounted for only 1% of babies each. The report points out that you’d need to add all the Noahs, Jacobs, Liams and Masons together to get the percentage of Michaels there were in 1980.

“We turn to the history of baby names to possibly provide a window into evaluating parents’ expression towards brands,” says the Goldman Sachs report, which identifies two main reasons for the wider spread of baby-naming: “greater diversity among parents and … an appetite for more differentiated and unique brands (which we believe names are).”

That’s right: parents want to give their kids a different name not so they can call it out on the playground and not have five kids look at them, and not so that Olivia (second most popular girl’s name) will be the only Liv in her class, and not so that if she loses her towel at camp everybody will know whose it is, but because they want their kid to have a unique brand. Millennials are disruptive; they prefer small brands. And they don’t want their kid associated with any monolithic name that might dominate the cut-throat baby name market. (Tip: get in early and invest in Gannon and Aranza now.)

Goldman Sachs somewhat gingerly admits it doesn’t know everything about Millennial parents: “…their attitude towards parenthood strikes us as being more idealistic and aspirational,” than their forebears, the report notes. “Having said this, we acknowledge that we are still in the infancy of this theme and are likely to be introduced to changes in values, companies and business models as it develops.”

Just to prove disruption isn’t limited to Millennials, this Gen Xer has put both her kids names in this story. See if you can spot them (hint; they’re lower case.)

 

TIME Parenting

New Parents Spend Less Time Looking After Kids Than They Think

149355109
Miho Aikawa—Getty Images

And fathers overestimate how much housework they do

According to a new study, couples who have recently become parents believe they spend more hours in childcare than they actually do. And couples who intend to divide up childcare equally before their kid is born rarely achieve that balance once the baby arrives.

Researchers from Ohio State University interviewed 182 professional level couples before they had their kids and after. They also asked them to keep time diaries, which log how they spend their hours each day. The results might hold a clue as to why it’s harder for women to become business leaders, a subject that has been under much scrutiny in the last five years. But it also might provide ammunition in the so-called chore wars, because it suggests both men and women—but especially men—do less than they think do.

“Most modern couples want to share the duties and rewards of work and family equally,” says the study, which was prepared for an online symposium on housework, gender and parenthood (just in time for Mother’s Day!) hosted by the Council on Contemporary Families. And indeed before children enter the picture they divide up the labor pretty well. Men and women both report working about 45 hours a week and spending a further 15 hours a week each doing housework. This is borne out by their time-use diaries, which are a self-kept record of what activities took up their day. “Before the babies were born, most couples had achieved a balanced division of labor,” says the briefing paper.

When interviewed during their pregnancies, nearly all the couples had expected that balance to continue after their family grew by one member. “More than 95% of both men and women agreed that ‘men should share with child care such as bathing, feeding, and dressing the child’ and that ‘it is equally as important for a father to provide financial, physical, and emotional care to his children,’” the study says.

Nine months after the kids were born, which is about when schedules begin to settle in, the researchers interviewed the couples again, and each partner felt they had added about 50% to their overall work load. Instead of spending 60 hours a week on paid and unpaid labor, they reported spending about 90 hours a week. The moms estimated they were doing 27 hours of housework, 28 hours of child care, and 35 hours of paid work per week. The dads figured they were doing about 35 hours of housework, 15 hours of child care, and 41 hours of paid work per week.

So both men and women felt like they had reduced their time at the office. Dads felt as if they had picked up the slack around the house, more than doubling the time they spent doing chores, and then adding in 15 hours childcare as well. The women reported doing less housework than men, but a lot more childrearing.

Turns out, they were both wrong. According to the detailed time diaries that the participants kept, they women spent on average 12 hours less looking after the kids than they thought they did (15 hours). Even if playing and reading with baby—not strictly laborious—were included, women still spent six hours less with their kids than they had reported. Similarly, they were only doing about half as much housework as they guessed (13. 5 hours). Where did all the time go? The women spent 42 hours doing paid work— six hours more than they thought they spent in their jobs.

Dads’ estimates were even further off: they did about 10 hours of physical child care, about two thirds of what they had reported. They put in 46 hours of paid work —five hours more than they reported and more than they did before they had a child. But it was their estimate of housework that was the furthest off-base. “The time diaries revealed that on average the men did just nine hours of housework—only one-fourth as much as they thought they were doing,” says the report.

The authors, who were more interested in getting better access to reasonably priced and workable childcare than settling marital disputes about who’s not pulling their weight around the home, note that the eight extra hours a week could really add up. “Women’s total weekly workload increased from 56 to 77 hours across the transition to parenthood, while men’s increased from 59 to 69 hours,” says the study. “Thus, over the course of a year, our calculations indicate that parenthood increased women’s total workload by about 4 ½ weeks of 24-hour days, whereas parenthood increased men’s total workload by approximately 1 ½ weeks—a 3-week per year gender gap.”

The study is very small, and not nationally representative, but it does offer an intriguing perspective on the different impact being a parent has on men’s and women’s lives even in an era when equality is generally recognized as important. The danger is that if women feel overwhelmed they may decide to give up working outside the home.

Why is that a danger? “When a woman quits work, reduces hours, or takes a less-challenging job, she sacrifices earnings, raises, promotions, unemployment insurance, and pension accumulations, thereby undermining her future economic security,” writes Stephanie Coontz, Co-Chair and Director of Public Education at the CCF. “She is also less to likely to have the kind of work continuity that has been found to protect a woman’s mental and physical health better than part-time work, staying home, or experiencing frequent bouts of unemployment.”

Moreover, it further tips the balance of household labor away from the dads. Men feel even more pressure to work to make up for lost income, which leads to women taking over an increased share of the parenting and kids seeing less of their dads. Another paper prepared for the symposium shows that men’s contribution to the share of household work has increased markedly in every country studied, but clearly, the inequities remain.

Is there a solution? Perhaps, but it might involve some tense conversations. “We would argue that men and women should openly confront the workload inequities that develop in their child’s first nine months,” say the Ohio State authors, “because renegotiating the division of labor once routines are established is really difficult.” Alternatively, all new parents could keep a time-diary. Because they don’t have enough to do.

Sign up for TIME’s weekly parenting newsletter here. It’s free.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com