Why is the choice of relatives not greater

Gender democracy

Uta Meier-Graewe

Prof. Dr. sc. oec. Until her retirement at the end of March 2018, Uta Meier-Gräwe headed the Chair of Household Economics and Family Studies at the Institute for Household Economics and Consumption Research at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen. From 2013 to 2018 she was a member of the Expert Commission for the preparation of the Seventh Family Report and the First and Second Equal Opportunities Report of the Federal Government. She was also head of the competence center "Professionalization and Quality Assurance of Household Services", funded by the BMFSFJ, member of the study commission "Future of Family Policy in North Rhine-Westphalia" of the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Family Policy Commission of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Berlin. Her research and publication focuses are family, socio-economic household and gender sociology, poverty and service research.

People in Germany currently enjoy great individual freedom in shaping their private life plans. Nevertheless, through the integration into household and family forms and in the transition to different phases of life, there are course-setting that lead to a real, also gender-related inequality of life chances.

New ways of life - old conditions? (& copy die KLEINERT.de / Katrin Fiederling)

The realities of life and social framework conditions for people to live together have changed significantly in Germany over the past 50 years and are now characterized by a colorful diversity: In addition to the classic nuclear families with and without migration history, there are unmarried partnerships, blended and step-families, rainbow families, Multi-local families (households in which at least one person also uses an additional residence) and single mothers and fathers.

In addition, we encounter bi- and multinational family constellations and, recently, increasingly refugee families. A completely new, albeit numerically very small form of life is called "Co-parenting"(" common parenting "); this is where people come together to realize their desire to have children, but without being lovers. This term is also often used to describe family arrangements when parents have separated, the upbringing of their children but still exercise and shape together with the same rights.

In addition, the number of Asian or Eastern European "surrogate mothers" is increasing, who help couples in Germany who have involuntarily remained childless to fulfill their desire for children in exchange for money. This creates new global markets that also reflect the deep gulf in living conditions between poor and rich countries. A rapidly developing reproductive industry is always offering new options such as the freezing of egg cells ("Social freezing") ready and thus awakens the hope of being able to decide completely independently about the point in time to realize one's desire for children. These developments represent great challenges for the state and society, for example with regard to the legal regulations of parenthood. And finally new life emerges - and forms of living in old age in which not only relatives, but also neighbors and friends look after each other and organize their everyday lives together.

At first glance, the colorfulness and the juxtaposition of these forms of life appear as a gain in freedom to be able to decide for yourself how your personal life plans are designed. However, it is easy to overlook the fact that it is not the individual persons, but the household and family forms, in which fundamental decisions are made for the emergence of social and gender-specific inequality: Only when individuals are included in household and family forms do unequal ones arise Opportunities on the job market and ultimately a real inequality in life opportunities for women and men, mothers and fathers, parents and children. In addition, 13 percent of state family benefits in Germany go to the richest ten percent of private households, while the bottom ten percent of private households in poverty benefit only seven percent of family policy expenditure.

In addition, many scientific studies show that the transition from partnership to parenthood or the emergence of a need for help and care among older family members proves to be a node at which there is a recurring "retraditionalization" of gender roles: women then take on the main responsibility housework and care work, are content with a mini job or work part-time (10 to 15 hours per week), while men often find themselves back in the role of sole or main breadwinner, although many couples had actually envisaged a partnership-based division of labor. The result: women - regardless of their education and training qualifications, which are good or very good today - very often remain far below their professional opportunities and, in the event of a separation or divorce, risk falling into poverty with their children.

What is family

In 2018 there were around 11.44 million families in Germany. Family in the statistical sense includes all parent-child communities, i.e. married couples, unmarried same-sex and mixed-sex unions as well as single fathers and mothers with unmarried children in the household. In addition to biological children, this family term also includes stepchildren, foster children and adoptive children without age limit.

The Seventh Family Report of the Federal Government of 2006 understands the family to be a special kind of social network that is composed of heterosexual as well as same-sex and also cross-generational and is re-established every day. Family is a place where people of different generations take responsibility for one another, a social community in which at least one adult (regardless of gender) and at least two generations are involved. This definition takes into account the diversity and dynamics of familial forms of life outlined at the beginning and thus goes beyond the narrower notion that a family is simply a group in which a married couple lives together with their direct descendants.

From a superordinate macro-sociological perspective, families are also defined as investors in social networks and as social service providers: It is the unpaid everyday work and care work performed predominantly by women that leads to a wide range of productive services in educational and supply management terms, without which one society and their economy cannot exist at all. In everyday family life, children acquire their ability to relate and deal with conflicts, certain value orientations, but also existence and language skills in order to be able to survive in life.

In view of the high educational importance of the family of origin as the primary socialization authority, parents and children today need good supervision and support from the very beginning in order to strengthen their educational skills. After all, it is motivation, frustration tolerance and self-regulatory skills in childhood that make up that "socialization baggage" that also contributes to acquiring professional expertise and successfully coping with one's own life and its challenges in the rest of one's life.

Viewed in this way, the family creates common goods for society, which only arise when young adults are even willing to choose children and to invest affection and time in them. These common goods, the "human assets" of a society, arise in private forms of life on the basis of affection, love and personal happiness, but benefit all members of society. Such services only come about when people build and maintain social networks on a private level. They are solidarity communities that stand up for each other mentally and materially, even in crisis situations and when they get older. Such solidarity relationships are also conceivable between relatives, for example when a child grows up with his aunt, or they can be based on certain social regulations that establish social parenthood, such as adoption.

The family policy manifesto of the Heinrich Böll Foundation from 2017 goes even further and points out that family networks should also include people without family ties or ties regulated by adoption: "Responsibility is not only lived within the marriage or assumed in a love relationship: girlfriends and Friends, for example, or neighbors help each other and stand up for one another. Senior shared apartments, the constantly developing new forms of living and housing, for example in cooperatives or multi-generation houses, are often based on social relationships and not on the relatives of the residents However, this diversity of lifestyles contrasts with a relatively narrow set of legal regulations that are by no means applicable to all communities te people are taken over, these are only taken into account by the state under social law if it serves its fiscal interests, for example when the income is taken into account in a community of needs. But those who have duties should also have guaranteed rights. "(As quoted in the HBS report 2017 on p. 11). In the opinion of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the diverse care and solidarity relationships, regardless of the way of life, must be designed , are equally supported and legally protected in everyday life, not least in order to avoid social imbalances.

For a long time, such perspectives received just as little attention in relevant family research as the empirically unmistakable gender asymmetries in couple relationships. The principle of Fordist specialization on unpaid care work assigned to women on the one hand and on paid gainful employment reserved for men on the other was declared to be consistently functional and expedient for the family system. As early as 1990, women researchers Sigrid Metz-Göckel and Elke Nyssen questioned this male perspective of family research with their pointed thesis "The man's family is not the woman's family": They were concerned with the completely different everyday reality of mothers and fathers as well as to address the asymmetry in marital power relations and thus to call for a stronger relationship between women's studies and reality.

In an effort to prove the positive achievements of the "classical nuclear family", the mainstream of family research also ignored the "dark sides of the family" for many decades. The connection between scientific theories and real as well as empirically proven phenomena, such as violence against women and children, was almost completely absent in the German-speaking area. Such issues continued to be ignored even when the first refuges for abused women and their children were established in the mid-1970s.

That has changed in the meantime, especially since there is still a considerable need for action. To this day, a high degree of violence against women is exercised in western democracies, especially by male partners and ex-partners, which is also to be seen as an expression of persistent inequalities and hierarchies in gender relations. Last but not least, economic, cultural and social dimensions of gender inequality promote violence against women in different contexts of life. How topical and urgent the problem of sexual violence is in Western societies in the world of work is ultimately also a factor #Me too revealed, which found dissemination on social networks from mid-October 2017 in the wake of the scandal surrounding the US film producer Harvey Weinstein. Dozens of women from the film industry accuse the film producer of having been guilty of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape for decades. Harvey Weinstein was then dismissed and expelled from numerous professional associations. At the beginning of March 2020, he was sentenced to 23 years in prison in an initial trial.

The Gender Care Gap

Women and mothers are still primarily responsible for an intact family life, as they take on most of the daily housework and care work for children, their partners and family members in need. Care work encompasses all "life-sustaining, vital activities without which societies would not be able to exist and economic growth would be impossible", according to the feminist Swiss economist Mascha Madörin. In the Federal Government's Second Gender Equality Report 2017, an indicator was calculated for the first time that shows the different time commitments of women and men for a socially necessary form of work - unpaid care work - in Germany: the so-called gender care gap. It records the relative difference between men and women in the daily time spent on care work.

As the data analysis showed, women in Germany take on significantly more unpaid work than the male comparison groups across all educational, occupational and age groups, but also in a wide variety of household constellations. The Gender Care Gap was 52.4 percent in Germany in 2012, i.e. women spent one and a half times as much time a day on unpaid care work as men. The gender care gap is significantly larger in couple households with children, where it is as much as 83.3 percent (see also the section on care work in the gender data report chapter).

When differentiated according to age groups, the largest is shown Gender Care Gap, i.e. the most noticeable gender-specific difference in the division of labor between women and men, at the age of 34. At this age, women do more than twice as much care work every day, namely 5:18 hours, men only 2:31, which is what one would expect Gender Care Gap of 110.6 percent. Overall, the greatest discrepancies in the use of time for care work can be found in the so-called rush hour in life, in which important life events and decisions are bundled. During this period, the choice of partner and the realization of the desire to have children often take place; However, the course is also set for a successful career - mostly to the detriment of the mothers. This factual return to traditional gender roles, which often occurs in couple households after the birth of children, is also proven in many other studies and contradicts the original ideas of many couples that they want to live an approximately equal division of labor between paid gainful employment and unpaid care work.
Few parents with young children live their ideal. (& copy source: calculations based on families in Germany (FiD). Quoted from: DIW weekly report no. 46/2013)

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Reasons for keeping traditional roles

[...] Just because the classic distribution of roles is still widespread, it doesn't mean that all couples want to live like that. In many German families, there is a wide gap between desire and reality. [...] The Duisburg scientist [Ute] Klammer has an explanation for the discrepancy between desire and reality: "Couples want to live an egalitarian lifestyle - but the crux of the matter is always the first child." At birth, a "retraditionalization of gender roles" often sets in. That means: a modern couple with equal rights enters the delivery room - and leaves it as mom and dad. Then the man primarily cares for the money, the woman primarily for the children. [...]

This is not only due to traditional role models that have been inscribed in the DNA of a society over the centuries. Laws, rules and economic constraints are just as often to blame. It is you who stand in the way of an equal partnership in making money.

[...] "I will carry you in my hands, it is said among lovers. But nobody asks: How far? And can you lift the luggage?" This is what the Munich psychoanalyst Wolfgang Schmidbauer says. "Couples who strive for a relationship on an equal footing should talk early about what everyone understands by eye level. And what it means when a child comes. For such couples, for example, it would be an option for both partners to work half full-time. "

If such an arrangement succeeds, it even promises good luck. […] Only such a promising relationship on equal terms has two opponents in Germany: One is the German welfare state."It still sets numerous incentives for women to become dependent on long-term relationships," says the scientist Klammer, a member of the Federal Government's Social Council. "And that means in most cases: into a model at the expense of women."

This includes spouse splitting in tax law, which favors married couples in which one partner earns a lot and the other little. This tax advantage tempts to maintain a traditional division of labor and offers couples [...] hardly any financial incentive to live on an equal footing.

Another problem is the survivor's pension system, which is based on the idea of ​​a main breadwinner marriage until death as if it were a law of nature. This, too, cements the gender imbalance in making money (and also provides little protection if such a marriage breaks up).

And finally, this includes the contribution-free co-insurance in the health insurance, which the childless wife (only in exceptional cases it is a spouse) of the top earner takes on free of charge - while the unmarried, working mother has to earn her own contributions. [...]

The second adversary of eye level is: money. The unequal pay of men and women is the most powerful engine of injustice, and at the same time it distorts the gender role structure. [...]

This fact cannot be blamed on the patriarchy alone. It's their own fault, too: they are far less motivated by money than men in their job, and they often don't fight hard enough for a higher salary, says Klammer. A meaningful job and a friendly atmosphere are more important to many. "When the first child arrives, it is economically completely rational that the mother, as the less earner, backs away." Most women - no matter how clever, competent and capable - never find their way out of this trap: While she works part-time at best, he has a full-time career. His salary grows and grows and with it the wage gap in the partnership and the dependency. [...]

Kerstin Bund / Marcus Rohwetter, "When mom earns the money", in: DIE ZEIT No. 49 of November 29, 2018, Supplement No. 3 Money and Love, p.8 ff.



Comparing the households of single mothers and fathers was also a relatively large one Gender Care Gap determined by 76.5 percent. The financial resources of single mothers are obviously not sufficient to transfer some of the necessary care work to third parties in order to relieve themselves. The situation is different for single fathers: their employment position and the income generated with it apparently allow the use of household-related services or they have (female) family networks that give them considerable support, at least on working days.

It is significant in this context that the average Gender Care Gap of 52 percent is about as large as another key figure, the so-called gender pension gap. It describes the relative difference in pension income between women and men and was 53 percent in 2015. This means that in Germany women have an average of 53 percent lower own pension income than men, i.e. not even half.

In focus: different familial ways of life

Couple families
Married couples who live in one household with unmarried children under the age of 18 had by far the largest share of all family types in Germany at 69.7 percent in 2017. Non-marital partnerships with unmarried children were represented by 11.4 percent and have more than doubled in the past 20 years. Another 18.9 percent are single-parent families with underage children - 89 percent of them were single mothers. When comparing western to eastern Germany (including Berlin), it is noticeable that in the eastern German federal states only 51 percent of the parents are married, in contrast to almost three quarters of the parents in the western German federal states.

As overarching current trends in the relationships between parents and children, a child-centering and the change from the command to the negotiation budget can be identified throughout Germany. The child, with his or her specific needs and abilities, is the focus of educational efforts and a more permissive or democratic style of upbringing with more say for the children has taken the place of earlier authoritarian forms of upbringing. In addition, an increasing number of (married) mothers are now in gainful employment; however, it is mostly part-time or a mini-job.

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When is a boy a boy? - Role stereotypes in everyday parenting

[…] We parents and adults, a large part of society, can agree that clothing, behavior or color preferences have no gender. But even if the mother and father of a child agree that they want to dispense with stereotypical role assignments in their upbringing: You cannot escape them. Because these stereotypes are always and everywhere present. From the beginning. [...] Let's go to any children's department in the department store: Anyone who wants to buy baby bodysuits beyond pink and light blue here has to look for a long time. And the compulsory division continues. Dolls here, action toys there. [...]

Gender is a very powerful category that, even in supposedly enlightened times, is used to force children into an identity norm - instead of simply letting them try out which role suits them. This also and especially applies to boys. While, thanks to emancipatory efforts, we have succeeded more and more in loosening the rigid guidelines for girls in the past few decades, studies, also from an international perspective, repeatedly show that not much has changed in our image of boys. "Real" guys are strong, athletic and wild. Now nothing speaks against these character traits. Firstly, they have no gender and, secondly, they are consistently used as an exclusion criterion against boys. They have to be like this and not otherwise.

[…] Boys are much more than what they have often been reduced to and still are. They are emotional, affectionate, fearful, exuberant, depressed, cuddly and creative. [...] And I am convinced that there are these qualities in every boy. Or at least have stuck - until it has been made clear to him that he should not behave like this because of his gender.

This does not mean that these boys are not or cannot be exactly as they are classically expected of them. It just means that beneath the carefully gender-normalized surface, they have a rich reservoir of ideas, needs, and feelings that they are constantly denied and bad-mouthed. [...]

The root of the problem that educators and parents face is the definition of what a boy is and how he has to present himself in order to be considered a boy. Pointing your finger at others and accusing them of their prejudice does not help much. Most of the teachers want to support all children as best as possible. And the overwhelming majority of parents would never maliciously withhold a pink bike or beauty foam bath from their son.

It's just that many are irritated, overwhelmed and worried about such requests: What do we do with the boy now? [...] The little one doesn't hurt anyone, he hasn't done anything wrong. But there is no right not to have one's own stereotypes and prejudices questioned. As inviolable as human dignity is, so should his prejudices and clichés be. [...]

No matter how you look at it, our sons deserve our love and support. We shouldn't let them prove their gender on things that are not gendered. [...]

The journalist Nils Pickert, 40, has four children and lives in Münster.
Nils Pickert, "Her with the glitter", in: Die Zeit No. 5 of January 23, 2020, supplement family, p. 7 ff.



Tax policy incentives and co-insurance in the partner's health insurance contribute to the uneven distribution of paid employment and unpaid care work between fathers and mothers - despite today's good and very good female educational and professional qualifications. This is all the more remarkable as, in the wake of the educational expansion for three decades, there has been an increasing tendency towards marriage homogeneity in Germany: For example, a doctor no longer marries a nurse, but also an academic. Both partners have similar living conditions and increase them through their marriage. As a result, circles of social intercourse are closing off from one another and the marriage and relationship market is increasingly becoming an institution that additionally increases social inequality in Germany.

The return to traditional gender roles after the birth of children across all educational groups is particularly pronounced among heterosexual married couples. Although the proportion of fathers who take parental leave has risen from 3.5 to 35 percent since 2006 and more than half of all fathers would like to be more involved in childcare, the desire and reality of the partnership-based division of tasks still fall sharply apart. Fathers who work full-time in Germany work an average of 45 hours a week, which is longer than the European average. Against this background it becomes understandable why especially young women with an academic education often find it difficult to decide to have a child. You get the impression that the men in general and also their own partner ultimately want to stick to the traditional breadwinner model. Especially in modern upscale milieus (performers, post-material, established) men in a partnership finally want a family and ask their partner whether she would not give up her job - financially one can afford that, so Carsten Wippermann in the order The study "What young women want" published by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in 2016 on p. 14. [Note. About the milieus: The DELTA milieus are based on two decades of cultural-sociological research into the living environments of people at the Institute for Social and Ecological Research of the same name. The empirical studies deal on the one hand with the basic conceptions and ways of life and on the other hand with specific topics and questions (e.g. education, consumption, gender roles, health, nutrition) and are based on well-founded sociological theories and methods on social milieus. The author Carsten Wippermann is the founder of the institute.]

The study "Men's Perspectives. On the Way to More Equality?", Which the sociologist Wippermann also carried out in 2016 on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Families, Seniors, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ), shows an overall clearly growing interest among men on the issue of gender equality and widespread general approval of key goals of gender equality policy such as equal pay or more women in management positions. The results also show, however, that this verbal consent for many men is in clear contradiction to their attitudes with regard to concrete political implementation measures and laws and even more so to their personal willingness to be more involved in taking on unpaid household responsibilities in the interests of a fair distribution of tasks. and to involve care work.

These contradicting findings are individually "canceled" by filling the concept of equality with content and criteria that fundamentally oppose the actual idea of ​​equality: "For example, very many men of the type 'the superior, tough, independent man' then see equality as fulfilled when the man is the main breadwinner and his partner runs the household and brings up children. And men of the type “the resistant modern man who clings to the status quo” believe that women are themselves to blame for the pay inequality because they earned less as men, because they chose the wrong job, the wrong industry, the wrong company or simply bargained badly. Representatives of these two types of masculinity see equality as achieved in their partnership because there are no conflicts about the distribution of roles in their partnership - even if they do they are actually in a (partial) trad live itional division of roles and the financial balance of power is asymmetrically distributed in favor of the man "(study on men's perspectives, p. 145) In some milieus (e.g. among conservatives, traditional, middle-class, established, disadvantaged) there are also decided opponents of equality (13%) and a further eleven percent who openly advocate adherence to the tried and tested "natural" gender order and discredit, massively relativize or replace established notions of equality. Especially supporters of a masculinist worldview as well as right-wing extremist and national-conservative parties defame everything connected with the word "equality" as "gender ideology". This fixed pattern of thought between "masters" and "subject" is reminiscent of the age of colonialism.

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Experience from swapping roles in making money

[…] After sixty years of legally mandated equality, are women still looking for a breadwinner? And are the men really looking for a woman who doesn't dispute this status? Have five decades of modern feminism been unable to overcome that archaic role model in people's minds: the man kills the mammoth and feeds the woman and children? Does reversing roles in money throw love out of balance?

The sociologist Christine Wimbauer from Humboldt University Berlin has been researching couples' satisfaction for twenty years. She notes that two threatening tendencies can intensify in the event of an involuntary role reversal: The woman does not appreciate the househusband enough or even secretly despises him. And the househusband, for his part, belittles his wife's role as breadwinner, so doesn't value her either. "Both are a real threat to the relationship."

A man who only takes care of the house and children is not yet socially accepted, says the sociologist. As a result, he often feels threatened in his masculinity from all sides: from his own wife, his social environment - and often also from himself. But the woman who involuntarily feeds her family is no better off. "Even if the man stays at home, she still does most of the housework and family work," says Wimbauer.

On the basis of various representative surveys of US households, researchers from the Universities of Chicago and Singapore demonstrated this irrational effect in 2015: If she earns more than he does, she does not do less, but even more in the household than is the case with couples with male main breadwinners . The scientists explain it like this: The woman does not want to expose her partner, who is already offended in his masculinity, to the unpleasant window polishing and cleaning of the toilet. That is why she cleans the bathroom and kitchen herself after an eight-hour day. With the result that, in view of the double workload, her frustration grows too. So it is not surprising that the studied US couples with reversed roles were not only measurably less happy and reported more arguments in their marriage - the risk of getting divorced was 50 percent higher for them.

[…] Stefan Woinoff […] [has a] practice for psychotherapy […]. Woinoff says a sentence that sounds as if it came from the past millennium: "The archaic loot scheme still has a firm grip on us." I beg your pardon? Woinoff strikes back: In the distant past, when humans were still hunters and gatherers, a big, strong partner promised better chances of survival for the offspring. What used to be height and muscle mass are now influence and prestige. In principle, however, it is about the same thing: woman's security through male status. "Even today women are still more likely to look for a man who is superior to them in status," believes Woinoff.

But status does not always have to mean power and money. "An intelligent or somehow extraordinary man can also embody status," says Woinoff. [...] But, according to Woinoff: "The woman wants to admire her husband."

The housemen who come to Woinoff come up with amazing ideas to impress their wives: one of them is renovating a farm for a short while, another is making furniture, a third is working on a novel. [...] Men cannot have children, so they obviously have to be creative in other ways in order to earn marital recognition.Does this explain why intellectuals, artists or musicians can endure it better at the side of successful high earners? They may draw their self-confidence from other, immaterial sources and, as birds of paradise who have broken out of the role of breadwinner, are not so easily destabilized in their masculinity. [...]

Kerstin Bund / Marcus Rohwetter, "When mom earns the money", in: Die Zeit No. 49 of November 29, 2018, Supplement No. 3 Money and Love, p. 6 ff.



However, 13 percent of women also see their ideal in the traditional main breadwinner, another 15 percent in the "lifestyle macho" and at least 35 percent in the "strong man" who sticks to the status quo. Thus women are to a considerable extent actively involved in the social reproduction of the model of hegemonic masculinity. The 2013 study "Gender roles among Germans and immigrants of Christian and Muslim religious affiliation" by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees also paints a differentiated picture of gender roles and the division of labor between women and men in the family for migrants with Christian and Muslim religious affiliation. In comparison to the factor "religious affiliation", socio-economic factors such as education and age were found to be significantly stronger factors influencing gender role models and the family division of labor. This was true of practicing Muslims and Christians alike. Only a minority of Muslims (17%) and Christians (11%) held patriarchal views that can be classified as disadvantageous to women.

Single parent families
Every fifth family today is a single-parent family. For the most part (89%) it is mothers with their children. Their share of the population has increased noticeably since the mid-1990s. Although more than three quarters of single mothers (78%) in Germany have a medium to high level of education and six out of ten single mothers are employed, the risk of falling into poverty as a single parent and staying there has been 6 since 2005, 6 percent rose to 41.9 percent, while for couples with two children it fell by 11.7 percent. On a national average, single mothers are about five times more likely than couple families to be dependent on state transfer payments in accordance with Book II of the Social Code (SGB II). Of the 1.92 million children and adolescents under 18 years of age who are covered by SGB II, around 968,750 live in single parent households. Half of the child poverty in Germany is therefore due to the poverty of single mothers. One of the reasons for this is that only every second child receives child support from the other parent.

The high risk of poverty of single mothers is, on the one hand, a consequence of the traditional gender-specific division of labor with the disproportionate assumption of unpaid care work by mothers in couple relationships, which hits them hard after a separation or divorce. On the other hand, the gender reference is also reflected in the fact that many of the typically "female" care professions, due to low wages and salaries, do not make it possible to secure a livelihood independently. In addition, family policy benefits for single parents often fail to have their effect: For example, measures to reduce the tax burden on single parents have hardly contributed to reducing the risk of poverty in this type of family. The reason is that only those single parents benefit from it who even generate a taxable income in a significant amount.

As scientific analyzes have shown years ago, the vast majority of single parents strive for gainful employment that makes them financially independent, i.e. full-time or almost full-time part-time if possible. The chance to finance oneself through one's own gainful employment, however, stands or falls with the possibilities of being able to guarantee the childcare satisfactorily and according to the needs of the children. Conversely, exercising a job also has consequences for the organization and coping with the various family tasks, especially in view of the sole responsibility that many of these mothers (and fathers) bear. Single parents are therefore dependent on jobs that ensure them an adequate income for the entire family and at the same time give them enough time to cope with unforeseeable events in everyday life (e.g. the sudden occurrence of a febrile illness in their child) due to the comprehensive care responsibility for their children can.

In the model project "Supplementary child care, emergency care and advice for single-parent families in Germany", which was carried out between 2014 and 2017 at three project locations in Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, there was a very great need: "The waiting lists were long and Behind many inquiries were cases of great urgency and desperation in which, without additional childcare, there was a risk of job loss, a job offer not accepted or training not possible. " This shows how necessary it is for the success of everyday life between work and family to create tailor-made and affordable support offers for single parents.

Multi-local families
In the past few years, the multilocal family life style has also become more established. These are arrangements that can be traced back to rising divorce and separation rates and new lifestyles. But increased professional mobility requirements also play a role. This employment-related mobility primarily affects frequent business travelers, weekend commuters and transnational family constellations. In this family constellation, parents and their underage children periodically live separately and everyday family life is organized across different residential locations.

Occupational mobility no longer only affects the highly qualified and employees in traditionally mobile professions, but is also increasingly important for the low-skilled and for those in employment in occupational fields that have not yet been mobile. This familial way of life is also predominantly characterized by gender-specific work sharing patterns, in that the mothers take over the house and care work so that the fathers can work at another location. In order for mothers to be able to work independently in this way of life, specific and tailor-made infrastructures are essential to support them, for example reliable childcare, even during off-peak and holiday periods, household-related services such as pick-up and delivery services or domestic help.

Rainbow families
With the legal possibility of registering a civil partnership, another family form has been added since 2001: the so-called rainbow family. These are families in which children grow up with same-sex parents. According to the microcensus, every 13th same-sex couple has children in the household. However, since the microcensus only counts same-sex parents who live together in a registered civil partnership, the proportion of this familial way of life is likely to be greater overall. It is also noteworthy that most children get along relatively well when their parents come out. Children who were born into a registered civil partnership of same-sex parents only noticed the specifics of this family arrangement with increasing age; some of the children were even proud of this special feature.

The extent to which gender asymmetries persist in this family form has so far been investigated in at least a few exploratory studies. It was found that paid work, housework and child-rearing are distributed far more evenly in same-sex relationships than in heterosexual couples. There is also evidence that it is not the sexual orientation but the gender of the homosexual parents that seems to have an effect on the attitudes and behavior of the children. In particular, children who grow up in same-sex partnerships between two women show less gender-typical role behavior than children from heterosexual partnerships.

Families with disabled children
Mothers and fathers with disabled and chronically ill children - regardless of the way they live their everyday lives - are exposed to special challenges: Children and young people with disabilities have a significantly higher need for care and care than adults with disabilities. In addition, over 50 percent of the children and adolescents affected have to be looked after and cared for at night over long periods of time, with corresponding effects on the parents' night's sleep. In this way of life, too, there are considerable gender asymmetries in that the fathers take on the income and the mothers predominantly take on the unpaid care work. Often the disability of your child results in the separation of the spouses, which is an even greater burden for the single parent.

When the mostly female main caregivers are asked about their health, 40 percent of them say they suffer from an illness (sometimes even chronic). 28 percent of those affected see a connection between their own illness and the permanent demands of the care situation. This is why mothers with disabled children in particular need access to family recreation measures with good professional support in order to regain their strength, but also noticeable relief in everyday life, for example through household-related services and tailor-made childcare with trained staff. In addition, there is a need for suitable and reliable offers for a successful return to work, so that even for these mothers, access to working life in the occupational fields they have learned is not permanently blocked.

Families with relatives in need of care
According to the survey "Women of the Sandwich Generation", which the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach carried out on behalf of "Bild der Frau" in 2014, 82 percent of women between 40 and 59 years of age always feel between work, family and caring for relatives overwhelmed again and say that they actually suffer from time constraints all the time. 82 percent of women who have relatives in need of care look after them themselves. Around three quarters of 40 to 59-year-old caregivers are employed, 30 percent even full-time.