The Challenges Facing Working Mothers Today
In May of this year the Pew Research Center made headlines when it published its findings in a report about working mothers.
“A record 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The share was just 11% in 1960.”
But that wasn’t the shocking part. It was revealed that 74% of adults say that the increasing number of mothers working for pay has made it harder to raise children, and 51% agree that children are better off if their mother is home and doesn’t hold a job. It wasn’t that the American public disapproved of our hard-working mothers specifically. They disapproved of hard-working motherhood as a way of life.
This survey speaks to the obvious truth that working motherhood is challenging under the best of circumstances. Furthermore, the results highlight that a healthy work-life balance is crucial to make any working mother’s life easier and healthier for her family. Perhaps the general public has concerns about the effects of working motherhood, but there are actions that employers and the public can take to support our mother workforce.
The most crucial aspect of working motherhood is finding the balance between work-life and family-life. It’s possible for a woman to love her career and her family and succeed at both, but finding a balance between them can be difficult. Schedules can become hectic and free time almost non-existent. Stress is a common side-effect and one of the biggest challenges facing working mothers today. The stress of succeeding at a career and the stress of managing a family can be overwhelming at times.
Another challenge facing working moms is childcare. Childcare is often the first concern when a mother enters the workforce, and depending on the job and her career, those costs can often eat up a fair portion of her salary. It can be a Catch-22 for any working mother, and some women have to work more hours and longer days just to pay their tuition for daycare.
As Katrina Alcorn explains in her blog, “Most jobs are made for people who have no caregiving responsibilities. That means that most parents (or people caring for elderly or sick loved ones) do most of the accommodating.”
In 2011 Ms. Alcorn conducted an informal survey of working parents, many of whom left comments regarding the difficulty of achieving a work-family balance. One mother commented, ‘Unfortunately, we’re living in a ‘half-changed world’ – women have many more professional opportunities than did the last generation, but our importance as mothers and wives and to ourselves has not been taken into account, and there are increasing demands from our jobs…We all need to redefine work/success/doing it all’ so that our daughters will not face these same dilemmas.’”
The challenges facing working mothers today are many, and they can come from the professional side of life, as well as, the personal. Regardless of the specific challenge, working mothers deserve respect and support for their choices in trying to achieve success both at home and the office.
“Breadwinner Moms” pewsocialtrends.org. Retrieved Sept. 29 2013.
“Survey: 88% of Working Parents Suffer Stress-Related Health Problems” workingmomsbreak.com. Retrieved Sept. 29 2013.
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