Children understand why mom has to work, and moms work hard to balance life and occupation, according to a new research study.
In 1979, the world saw the first issue of Working Mother, a magazine dedicated to female parents who were raising their children while providing income for their families by leaving the home to work.
To celebrate its 35th anniversary, the magazine decided to see how the children of those women were affected by having a get-out-of-the-house mother, and how attitudes towards working women has changed in that time.
Sponsored by SC Johnson, the study showed that children of working mothers were conflicted about their feelings on the subject, while working mothers from three generations struggle with how being a working mother affects the relationships she has with her children.
First, the numbers.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 47 percent of the American workforce today is made up of women ages 16 and over. Almost 59 percent of women in that age range have jobs, and 73 percent of those had full-time jobs.
According to Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner study, Investment Attitudes and Behaviors of High Net Worth Men vs. High Net Worth Women, more affluent investor women work as educators (22 percent of Millionaire women), while 11 percent are managers, 9 percent are in health care, 6 percent are in information technology and 6 percent are accountants.
The Working Mothers study asked people from three generations – Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers and Millennials – how they felt about the fact their mother worked. While approximately 20 percent of each age group said they did not give it a thought, more than one-third of each age group said they were proud of their mother working, and approximately the same percentage said their mother met their needs even while working. In each case, Millennials were more agreeable than those of the older generations, perhaps because working mothers were more the norm when Millennials were children.
Between 20 and 30 percent of respondents said “I knew she had no choice’’ but 31 percent of Millennials admitted “I wished she could have stayed home.” Only 22 percent of Gen-Xers and only 1 percent of Baby Boomers felt that way.
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After asking respondents what it was like to be the child of a working mother, the study asked respondents what it was or is like to be the working mother. The results show that, for the most part, working mothers were satisfied with the job they did balancing life and work.
In almost all cases, Millennials were more satisfied with the balance than those from older generations.
For instance, 76 percent of Millennials are/were satisfied with the amount of time they spend/spent with their children, while only 73 percent of Gen-Xers and 69 percent of Baby Boomers agreed. The range among those satisfied with their choice to either work or stay at home went from 71 percent (Millennials) to 59 percent (Baby Boomers).
There is an almost eternal hope among parents that their children will have better lives than they had. The survey asked working mothers what the future held for their children, and only 38 percent said they hoped their daughter would be a working parent. A different 38 percent said they hoped their daughter would take a break from her career in order to be a parent.
Seventy-eight percent hoped their son would be a working parent, while 11 percent said they hoped their son would take time off to be parent while the children were young.
Only 10 percent of working moms said they hope their daughter will be a stay-at-home parent, and only 2 percent hope the same for their son.
A relatively new phenomenon was studied by Working Mother and that is the case of children whose mother was the chief, if not primary, breadwinner in the family. The study found that among women whose mother outearned her father in childhood is more likely to be the primary earner in her own family situation. Thirty-six percent of chief breadwinner moms are second-generation chief breadwinners.
“You tend to reproduce in your adult life the gender and labor roles you saw growing up,’’ said Dr. Claudia Olivetti, PhD, an associate professor of economics at Boston University.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.