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Category: Relationships / Topics: Circumstances, Life Events Family Holidays Lifestyle, General Mother's Day Parenting, Parents Relationships Trends Work

Today's Mothers Are Worker Bees

by Barbara Greenleaf

Posted: May 7, 2021

Moms may feel they are never doing enough, but for many their children beg to differ…

  • More single and married mothers are working outside the home, no matter what their children’s ages. 71% of women with children under the age of 18 are in the labor force.
  • They have increasingly taken jobs that are full-time and year-round. They have to: Their incomes make all the difference between their children living above or below the poverty line.
  • Yet studies show mothers are spending more time with their children than in the past. According to historian Stephanie Coontz, throughout the 20th century “Moms really spent very little time with their kids because there was so much to do around the house.” Coontz says mothers today spend less time on housework, being alone, or participating in their communities so they can spend more time with their children.
  • Their stock has risen or fallen, depending on the era. In the 1800’s mothers were idealized as the keepers of America’s moral values, the ones who were expected to raise strong, fine sons who, in turn, would become strong, fine citizens. Then in the 1900’s along came Sigmund Freud, and suddenly mothers were blamed for everything that went wrong with their offspring.
  • Today, the reputation of mothers is once again on the rise. Just witness the sentimental way political speeches pay homage to mothers to see which way the wind is blowing.
  • At the same time mothers’ guilt seems to be increasing, too. Says historian Coontz, guilt and motherhood are almost expected to go hand in hand today. Moms feel they are never doing enough.
  • But their children beg to differ. In Ask the Children, author Ellen Galinsky did just that, reporting that these youngsters were very positive about their mothers working. What a great Mother’s Day present that is!

See also "Shadow Box of the Heart," a lyrical tribute to her mother's life by Linda Schwartz that was included in Barbara's May 2021 email newsletter.

Search all articles by Barbara Greenleaf

Barbara is the author of eight books, including two of particular interest to seniors. She has given us permission to use material from her newsletter, "From the Desk of Barbara Greenleaf," to which you can subscribe on her website.

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Posted: May 7, 2021

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