Lululemon Stay-at-home mother. Housewife. Lady of the house. Homemaker. Call her what you will. These days, there seems to be great tension between the idea of stay-at-home moms and working women. Especially in the past decade, it seems that the stay-at-home mom is disappearing. In popular TV shows, such as Glee, Cougar Town, and Private Practice, the working mother is portrayed as the “norm.” However, Bree from Desperate Housewives is more accurately an icon for the ideal American wife today. While it seems that stay-at-home moms are becoming a thing of the past, this is not the case. In reality, the number of stay-at-home moms has increased in the past decade and many working women still harbor a strong desire to be at-home moms, contrary to Hollywood and pop culture. Most working women idolize females like Bree, living the “perfect” at-home life.
If a woman does stay at home, she is most often portrayed in media as ditzy or uneducated, clearly living a lesser life. One study in 2010 conducted by the Census states that stay-at-home mothers compared to those in 1979 are younger, less educated, and more likely to be Hispanic. While these facts cannot be denied, the truth of the matter is that more women wish that they could stay at home.
In 1969, 44% of married mothers with children under the age of 15 were stay-at-home moms. This number decreased in 1979 to 34% and declined again in 1989 to 25%. By 1999, the number of stay-at-home moms declined slightly to 24%, and increased in 2009 to 26%. More than one out of every four mothers stays at home with her children. In media outlets today, this is not something that is accurately portrayed.
Work in the office? No thanks! Many working women are saying this. According to a survey by ForbesWoman and TheBump, 84% of working women believe that staying home to raise children is a financial luxury they aspire to. Furthermore, over one in every three women resent their partner for not earning a larger salary to make this dream come true.
A survey conducted by uSwitch found that 75% of new mothers would stay at home to raise their child if they could afford to. Further, 60% of mothers returning to work after having a baby only do it for financial reasons, such as paying off debt or other financial pressures. Only one in seven of those women reported wanting to actually develop their career.
While media outlets continue to portray a dying stay-at-home mother, the truth is that she is perfectly alive. And the women that are not staying at home want to be. The reason why more women are not staying at home is because they feel financial pressure to support their families. Of working mothers surveyed, 69% feel pressure to work because their family is unable to survive without the additional income. While 10% of stay-at-home moms regret giving up their career, this is certainly not the majority.
Women can have it all: a great marriage, family, awesome career. Well can they? According to Anne Marie Slaughter, an ex-high power government worker, you really can’t have it all in today’s society. Perhaps, there is great truth to this. Perhaps, this realization is correlated to the rise in stay-at-home moms. Or perhaps, it is at least tied to the desire for the majority of women wanting to stay at home with their children. Do you want to be a stay-at-home mom? Would you want your wife to stay at home with your children? Men, how do you feel about being a stay-at-home dad?
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