When the Pew Research Center released their report on Breadwinner Moms, it sparked a spirited discussion, showing just how much the topic has struck a nerve with both men and women alike. Indeed, the results of their survey were nothing short of controversial: In 40 per cent of households in the United States with children under 18 years, mothers were the ones who were bringing in the money -- either as the sole or primary breadwinner for the family.
Analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the researchers found that of the mothers who were the main income earners of the family, around 37 per cent (or 5.1 million) are married and earning more than their husbands and 63 per cent (or 8.6 million) are single moms. A little over five decades ago in the 1960s, breadwinner moms only comprised 11 per cent of the households in America.
While there are economic benefits that can be reaped when mom is bringing home the bacon, the public is apparently not quite ready to accept the repercussions that this latest trend may have on children and families. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in April 2013 found that about 74 per cent of the respondents said that more women working outside the home makes raising children harder and about 51 per cent believe that they are better off if mom stays home with the kids. Yet an overwhelming majority (79 per cent) do not also believe that women should return to their "traditional roles."
Couples who have successfully practiced this kind of set up say that it's a choice that husbands and wives have to mutually agree upon. In Pew Research Center's Factank where Senior Editor Bruce Drake encourages readers to share their experiences, the responses were quite enlightening.
Aleida F. Nichols writes:
"My husband has been home with my son (now three years old) since I returned to work after my three-month maternity leave. We based this decision on our talents and strengths since he had nursing experience and I had a job I loved with better benefits and steady raises. We also looked to our past and made the commitment to provide a better 'Daddy' experience for our little one..."
Another reader, Gill, who reveals that she and her husband has taken turns breadwinning and staying home with the kids thinks
"that each family has to find what works for them and sometimes those needs change as the kids grow/careers change. I hope for my sons to grow up with the knowledge that choosing to stay home and raise your children is a noble pursuit (whatever your gender) and that ultimately you can choose to do whatever is right for your family, regardless of what 'tradition' dictates."
Miranda, the sole wage earner in the family whose husband takes care of the kids full time feels "more able to concentrate at work knowing that my kids are well-taken care of." She further reflects:
"It would be nice if we could accept this trend and move toward policy change, like supporting maternity/paternity leave akin to many European countries so both parents have opportunities to bond and be there for their children."
Liz O'Donnell, another sole breadwinner, says that their arrangement was planned before they had children:
"Our roles are based on our unique skills sets and strengths, not our gender. But the fact is, for many families, working mothers are an economic issue. So my hope is the next time Pew conducts this research, public opinion will shift even further and more people will embrace the idea that gender should not dictate who brings home the bacon and who fries it up in the pan. And because for so many families working mothers are an economic issue, not merely a lifestyle choice, I hope the workplace will better accommodate them with more flex options, fair pay, and better maternity/paternity leave policies."
By Nicel J. Avellana, Femme-O-Nomics and r/ally contributor
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