Working Parents

The dual-income family now accounts for 60% of all two parent families with children under 18 years old, according to a new Pew Research study. With the stay-at-home parent planted firmly in the minority, the impact of this shift is being felt. Even though both mothers and fathers are spending more time on child care than they did in 1965, 46% of fathers say they aren’t spending enough time with their children (23% of mothers). Additionally, 56% of working moms and 50% of working dads say they find it very or somewhat difficult to balance work and family life.

Although a gap still remains, the distribution of paid work, housework, and child care for mothers and fathers has been converging over the past 50 years. Mothers are, on average, spending 21 hours per week on paid work, compared to 8 hours in 1965. Dad’s paid work came down to 37 hours from 42, but his overall work rose from 49 to 54 hours per week. Moms are putting in more hours too, 53 hours per week from 51. Despite this change in family structure, mothers are still spending twice as much time raising the kids, 14 hours per week to 7 hours.

So how does this new dichotomy affect the children? Only 16% of all adults say the ideal situation for a young child is to have a mother working full time. One third say that a stay at home is ideal, while 42% think a mother working part-time is ideal.

Some of this trend may be due to a tough economy. Among women who say they “don’t even have enough to meet basic expenses,” 47% say that working full time would be ideal, compared to 31% of women who “live comfortably.” Still, 37% of today’s working mothers say their ideal situation would be to work full time, up from 21% in 2007.

Additional Resources

The Washington Post, More Fathers than Mothers Say They Aren’t Spending Enough Time with Their Kids:

AP, Poll Finds Attitude Shift among Working Moms:

PEW, Modern Parenthood:

Desert News, Economic Mobility Gains may be Due to Dual-Income Families:

U.S. Census Percent Distribution of Households:


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