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Working Mom Musings: Is the American Family in Jeopardy Because Women Work???

Some believe that since 40% of working moms are the primary breadwinner the American family is in jeopardy.  I disagree.

The Results from the Pew Report Were Not Earth Shattering

It's somewhat surprising that the Pew Research report has generated so much comment.  First, statistics can be spun to tell almost any story that you want. As someone once said, “there are three types of lies—lies, damned lies and statistics”.  Second, the statistics reported did not indicate that “women have taken over” and definitely did not indicate, “the end of men”. From a statistical perspective, 40% isn't a majority. So it’s not like the majority of homes have women who out earn their partners. Indeed, they included single parent households in the statistic, which skews the data somewhat.  In some ways, this report is the equivalent of Chicken Little running around and saying that the sky is falling.
So why the buzz???

Still, it is news. And here is why.

Even if you account for the single moms, there has been a huge increase in the percentage of households that have working moms as the primary breadwinner and that has gotten people nervous. Also, during the same time period, the divorce has risen as well as the percentage of single mother, never married households.   The trend, as opposed to the report, is what is noteworthy.  And I suspect Pew Research skewed the headline to force this particular conversation. 

They could have very easily released a report that said, “Nearly Fifty Years After the Passage of the Civil Rights Act, Fathers Remain Primary Breadwinners in Sixty Percent of all Households”.  That headline would have promoted an entirely different conversation.

Many Americans are in denial about the reality of family life

In our minds, we live in 1950s America where men earn the money, women maintain the home and children play freely outside on a perfectly manicured lawn. Most of us recognize that many mothers work and some fathers are the primary caregiver. However, we like to view that as the exception as opposed to the rule. Indeed, nearly 70% of mothers with children work outside the home in some capacity. Even though 40% does not represent a majority of households, this report illustrates that we have a new normal. A lot of children are growing up in homes where mom is carrying the financial burden.  And that, apparently, is news.  

It makes conservatives in particular nervous, in places we don’t speak about.  It clearly defies the notion that women are the weaker sex.  Where having babies is distinctly female, making money used to be distinctly male. There is a fear that if women make their own money men will have nothing to contribute.

I am not concerned that this statistic indicates the jeopardy of the American family. Women in my family have always worked and our family is still standing. I am not concerned about the “end of men”, I am certain that they will be fine, they always have been. I am also not encouraged that women are taking over. Based on what I have seen at work and by looking at the Fortune 500 CEOs, we have got a long way to go baby. What I am concerned about is the working mom…

A follow up post will appear on this topic in this blog tomorrow. Also, tune in to PCNC Night Talk this evening to learn more about my thoughts on this topic.
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