Grandma Says Shift the Focus from Moms and Dads Wanting to “Have it All” to the Family Team

Stay at home dadThe Today Show on NBC on Friday, March 15, 2013 had a segment on new research which “shows that as more moms join the workforce, men want to spend more time at home with their kids, creating a new paradigm of family dynamics.”

So, it seems, just when Moms realized they cannot have it all, Dads want to have it all, and, as they participate more fully in childrearing, are finding out how difficult it is to raise children.

What!  Is it news that it is difficult for both parents to work and raise children!  This Grandma, without reading any studies, can tell you from experience that the stress of raising children NEVER ends.  As my wise mother used to say, “little children, little problems, big children, big problems.”  The stress DECREASES only when the last of the children leaves home.  That is when Mom and Dad can begin to take care of themselves properly and focus on their own well-being a little.  Why did we not know this BEFORE we had children!

Allison Linn, of TODAY.com, reports:

A new report from Pew Research Center finds that 56 percent of working moms and 50 percent of working dads with kids under 18 say they find it difficult to balance both their work and their family responsibilities. That’s leaving many parents feeling like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. The report, based on a survey Pew completed in late 2012, found that 40 percent of working moms and 34 percent of working dads feel like they are always rushed.

The findings come as more moms are taking on the working role that more typically fell to dad a generation or two ago, and more dads are taking on the household responsibilities that mom mostly took on in the 1960s and 1970s. . . .

One thing seems clear: Most parents want to spend time with their kids, whether they work or not. Mom and Dad are spending significantly more time on child care than in the 1960s, and yet many dads especially think that it’s still not enough. The Pew data found that 46 percent of dads think they spend too little time with their children, while 23 percent of moms feel the same way.

That may be because, although roles are converging, moms are still spending more time on family and home life, while dads are spending more time at the office. . . .

According to Pew’s analysis of the Census Bureau’s long-running American Time Use Survey, moms with kids under 18 typically spent 13.5 hours a week on direct child care in 2011, compared to 10.2 hours a week in 1965. Dads spent 7.3 hours a week on child care in 2011, up from 2.5 hours a week in 1965. The analysis also found that moms with kids under 18 are spending 17.8 hours a week on housework, down from 31.9 hours per week in 1965. Dads are spending 9.8 hours a week on housework, compared with 4.4 hours in 1965.

Not all parents with kids under 18 are working outside the home. But among parents who are employed, moms spend an average of 33 hours at work, dad spend an average of 41.4 hours at work. . . .

The Pew survey found that 32 percent of moms with kids under 18 say they would like to work full time, up from 20 percent in 2007, the year the nation went into recession. The nation has officially been in recovery for more than three years, but economic conditions remain challenging and unemployment is still higher than most would like.

Meanwhile, the share of moms who said they don’t want to work at all fell from 29 percent in 2007 to 20 percent when the most recent survey was conducted in late 2012. . . . .A new study from the Pew Research Center released Thursday found 37 percent of mothers say they want to work fulltime, due in large part to the recession and financial insecurity. In addition, workplace priorities are different for men and women, with women valuing flexibility and men valuing salary.

Working part time remained the most popular option, with about half of moms saying that’s what they’d like to do best both in 2007 and now.  That’s also the situation that the biggest chunk of Americans think is good for kids. The Pew survey found that 42 percent of adults think it is best for mom to work part time, while 16 percent say it’s ideal for mom to work full time.

The remaining approximately one-third of adults surveyed thought that it was best for mom to be home full time with the kids.

Is this study earth shattering? No. But it is calling attention to the shift in society where working outside the home is becoming the norm for both parents, or at least accepted.   It is interesting that the numbers of mothers who want to work full time is 37% and 42% of adults think it is best for mothers to work part time.  Where are the statistics of how many fathers want to work full time and how many adults think it is best for fathers to work part time?

For this Grandma, it is an interesting time to be an observer of this shift in society, after having lived the Pew study before the issues were news.  In our household, the clear minority at the time, our children had two full time professional working parents who shared parenting responsibilities, each doing his or her share when and as needed.  Yes, we were perpetually stressed.  We understood the juggling act and did it without thinking too much about how we were doing it.  Yes, at different times, we suffered.  Yes, at different times, our children suffered.  However, we are a family, and we worked at our jobs and our children worked at their job of school.   Our children became self sufficient, independent, with an outstanding work ethic, and are highly successful professionals and working parents today.  We are a close knit family and support each other still.  We were a family team and now are an extended family team.

So, the advice from this Grandma is to not pay attention to too many studies about how stressed working parents are.  Do we really need studies to tell us this reality?  We should shift focus.  Our reality should be the cementing of the family structure by creating the family team, each member with his or her responsibilities as members of the family team.  Each family is unique and each family team is unique.  If we think of our childhoods, we remember most the family rituals and traditions, those that were repeated during the years, creating the good memories that stay with us forever.  Those family rituals and traditions and the creation of family memories in the family team should be the prime focus to help get through the days, weeks, and years of parenting and to help our precious grandchildren to have good family memories, whether or not they have two stressed working parents.  We Grandmas can help the working parents of our grandchildren to be less stressed by assuming some of their responsibilities as we can and are able, becoming part of an extended family team.  We Grandmas can help the parents to understand that the time in life of raising children is hard, but this too shall pass.

We Grandmas have the duty to point out to their parents repeatedly the little things our grandchildren do that make them so special.  The parents may just be too stressed and busy to notice what they are missing as the children grow up.

We Grandmas have the duty to tell the parents of our grandchildren to just live each day fully and enjoy each day.  We Grandmas have the duty to tell the parents of our children to make their family team strong and create the memories and practice the rituals and traditions that bring smiles to all of our faces and help us through life with

Joy,

Mema

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