A Dec 2011 APA study is making its way through the news suggesting that mothers who work part-time are happier and healthier than stay-at-homes and full-time mothers, and they make good parents. A good summary of the study can be found here. Regarding the “mommy wars” or the debate in white feminist circles between working mothers and stay-at-homes, a simple middle ground seems to be part-time work. (The reason I say “white” is because in many communities of color, not working full-time is not an option for economic reasons.)
One of the researchers of the study, Cheryl Buehler, notes that:
- A mother’s economic role is central to family life, and it supports her well-being and her parenting,
- Work offers mothers real important opportunities and resources to minimize social isolation and enrich their social development and well-being,
- It gives mothers tools, ideas, and strategies when raising a child.
I think we’re seeing how, in this economic recession and growing atmosphere of inequality, a “mother’s economic role” often means “the fact that a mother needs to work so that ends can be met.”
A policy hope is that from research like the APA’s, companies will start to offer more part time and flexible work arrangements, and also think about benefit packages for part-timers, since more part-time work benefits the economy, families and individuals.
I’m not going to mince words: Mormonism’s “Proclamation on the Family” is classist. It begins with an idealistic premise that certain “roles” are meant for certain genders, when it’s obvious for many families that a certain amount of income is required to meet those roles.