The Evolution of Mothers

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JLP Staff

Family / / June 08, 2015

Times are always changing, and as such, different generations have very different ideas and perceptions regarding family units. For example, compare the divorce rates in the 1960's with the divorce rates over the last 10 years and you will notice a stark contrast. In addition, think about the average American family unit in the 1950's—specifically, how it was represented on television—versus how a family is represented on television today (e.g. Modern Family).

However, one of the familial roles that has seen the most change is that of mothers. Mothers in the '50s and '60s were very different from modern mothers. 

Mothers in the Workforce

In decades past, it wasn't nearly as common for a mother to have a professional job. For example, in the 1950's only about 1 out of 5 mothers with small children worked outside of their homes. Today, on the other hand, things have changed. As of 2008, 4 out of every 5 mother with children between the ages of 6 and 17 years old work outside their home. Laws and regulations that help to promote equal pay between genders have drastically improved the working conditions for women in our country (though there are still issues). In turn, more and more mothers are working jobs outside their home while simultaneously raising their children. 

In addition, it simply isn't financially feasible for the mother to stay at home. Influences such as the rising cost of education and the average student loan debt make it impossible for some families to not have both spouses employed full time. 

Time Spent with Children

You might be wondering what these working habits mean for the children of this generation. After all, if the mother is working a job, she won't have as much time to spend with her kids, right? Surprisingly enough, mothers these days are spending more time with their kids than they did in decades past. In fact, mothers are spending about 40% more time with their children than mothers in the 1960's and fathers are spending about triple the amount of time with their children each week. 

The Average Age of Mothers is Increasing

It also seems that women are waiting longer before having children. In the past, it was very common for most mothers to have their first child when they were in their early twenties. Today, however, the average age of mothers who have their first child is 29.4 years old. Surprisingly enough, the number of women that gave birth over 40 years old in 1989 (9,336) has nearly tripled as of 2009 (26,976). As time progresses, the trend seems to be that more and more mothers are waiting to start a family.

The only constant is change, and the evolution of mothers over the last half-century has been a drastic transition. Today, mothers are met with more challenges than ever before. Between working a full-time job and spending increased amounts of time with their children, modern mothers are nothing short of heroines.

Categories: Family
About The Author
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Joan Lunden’s in-house research and writing team works with Joan to create content that complements her focuses and the interests of her fans. The team is dedicated to creating a thriving community through content and conversations, and hopes their work, like Joan’s, can make a difference in the lives of her readers everywhere.

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