April 3, 2013

Few Americans Say a Mother Working Full-Time is Ideal for Children

16%

Only 16% of all adults say having a mother who works full time is ideal for a young child, but about one-third of mothers say they would prefer such a job.

There is somewhat of a disconnect between what mothers describe as their ideal work situation and what society says is ideal for children.

While 32% of mothers with children under age 18 say they would prefer to work full time, only 16% of all adults say having a mother who works full time is ideal for a young child.

A plurality of adults (42%) say having a mother who works part time is ideal for a young child, and one-third say having a mother who doesn’t work at all is ideal. The public’s views on this have changed somewhat since 2009, when 43% of all adults said the ideal situation for a young child was to have a mother who doesn’t work at all.

Mothers and fathers are largely in agreement on what is best for young children. Mothers’ views about this have remained relatively consistent over the past few years, while fathers’ attitudes have changed. In 2009, 54% of fathers with children under age 17 said the ideal situation for young children was to have a mother who did not work at all. Today only 37% of fathers with children under age 18 say this—a drop of 17 percentage points. Read more