Parents’ Choices Affect Young Adults’ Working Family Attitudes

A new study indicates how maternal employment affects young adults' attitudes about two-income families.

The Internet survey of 351 students ages 18 to 23 was conducted by psychologist Heidi Riggio of Claremont McKenna College in California. She says her research shows just how strongly young men and women's attitudes are shaped by their childhood environment.

The study found that, on average, college-age women with stay-at home mothers plan to spend ten more hours per week caring for their children than those young women who were raised by mothers working outside the home. Daughters of stay-at-home moms also plan to spend significantly more time with their spouses.

However, Dr. Riggio says women whose mothers were employed still plan to spend more time than young men doing housework and childcare. She suggests that these young women “realize that they're likely to be working outside the home,” and organize their lives around that expectation.

“They plan to work outside the home,” the researcher says, “as indicated by expected age at first-time job. They plan to have fewer children. They report a higher expected age at the time of their first child.”

Riggio concludes that the college-age women whose mothers worked outside the home are “planning on having careers, and they're planning on trying to do it the best way possible.” And, she adds, their tendency to plan on having smaller families is “a result that's been found previously also.”

The study also suggested that college-age men with working mothers had been significantly influenced by their home environment. These men reported that they plan to spend significantly more time with their spouses and in the care of their children each week, as compared to young men whose mothers were not employed outside the home.

Riggio points out that a greater percentage of these men reported the belief that husbands and wives should be equally responsible for housework in the family, and they expressed more liberal attitudes about male and female roles in the home.

“I think that's likely because of the strong role-modeling effect of having a working mother,” the researcher says, “and realizing that fathers play a substantial role in caring for children and in taking care of the household along with mothers.”

According to Dr. Riggio, the research reflects the modern reality that the “normative” family in America today is no longer a working dad and a stay-at-home mom, but rather the dual income family.

(This article courtesy of Agape Press).

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