Special to The Interim

In time for Mother’s Day, a new report was published by the Motherhood Project, containing fresh insights into mom’s attitudes and concerns. The 55-page document contained some obvious, as well as surprising, insights.

The study was a rigorous, large-scale investigation, led by a team of social science researchers. The Motherhood Study featured a survey of more than 2,000 mothers, a nationally representative sample reflecting the demographics of the total U.S. population of mothers 18 and older with at least one child under the age of 18. That quantitative analysis was complemented by in-depth interviews and focus groups, to provide more detail about the experiences of mothers.

The study corroborates many of the arguments made by marriage defenders, including the need for dual parents to the financial benefits of marriage. According to the study, 16 per cent of married mothers reported annual family incomes of less than $40,000, compared to 35 per cent of mothers living with a partner and 73 pe cent of mothers who were unmarried and not living with a partner. Eighty-eight per cent of married mothers said they were “very” satisfied with their lives as mothers, compared to 80 per cent of cohabiting mothers and 62 per cent of single mothers. The study also showed that 81 per cent of married mothers said they are “very” satisfied with their relationships with their spouses, compared to 69 per cent of mothers who were unmarried, but living with a partner.

The lack of appreciation for the role mothers play in society was noted by the study. Fewer than half of the mothers (48 per cent) reported feeling appreciated most of the time and nearly one in five (19 per cent) said they have felt less valued by society since becoming mothers. In qualitative interviews and focus groups, mothers called for greater appreciation and recognition of the importance of caregiving – within families, communities and society as a whole. Fatherhood was mentioned in the study, with mothers evenly split about the desire for more active participation by the father.

Mothers with lower incomes and fewer years of education are more likely to say they want greater father involvement. They also are less likely to be married and bear much more responsibility for both the day-to-day care of the children and the financial support of the family.

Ninety-five percent agreed that they wish American culture made it easier to instil positive values in children. Most mothers (87 per cent) expressed concern about the influence of advertisements on children and, more generally, the influence of media (88 per cent). Eighty-eight percent of mothers agreed with the statement “money has too much control over our lives” and 86 per cent agreed childhood should be a time when children are protected from large parts of the adult world.

The most unanimous consensus stemmed around the need for a united effort, by mothers and fathers, to reduce the negative influences on children. Nearly 99 per cent of respondents agreed (more than 88 per cent “strongly” and a little over 10 per cent “somewhat”) they would like to see more mothers and fathers working together to reduce the negative influences on children in American society.

The study confirms what religious and organizational groups have been arguing for years; namely, that for any society to be healthy and prosperous, the family must be protected, fostered and supported. If children are not raised and educated in a healthy family environment, the consequences for the future of society are staggering.