Most Americans think moms should stay home

Despite career advances for women, a majority of people think kids are better off if their mothers don't work.

By Aimee Picchi May 29, 2013 11:50AM

Office worker (© Ebby May/Getty Images)Many working moms have it tough, putting in eight-hour days at the office, only to come home and pull a "second shift" of housecleaning and cooking. On top of that comes the never-ending debate about whether families are better off with both parents working or one staying at home. 

That divisive issue is shown in a stark light with the latest Pew Research Center poll called Breadwinner Moms. With well-known female executives (and moms) such as Yahoo (YHOO) chief executive Marissa Mayer and Facebook (FB) chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg reaping millions in annual compensation, perhaps it's no surprise that the survey found women are the sole or primary providers in 40% of U.S. homes. 

While that might strike some people as showing gains for women in the workforce, the study also sheds light on how Americans view gender roles. What Pew found isn't reassuring: Working moms remain a divisive issue.

Fifty-one percent of respondents said children are better off with the mother at home.  Only one-third agree that the kids are just as well off if the mother works, the study found. 

Working fathers, though, don't invite such qualms. About three-quarters said children are just as well off if the father works. Only 8% believe kids are better off if the father stays at home. 

Those views aren't keeping moms out of the workplace, however. About two-thirds of women with kids younger than 6 were either working or looking for a job, up from 39% in 1975, the study notes. 

Given that more moms are working while the issue remains hugely divisive may go a long way toward explaining the so-called "mommy wars," in which stay-at-home moms and working mothers bicker about who has made the right choice for their kids. 

But the fact is, many families can't afford to have one parent remain at home, given stagnant household incomes and rising costs nearly everywhere, from the grocery aisle to the doctor's office to the gas station. Two-thirds of the poll's respondents agree that having women work outside the home makes it easier to live comfortably. 

The Pew survey also hints that Americans' conflicted views on working moms may change over the next few decades. About half of people younger than 30 believe kids are just as well off if their moms work. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 

More on moneyNOW

May 29, 2013 12:59PM
Raising children with a stay-at-home parent is ideal and can be achieved by most families with a little planning and sacrifice.  Many times, the people who gripe about not being able to afford for 1 parent to stay home are the same people who spend $150/month for cable, another $150/month for smart phones, $600/month for new cars, $300/month eating out and $600/month for daycare, etc.... We all have choices and where there's a will, there's a way. 
May 29, 2013 1:50PM
Right now I am a stay at home dad.  I was injured a few years ago and am looking.  I have a newborn and a 6 year old and I can say with authority that my kids are better off with me home.  I think that depends on the parents.  I have known some parents who just make things worse for their kids.  I think that one parent should stay at home and raise the kids.  Just look at what has changed in the last 50 years.  We have rampant drug use, gangs taking over major cities, single parent families everywhere, disrespectful children, more kids committing crimes than at any point in our history.  Our media paints conservatives as evil but there are many conservative values that would make this country a better place.  Remember when people worked for the same company for their entire careers?  They retired with a pension and felt valued by their bosses.  Now we hop from job to job and wonder why we are so dependent on the gov't when we retire.  We have become willfully blind and overly selfish.
May 29, 2013 2:16PM
Staying at home or not is a part of the issue.  If a parent stays and home and has the kids being entertained all day by the TV, they might as well be working.  Good parents provide a lot of opportunity for spiritual, physical, mental and emotional growth.  It takes hard intentional work and planning.
May 30, 2013 5:45AM
I was a stay at home mom.  My kids did not go to pre-school.  All three of them are good responsible adults.  All three got a college education by working/scholarships.  If I had gone to work, we would have had to buy another car, and with three kids born in 2 and 1/2 yrs...I couldn't have made enough money to have justified the cost of day care.  I did run my own day care business at home or worked as a nanny for another family. I do think that children today have not been taught manners or consideration for others.  Possibly, that is due to the fact that the children are given everything their heart desires and more.
May 30, 2013 3:48AM
I can't speak for others but I can say this. As a young woman who plans to get married and have kids one day, I would like to actually be able to stay at home with my children if it is financially feasible. This is my personal choice. If it isn't feasible, I will work, because it is the responsibility of both people in a marriage to make their ideal lifestyle happen. I personally have felt that a lot of people will look down on me for wanting to stay home with my theoretical children, so the results of this poll surprise me.
May 30, 2013 9:24AM
My mom was the primary breadwinner in our family, and my dad was mostly stay-at-home when I was little. He did contract writing. Why should it be the WOMEN who are expected to stay at home? My parents shared in the chores. No gender should be expected to do all tasks. 
As we got older, we had au pairs and I can say that my parents still loved us even if they were out of the house more. Just because both parents work out of the house doesn't mean kids aren't loved and nurtured. 
What needs to happen is for more men to stop thinking that they can ignore child-rearing and household chores. This sexist "women's work" attitude has got to stop!
May 29, 2013 10:55PM
You cannot raise a child right unless you LOVE it. you cannot HIRE someone to love your child imo
May 30, 2013 9:52AM
The mortgage lenders could level the playing field by allowing only one income for qualifying for a loan. This was the standard up until 1977 when a court decision forced lenders to recognize the wife's income for approval of a loan. The price of homes doubled the following year and we have had real estate bubbles ever since. This time only one income should be allowed and it doesn't matter which one it is, husband or wife, just one per household, therefore no discrimination is involved. The lenders would like that because it would cut the rate of foreclosures and families would prosper with no latch-key kids. 
May 30, 2013 9:09AM

I to would be great if a stay at home mom/parent  be considered as a job and get credit towards

Social Security

May 29, 2013 3:27PM

Well the government federal, state and local unfortunately make it almost impossible to get by on one income.  It also has a lot to do where you live.  If you live in a low tax, low housing cost, low insurance rates, low utilities, low college costs etc. etc.  One income may get you by but at a cost.  Car loans, Car Insurance, Car repair, Student Loans should not be a burden on our children nor free handouts from government.  If you believe that they should have thousands of dollars in debt starting out and a huge student loan that most don't pay back then your adding to everyone's tax burden because someone has to pay.  Unfortunately that is the new America...."Give me Give me, Want Wants, ME ME I I's. 

May 30, 2013 12:54PM
My wife planned from the time she was in college. We never both worked days until our kids were 14 years old.
May 29, 2013 12:28PM
Conservatives love mothers who stay home.

Unless of course, they're poor - then they're lazy women who should get a job.

All these people who think women should stay home - they really want kids to be dependent on one parent bringing in money? In this economy?

May 29, 2013 6:20PM

I found a great company that focuses on green living and being able earn an income staying home with your kids. Take a look at .

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?


[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages posted solid gains ahead of tomorrow's policy directive from the Federal Open Market Committee. The S&P 500 rallied 0.8%, while the Russell 2000 (+0.3%) could not keep pace with the benchmark index.

Equity indices hovered near their flat lines during the first two hours of action, but surged in reaction to reports from the Wall Street Journal concerning tomorrow's FOMC statement. Specifically, Fed watcher Jon Hilsenrath indicated that the statement ... More