Thesis

The attitudes and coping skills of working mothers

This study addressed some of the attitudes and coping skills of working mothers. Several variables related to the success of maternal employment were examined: (1) women's motivations and attitudes toward their employment; (2) the emotional support they receive for employment; and (3) child care arrangements. A questionnaire was administered to a sample of 52 women from the Los Angeles area. The majority of these women were in the 31-40 age group. Most of them were white, married and had two children. The women were employed in a variety of positions and most worked 31-40 hours per week. Most of these working mothers reported that their attitudes and responses toward the dual roles of parenthood and career have a significant impact on their families. The majority (69.2%) of women felt a sense of accomplishment and increased self-esteem as a result of working outside of their homes. The women who were gainfully• employed and satisfied with their situations felt that they were having a positive influence on the quality of their home life. Maternal unhappiness and resentment about combining employment and motherhood also affected the lives of other family members. Half (50.0%) of the women in this study reported that the stress from multiple responsibilities often left them feeling exhausted and irritable. Children were said to sense these feelings and became more demanding and negative in their own behaviors. The majority (64%) of women reported that the positive effects of maternal employment for children far outweighed the negative effects. Increased independence and the ability to assume responsibilities were cited most frequently as positive effects. Almost half (49.6%) the women complained about the lack of time with their children as a result of working outside of the home. Much guilt was associated with these feelings and a significant relationship was shown between the number of hours that a woman worked and the amount of guilt she experienced. Nearly three quarters (71.2%) of all respondents expressed a desire for more part-time work or flexible scheduling that was concurrent with their children's school schedules. They believed that options regarding alternative work schedules give them greater opportunity to be successfully employed and still meet the needs of their families. An overwhelming 89% of all of the women in this study were satisfied with their child care arrangements and reported that their husbands and children were equally satisifed. The establishment of consistent high quality day care and the availability of informal or formal sources of emotional support can help a mother to work with less apprehension and guilt.

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