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Here’s Why A Great Number Of Mothers Are Drowning In Stress

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Balancing child-rearing, household duties, and work in these modern times is not easy for mothers at all. Indeed, parenthood has become more difficult than ever, and sociologist Caitlyn Collins has found that mothers in America have it the worst.

Collins devoted 5 years to studying parenthood in 4 rich western countries. She interviewed a great number of women and found that there was one constant desire among moms. Namely, women wanted to feel that they were capable of combining child-rearing and paid employment in a way that was beneficial for them both at home and at work.

When it comes to work-life balance, Collins discovered that in Sweden, mothers and fathers have an equal share in parenthood and bread-winning. However, even in this country, motherhood puts pressure on the women.

In East Berlin, mothers enjoy broad support in the form of childcare and policies. Yet, even in East Berlin, a lot of women are not eager to pursue a “career.”

In Italy and Western Germany, on the other hand, women feel that pursuing a career is not compatible with child-rearing and they’re stigmatized if they try to make one.

When it comes to U.S. mothers, Collins has found that America is in the last place in providing support to working mothers and children. Moms in the U.S. stand out in their experience of dealing with work-family conflict and guilt. They try to resolve this by becoming more efficient and changing their jobs.

Mothers in the U.S. are caught between two opposed cultural schema, that of family devotion and work devotion schema. Namely, women that are committed to their work, but take a lot of time away for their family are considered to disrupt the work devotion schema.  On the other hand, those that avoid their commitments within their family disrupt the family devotion schema.

In the U.S. the ideal of motherhood is considered by most to be an all-absorbing devotion to her kids as the source of her fulfillment and life’s meaning. Children are perceived as properly taken care of by loving moms. And when it comes to fathers, they can’t help a lot, since they are considered not to possess the suitable nurturing skills.

Collins has explained that she wants mothers in the U.S. to stop thinking that they’re the ones to blame for their work-family conflict and that if they put in more effort, started their day earlier every morning, planned and kept to a new schedule, they could somehow find the key to controlling and handling their stress. Why?

Because this is not an individual problem. Instead, it’s a structural one. And as such, it demands structural, collective solutions, not individual ones.

She also adds that as women in all 4 countries hold to unrealistic standards, the best solutions require that we change the way we think about motherhood, family, and work.