The Working, Single Mother Primary Care Vs. Secondary Care


Word Count: 1714


Comparing its structure and function as it was in 1960 with what it had become in 1990 can highlight the dramatic changes in the American family. Until 1960 most Americans shared a common set of beliefs about family life; family should consist of a husband and wife living together with their children. The father should be the head of the family, earn the family\'s income, and give his name to his wife and children. The mother\'s main tasks were to support and enable her husband\'s goals, guide her children\'s development, look after the home, and set a moral tone for the family. Marriage was an enduring obligation for better or worse and this was due much to a conscious effort to maintain strong ties with children. The husband and wife jointly coped with stresses. As parents, they had an overriding responsibility for the well being of their children during the early years-until their children entered school, they were almost solely responsible. Even later, it was the parents who had the primary duty of guiding their children\'s education and discipline. Of course, even in 1960, families recognized the difficulty of converting these ideals into reality. Still, they devoted immense effort to approximating them in practice. As it turned out, the mother, who worked only minimally--was the parent most frequently successful in spending the most time with her children. Consequently, youngsters were almost always around a parental figure -- they were well-disciplined and often very close with the maternal parent who cooked for them, played with them, and saw them off to and home from school each day.

Over the past three decades these ideals, although they are still recognizable, have been drastically modified across all social classes. Women have joined the paid labor force in great numbers stimulated both by economic need and a new belief in their capabilities and right to pursue opportunities. Americans in 1992 are far more likely than in earlier times to postpone marriage. Single parent families--typically consisting of a mother with no adult male and very often no other adult person present-have become common. Today at least half of all marriages end in divorce (Gembrowski 3). Most adults no longer believe that couples should stay married because divorce might harm their children. Of course, these contemporary realities have great consequential impact on mother-child relationships and child development; even from an early age.

Survey research shows a great decrease in the proportion of women favoring large families, an upsurge in their assertiveness about meeting personal needs, and an attempt by women to balance their needs with those of their children and the men in their lives (Burgess & Conger 1164). A clear and increasing majority of women believe that both husband and wife should be able to work, should have roughly similar opportunities, and should share household responsibilities and the tasks of child rearing. A majority of mothers of preschool children now work outside the home. A growing minority of young married women, often highly educated and career oriented, are choosing not to have any children and have little interest in children\'s issues-yet one more indication of the dramatic transformation of American families that has been taking place in recent decades (Bousha & Twentyman 106).

It is unavoidable that those mothers who work simply are not there as much for their children. In fact, in many cases the relationship between the contemporary mother and her children is similar to the age-old traditional role of the father and his children. Often, the mother is indeed a strong-minded disciplinarian in the evening after workóbut she is very frequently not much more than that. To very children, care is a nursery or some school of others with caregivers. To the pre-adolescent youth, care is either a baby-sitter, nanny, or just phone call to \'mom\' after work--if even that much. In some of the more positive cases, this creates an early sense of responsibility and independence for the child. But more commonly, it is known to invite poor behavior, recklessness, and even accidents at home when the mother is not there. Some children become despondent; others grow adamantly rebellious. But regardless of patternistic character, they all reportedly exhibit a diminished sense of relationship