New Study Suggests Millennials Are Blaming the Breakdown of the Family on Working Moms
Just in case you weren’t clear that maybe our country isn’t as on board with feminism and equal rights as we may have previously thought, a recent survey is confirming that millennials are just as hesitant about women in the workplace as voters were about having Hilary in the Oval Office. The New York Times recently highlighted a survey conducted by sociologists Joanna Pepin and David Cotter over the past 40 years that monitored the attitudes of high school students. The study revealed that the most recently surveyed group of high school seniors were the least likeliest to support egalitarian relationships in which both the husband and wife do equal amounts of work outside the home. In fact, in 2014 58 percent agreed “the best family was one where the man was the main income winner and the woman took care of the home” and 40 percent said that “”the husband should make all the important decisions in the family”.
But where in the patriarchal hell is all this “stay-at-home” shade stemming from? Political scientist Dan Cassino has a theory that 18-25 year old males’ support of male leadership “may reflect an attempt to compensate for men’s loss of dominance in the work world.” In other words in addition to domestic violence, rape culture and infidelity a.k.a “Becky With The Good Hair”, now men have found a way to blame the recession, job loss and their inability to climb the corporate ladder on their female counterparts. Furthermore, a 2015 poll commissioned by MTV found that 27 percent of male ages 14-24 felt women’s gains had come at the expense of men.
The feelings revealed by the survey may also be a result of decreased support in non-traditional family arrangements stemming from millennials witnessing the hardships that can result from two-earner families. Coming from someone who graduated from undergrad at the height of the recession, I witnessed first-hand friends who came from households where mothers previously had the option of staying home without having to sacrifice financial comfort and luxuries like yearly vacations and even satellite television. The recession burst that bubble all the way open and women with no formal schooling or work experience blindly navigated the workplace, some for the first time ever in their children’s lives. For these families the sudden transitions sent a ripple in the family structure. Resentment built, insecurities surfaced and parents began to blame each other while turning a blind eye to the banks who were directly responsible for the mortgage crises they were facing as they sat in homes they really couldn’t afford.
I was raised in an dual-earner household, but even when my father found himself facing a layoff and questioning his place in the household, him and my mother were able to recover pretty quickly. Mostly because they were secure with their situation, didn’t live beyond their means and never based their self-worth on a job title anyway. What some millennials may not realize about the recession is that women returning to work wasn’t the reason behind the breakdown of marriages and family structure. It was financial stress (on families AND the government combined) and possibly folks abandoning their sense of self (and one another) long before Wall Street came crashing down on their American dream.
In other words, being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean you stop growing, learning or even working. Just because you’re not reporting to an office outside of the home doesn’t mean you become completely unprepared to provide financially if possible or lose touch with the financial management of your household. Most importantly, I think many stay-at-home mom’s would agree that choosing to run your household full time doesn’t mean you lose you toss your sense of identity in with the dirty laundry. In fact, according to an Slate magazine article many stay-at-home moms aren’t exactly sitting around popping Pringles or stationed at a local Starbucks with a stroller. Most mom’s who aren’t reporting to a 9-5 are actually volunteering, home-schooling their kids or starting small businesses. Millennials may be missing the mark if they’re blaming the breakdown of their parents’ marriages on their mother’s return to the workplace. That blame should probably be placed on folks who found themselves facing the harsh truth that money doesn’t equal happiness and that there’s more to life than what’s in your account.
Unfortunately, the reality is that the economy is still not the best and even though we’re approaching our mid-30’s and employed, me and most of my friends still can’t afford to even consider being stay-at-home moms because the way “our accounts are set up”. Having a dual earner household makes or breaks my ability to afford decent housing, a car note and the annual family trip to the Jersey shore every summer. The difference is most days, I like making my own living and the hustle and bustle of being in the workforce. I think the relationship problems come when women feel forced into positions they simply don’t want to be in (whether it’s the kitchen or the corner office) specifically by partners who vowed to support them, not just financially, but emotionally and mentally as well. Actually, the equally outdated but otherwise true saying “happy wife, happy life” may be a better fit when it comes to the success of the modern marriage. The decision to enter or opt-out the workforce shouldn’t be based on anyone’s anatomy but more so what work’s best for each couple’s household and sense of happiness.
Toya Sharee is a Health Resource Specialist who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.