Policies in the United States and the workplace still work like the majority of women are stay-at-home moms. However, only about 25 percent of homes are the old “1950s” stay-at-home mom with a working dad. Why are the policies and workplace procedures not reflecting that?
There have been a lot of changes in the workplace, especially within the past couple decades. According to a recent survey, in two-parent households in the U.S., half have two full-time working parents. This is a big change compared to the 31 percent in 1970.
How the survey worked
To conduct the survey, officials phone surveyed 1,807 parents with children under the age of 18 in the U.S. They gathered the data from the survey and also took a look at government data. All of the questions focused on two-parent households. They did not question single-parent households or same-sex couples for this survey.
Economically, households with two parents working are better off. Households where both parents work full time make about $102,000 a year, when only a father works and the mother is unemployed the family brings in $55,000 a year. Families led by homes with single mothers make an average of $20,000 a year, the lowest.
More than 40 percent of kids under 18 live in homes that are led by a single parent or even sometimes no parent (led by a grandparent).
U.S. policy seems to be holding working parents back as well as single-income families. One of the largest problems is the quality of daycare throughout the country and its price. In many places, people are paying more than they pay in rent for daycare, and if you’re not paying an arm and a leg then your child is probably in a less-than-five-star childcare facility.
Many other countries mandate things like childcare, paid sick leave and maternity leave. However, because there are no policies for this in the U.S., many lower-income workers who do not have the opportunity to work from home have to choose between their sick child and a day’s pay.
The tax policy is possibly the biggest problem. Even though the majority of families are either two-parent households where both parents work full-time or single-parent households, tax benefits are still going to couples where only one person works.
For instance, if there was a stay-at-home mother who did not work and a father who did, the couple gets a tax break because she has no income. It puts them into a lower tax bracket.
In many other countries, they have changed this to benefit the single-parent households and the two-parent homes where both parents work.
Many workplaces require men and women to have flexible schedules and they often have to choose between family time and work. However, this is still often treated as though the man is the only working person in the household. Both men and women are expected to put in overtime, putting them at a disadvantage for spending time with their families and often leaving their children feeling deprived of family time.
This is because often times the workplace is still assuming the man (or woman) is the only person working in the household, so there will always be someone there for the kids, right? Wrong. Many parents are required to do overtime and their kids are feeling a little neglected.
What’s the payoff?
Because men and women are playing an equal role in contributing money to the household, they are also splitting the chores as well. It seems that American families are becoming more equal and are much different than the “Leave It To Beaver” household of the 50s. How long will it take for the workplace and U.S. policies to catch up to this?