Working Parents

October 30, 2000

A sociological landmark was just passed with little fanfare. For the first time since the Census Bureau began tracking the numbers, families in which both parents are working have become the majority among married couples with children.

Dual income families have been on the rise for some time, and it was inevitable that eventually they would become the majority of families with children. We have now passed that threshold, and I think it might be good to spend a moment to talk about its implications.

When mom goes to work, lots of things change. She may still be the primary care-giver, but she is no longer the constant care-giver. That means that her children spend a significant amount of time with someone else (neighbor, relative, friend, day care worker). That has changed the dynamics of the home and has lead to an increase in the number of children raised by surrogate parents or raised within institutional care.

When mom works, it also adds lots of pressure on her. Most women working outside the home still have the primary (and even the sole) responsibility of caring for the family. Therefore, women are feeling the stress of both work and family in ways they never have before. It affects their energy, their health, and their attitude--to mention just a few issues.

Discretionary time is another issue. Volunteer hours are on the decline as families become busier. And churches now report that just trying to get a substitute Sunday school teacher sometimes takes two dozen phone calls. In the past, a call to two or three church members was usually sufficient.

As we enter the 21st century, we are embarking on a social experiment with dual income families. Women in the workplace will tell you that it hasn't always been such a great experience in their lives or the lives of their family.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.