Building Well-Being in Working Mothers – And Their Children
How it all began….
I have long had a passion for the plight of working mothers. You may think my choice of language too bold, but having been a working mother for thirty years, and a single working mother for six of those years, I understand how difficult the situation facing many working mothers can be. From my own experience and from talking with working mothers, I know they often sacrifice their own well-being to their efforts to provide the best they can for their family. But a stressed-out, unhappy working mother is neither the best worker nor the best mother. How can we help working mothers build their well-being, and that of their children, so they both develop a sense of well-being that will last them a lifetime?
The good news is that I have discovered there are quick and simple strategies working mothers can deploy that can build their well-beingi. Many of these strategies are coming out of the study of the science of well-being. This relatively recent science is focused on helping individuals and families, and the communities they inhabit, thrive[i]. Thriving is not the experience of most working mothers, however, and it certainly wasn’t my experience. Aside from threats to overall well-being, studies show higher mortality risk among working mothers, especially those who are single[ii]. This is but one end, some might say an extreme end, of the lack-of-thriving spectrum. On any given day, working mothers deal with stresses from the simple ‘not enough time in the day’ to the more complex ‘am I damaging my children by working?’ concerns. Maternal guilt over returning to the workforce is a very real challenge for working mothers, especially for those that have no choice but to work for economic reasons[iii]. Are there simple strategies to address these concerns? Yes! Are there simple strategies to help mothers not only learn to thrive but teach their children these same skills? Yes!
I became interested in the challenges facing working mothers when I returned to college to finish my degree after my children had left home and were in college themselves. I was in my fifties and no longer interested in studying to improve my career. Now I wanted to explore new areas, and learn new things…things that would help me give back and support other working women. I decided to study social science (instead of accounting, where I had started in my youth) and in doing so decided to investigate the role of women in business throughout the last century. This led me to develop an interest in working mothers, something I had been for most of my career. What I learned both shocked and astonished me. While working mothers are subject to some of the worst gender-based discrimination[iv], working mothers are also some of the most resilient. I wanted to know more.
This blog is one channel for me to share with working mothers everywhere what I have learned about working mothers and the strategies I have discovered to help them improve their individual, moment-by-moment experience of being both a worker and a mother.
Join me for the journey – you will not be disappointed! I will share my journey and what I have learned. I will also ask for your input, to learn what is important to you, and will use that information to guide my continued research into how to build well-being for working mothers. I look forward to having you come along for the ride!
i Morgan, Frawn. (2017, August). Having it all – Career, Motherhood and Emotionally Healthy Children: Helping Working Mothers Protect their Children from the Risk of Depression https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322924137_Having_it_all-Career_Motherhood_and_Emotionally_Healthy_Children_Helping_Working_Mothers_Protect_their_Children_from_the_Risk_of_Depression
ii Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000, Janaury). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5-14. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037///0003-066X.55.1.5
iii Sabbath, et al Sabbath, E. L., Meija-Guevara, I., Noelke, C., & Berkman, L. F. (2015, October 22). The long-term mortality impact of combined job strain and family circumstances: A life course analysis of working American mothers. Social Science & Medicine, 146, 111-119. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.10.024
iv Guendouzi, J. (2006, November). “The guilt thing”: Balancing domestic and professional roles. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68, 901-909. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2006.00303.x
v Morgan, Frawn ( 2015, April). The Motherhood Penalty and It’s Impact on the Career Decisions of Working Women. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274963706_The_motherhood_penalty_and_its_impact_of_the_career_decisions_of_working_women