05/02/2007 - From managing busy schedules to dealing with outside influences, mothers have their hands full these days. There is broad agreement among the public that it is harder to be a parent today - especially a mother - than it was in the 1970s or 1980s. Fully 70% of the public says it is more difficult to be a mother today than it was 20 or 30 years ago, while somewhat fewer (60%) say the same about being a father.
A national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Feb.16-March 14, 2007, among 2,020 Americans, finds a widespread belief that today's parents are not measuring up to the standard that parents set a generation ago. Mothers are seen as having the more difficult job, but they are also judged more harshly than are fathers. More than half of Americans (56%) say that mothers are doing a worse job today than mothers did 20 or 30 years ago. By comparison, somewhat fewer people (47%) say fathers are doing a worse job than fathers did 20 or 30 years ago.
The biggest challenge in raising children today, according to parents and non-parents alike, is dealing with the outside influences of society. Nearly four-in-ten Americans (38%) list societal factors when asked in an open-ended format to name the biggest challenge for parents today. Among the top specific concerns mentioned are drugs and alcohol, peer pressure, and the impact of television and other media.
Beyond societal influences, other perceived challenges in raising children include teaching morals and values, maintaining discipline, handling the financial aspects of childrearing, and dealing with the educational system.
The views of mothers and fathers are similar when it comes to the challenges parents face today. Societal factors - including drugs and alcohol, peer pressure, and entertainment media - are the top concern for mothers and fathers alike.
Read the full report Motherhood Today: Tougher Challenges, Less Success- Mom's Biggest Critics are Middle-Aged Women Here on the Pew Research Center Web site.