Get Married Today, Have a Baby Tomorrow
by Liz Colville
Delaying marriage and childbearing leads to more stress, according to a study done as part of a big conference called Focus on Workplace Flexibility. One would think that getting hitched and having children younger leads to more stress, because we are such spoiled, impetuous creatures until, say, our mid- to late 30s. But apparently, no.
We’ve delayed these two pastimes for longer than our parents and grandparents partly because of women’s now nearly equal share of the workplace. We’re enjoying our personal and professional freedom, and we’re not worried about fertility one bit. We want to get to a certain place in our career so that we can feel that if and when we go back to work, we can just jump right back in. Right?
But the study author, UCLA sociology professor Suzanne Bianchi, and her team say the reality is that delayed childrearing ends up happening “at the same time that job and career demands are great — particularly among the well-educated.” Plus, stress increases again later as parents end up caring for their young adult children while their own elderly parents’ health is beginning to fail.
Looking at time diaries and comparing data from 1985 and 2008, the team found that mothers are spending more time on work and caring for their children, and less time on housework. Men are also spending more time on those activities. Also:
The study found that 44 percent of employed mothers with a full-time employed spouse say they have too little time with their youngest child, 73 percent say they have too little time with their spouse and 74 percent say they have too little time for themselves.
Fathers were more satisfied in two of those three categories:
58 percent say they have too little time with their youngest child, 62 percent say they have too little time with their spouse and 58 percent say they have too little time for themselves.
So in other words, things are changing, but not that quickly (recall the recent Times story about French mothers). Bianchi says:
…fathers continue to be more likely than mothers to work long hours and may or may not feel they have a choice about working those hours. At the same time, fathers’ long paid work hours may be part of the reason why mothers in some families feel they must curtail their hours of employment. Someone must focus on family caregiving — and that someone remains, more often than not, the mother.
Photo via BabyBingo.com