General Question

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Does our society support mothers and motherhood?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38942points) July 8th, 2009

By ‘our society’ I mean America…

in terms of support I mean both conventional beliefs about mothers and motherhood, legal rights, financial support, support of children, etc.

I often find that certain European countries do a much better job at supporting motherhood, yes?

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42 Answers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I think there’s areas that are more supportive than others in any region.
In Washington DC, there doesn’t seem to be much support.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic well if Washington D.C. itself doesn’t offer much support, is there hope for other places?

kevbo's avatar

When a mother’s Medicaid check increases with every child, I’d have to say yes. Ditto for the prevalence of FMLA and child custody norms.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir There’s always hope. Even if the DC politicians do nothing we can still make a difference to those close to us.

SuperMouse's avatar

I think the US pays supporting moms and motherhood a lot of lip-service. In some ways our country succeeds, in some ways it fails miserably.

(As most of you know) my life circumstances have changed considerably in the past months. I have been forced to reach out for help in ways I never have before, and for the most part I have gotten what I need. Because of the support I am receiving, I will be able to finish my schooling and still be able to feed and clothe my kids.

I think we fail when it comes to supporting new moms and the time they need to spend with their babies. I think it is a shame that in families with two working parents, the moms are more often that not forced to return to work and leave a six week old baby in childcare. That to me is wrong and should be addressed. How? I am just not sure.

Aethelwine's avatar

I get the impression that many Americans feel that stay-at-home mothers do nothing. So to answer your question, no.

Great Question btw

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@kevbo not all mothers are on Medicaid or can be on Medicaid

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SuperMouse so why the lip service then? and yes I wish both parents can stay and parent and work part-time and share in the responsibility but sadly insurance is linked to full time work (and I don’t think it should be) making it difficult for both parents to parent and makes someone or both of them having to go to work…it’s a lose-lose situation…

kevbo's avatar

Oh I agree, and I’m more to the left on this issue than my tone probably indicates. Perhaps my imagination is limited.

tinyfaery's avatar

I wrote about 5 responses and erased them all. I don’t know what I want to say.

No and yes.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir that’s what I mean about the lip service. I agree that health insurance should not be linked to full-time work. I also think that disability benefits should be extended so that moms can stay home longer.

casheroo's avatar

Not at all. I think it’s disturbing what motherhood is viewed as nowadays. I mean, I think the feminist movement was much needed, and women need and deserve respect, but they then took away the greatness of motherhood, and made it seem like women who want to be mothers, who don’t want to focus on career or women who do believe in staying home and breastfeeding for as long as possible…as the bad guys.
Society seems to view mothers as lazy, even though mothers (and fathers) have a huge impact on the next generation of society itself. It makes the world go round, but people…mainly other women, want to bring other women down.

Aethelwine's avatar

@casheroo mainly other women want to bring other women down.

That is so true! That is why I have always had more guy friends than girls. When I am at my children’s school for certain activities, the fathers are very open to me. It’s the working moms that seem to give me the cold shoulder.

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m not familiar with any other country, so I can’t be sure. From what I’ve seen in the US, woman were originally thrust into the work force by WWII, and as time went by there were more and more mothers discovering that they would rather be a part of the earning public than stay at home with their children. It finally got to the point where woman were no longer ‘choosing’ to enter the work force, but it has become a near necessity to afford the increasingly inflated cost of living.

I am hoping that the current recession will help bring some balance back into our lives,, and more men and women can actually choose to join the work force or work at home, and their (our) lifestyles will become less ‘employment’ oriented, and more family oriented.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@casheroo I don’t necessarily think it’s the feminist movement that is to blame for what you describe – it’s everyone not getting with the feminist movement enough without thinking it only has to do with women going to work or something…the feminist movement, to me, is so much more and it’s about valuing parenthood, expecting fathers and not just mothers to parent, expecting fathers and not just mothers to want and expect long paternity leaves, to make it easier for working women to be mothers, to breastfeed at work…the feminist movement is about supporting all people (imo) and not relying on gender roles or switching gender roles (as if women going to work is ‘being like men’)...I think that women bring other women down because many of them feel limited no matter the path they’ve chosen…

tinyfaery's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Lurve.

“mainly other women want to bring other women down” And this type of thinking keeps women divided, and conquered.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Considering it’s illegal to breastfeed in public in numerous places in this country… I would say no, it does not.

krose1223's avatar

Hell no.

I started to rant about this, but I decided this was not where I wanted to yell about it.

Jack79's avatar

I don’t know about America, but I find that the society here in Europe supports motherhood a lot more than it should. Women can literally get away with murder, just because some condom broke and they didn’t manage to have the abortion on time. They can be abusive mothers or dump their kids in the street, and still get income support from the state, child support from a father that is not even allowed to see the kid, and win any custody battle without even having to prove anything, just based on gender. If a father as much as raises his voice towards a child, he could easily lose all custody rights. If a mother uses her child as an ashtray or a punchbag, turns it to prostitution and gives it drugs, it will still take years for any court to even think of taking away her “rights”.
Not to mention that the support towards single mothers in Germany was so big at some point that women were making a job out of it (just having a child every 3 years regardless of father or wedlock and never having to work again).

Just to make things clear: I am not saying that there shouldn’t be support, or that women who, for whatever reason, find themselves alone in the world with a kid in their arms, should not be helped. But I think each case should be viewed individually, and the needs of the child, rather than the mother, taken into consideration. There are mothers that stay at home because they really want to take care of their children. But many just stay at home to watch tv and never even see their children anwyay.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Jack79 well that’s my point, it shouldn’t be that lopsided and it shouldn’t be no support either…fathers should absolutely be considered just as important..it shouldn’t be assumed that women are better nurturers..that’s the feminist standpoint, the 3rd wave feminism one anyway

Jack79's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir yes, I know, it’s funny how on the one hand you have people like the Partia Kobiet (Women’s Party) trying to get fathers to play a more active role in parenting (one of the things they’re pushing for is actually joint custody laws and even forcing fathers to take custody of children as a “responsibility”, rather than a “right”), and on the other hand you get women abusing the system in order to basically go back to what their grandmothers were doing: stay at home to raise children. I think the lesson here is that “you can’t have your pie and eat it” and it’s a lesson which women in the West are slowly learning.

I think what will be vital in the near future is to have a more conscious choice from individual women themselves, rather than a trend, movement or wave. Each woman will have to decide what role (or combination of roles) she wants to play. Does she want to spend a lifetime in the kitchen (pre-WWII)? Does she want to dress up like a man and go to the factory (1940s-1970s)? Will she try to juggle family and career, often failing at both (1970s-2000s)? Or will she eventually pick her own role, one that is not based on gender, but on the individual needs of herself as well as any possible partner(s) in her family? dates are obviously approximate and arbitrary

Similarly, once that is settled, men will have to redifine their own roles in society, as well as in the relationship. Just because your wife works doesn’t mean you have to become a househusband, but it’s also not “a woman’s job” to cut a salad, as most of us have learnt by now. I think the future will eventually see more balanced relationships, and people playing roles they are more comfortable with. Both sexes will be happier on the whole, provided there is a balance within the relationship, as well as rules and co-operation which serve the overall needs of the family, as well as those of the individual.

All this implies a maturity that neither sex seems to possess at the moment in any great amounts.

So until all that happens (which is at least another decade away), we’re stuck with women who don’t know what they want, and in some cases think that what they want is revenge. Tough luck to be born a man at this point in time.

wundayatta's avatar

In the US, the line is that there is nothing more sacred than motherhood, with the possible exception of apple pie. What that translates into in terms of public policy, or philosophy is a matter of debate. The US is big into individuality, so they often leave mothers on their own, financially and responsibility-wise.

I don’t know if lack of publicly financed programs means there is less support for motherhood or mothers. I don’t know if laws against public breastfeeding means there is less support for mothers and motherhood. It certainly reflects a prudish attitude towards images that can be faintly considered as sexual.

I simply don’t know how to measure “support” for mothers. Or children.

My feeling is that support is very high in the US. The problem is that, like much of everything, the support (in terms of money and policy) is much more unequally distributed compared to many European countries. This reflects ideology more than anything else, I think. As I said above, society here reveres mothers and motherhood. We just don’t think that reverence translates into as great a leveling of the playing field as Europeans attempt to realize.

Now, liberals and those who believe in a greater redistribution of wealth as a way to show commitment for various aspects of society will think this means we don’t put our money where our mouths are, and so we don’t really support mothers like we say we do. Conservatives probably think we hurt mothers initiative by providing as much support as we do, and if we cut back, mothers and children would be better off.

Personally, I’m with the liberal camp, but I don’t think this society is any less supportive of mothers than they are of any other sector of society (except business). Then again, being supportive of business is supposed to trickle down into support for mothers.

Jack79's avatar

good point about this being a matter of policy rather than a male/female/parent/child issue. Yes, I think the big difference also here in Europe is the overall state policy. It’s usually the same countries who cater for the old or handicapped that will have the best mechanisms to help a (single) mother. On the other side of the spectrum, in countries with a relatively smaller state intervention, mothers (but also everyone else) are left to fend for themselves. But then again, those countries (thinking mainly of southern Europe here) are usually the ones with stronger family ties and more traditional values, meaning there are fewer single mothers, as well as grandparents around to help if needed. In Greece for example, seeing a grandmother with a pram is a lot more common than a father with a pram. In fact it’s even more common than a mother with a pram, come to think of it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Jack79 exactly, i completely agree – the key to moving into a more progressive era is for the role of men in society to change as well as the role of women

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Apparently yes. A woman can choose to become pregnant, unemployed and then have my taxpayer money fund her housing, college programs and health care for she and her child.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence do you really think that’s what mothers do when they pregnant – try to take advantage? year right..

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: I have seen a lot of it and I feel most sorry for their kids because it’s never enough. I didn’t say it was a good choice but our society does have this in place.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence our society has this in place for those who really need it…there will always be people that take advantage but there will also be people in need

casheroo's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence Hmm, would you mind telling me which state or actually which country you live in? Because in the good ol US of A, a parent HAS to be working a minimum of 15 hours a week, and/or be in an educational/or workforce training program to receive a.)cash assistance (actually has higher standards) b.)food stamps (you can only receive them for 5 years in you life time) c.) medicaid (not usually given to parents because they make “too much money” but not enough for private insurance. Children in the US are insured no matter what, as it should be. Whether it be through CHIP which is low cost for the parent and given no matter the income, or Medicaid which is free because of lower than 185% poverty line.
So, whatever you are saying is probably not even close to the truth, just your jaded view.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@casheroo: I’m in the USA, have lived in several states and have known women all my life, some of whom have used this society supported aid to make and then raise families. Forgive me if I’m embittered not to be able to have had any of the perks of free aid. I’ve been working since 16 and helping support my family (no children). If people are unhappy with what should be considered emergency family aid then they should choose more carefully when to make their families or get out there and hustle like the rest of us schleps do.

casheroo's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence The aid comes from being poor, I have never in my life understood why on earth people are jealous of poor people. Because they need help buying groceries? Because they can’t afford private insurance for their children? What is so glamourous about that? Trust me, it’s not the high life that you seem to think it is.
My point before is, you have to work to receive aid. No one is popping out babies and not doing a damn thing. One person in the household, be it the husband or wife has to work and/or be going to school.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence believe me, as someone who has needed food stamps to raise her family that she started before all the lay-offs started, I am hustling a lot more than you

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@casheroo: I don’t know where you got I think the lifestyle of being on aid is glamorous in any way and no, I’m not jealous of the poverty making life choices, specifically why I’ve worked so hard all my life.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: I’ve been through several layoffs since 2005, join the crowd. I’ve managed by working two jobs and jobs I thought I’d never have to do. There are no food stamps or govt. aid coming my way to help. Good for you. This does go to show society is supporting you mothers.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence I daresay ‘us mothers’ don’t feel at all supported by the statements you’re making

YARNLADY's avatar

@casheroo In California a single parent does not have to work a minimum of any hours, period. Aid To Dependent Children and WIC are both given to single parents with no strings attached, once they meet the eligibility requirements of having children.

Edit: This is subject to change, with the new budget proposals, California stands to become the first state in the US to abolish welfare by eliminating funding to the programs.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@YARNLADY and what will it be replaced with? better jobs? free education? or good old classist society? after prop 8 I sneer at CA

SuperMouse's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence while I am sure you are proud of never being forced to rely on public assistance, I believe your situation is different than the one @Simone_De_Beauvoir is discussing. When a person has children it is much more difficult to work multiple jobs. Given the cost of childcare, the money made on any second job would be more than gone before it is even earned.

FYI poverty is not a choice for most people, especially in the United States right now. I know many, many people who have worked their asses off through their entire career, and as a result of the economy are now flailing.

I also believe that the majority of Americans on Emergency Family Aid see it as temporary to help them through a rough time. I am raising three young boys, taking a full load at school, working a part-time job, and am receiving food stamps while I finish my college degree. I have absolutely no problem doing so as I – like you – have worked full-time since I was young and contributed plenty to the system. I could go out and get a full-time job now, but it would hardly cover the cost of childcare and I would still have problems putting food on the table. I see this as a way to help me toward my final goal – a secure job as a school teacher so that I can have the time off I need to take care of my children when they are not in school. Believe me, I am not a woman who made “poverty making life choices.” I am a woman in possession of common sense, a hard work ethic, and the deisre for long term improvement in my circumstances and those of my children.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Probably just more and more people lining the streets begging. Apparently some families are taking to teaching their kids how to rob stores. The worst ones get caught, but I bet there are a lot more that don’t. And lot’s more house burglaries. The Sacramento Police Chief actually said they are not responding to house burglaries anymore because of the budget cuts. Our insurance premiums will probably skyrocket.

casheroo's avatar

@YARNLADY WIC to me is not really state aid. Practically anyone can qualify, and it helps with the essentials, and educates parents on proper nutrition.
What is “Aid to Dependent Children”? I can’t find anything, and while looking at this site http://www.kff.org/medicaid/upload/The-California-Medicaid-Program-at-a-Glance-UDPATE-Fact-Sheet.pdf there seems to be quite a bit of requirements for Medicaid for children in Cali. And I’m sure I can pull up the requirements for food stamps and cash assistance easily.

jenandcolin's avatar

My opinion is no, in general. The FMLA only requires 6 weeks (unpaid and for full-time employees). Other countries provide much longer periods for mothers. I can’t remember when but the magazine “Contexts” (a sociological publication) outlined what countries provide for new moms. The basic shift in thought is that this country sees new children as dependents. They are only entitled to what the mother “earns” (with bias). In other countries babies are seen instantly as both citizens and potential resources. In many other countries, for example, children have a RIGHT to excellent childcare (including from the mother), healthcare, education, etc.
THere are also many books on this topic but a NYTimes article is a quick read:
http://www.nytimes.com/1989/11/09/garden/how-france-is-providing-child-care-to-a-nation.html

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