Majority of working parents say that employment is optimal, but difficult

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Half of parents say working is the best situation for them, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center. Still, the juggle takes a toll, at home and at work.

The percentage of American moms with jobs is up considerably from 50 years ago. A majority (55%) of mothers in the US with children under 18 are working full time – an increase of 34% from 50 years ago, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau Current Population Survey data.

And 72% of mothers are working full- or part-time, compared with about half in 1968.

You win some, you lose some

About half of both men and women say being a working parent takes away from their ability to be a good parent. But it’s working mothers who are more likely than employed fathers  (39%) to say that being a working parent makes it more difficult for them to get ahead in their career.

It gets more complicated for working mothers: those who work part-time (57%) are more likely to say that being a working parent makes it more difficult for them to climb the ladder at their job than for those who work full time (47%.)

Then again, it cuts both ways: the full-time mothers are significantly more likely (57%) to say that being a working parent makes it more difficult for them to be a good parent (44% for part-time working moms.)

Either way you slice it, you lose out on one end or the other.

Half in, half out

Working and raising kids means making sacrifices, and often that sacrifice is made in the level or amount of performance at work.

  • 54% of working moms say they’ve had to cut down on their hours.
  • 51% of working moms felt like they couldn’t give 100% at work.

Working fathers feel the same way, but in smaller numbers:

  • About 40% of working fathers say they’ve had to cut back on their working hours
  • 44% of working dads felt like they couldn’t give their job 100%.
  • Overall, 23% of parents said they had turned down a promotion because they were too busy balancing working and being a parent.

There were other negative outcomes of being a working parent:

  • 23% of working parents say they have been treated like they weren’t fully committed to their work because they have a family
  • 17% of working parents say they have been bypassed for a big project
  • 16% say they haven’t been given a promotion because of their status as parents, especially mothers

Work still pays

Still, despite the difficulties, work wins out in the end. Half of the mothers say working full time is the optimal situation for them at the moment. And it goes up to eight in 10 mothers if you only count those who are working full-time.