In the United States, more women delay motherhood but stay in the labour force after their children are born. Apart from this, working mothers take on more care giving responsibilities at home, than fathers do, revealed a survey by the Pew Research centre.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE AGE AT FIRST BIRTH?
In the survey, Pew Research said that the average age at first birth in the US has ticked up steadily over the last decade. In 2021, the average woman gave birth for the first time at 27.3 years old. This was up from 2011, when the average mom was 25.6 at the birth of her first child.
While mothers’ average age at first birth rose across racial and ethnic groups, some differences exist among them. In 2021, Black and Hispanic moms, on average, were younger at the birth of their first child (25.5 years for both groups) than White (28.1) and Asian moms (31.2). American Indian or Alaska Native first-time mothers were the youngest, on average (23.9).
WHAT IS THE CHILD BEARING YEAR?
The number of children women in the U.S. have in their lifetime has declined over time, Census Bureau data shows. In the late 1970s, women at the end of their childbearing years (ages 40 to 44) had, on average, more than three children. In 2020, women had about two children on average – a number that has been fairly stable for more than two decades. Most of this decline occurred between 1976 and the mid-1990s.
Women with more education have fewer children on average in their lifetimes. For instance, between 1976 and 2022, women ages 40 to 44 with at least a bachelor’s degree had an average of 1.75 children, while women who did not have a high school diploma had, on average, 2.99 children.
DO MOMS SPEND MORE TIME?
The researchers said that mothers spend more time with their children than dads do – especially when their children are young. During waking hours, mothers with children fewer than six spent 7.5 hours on childcare per day on average, while dads spent 5.3 hours.
While with their young children, these moms spent 2.7 hours per day on care giving tasks. Fathers spent 1.6 hours per day on care giving activities.
Moms with children ages 6 to 12 reported spending an average of 5.7 hours per day on childcare, while dads logged 4.2 hours. Mothers with teens ages 13 to 17 also spent more time doing this than fathers did (3.8 hours vs. 3 hours).
WHAT ABOUT CHILD CARE RESPONSIBILITIES?
Mothers always take on more childcare responsibilities than their spouse or partner does. Among moms who are married to or living with a partner, majorities with children under 18 say they do more when it comes to managing their children’s schedules and activities (78%) and providing comfort or emotional support to their children (58%). A majority (65%) of moms with school-age kids say they do more than their partner to help their children with homework or other school assignments. Moreover, 57% of moms with children under five say they do more to meet their children’s basic needs, such as feeding, bathing or changing diapers.
IS PARENTHOOD HARDER?
Moms are more likely than dads to say being a parent is harder than they expected, according to the Pew Research Centre. Around two-thirds of mothers (66%) and a smaller majority of fathers (58%) say being a parent is a lot or somewhat harder than they thought it would be. That includes 30% of moms and 20% of dads who say it is a lot harder than they expected.
Larger shares of moms than dads also say they find being a parent tiring (47% vs. 34%) and stressful (33% vs. 24%) all or most of the time.
Despite all this, the survey points out that the vast majority of mothers find parenting enjoyable and rewarding. Overall, 83% of moms say that being a parent is enjoyable for them most (56%) or all of the time (27%). Eight-in-ten moms say being a parent is rewarding most or all of the time, with 37% saying this is the case all of the time.
The vast majority of mothers (88%) say that being a parent is the most important or one of the most important aspects of who they are as a person, with about a third (35%), saying it is the most important aspect. While a similarly large share of fathers (85%) say that being a parent ranks among the most important aspects of who they are, they are less likely than mothers to say it is the most important: 24% say this.