- Humans are innately wired for family, and women are especially hardwired to make family a priority over other things. Tweet This
- Millennial moms especially seem to be shrugging off the mommy wars and the work-life debates and driving a broader, mom-positive culture. Tweet This
- Despite the upheaval of the Sexual Revolution, the female takeover of higher education, and the explosion of women in the workforce, many women appear to still find fulfillment in motherhood. Tweet This
While there is plenty of hand wringing about motherhood these days, Mother’s Day presents an opportunity to reflect on the reality that women still seem to love being moms.
The family certainly has come under assault in recent years, and the allure of motherhood has been given its fair share of tarnish from the press. Motherhood is often portrayed as a strain or a burden, something in competition with a woman’s time, career, or money. We are bombarded with negative stories about motherhood and moms: women are delaying motherhood, including some to pay off student loans, more women are choosing not to be mom, and so on. Such stories are a dime a dozen, especially for elites.
And yet take a cursory glance at my social media, and it is chock-full of Millennial moms whose favored theme for posting is…their kids and mom life. Despite the upheaval of the Sexual Revolution, the female takeover of higher education, and the explosion of women in the workforce, including at executive levels, over the past several decades, many women appear to still find fulfillment in motherhood.
Gallup has consistently found this to be true as it relates to the question of work outside the home, with more unemployed women with children under the age of 18 than not saying they prefer the role of homemaker to a job. For two-in-three women who have minor children and are not in the workforce, their preference is what they are doing: managing a home and taking care of kids. And with the rise of the gig economy and flex-work, moms have consistently said that part-time work is their ideal. Millennial moms especially seem to be driving a shift toward more stay-at-home or work-from-home parenthood. As one writer put it in Forbes:
Women are mothers in the home, but in a way that the patriarchy never dared dream. Millennial women are doing what they must to provide for their families without missing their child's first step, working themselves into an early grave or never seeing their partners because they have to pull 12-hour shifts just to get by.
But it’s not just in a work-life preference that prioritizes motherhood where pro-mother trends can still be seen. Women today are also more likely to become moms than 10 years ago, with women in their 40s and women with bachelor’s and advanced degrees seeing notable increases. As Pew put it, “They’re waiting longer, but U.S. women today [are] more likely to have children than a decade ago.”
Millennial moms especially seem to be driving a shift toward more stay-at-home or work-from-home parenthood.
Perhaps that is because, despite unprecedented access to education, wealth, leisure, technology, independence, and so much else, humans are innately wired for family, and women are especially hardwired to make family a priority over other things. Our societal emphasis on gender blindness often marks that with a ding, because motherhood isn’t always the most profitable or glamorous enterprise, and women stubbornly insist on living out motherhood differently than men. As the journalist Deborah Orr put it, “If full-time parenting was that fulfilling, more men would be doing it.”
The efforts of some to squeeze women as mothers into the box that fits men as fathers (as if there was a one-box-fits-all for either category) has gotten stale. Instead, Millennial moms especially seem to be shrugging off the mommy wars and the work-life debates and driving a broader, mom-positive culture—be it the moms of Instagram who have carved out some serious real estate, pro-mom websites, working spaces for moms, new mom groups, and so much more.
The celebration of Mother’s Day in America is just over a century old, and life for women has changed far more dramatically than it has for men during that time. And yet many women in my generation not only still want to be moms, they also seem to be embracing motherhood as never before.
Ashley E. McGuire is a Contributing Editor at the Institute for Family Studies and the author of Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female (Regnery, 2017).
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Institute for Family Studies.