Single Mother Care Essay Research Paper Comparing

Single Mother Care Essay, Research Paper Comparing its structure and function as it was in 1960 with what it had become in 1990 can highlight the dramatic changes in the American family. Until 1960

Single Mother Care Essay, Research Paper

Comparing its structure and function as it was in 1960 with what it had become

in 1990 can highlight the dramatic changes in the American family. Until 1960

most Americans shared a common set of beliefs about family life; family should

consist of a husband and wife living together with their children. The father

should be the head of the family, earn the family’s income, and give his name to

his wife and children. The mother’s main tasks were to support and enable her

husband’s goals, guide her children’s development, look after the home, and set

a moral tone for the family. Marriage was an enduring obligation for better or

worse and this was due much to a conscious effort to maintain strong ties with

children. The husband and wife jointly coped with stresses. As parents, they had

an overriding responsibility for the well being of their children during the

early years-until their children entered school, they were almost solely

responsible. Even later, it was the parents who had the primary duty of guiding

their children’s education and discipline. Of course, even in 1960, families

recognized the difficulty of converting these ideals into reality. Still, they

devoted immense effort to approximating them in practice. As it turned out, the

mother, who worked only minimally–was the parent most frequently successful in

spending the most time with her children. Consequently, youngsters were almost

always around a parental figure — they were well-disciplined and often very

close with the maternal parent who cooked for them, played with them, and saw

them off to and home from school each day. Over the past three decades these

ideals, although they are still recognizable, have been drastically modified

across all social classes. Women have joined the paid labor force in great

numbers stimulated both by economic need and a new belief in their capabilities

and right to pursue opportunities. Americans in 1992 are far more likely than in

earlier times to postpone marriage. Single parent families–typically consisting

of a mother with no adult male and very often no other adult person present-have

become common. Today at least half of all marriages end in divorce (Gembrowski

3). Most adults no longer believe that couples should stay married because

divorce might harm their children. Of course, these contemporary realities have

great consequential impact on mother-child relationships and child development;

even from an early age. Survey research shows a great decrease in the proportion

of women favoring large families, an upsurge in their assertiveness about

meeting personal needs, and an attempt by women to balance their needs with

those of their children and the men in their lives (Burgess & Conger 1164).

A clear and increasing majority of women believe that both husband and wife

should be able to work, should have roughly similar opportunities, and should

share household responsibilities and the tasks of child rearing. A majority of

mothers of preschool children now work outside the home. A growing minority of

young married women, often highly educated and career oriented, are choosing not

to have any children and have little interest in children’s issues-yet one more

indication of the dramatic transformation of American families that has been

taking place in recent decades (Bousha & Twentyman 106). It is unavoidable

that those mothers who work simply are not there as much for their children. In

fact, in many cases the relationship between the contemporary mother and her

children is similar to the age-old traditional role of the father and his

children. Often, the mother is indeed a strong-minded disciplinarian in the

evening after work≈but she is very frequently not much more than that. To

very children, care is a nursery or some school of others with caregivers. To

the pre-adolescent youth, care is either a baby-sitter, nanny, or just phone

call to ‘mom’ after work–if even that much. In some of the more positive cases,

this creates an early sense of responsibility and independence for the child.

But more commonly, it is known to invite poor behavior, recklessness, and even

accidents at home when the mother is not there. Some children become despondent;

others grow adamantly rebellious. But regardless of patternistic character, they

all reportedly exhibit a diminished sense of relationship with their mother.

With regard to interpersonal signals, today’s working mothers are unlikely to

respond to child signals and more likely to initiate spontaneously nonreciprocal

types of interaction, such as requests and demands (Aragona & Eyeberg 599).

I infer that this comes in part from the pressures and stresses of their own

busy work schedules (plus they are still usually left with a plethora of

time-consuming "mothering" responsibilities) as well as from their own

diminished relationship with the child(ren). My readings strongly indicate that

mothers who work all day often become almost unavoidably neglectful in that they

fail to perceive, and attend to, child signals and information about child

needs. Evidently, the underlying process in such cases is often one of

prematurely ending the processing of information about feelings. That is, in

cases where mothers are consistently withdrawn, psychologically unavailable,

and/or stressed over work, it is proposed that parental style of processing

information is typified by preconscious exclusion from perception of information

that elicits affect (Giovannoni 14). Such information is of crucial importance

to human functioning as it provides the earliest (both developmentally and

situationally) interpretation and prescription for response (Zajonc, 1998).

Later developing cognitively generated information and processing interaction

with affect to produce increasingly differentiated, sophisticated, and adaptive

responses (Egeland & Erickson 114-15). When, however, affect is distorted,

either by inhibition or exaggeration, it reportedly reduces the flexibility of

individuals’ response to their environment. The rearing of children is, of

course, an affectively arousing experience. Indeed, children, especially young

children, communicate largely through affective signals, for example, cries,

smiles, eye contact, touch. When mothers are not around much and fail to respond

to these signals, children first become very upset and, if no parental response

is forthcoming, ultimately cease to signal. In either case, they both fail to

learn to modify signals in ways that lead to the development of mature

communicative skills and also learn to behave in increasingly aversive ways.

Indeed, the more upset they become, the longer it takes them to recover, that

is, the longer they remain distressed. Consequently, if working mothers were

initially ambivalent about responding to child signals, they could be expected

to become more reluctant after their children became upset. At that point,

interactions are likely to take on the negative quality noted by many

researchers (Burgess & Conger, 1998). Thus early neglect of infant signals

can have a progressive and deteriorating effect on the development of the

parent-child relationship. And such neglect is indeed common among working

mothers. In addition, children’s signals are often tied to their need for help

in managing their emotions. Thus children turn to their parents when they are

hurt, angry, sad, frightened, and so on. If their mothers are too preoccupied to

respond to these feelings, they may ignore precisely those signals that imply

the greatest need for maternal involvement. Indeed, "simple" requests

for food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention can be fulfilled by other

adults such as nannies, caregivers etc; But this seriously alters the

mother-child relationship and places many aspects of that traditional role on

the career-child relationship instead. Because the desire for affection and

comfort can only be satisfied by attachment figures (i.e., parents), it is more

subject to defensive biases. This suggests both the importance of psychological

neglect (Egeland & Erickson, 1997) and the basis for such neglect in

parents’ own developmental history. Previous to the age of the working mother,

it might have been said that children were often a bit spoiled by their mother’s

constant presence. All of the attention that they needed was there before

school, after school, on the weekends and so forth. This created a strong

dependency upon the maternal parent; relationships were overtly familiar and the

bond between mother and child was more often a strong one than today. An old

clichИ of that time was the expression from mother to child "just

wait ’till your father gets home." In many cases today, just waiting for

mother to come home may carry with it the same intimidation. And without a

parental balance between disciplinarian and caregiver–much of the relationship

between mother and child so amiable in the 1950’s and before–is gone.

Conclusively, it is difficult to blame mothers for their inability to develop

and maintain relationships with their children as strongly as in previous

decades. The pressures of a full-time career coupled with full-time mothering

may be too much for anyone to handle wholly and effectively. It is for this

reason that responsible parents seek the assistance of day care centers,

professional baby-sitters, and so forth. But it is also for this reason that the

relationship that exists between mother and child today has changed so

drastically.

Aragona, J., & Eyeberg, S. "Neglected children: Mothers’ reports of

child behavior problems and observed verbal behavior." Child Development 52

(1995): 596-602. Bousha, D., & Twentyman, C. "Mother-child interaction

style in abuse, neglect, and control groups: Naturalistic observations in the

home." Journal of Abnormal Psychology 93 (1997) : 106-114. Burgess, R. L.,

& Conger, R. D. "Family interaction in abusive, neglectful, and normal

families." Child Development 49 (1998) : 1163-1173. Egeland, B., &

Erickson, M. "Psychologically unavailable care giving." In M. R.

Brassard, R. Germaine, & S. N. Hart (Eds.), Psychological maltreatment of

children and youth. New York: Pergamon, 1997 (pp. 110-120). Gembrowski, Susan.

"A Portrait of Families Today." Los Angeles Times, 22 Oct. 1992 : 3.

Giovannoni, J. M., & Becerra, R. M. Defining child abuse. New York: Free

Press, 1996. Zajonc, R.B. "Feeling and thinking: Preferences need no

inferences." American Psychologist 35 (1998) : 151-175.