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At some point last year — probably when my child woke up crying at 4 a.m. for the thousandth time — I stopped wondering when I would stop being so tired. For parents of young children, “tiredness” is not a condition that can be alleviated with a few good nights’ sleep. It’s a natural state—when people ask me how I’m doing, I reflexively say, the excuse I use for days when everything I touch feels mediocre. Laziness, exhaustion — call it what you will, but I’m not the only one who can’t stop talking about how tired I am. Stories about parenting fatigue are ubiquitous.
Except that the burden of fatigue is not evenly distributed and parents are feeling a lot too. In a newly released survey of 3,757 parents of children under 18 conducted last fall, the Pew Research Center digs into the drama of raising children in the United States today, asking about parents’ concerns and dreams for their children, including how they are cared for. Kids split up at home and — yes — that’s how tired parents really are.
Studies have shown that parenting stress and anxiety are disproportionately affecting mothers and fathers. But that doesn’t mean the stress is getting to them — the groups that reported higher levels of stress, fatigue and anxiety were the most likely to say that having children is always rewarding and enjoyable. Perhaps this is a kind of parental Stockholm syndrome, where parents in the most difficult situations can love their sorrows.
Fathers have taken on more caregiving responsibilities during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the Pew survey indicates that in most families, the emotional burden of parenting still falls on mothers. According to the survey, mothers are more likely than fathers to say that being a father is tiring (47 percent vs. 34 percent) or stressful (33 percent vs. 24 percent) all or most of the time. Mothers are also more worried than fathers about whether their children will experience difficulties, such as being bullied or struggling with anxiety and depression, and they are more likely to say they feel judgment about their parenting from friends, other parents in their community, and other fathers. Mom is online.
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Mothers in heterosexual relationships also report that they do more child care work, and their perceptions of the division of labor do not always match those of fathers. For example, the majority (58 percent) of mothers said they did more work to provide comfort or emotional support to their children, while the same share (58 percent) of fathers said this work was shared equally. In the only area asked that mothers and fathers generally agreed that the work was divided equally was to discipline their children – and even there, 31 percent of fathers said they did more work than 36 percent of mothers.
So who is right? Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics also supports the idea that women are spending most of their time on childcare. According to the most recent American Time Use Survey, which measures how much time people spend on various activities throughout their day, mothers of children under 18 spend 1.76 hours per day on childcare as their main activity, while men spend only 1.02 hours. When the survey researchers broke it down, women reported spending more time than men on children’s physical care and activities related to their education — but men and women were spending about the same amount of time playing with their children. (The BLS definition specifically excludes sports from “playing with children”).
But moms and dads weren’t the only group with different views on parenting. There was also considerable division along caste and ethnic lines. In the Pew survey, black and Hispanic parents are more likely than white or Asian parents to worry that their children face challenges such as being bullied, struggling with anxiety and depression, or being spanked. Other groups suffered from different types of anxiety: Asian parents were more likely than parents of other racial and ethnic groups to say they felt judged by their own parents at least sometimes, and white parents were more likely to say they felt judged by other parents. their community.
One of the biggest racial and ethnic divides wasn’t about the downsides of parenting, though—it was about the advantages. Black (39 percent) and Hispanic (39 percent) parents were more likely than white (18 percent) and Asian (13 percent) parents to say they found parenting enjoyable. all time. A similar – though slightly less dramatic split – occurred when parents were asked whether they found parenting productive.
There is a tension between these results. Black and Hispanic parents were the most likely to fear for their children’s safety — but they were also the most likely to find consistent joy in parenting. There was a similar pattern for low-income parents, who were much more worried about a broader range of concerns — their children being bullied, kidnapped, beaten, shot, or in trouble with the police — than middle- or high-income parents, but they were always They were more likely to say they enjoyed being a parent. And the most concerned groups — mothers, black and Hispanic parents, and low-income parents — were more likely than other parents to say that being a parent is the most important part of their identity.
Why are the most anxious parents in Pew’s survey the most likely to find daily joy in raising children? All that anxiety parenting shouldn’t do less fun? A number of things could be going on here, including differences in where respondents feel more comfortable reporting emotions like anxiety (probably women), or more pressure to say what they enjoy as a parent (again, probably women). But maybe it’s just that the joys of parenting are inextricably linked to its frustrations and anxieties — and the more of one you have, the more of the other. At least, that’s what I’ll tell myself the next time my daughter keeps me up all night.
Other polling bites
- The American public has judged the defendant, Rep. Jorge Santos, and the results are not pretty. A Data for Progress poll conducted Jan. 20-23 found that only 11 percent of likely voters had a favorable view of Santos, who basically lied about everything about his background. Half of respondents (50 percent) had an unfavorable view of Santos—including 38 percent who very Unfavorable views – and 39 percent said they didn’t know enough to tell. Context: Polls found Santos better than some of his Republican colleagues. 29 percent of Americans have a favorable view of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, 20 percent have a favorable view of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and 17 percent have a favorable view of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green.
- Speaking of House GOPs, a January 19-22 CNN poll conducted by SSRS found that nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of Americans think House Republican leaders are not paying enough attention to the nation’s most pressing issues, while 27 percent said they are paying enough attention. gave Of course, not all respondents probably agree about the country’s most pressing issues.
- According to another CNN poll conducted by SSRS on January 19-22, Americans are not happy about the discovery of classified documents at President Biden’s home in Delaware and his Washington, D.C. office — and they consider hiring a special counsel to investigate. The right call was about two-thirds (67 percent) of Americans think it’s a very or somewhat serious problem that documents were found at Biden’s home and office, and 84 percent approve of the Justice Department’s decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate.
- Young Americans hold corporations to a high ethical standard, according to a newly released Gallup poll conducted in June 2022. The survey found that 77 percent of Americans aged 18-29 think that operating businesses in a manner that is “very important” to being environmentally sustainable, and a similar share (72 percent) say that it is crucial for businesses to focus on long-term benefits to society rather than short-term profits. . Both of these shares are significantly larger than any other age group.
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According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 42 percent of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, while 52.4 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -10.4 points). At this time last week, 43.4 percent approved and 51.3 percent disapproved (a net approval rating of -7.9 points). A month ago, Biden’s approval rating was 43.4 percent and his disapproval rating was 51.5 percent, a net approval rating of -8.1 points.
Correction (January 27, 2023, 10:45 am): A previous version of this story included a chart with misinformation on the thinking of mothers and fathers who gave their children more comfort or emotional support. The proportion of mothers who thought that mothers did more, fathers did more, and that both were equal were incorrect, as was the proportion of fathers who thought both were equal. They have been updated.