The Free Press, Mankato, MN


May 11, 2014

Our View: It's Mother's Day: show her the love

Why it matters: While times have changed, the intensity of a mother's love hasn't

Mother’s Day is officially 100 years old and have things changed since then.

President Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation in 1914 marking the second Sunday in May as a national holiday to honor mothers.

Ann Jarvis, who then lead the campaign to get the designation, sent a thank-you note to Wilson saying the day will honor “in ways that will perpetuate family ties and give emphasis to true home life.”

And you all thought it was merely a commercialized Hallmark day. Well, that came shortly thereafter much to the dismay of Jarvis.

Other countries did take up Jarvis’ cause and now it is celebrated throughout the world. Jarvis insisted the term should be singular not plural to ensure each family honor its mother “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”

We have not made that easy.

During World War II, when the men went to war, the women went to the factories which gave rise to day-care centers. After the war, this sense of independence and added income helped many families build the “golden age of capitalism.”

Pew Research has found that today 71 percent of all mothers work outside the home. And while two-thirds of stay-at-home moms are traditional married stay-at-home mothers (SAHMs) with working husbands, a growing percentage are unmarried.

And while some circles are praising this slow rise in SAHMs, it’s not necessarily for the reasons they would like to cite.

Research shows that these SAHMs are younger, poorer and less educated then their working counterparts. College-educated women are more likely to say working outside the home has little effect on children.

Married stay-at-home mothers who have working husbands are more likely to point to caring for the family as the reason. However, single and cohabiting stay-at-home mothers will say they are home because they are ill or disabled, unable to find a job or enrolled in school. The share of those unable to find a job has grown from one percent in 2000 to six percent in 2012.

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