Where Did My Self-Worth Go?

Given the huge changes that women and mothers in Ireland have gone through in recent decades — cultural, economic and social — understanding a mother’s sense of value in her role as a caregiver is essential.

Depressingly, the research conducted by Sudocrem found that just over two-thirds of mothers do not feel that they are strongly appreciated by their family, something it’s not always easy to be honest about. Mums’ beliefs that they are not valued by their closest relatives for their work cannot be viewed in isolation from their views on how society values their role.

Indeed, it may be the case that the attitudes of society toward mothers’ work could be influencing perceptions held by family members. When asked about their perception of how society values their role, mothers were even more negative in their responses. Mothers’ role valued by society:

♣ Just over one in ten (12%) mothers felt that society placed a strong value on their role;

♣ One in four (38%) felt society somewhat valued their role;

♣ Half of all mothers (50%) felt that society largely does not appreciate the role of mothers.

These statistics undoubtedly point to mothers’ overall sense that their role is not appreciated, or that their contribution is not widely understood, by family and society at large.

However, what adds weight and supports the views of mothers today is the views of mothers of the past.

When asked if they felt valued by their families when raising their children, grandmothers’ responses contrast with mothers of today. Grandmothers’ views on their sense of value by their families:

♣ 57% of all mothers of the past say they felt very valued by their families — 22% more than mothers of today;

♣ One in three (31%) grandmothers felt somewhat valued by their families;

♣ With 13% of grandmothers stating their families did not value their work — 10% less than mothers of today.

Some interesting statistics of the research, which are spread geographically as well as demographically:

♣ Younger mothers (under 35) feel less valued by their families than older mothers (over 35) — 73% vs 80%;

♣ Today’s mothers in Dublin feel the least valued by their families (67%) versus those in Connacht/Ulster who feel the most valued (84%);

♣ Today’s working mothers feel more valued by their families than stay-at-home mothers (80 vs 73%);

♣ Higher socio-economic mothers of today feel more valued by family than lower socio-economic mothers (80% v 74%). This may be linked to the response on working versus stay-at-home mothers, with mothers from higher socio-economic backgrounds shown to be more likely to work outside the home;

♣ When mothers of today were asked about their views on how society valued their role as a mother, a clear and strong divergence emerges between working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. 55% of working mothers felt valued by society versus 40% of stay-at-home mothers.

The results suggest that families and society have a declining sense of value for the role of mothers. The contrasting results between mothers of today and mothers of the past are compelling and pose huge socio-cultural questions: Why do mothers feel less valued? If they are less valued, why is this happening?

The results show that a significantly higher number of working mothers feel valued by society than stay-at-home mothers. This reflects the ongoing discourse of the failure of society to adequately recognise the work undertaken by mothers in the home.

Today’s mothers’ confidence in their role Mothers today have access to a wealth of information and resources on how to raise their families, much more so than in the past. However, whilst one might expect that the reassurance of this advice has given today’s mothers more confidence in their child-rearing abilities, Sudocrem’s research indicates the opposite is the case.

Today’s mothers worry much more about how well they are raising their children than their own mothers did; even to the extent that mothers negatively compare themselves to other mothers as they rear their children. Today’s mothers’ concerns about their child-rearing abilities

♣ Over a third of mothers (36%) worry either every day or a lot about how well they are raising their children;

♣ 47% worry a little;

♣ 17% of today’s mothers rarely or never worry about how well they are raising their children.

Mothers comparing themselves with other mothers ♣ 19% of today’s mothers compare themselves with other mothers every day or a lot; ♣ 48% a little;

♣ 34% compare rarely or never compare themselves.

Mothers today are much harsher on themselves
 ♣ 30% of today’s mothers compared themselves negatively to other mothers, compared with only 9% of grandmothers.

Mums…. We really need to give ourselves a break!

Originally published at themword.ie on November 14, 2017.