Working Mums Suffer Double Guilt: Being a Poor Parent and a Poor Employee

Working mothers are plagued with double guilt which makes them feel worried about neglecting their children and concerned that motherhood makes them bad employees. A study by Bar-IIan University in Israel, investigated the way American middle-class families balance family and work experiences. It revealed that working mothers struggle more about their job while at home than fathers. Mothers had also more negative thoughts about their family while at work.

Working Mothers Suffer More From Mental Labour Than Men

Both parents are thoughtful and caring about their families, but only mothers appear to suffer more from stress and negative thoughts.

Mothers were found to engage in mental labour thinking, namely thoughts and concerns that impair performance, making it hard for people to concentrate and sleep – in roughly 29 hours per week. On the other hand, working fathers spent 24 hours per week engaged in it.

Overall, it seems that because mothers still have a primary role in childrearing and housework, when they think of family matters, they tend to focus on the less pleasant aspects of it and are more likely to worry about being a poor parent.

Assistant Professor Shira Offer said “I thought that highly educated fathers holding professional and managerial positions would often be preoccupied with job matters when doing things such as housework or during their free time. It appears, however, that fathers are quite adept at leaving their work concerns behind and are better able to draw boundaries between work and home. I believe that fathers can afford to do that because someone else, namely their spouse, assumes the major responsibility for the household and childcare”.

Celebrity Working Mums Have Guilt too…

Victoria Beckham, mother of four children, talked about her guilt of balancing her parenting duties with managing her clothing empire at London’s Vogue Festival. She confessed "I think you feel so torn, don't you? But I've got great people who handle my schedule and everything does revolve around the children".

The TV host Lorraine Kelly also admitted that she “suffered terribly from working mother guilt”, stressing that she missed out on precious moments with her daughter Rosie and that sometimes she was 'desperate' to be with her. She added that “I remember sitting on delayed trains, desperate to be back at home with her. Although I've always turned up for work and never asked for time off”. 

On the whole, it seems that working mums are trapped in ‘double burden’ guilt as they strive to excel as professionals and shine as mothers. On the other hand, working fathers are better at balancing work and family life. 


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