What Does Caring For Children Cost Mothers?

Unequal responsibility of mothers for childcare

Mothers are more likely to juggle work and childcare when a child is sick at home. Mothers are more likely to be the primary caregivers in the home. Nationally, the median annual salary for a woman working full-time, full-year is $50,982. The median annual salary for a man is $61,417, a gap of $10,435.

Despite significant improvements in women’s career prospects, the gender pay gap persists, and one of the key elements explaining why women on average earn lower wages than men is parenthood.


Claudia Goldin, author of “Career and Family: Women’s Century-Long Journey to Equity,” sums it up: “The problem is primarily, but not entirely, that kids take time and careers take time. time and that they compete for the same time. For women, time with children takes precedence over time at work.

Childcare is largely the responsibility of women, and the time women spend at home caring for children costs them career advancement and stagnant incomes. Vanek Smith, NPR host of Planet Money, puts it this way: “…the economic impact of crying babies is enormous. Child care shapes our economy and the careers of working parents in many ways. This is especially true for women. And in fact, childcare is one of the top reasons women give for not taking really intense jobs like CEOs, surgeons, or legal partners. It’s also a big part of the pay gap. Women will often choose a particular job or choose to work full time in order to be able to take care of their children. Women must organize their employment around childcare.

Shared and joint parenthood

Advances made in recent decades in shared custody arrangements support the advancement of working women and shift the burden of childcare onto both parents instead of focusing on the mother.


An empirical analysis using data from Wisconsin court records spanning more than two decades (1988-2010) shows a dramatic decline in post-divorce maternal sole custody arrangements in the United States. Updated previous analyzes showed a significant increase in shared custody (where children spend at least 25% of the time with each parent) has now replaced single mother custody as the most common parenting arrangement after the divorce – accounting for just over half (50.3%) of all cases in the most recent cohort available.

No one can argue that successful co-parenting benefits everyone involved, especially the child whose parents continue to share responsibilities after separation or divorce.

The pandemic has shifted the focus from shared parenting and equal child care contributions to the responsible mother model. When the pandemic created a childcare crisis, mothers became the default solution. Even as society begins to reopen, many mothers feel forgotten and left out. Childcare, school and other aspects of daily life remain disrupted as preschoolers cannot yet be vaccinated and government paid leave programs have expired.


The importance of both parents’ involvement in childcare responsibilities frees women from being solely responsible for childcare. This frees them to progress in the world of work.

What can a mother do when a father refuses to spend time with his child?

The short answer is “there is nothing to do”.

What can the court do when a father refuses to spend time with his child?

The short answer is “there is nothing a court can do”.


Given the economic and personal gains for women and the benefits for children of two actively engaged parents sharing their care, it seems counterintuitive that if a father refuses to spend time with his child, there is nothing the court can do about it. make him visit his child.

A court can order a mother to ensure that the child visits the father, but it cannot order the father to visit the child if the father refuses to do so. Ohio attorney Olivia K. Smith said, “You usually can’t force the other parent to exercise visitation rights if you have full custody of your child. Visitation is considered a “right”. As with other rights, such as the right to vote, you have the opportunity to exercise your right, but you cannot be penalized if you choose not to exercise this right. Your right can only be withdrawn for a good cause.

The attorney, Juan Luciano, in New York, New York, is representing the mother in a case in Brooklyn, New York, where the temporary visitation order for the father at the request of the father is only three hours twice a month, 72 hours a year, three days a year. Mr Luciano said: “It’s completely unfair to the child and the mother. The problem persists because many judges believe that “you can’t force a parent to become a parent.” It really means, usually, that they can’t force the father to become a parent. But, in fact, judges are not powerless. New York judges can enforce visitation orders through sanctions, if necessary to encourage the father to care, love and guide his child. Unfortunately, judges don’t often issue sanctions, but they can and they should.


What is the economic cost of a fatherless child?

71% of high school dropouts are fatherless; fatherless children struggle more in school, performing poorly on reading, math and thinking skills tests.

Single mothers are much more likely to be poor than married couples. The poverty rate of single-parent families in 2018 was 34%, nearly five times higher than the 6% rate for families of married couples, and that was before the pandemic, which exacerbated the economic problems of many families.

These are just some of the educational and economic costs that affect the child and the mother. For each child who does poorly academically without a father, that child’s mother must take over by attending school conferences alone or arranging child care when the child is expelled or suspended from school or loses working time and losing income.


What should be done?

This issue needs to be approached differently. It should not be a right, as Attorney Smith in Ohio said, but rather an obligation. If you cannot give your time to your child, you must donate your scholarship to benefit the child and the mother.

What about the rights of the child and the mother? Doesn’t a child have the right to a parent? To be a parent? The New York Child Support Act contains a statutory provision (CSSA) that provides for a possible downward revision of child support based on the “non-monetary contributions” the parent makes for the child. The provision is intended to be used to claim monetary credit for contributions generally recognized as extra time with the child. A parent’s lack of time with the child should provide a basis for adjusting the father’s support obligation upwards.

To respond to Mr. Luciano’s point about sanctions, the courts should see access as an obligation to be enforced, not a right to be exercised at will.


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