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Women look to their mums

Women look to their mums when deciding whether to work outside the home

Dr Jacinta Byrne-Doran is a psychology lecturer at Waterford Institute of Technology, and author of A Qualitative Study of Working Mothers in Ireland: An Exploration of 'Lived Experiences'.

"I feel reflections of adult daughters on their own mothers' choices highlights the tensions involved when it comes to seeking out what's best for mum," says Dr Byrne-Doran.

"Four out of eleven women, interviewed as part of my study on working mothers, relayed their experiences of their stay-at-home mothers as having lived their lives through their children and husbands.

"As adults now, these women felt that their stay-at-home mothers relied heavily on their daughters as their outlets and connection to the world. The question of role models is often cited as significant to the lack of female leaders across the board or, in fact, across the 'boardroom'.

"One adult daughter highlighted how her choice of weekend shift work was borne out of her own need to model her mother who stayed at home and cared for the family.

"Let's call her Mary, who is married with three children, and who feels that her weekend shifts allows her the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mum through the weekdays; taking in the daily activities of running the home, the school runs and beyond, while the weekend shifts meant a shift in parenting for the children, from Mary (mum) to daddy.

"Mary stated that, 'The nights are very hard but it's important for me, it's important for the children and I think it's important for my husband'.

"As an adult and a working mother, Deirdre is one of seven mothers within this research who experienced their mothers working outside the home. As Deirdre said, 'I didn't know any different'.

"With two young children herself, Deirdre works full time outside the home and stated that 'it's good for her children to see her going out to work'.

"In conclusion, adult daughters clearly saw their mothers as role models when making their own choices."