When the working mother effectively manages her job's demands and occupational stressors, instead of inevitably experiencing distress, she can experience growth and positive change as she faces and addresses challenges.
In the midst of concerns relating to distress, the working mother would do good to remember that removing all stressors from work is frequently not feasible nor may it always be desirable. When one recognizes that the potential for positive outcomes of the stress process exists, the potential to identify ways to manage of work-related demands and experience satisfaction, contentment and better performance in the workplace and at home increases. Recognizing, acquiring, and implementing the tools necessary to more effectively manage workplace demands that may translate into stressors, however, requires education and effort.
In the following table, Straub (2006) compares a number of common hassles working mothers may experience to numerous common uplifts they may cultivate or nurture to help them better cope with stressors in their multiple roles.
Common Hassles Compared to Common Uplifts (Straub, 2006, p. 104).
1. Concern about weight
1. Relating well with spouse of lover
2. Health of family member
2. Relating well with friends
3. Rising prices of common goods
3. Completing a task
4. Home maintenance
4. Feeling healthy
5. Too many things to do
5. Getting enough sleep
6. Misplacing are losing things
6. Eating out
7. Yard work; outside home maintenance
7. Meeting responsibilities
8. Property, investment, or taxes
8. Visiting, phoning, or writing someone
9. Spending time with family
10. Physical appearance
10. Pleasing home environment
Quinn M. Pearson (2008) argues that multiple roles can positively impact the working mother's happiness and life satisfaction in the report: "Role overload, job satisfaction, leisure satisfaction, and psychological health among employed women." Multiple roles may provide "more outlets for one's interests, abilities, values, and self-concept. Closely aligned with this perspective is the role enhancement hypothesis… which emphasizes that multiple roles can be energizing and provide opportunities for meaningful involvement" (Pearson, p. 34). The role scarcity perception, however, like the scarcity hypothesis (Straub, 2006) purports that when role demands increase, the individual's limits to time and energy may exhaust and overtax the individual. This counters the supposition noted earlier that "that the quality of roles rather than the number of roles has the greater impact on life satisfaction" (Ibid.). The subsequent effect of multiple roles on the working mother's well-being, the literature indicates, relates to the individual nature of the working mother's experiences.
Findings from the study, "Calling and conflict: A qualitative exploration of interrole conflict and the sanctification of work in Christian mothers in academia, Kerris L.M. Oates, M. Elizabeth Lewis Hall, and Tamara L. Anderson (2005) suggest that a relationship exists between spirituality and coping construct. Spirituality "has emerged as a key component of individual psychology. Its relevance to the topic of interrole conflict is suggested by its consistent connection to well-being" (Oates, Hall, & Anderson, ¶ 2). Extensive research demonstrates that working mothers frequently report they experience inner conflict between their work roles and their roles as mothers. Prioritizing work in each role helps working mothers better cope with tension realign to their interrole conflicts.
The nature of the working mother's experiences in the work world as well as in her family reflects the quality of her roles as well as her needs as a woman. It also mirrors society's expectations of the roles the working mother fills. As the quote introducing this paper asserts, the "overall conclusion seems to be that what matters most is the quality of a working mother's experiences in her various roles" (Straub, 2006, p. 109). As in the past, working women will likely continue to accept greater responsibility than working men to fulfill home and family related duties.
To best answer the crucial question: What components could contribute to help a working mother constructively cope with stress related to simultaneously caring for children and filling a role in the workplace? - the working mother must first identify her stressors. Next, she needs to appraise or evaluate the challenges those stressors present. With this knowledge and perhaps help from those who care about her, the working mother can begin to determine how to better cope with the stress inherent in filling multiple roles.
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