November 26, 2008 / 8:48 PM / 10 years ago

Single, married moms spend nearly equal time with kids

Elyse Holmes, 2, peaks out as her mother Helen Holmes votes at Madbury Town Hall in Madbury, New Hampshire November 4, 2008. REUTERS/Adam Hunger

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Single mothers spend nearly as much time with their young children as married women who have more help at home, researchers said.

They found that while single mothers may lack a large support network and often work longer hours and earn less money, they still manage to spend 83 to 90 percent of time raising their children as their married counterparts.

“We read the high numbers for everybody as suggesting that all mothers are trying to devote as much time as they can to their kids,” said Suzanne Bianchi, a co-author of the study from the University of Maryland.

“They’re trying to do the best job they can. There are just greater limits on the single mother who doesn’t have another income provider and who may, because she has less education, be unable to get as good a job,” she added in an interview.

The researchers, who reported the findings in the Journal of Marriage and Family, said they were somewhat surprised that the time difference with children between single and married women was so small.

They did the study, based on a survey of 1,821 single mothers and 4,309 married mothers, because the topic receives so much public policy attention. The single moms averaged about 39 hours per week with their children under the age of 13, versus 42 hours for married ones.

“I’d like policies that make women more self sufficient but also recognize the balance mothers of young children need between giving their children time and giving their children money,” she said.

Bianchi added that all mothers, regardless of their marital status, tend to make sacrifices in other areas of their lives in order to properly raise their children.

“We’ve done other studies that show that employed mothers get less sleep and they get less leisure,” she added.

Reporting by Claire Sibonney, Editing by Patricia Reaney

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