New Deal for the Family

July 25, 1986

Report Outline
Juggling Motherhood and Jobs
Feminists Reconsider Aims
Pro-Family Politics

Juggling Motherhood and Jobs

Since the early 1970s, the abstraction that is “the family” has been beset by angry extremists. First, radical feminists reviled it as an instrument of male oppression. Then, in reaction, radicals on the political right carried it into battle in crusades against abortion and other real or perceived evils. So great was the ideological tumult that many people wondered if the venerable institution of the family were not doomed to imminent extinction, a fear that enhanced the strength of “pro-family” activists.

Yet all the while, the actual American family—all the multitudes of particular families existing and coming into existence—was doing what it has always done under the pressure of social and economic change: evolving, adapting, surviving. The result is that today's family seldom resembles the “traditional” abstraction of yesteryear that family in which father works and mother stays at home with the children. Of the 63.2 million families in America in 1985, less than 10 percent fit that description.

Increasingly, American mothers have been leaving home and children and going to work. Twenty million mothers of children under 18 years old are now in the labor force. Half of the married mothers with children under three are now working outside the home; in 1970 that proportion was only one-fourth. The change has been great and rapid. So rapid, said Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo., that “it's been hard for politicians and the country to keep up with it.” She added: “I find the people are way ahead of the politicians on this. Even my generation, when we grew up, I would say most of the middle-class [mothers] had the option to stay home a couple of years with their children.…[T]oday, when you see that just the cost of housing has doubled from '74 to '84, and people's wages didn't, it brings home that very few people have that option anymore. So to have the government continually saying, ‘We're pro-family and that means that women should stay in the home and do all these things’—that may be lovely but no one can do it,”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
New Deal, Great Depression, and Economic Recovery
Feb. 20, 2009  Public-Works Projects
Jul. 25, 1986  New Deal for the Family
Apr. 04, 1973  Future of Social Programs
Nov. 18, 1944  Postwar Public Works
Apr. 12, 1941  Public Works in the Post-Emergency Period
Mar. 08, 1940  Integration of Utility Systems
Feb. 26, 1938  The Permanent Problem of Relief
Jun. 08, 1937  Experiments in Price Control
Jan. 05, 1937  Credit Policy and Control of Recovery
Nov. 27, 1936  New Deal Aims and the Constitution
Oct. 16, 1936  Father Coughlin vs. the Federal Reserve System
Sep. 25, 1936  Roosevelt Policies in Practice
Feb. 11, 1936  Conditional Grants to the States
Dec. 11, 1935  Capital Goods Industries and Recovery
Sep. 25, 1935  Unemployment Relief Under Roosevelt
Jul. 17, 1935  The R.F.C. Under Hoover and Roosevelt
Jul. 03, 1935  Six Months of the Second New Deal Congress
Jun. 04, 1935  The Supreme Court and the New Deal
Mar. 05, 1935  Public Works and Work Relief
Feb. 16, 1935  Organized Labor and the New Deal
Dec. 04, 1934  Rural Electrification and Power Rates
Oct. 26, 1934  Federal Relief Programs and Policies
Jul. 25, 1934  Distribution of Federal Emergency Expenditures
Jul. 17, 1934  Debt, Credit, and Recovery
May 25, 1934  The New Deal in the Courts
Mar. 27, 1934  Construction and Economic Recovery
Mar. 19, 1934  Price Controls Under N.R.A.
Feb. 15, 1934  Federal Promotion of State Unemployment Insurance
Jan. 10, 1934  Government and Business After the Depression
Jan. 02, 1934  The Adjustment of Municipal Debts
Dec. 12, 1933  The Machine and the Recovery Program
Dec. 05, 1933  Winter Relief, 1933–1934
Nov. 11, 1933  Power Policies of the Roosevelt Administration
Oct. 28, 1933  Buying Power under the Recovery Program
Oct. 19, 1933  Land Settlement for the Unemployed
Sep. 20, 1933  The Capital Market and the Securities Act
Jul. 18, 1933  Public Works and National Recovery
Jul. 01, 1933  The Plan for National Industrial Control
May 03, 1933  Economic Readjustments Essential to Prosperity
Apr. 26, 1933  Government Subsidies to Private Industry
Mar. 25, 1933  Rehabilitation of the Unemployed
Feb. 17, 1933  Federal Cooperation in Unemployment Relief
Nov. 16, 1932  Systems of Unemployment Compensation
Nov. 09, 1932  Policies of the New Administration
Aug. 18, 1932  Emergency Relief Construction and Self-Liquidating Projects
Dec. 28, 1931  Relief of Unemployment
Aug. 01, 1931  National Economic Planning
Jul. 20, 1931  Dividends and Wages in Periods of Depression
Feb. 19, 1931  Insurance Against Unemployment
Jan. 19, 1931  Business Failures and Bankruptcy Administration
Jan. 01, 1931  Federal Subsidies to the States
Dec. 08, 1930  Federal Relief of Economic Distress
Sep. 25, 1930  The Extent of Unemployment
May 16, 1930  Politics and Depressions
Dec. 20, 1929  The Federal Public Works Program
Jun. 08, 1929  The Federal Reserve System and Stock Speculation
Apr. 14, 1928  The Federal Reserve System and Price Stabilization
Feb. 25, 1928  The Federal Reserve System and Brokers' Loans
Women in the Workplace
Work and the Family