Date of Award

8-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Priscilla Blanton

Committee Members

Mary Jane Moran, Julia Malia, Sandra Thomas

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to explore and describe the lived experiences of mothers living in dual-career families. Using existential phenomenology as the guiding research methodology, I interviewed 10 mothers living in dual-career families. Analysis of the interview transcripts revealed four themes that stood out as figural for participants in the study: (a) "Free time isn't really free anymore": Timing is Everthing; (b) "It's because of the support I get": Supporting Me; (c) "I feel like I'm lacking in one area all the time, just a little bit": Struggling to Find a Balance; and (d) "I know how I would do things": Knowing Myself. Each theme stood out against the ground of world, specifically the two worlds of home and work and the struggle that existed in integrating the two.

Study findings revealed that the two primary struggles faced by these mothers living in dual-career families were those associated with balancing and time. A limited amount of time necessitated a need to try to balance home and work, a balance that was not easily achieved. Mothers perceived support networks and certain personality characteristics as helpful in balancing the two worlds (although personality characteristics were perceived as disadvantageous at times). Although challenges existed for these mothers, they noted overwhelmingly that they desired to have a career. These mothers saw their careers as one of the primary benefits of the dual-career lifestyle, and it was a lifestyle they willingly chose.

Two findings from the study warrant future research. First, supportive others in the community were an integral part of the support network for mothers in the present study, and little empirical literature is dedicated to the impact of this type of support on the dual-career family. Second, participants perceived certain personality characteristics as either advantageous or disadvantageous in helping them navigate the dual-career lifestyle, and little empirical literature is dedicated to denoting the impact of individual personality characteristics on managing the dual-career lifestyle. It would behoove family scholars to be aware of these two unique aspects of the study.

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