More women staying home to care for kids - but not for the right reasons

Dr Laura Apology
FILE - This Feb. 17, 1998 file photo shows Dr. Laura Schlessinger posing during her morning talk show in her Los Angeles studio. Schlessinger is apologizing for blurting a racial slur several times during her talk show, Aug. 10, 2010. Schlessinger wrote on her Web site that she was wrong to utter the N-word. (AP Photo/Susan Sterner, File)

More women are staying home these days to care for their kids. According to research released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, the number of stay-at-home mothers has jumped to 29 percent in 2012. That’s a 7 percent increase since 1999 when the number of moms making that choice was at a modern-day low.

But it’s not exactly time for conservative radio talk show host Laura Schlessinger, author of “In Praise of Stay-At- Home Moms,”  to pull out a champagne bottle and pop the cork just yet.  

What’s driving the trend are all the frustrated moms who either can’t find jobs or else who don’t earn enough to justify paying for daycare. In Pennsylvania, the average cost of daycare for an infant in 2012 was a whopping $10,319 and $5,520 for a school-age child, according to ChildCare Aware of America.  And that’s just for a single child.

The Pew Study, which was based on an analysis of government figures, also contradicts popular thinking that stay-at-home moms are wealthier women who stay home because they've got it like that, as the saying goes.   According to the report, they tend to be less educated and less affluent than mothers who hold down jobs outside the home and have fewer options.

Other key Pew findings:

*Two thirds of stay-at-home moms have working husbands but number of unmarrieds is on the upswing.

*College-educated women are more okay with working outside the home than Hispanics, white evangelicals and those ho haven't attended college.

*Married stay-at-home moms with working husbands are more likely to give their reason for doing so as caregiving. Single or unmarried stay-at-home moms cite illness, school or inability to find work as their motivation for being a stay-at-home mom.