Poll: Work, Worry and Accomplishment Define Mothering

Own Moms

All these views feed into moms' relationships with their own mothers, an area in which the word "complex" might work. Just 35 percent of moms say they had an excellent relationship with their own mothers when growing up. It's better now --51 percent say their current relationship with their mother is excellent. But, as noted, many more moms, 69 percent, say they have an excellent relationship with their kids. (What the kids themselves say is for another survey.)

One aspect of that changing relationship is that today's moms are more apt to think of their own mothers as friends than as mothers, 50 percent to 35 percent. That looks to be a healthy thing: Women who had an excellent relationship with their mothers while growing up, and especially those who have an excellent relationship with their mothers now, are most likely to think of them mainly as friends.

Still, as important as it is, a great relationship in childhood is not a prerequisite for a great mother-daughter relationship in later life. Among women who had an excellent relationship with their mother while growing up, 86 percent still have an excellent relationship with their mothers now. Still, among those whose relationship growing up was just "good," 40 percent have improved that to an excellent relationship now -- many fewer to be sure, but still a substantial number.

Gift of Gab

Intergenerational relationships among mothers are, among other things, sufficient to keep plenty of phone companies profitable. Eighty-three percent of moms with kids at home talk with their own mothers at least weekly, including 37 percent who do so once or more a day, and an additional 31 percent who talk with their mothers a few times a week.

What do they talk about? Six in 10 moms turn to their mothers for advice about life in general; 53 percent, for parenting advice. Fewer, 33 percent, ask their mothers for advice about marriage or partnerships; doing so is much more common among younger moms, who may still be working out the kinks.

Advice does flow, unasked, in the other direction: 60 percent say their mothers sometimes give them unsolicited parenting advice. Surprisingly, slightly more call that helpful (46 percent) than call it annoying (38 percent). Younger moms, and those with younger kids, are more apt to see it as helpful; at-home moms are most apt to say it bugs them.


A final result, like some others in this survey, turns conventional wisdom on its head. A minority of mothers, 38 percent, say -- egads! -- they sometimes feel like they've turned into their mother. But the real Mother's Day kicker is this: Among those who do say so, 68 percent say the feeling is a good one.


This ABC News' "Good Morning America"/Good Housekeeping poll was conducted by telephone Jan. 30-Feb. 2, 2006, among a random national sample of 585 mothers with one or more children under 18 at home. The results have a four-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, PA.

Click here for PDF version with full questionnaire and results.

For other ABC News polls, click here.

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