mothers and athers eeling as though they must gure out how to do theirparenting jobs largely on their own.Over the second hal o the twentieth century, the United States sawwidespread changes in women’s labor orce participation, in the time thatathers and mothers devote to their children, and in public attitudes towardthe public and private roles o men and women.
In an eort to get moreschooling, get established in a job, and nd the right partner, many youngmen and women in the United States are taking more time to get marriedand to have their rst child. Men and women are marrying on average aboutve years later than they did in 1970. The age at which a woman has herrst child rose rom about twenty-one in 1970 to twenty-ve in 2006.
Laterchildbearing is especially true or college-educated women. Their averageage at the birth o their rst child is more than thirty.Parenthood has also become a more intense and expensive experience.Today’s parents devote more time and money to the parenting enterprisethan did earlier generations. In the United States, it is estimated that resi-dential mothers and athers now spend 50 percent more time with theirchildren than they did in 1975. According to 2008 gures rom the U.S.Department o Agriculture, the average amily spends $221,190 on eachchild, up rom $183,509 in 1960.
At the same time, as parenthood is start-ing later, people are having smaller amilies, and people are living longer,the intense experience o being a parent o children in the home now coversa smaller portion o the adult lie course than it once did.Parenthood can also be more isolating than it used to be. Recent increasesin out-o-wedlock childbearing, cohabitation, and divorce make men andwomen much more likely to bear or rear children outside o marriage andto raise them alone. The retreat rom marriage has been especially commonamong Americans without a college degree. One study ound that morethan 42 percent o children o less-educated women spend some time out-side o a stable, married amily in their rst ourteen years o lie, comparedto just 19 percent o children born to college-educated women.
While mostsingle parents have less help with the demanding tasks o child-rearing, evenmarried parents today have less help rom extended amily and their com-munity than did parents in previous eras.These changes in parenthood have made some aspects o the contempo-rary transition to parenthood especially daunting. For many o us, there isno longer a shared script when it comes to marriage, work and amily, andhome lie. The sacrices that come with parenthood can be mystiying oradults who may have spent a decade or more living outside o a amily and