This article explores the ideas of low-income single mothers on certain aspects of welfare reform, namely the Marriage Promotion Act, which uses funds for the formation and maintenance of two parent families. Drawing on research with former and current welfare recipients, the author explores how the mothers felt about certain welfare reform policies while trying to understand their current work and family arrangements. Two main ideas behind welfare reform were to encourage paid work and two parent families. While the mothers acknowledged that having access to a second wage earner would help themselves and their children realize a life less complicated by monetary issues, they expressed anger and frustration at being encouraged to marry. Welfare reform dictates that families receiving assistance take personal responsibility for their low-income lives and that paid work is essential to moving a family out of poverty. The stories from the mothers interviewed for this study suggest that while they valued work and wanted to work, to combine work with being a “good mother” was difficult to accomplish. Ultimately, what these mothers suggest through their experiences is the contradiction of welfare reform—paid work does not necessarily provide independence and marriage to another wage earner also undermines independence. (author abstract)
Understanding the complexity of attitudes of low-income single mothers toward work and family in the age of welfare reform
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