Today’s American mom is resilient and optimistic but deeply concerned about the complexities of modern life and the environment in which she is doing her job according to a non-partisan survey of more than 1,000 mothers released today.

The Shriver Report Snapshot: Insight into the Resilient American Mother reveals the modern mother is optimistic in her own strength and resolve to raise independent and caring children but challenged by the shortcomings of the entrenched institutions meant to support her.

In America today, more than half of all mothers are living paycheck to paycheck. Nearly two thirds of working moms say that the American business culture makes it “nearly impossible” to juggle work and family life. Mothers are torn on the role of social media and technology and are taking on a lion’s share of housekeeping and parenting responsibilities. Overall two thirds of mothers believe that their children are less safe than they were as children and most say it is harder to be a mother today than it was in their parent’s generation. In fact, a majority (53%) say America is becoming a worse place to raise children while only 15% believe it is getting better.

Yet, despite growing concerns about the challenges their children face – including declining moral values, violence in schools, sexual predators and bullying – most mothers express confidence about raising their children and are strikingly optimistic about their children’s future. Nine of ten moms report they are at least “somewhat” optimistic about their children’s future, and over half say they are “very optimistic.” Amidst this backdrop, the conflicted, yet resilient, American mom sees education reform as the best hope for their children’s future and the top priority for leaders and lawmakers to address.

These findings are the result of a national survey commissioned by Save the Children, Save the Children Action Network and Shriver Media and conducted online by the national polling group, PSB, in March 2016. More than 1,050 mothers who are likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election participated in the survey, with a margin of error of ±2.47%.

The findings come in the middle of a turbulent presidential election race in which the gender gap in voting between men and women is likely to become a significant factor in the November general election. In 2012, nearly 10 million more women than men voted for president. The gap could widen even further this fall when more than 20 million mothers with children living at home – more than 1 in 4 of all likely women voters – are expected to vote for president, making mothers who vote a sizable but often overlooked segment of the electorate.

According to the survey, most moms believe it is getting harder to be a parent today compared to previous generations and they worry about a host of social ills including a weakening economy, shifting American values, increased violence and a decline in the quality of education. In fact, when asked to identify the most important issue for the next president, mothers overwhelmingly cited education reform including making college more affordable, ensuring a fair chance to succeed in school and increased access to high quality early childhood education. Given all this, the survey also shows that American moms remain remarkably resilient and “optimistic”, believing that their children will achieve success through hard work despite many challenges.

“As a mother of four and an advocate for women’s empowerment, I am thrilled to partner with Save the Children and the Save the Children Action Network to share this Snapshot on the modern American mom,” said Maria Shriver founder of Shriver Media and the Shriver Report Special Editions and Snapshots. “American mothers are resilient, tough and optimistic but political and business leaders – all of our institutions – need to adjust to the needs of the modern American family so that mothers and their children can not only survive but can thrive in today’s complex environment.”

“Clearly, moms believe it’s much harder to raise kids today than it was in the past. But moms of all political persuasions see education reform as the number one task of the next president,” said Mark Shriver, President of Save the Children Action Network. “In fact, 83 percent of moms – Republicans, Democrats and Independents – said they would likely support a political candidate who is in favor of expanding quality early childhood education programs in the U.S., which they believe is critical to America’s future. These moms know that all kids deserve a strong start in life.”

“This Mother’s Day it’s important to not only celebrate moms, but also to really listen to what they need,” said Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children. “This poll tells us that women are feeling a lot of pressure, and are demanding more from their partners, workplaces, and elected leaders. I’ve met mothers across the U.S., some hanging on by a thread, and it’s clear that if we want to see stronger families and communities, then we need to support mothers because they are the backbone of society. We can’t underestimate the power of a mother. Some of our most critical programs to support children, schools and communities are created and sustained by moms. As a mom myself, I want to continue to help support mothers because if we support the moms, then we help to create stronger families, communities, and our country.”

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