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What Is the Role of the Mother in a Typical American Family?

author image Julie Boehlke
Julie is an avid outdoor enthusiast who loves to camp with friends and family. Julie spends her free time writing, working on her novel and brewing up new recipes of wine—her newest hobby. She enjoys scouring junk shops and antique boutiques in search of rare finds and one of-a-kind treasures. She collects vintage dishes and antiquarian books. Julie spends her days being followed around aimlessly by her most adoring fan—Mushu the pug. She ventures out on weekends to the remote trails and deep north woods of Michigan. Julie also enjoys exploring out of the way nooks and crannies along the great lakes shoreline.
What Is the Role of the Mother in a Typical American Family?
A mother teaching her son how to cook in the kitchen. Photo Credit: MIXA next/MIXA/Getty Images

The typical American family as a whole falls under a wide range of descriptions. Families do not always come with two biological parents and biological siblings. Some are blended or are a single-parent household. The age of the mother at the time of birth also plays a role in her nurturing skills and the way she cares for the child. The mother in the typical American household plays a significant role in nurturing, guidance and family growth.

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The role of the mother in the typical American family is to bring unity and structure to the family unit. The mother plays multiple roles in the household. The stay-at-home mom generally considers her role as mom a full-time responsibility. This includes making sure the kinds have clean clothes, a healthy meal and an educational yet nurturing play environment. A great deal of time is spent with childcare and child rearing. When kids are awake Mom is focused on their needs and discipline. When they are asleep or at school, she can focus on household chores, cleaning or running errands such as paying bills and grocery shopping. Working moms contribute financially to the household to pay for bills and the physical needs of the child. They juggle family and personal relationships along with their careers. Some mothers homeschool their children and provide not only nurturing from mothering but also by filling the role of educator.


The typical American mother could be single, a stepmother or guardian to foster children or other children living in the home. Single mothers with one or more children are responsible for the majority--if not all--of the raising, responsibility and financial well-being of their child or children. In some cases, if the father is not involved full-time, mothers assume the role of both parents.

Stepmothers are often a part of a typical blended American family. They may or may not be there for the children full-time. Their role is primarily setting rules, enforcing behavior within the range discussed by the parent’s primary caregiver or parent. Most treat the child like their own but still may have to seek approval for discipline, health care and parenting care through the biological parent.

Mothers who care for foster children or someone else’s children are oftentimes the main caregiver for the children in conjunction with the father in the home. They provide nurturing, guidance and financial support that directly relates to the well-being of the children.


The benefits of having a mother in the home in the typical American family is to have someone care for children on a physical, mental and emotional level. Another benefit is having the female mother figure showcased in the life of the child. Femininity, a female role model and a female adult presence teaches a child how to recognize the difference between male and female and how they adapt to society and parental differences.


Not all mothers in the typical American family are biologically the child’s mother. Some could be family members, adoptive moms or caregivers who take the place of a mother and assume the role of mother to the child. Some families have more than one mother figure in the household, such as an aunt or family friend who cares for the child full-time or part-time to provide assistance. Teenage mothers may rely on help from their own mothers or other family members while raising their child. Older moms may have their own older children in their 20s or 30s who help with raising and providing a mother figure in the younger sibling's life.


Showcasing talents, skills and traditions in everyday life are the best ways for a mother to pass along a legacy of herself to her children. Her hobbies, educational skills and nurturing skills as a parent are the most important things to teach and share with the child. Her role as caregiver, confidant and disciplinarian is most commonly embraced in the American culture.

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