When all adults were asked about working moms, however, just 16 percent said the best situation for a young child is to have a mother working full time. Slightly over 40 percent said part time was ideal, and one-third said staying home was best for kids.
Guiomar Ochoa, 38, of Chevy Chase, Md., has two young children and works full time. She says she'd rather work part time but says it's just not an option for her family.
"We just can't afford to not have two full-time incomes," Ochoa says. "We wouldn't be able to do it otherwise."
Ochoa, an international specialist with the National Endowment for the Arts, says she's doing her best to juggle her career and caring for her children.
"I've done a really good job of wearing my mom hat when I get home and putting everything aside as far as work goes and focusing on them," said Ochoa.
Most moms in the poll expressed confidence as parents. Nearly three-quarters of mothers with children under 18 said they were doing an excellent or very good job raising their children. Fathers were asked that question, too, and 64 percent gave themselves high marks.
Other findings in the poll:
—Roughly half of working mothers and fathers say they would rather be home with their children but work because they need the income.
—Fifty-six percent of working mothers and 50 percent of working fathers say it's either very or somewhat difficult for them to balance work and family.
—Forty percent of working mothers with children under 18 and 34 percent of working fathers say they always feel rushed.
The Pew Research findings are based on a survey of 2,511 adults nationwide conducted Nov. 28-Dec. 5, 2012. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.