The connections among employment and family conditions, gender, and psychological distress are examined using a power relations framework with a sample of mothers. We consider how broader societal conditions impact on mother's lives to differentially shape their opportunities and rewards, and therefore their distress. Employment, as well as income and control, benefit mother's mental health. Single parenthood per se is not a risk factor for distress. Rather, increased childcare strain, the lack of adequate financial resources and the employment opportunities associated with lone-motherhood disadvantage these women.