Sunday, May 10, 2009

Working Moms are Better than Stay-at-Home Moms

On this Mother's Day, I want to make the judgmental assertion that, on average, working moms deserve more credit than do stay-at-home moms, far more.

As I've previously written, the research is clear that in most situations, staying at home beyond the first few months, doesn't help the child. (I append a list of references at the end of this article.)

Beyond the research, logic makes clear that in many cases, the child, the mom, the domestic partner, the workplace, and the larger society are better served when moms work full-time on remunerative work.

Benefits to the child

The working mom's child is less likely to be self-absorbed, with a sense of entitlement, because Helicopter Mom is not 24/7, hovering at Junior's beck and call.

Compared with a working mom, a smaller percentage of a stay-at-home mom's interaction with her child is likely to be quality time. If you've worked outside the home all day, you're more likely to be glad to see your child, really pay attention, patiently teach your child, and simply enjoy him or her, which your child can feel. If you've been with your child 24/7, you may not be as positive or present.

The working mom's child is more likely to become self-efficacious. As I mentioned, stay-at-home moms tend to be helicopter moms, hovering, ostensibly to protect the child but often veering into overprotection. Why would stay-at-home moms be more likely to be overprotective than working moms? Because they don't have a worklife to provide additional meaning to their life, they may be bored and/or want to justify the usually cushier life that stay-at-home moms have--more flexible schedules, time during the day for some pleasure, no long commute to face not-particularly-meaningful and/or difficult work, nor a fire-breathing boss seething, "Where's that report!"

The working mom's child is also more likely to benefit because the child gets to see a role model of a person who can, beyond being a housewife, also earn money and be productive outside domestic tasks--even if it's just, for example, as a bill processor. Even that mundane job is of real value--helping ensure that people pay and receive what is fair.

Finally, the working mom is a more interesting person to her child than the stay-at-home mom because mom has seen more of the world than just the four-walls of her home, the play group, the lunch at the mall with a friend, etc.

Benefits to the working mom

Many stay-at-home moms admit that staying home "turns my brain to mush." Working outside the home helps keep you vibrant.

Stay-at-home moms have no income power, which cedes too much control to her domestic partner. That partner appropriately claims more control of what gets spent. And if the partner leaves, the stay-at-home mom has the Herculean task of trying to convince employers that a resume whose most impressive feature is volunteering for the PTA should be hired over the dozens or hundreds of applicants who have a more substantive work history.

The working mom also benefits because she feels more productive. Because, per the above, it's very likely that your child will be no worse if you go to work, stay-at-home moms, in the privacy of their thoughts (if they'll allow themselves to be honest with themselves) realize they've not only not been productive, not making a contribution to society, they've been parasites--relying on someone else to take care of them, even though they're able-bodied, compus-mentus adults. If there were two clones of me lying on my deathbed--one who was a stay-at-home mom, the other who was a working mom--I know I'd feel better about myself knowing I had been productive beyond being a mother and housekeeper.

Benefits to the domestic partner

The working mom's domestic partner benefits because, especially if there's a child or three, it's ever more difficult to make ends meet on one income. The working mom reduces the terrible stress that sole breadwinners often experience. It's well acknowledged that stress kills and so if a domestic partner truly loves her partner and doesn't just say so, working on a remunerative job may well save his or her life. Also if a mom is working, that gives her partner a greater chance of choosing a career based not so heavily on how much money it will earn but also on whether it's rewarding. So many of the most rewarding careers (for example, those in the arts) pay poorly so the partners of stay-at-home moms are forced to forgo them in favor of more remunerative but often less fulfilling jobs, for example, in sales, advertising, insurance, accounting, plumbing, finance, heavy industry, etc.

Benefits to the workplace

The workplace benefits because better-quality work gets done when employers can hire from a larger pool. Would-be stay-at-home moms can add immeasurably to the workplace.

Benefits to society

Society as a whole benefits when moms work. The products and services we buy are better when employers can hire from the full pool of people, including would-be stay-at-home moms. Also, because moms, on average, feel better about themselves when working outside the home, they're psychologically healthier and thus more likely to treat themselves and others well.

The need for expanded, excellent child care

I want to stress that I believe it is a joint parent/employer/government responsibility to provide excellent child care. That would be a far wiser user of ObamaDollars than propping up GM, Chrysler/Fiat, irresponsible banks, and people who took on more mortgage or credit-card debt than they could afford.

In sum

In sum, on this Mothers Day, I want to salute the millions of working mothers and exhort those stay-at-home moms who think their child and they will be better off if they stay at home to reread this article and consider joining us in the workplace: you, your child, your domestic partner, the workplace, and society as a whole will likely be the better for it.

* * * * *

Here are the research studies I found on the question of whether it's wiser for moms to stay at home or become a working mom.

A study titlted Caring and Counting by Tracey Reynolds, Claire Callender and Rosalind Edwards found that "the mother's work had a positive impact on their family relationships. The mother's employment provided skills and resources that meant they could meet their children's emotional, developmental and material needs better. Their relationship with their partner was enhanced because they shared the financial burden of providing for their family and had more common interests."

The book, Ask The Children, is based on in-depth interviews with 600 parents and more than 1,000 children in the third through twelfth grades from diverse backgrounds. It found that "having a working mother is not predictive of how children assess their mothers' parenting skills, based on a number of attributes strongly linked to children's healthy development and school success. These include 'being someone I can go to when I am upset' and 'knowing what is really going on in my life.'" This study's results were reported to the public in a cover story in Working Mother magazine called "Hey Moms, Drop the Guilt!" Its core assertion: millions of children with working moms do just fine. What counts most is quality time: reasonably consistent, loving, limit-setting but not punitive parenting, even if it begins after the workday.

Here are links to additional research indicating that, if anything, kids and moms benefit when mom works outside the home:


Anonymous said...

I don't know if I agree with you. I thought after having my baby I would return full-time to work. But everything changed once the child was born. It seemed really strange for me to pay somebody else 1,000 a month to care for my own child. I think I will return to work full-time when the baby is in pre-school.

Micah & Sarah said...

You make some valid points but I would say whether a mother works outside the home or not doesn't make her a better mom. There are good and bad mothers who do both. I also salute mothers who choose to be stay-at-home moms when that is what they think is best for their child.

love is what matters.

Home Survey said...

I believe Working from Home Moms are much better as it gives a sense of independence while building the family values.

My observation is that Moms are one who holds the family together but the society seems to downplay that.

If you listen to John Lennon's songs about "Woman is the Nigger of the World", you would understand why we "wrongly" create the society that we are in.

Thanks for the articles.

Jose Corella said...

Valid points and I agree with most of them. That said, I'm sure there is an equal amount of research that support the counter argument: infants in childcare often have more sickness, lower growth rates, etc.

What I have seen more (and I'm more in favor of) is Moms choosing to going back to work once the child is in Kindergarten (or pre-school as Anon posted above). I think it all boils down to "choices". My wife (an uber-talented, soon to be pre-med) and I BOTH chose for her to wait until our kids were in school after discussing all the points in your article. Communication and trust were / are the foundation to making the work / stay at home decision for us.

PS. Kudos to single Moms out there (mine included!) who sometimes didn't / don't have those choices available. I love you Mom.

Working PT said...

I agree with many of your points, however with day-care costing upward of $1,200 a child, many women don't make enough to cover the expense and the hassle of working.

I work part-time (30 hours a week), mainly for my own sanity and to keep my skills sharp so I remain employable. However I only work part-time because the coordination, appointments and general household management is up to me. Also, because I work there are more people to manage, the nanny, gardner, cleaning person etc. (Yes I'm very lucky).

For our family, the focus is on my husband's career so having the flexibility with that extra 10 hours a week, means less impact on my husbands worklife because I can schedule the kids appointments, etc during my off time.

Paul said...

"Better" by who's interpretation? I am a child of a stay at home mom and we're working hard so my wife can do the same.

Why? We have our kids in a weekend, parent participation school and one thing I've learned it is that "best for kids" is always open to interpretation. For example, the school advocates hugs and silence from Dad when child falls and gets hurts (instead of talking about what happened and that the child is ok); worse (in my mind), they shower attention on the antagonist in a scuffle, dealing with the child who hits or pushes, while ignoring the one affected. No teaching of an apology, no acknowledgment of the fact that the one scorned is the one in the right; the one abusing gets attention.

Now, right or wrong, the school very clearly advocates that their way is right. Kids shouldn't be taught to apologize but to learn sympathy. We must deal with the child causing problems, not the one affected.

At the end of the day, they are raising kids who will end up with attributes that I don't necessarily care to impart - being bad gets attention, there is no such thing as responsibility to others (apologizing) because being sympathetic is more important.

What's my point (as that has so little to do with your article)? There is no right or wrong; there is no BETTER.

What kind of kids do you want? Mom not being around to nurture, teach, and help kids has consequences (good and bad). Mom working might mean more income (then again it might not).

All I know is that people are more selfish than ever before, less attentive to others, kids treat adults as equals and without respect, divorce rates sky rocketing, family values a hot political topic because frankly there are so few. And more moms are in the work force.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all advocating Mom needs to stay home but I read that there is some correlation between no parents at home with kids and the adverse consequences. Mom or Dad, kids are impressionable and you only get one go at them. Who's raising them? You or someone else?

Robyn said...

Thanks for this article, Marty. I think PT or FT, it doesn't matter. It's better for everyone in the family, especially once the child/ren hit preschool. Mom needs independence and fresh skills, because you never know disaster could befall in the future.

And us working moms hear the other side so often, it makes us feel bad. And nobody needs to be made to feel bad.

Claudette said...

I'm not only a working mom, I'm a single, working mom. We do double duty. As a result my son is very mature for his age and very independent. The only downside for my son is that to him, many of his friends (in 2-parent, stay-at-home-mom homes) seem immature; they can't/don't have to do for themselves. He can cook (well, uh, Ramen), do laundry and is my co-handyman around the house. Kids of single, working moms have to grow up a little faster. And I know I have his respect and even adoration for being a strong and independent woman.

Sorry, I got slightly off the subject. But then we were talking about how kids benefit having a working mom, right?

Claudette said...

Paul, let me see if I understand this: You have your kids in a weekend, parent participation school that you seem to totally disagree with?! They give attention to the antagonizer, which teaches his/her classmates that negative behavior will get you some attention. Meanwhile the victim is sitting in a corner somewhere licking his/her wounds?! And no apology -- the one thing we need to learn not only to do, but do sincerely and honestly.

Your kids are still there?

Mmmm, what's wrong with this picture?

Sasha Grinshpun said...

Marty, many thanks again for our interview on Sunday night. I wanted to offer two additional resources specific to mothers returning to work:

1) The best book is Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work:::

2) The best website is The site offers a number of resources like how to use social networks, e.g. LinkedIn, to find jobs). The group has also begun relaunch circles around the country for those who want to jumpstart their reentry.

Hope this gives additional guidance to mothers who want to or need to return to work.

Anonymous said...

Why do Moms always seem to be the ones having to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of the children? Where are the fathers in these scenarios?

This is an important issue because women who work and have children demand more rights from their employers when really it's the fathers who should be stepping up and shouldering their share of the responsibility. Otherwise, the rest of us have to absorb the added stress of taking on workloads when women with children take extended time off work for maternity leave. Having children is a luxury, not a necessity.

As an aside, I've seen so many female colleagues take years to go through graduate school then wind up staying home as full-time Mom's soon after getting married. It seems such a terrible waste.

Chrissy S said...

Well, I've done both. I have two children. For both kids I was fortunate to stay home with them until they reached the age of 1.5 years old. Then it was off to daycare they went. At that point I felt that they needed the interaction with the other children. It helped so much with them developing vocabulary, independence, and soical skills. As for me, going back to work was a good thing. At that point I felt about ready to get back out into the working world and have some adult interaction. Also, being independent and helping my husband out with the bills is liberating at the least. I think it's a good balance for me and my kids and we do appreciate the quality time we get now when we're all at home together. Being able to stay with them while they were at their most vulnerable (infants) stages was very important to me, and if I have more children I would again stay home with them at least till they start walking (God willing). However, I can't honestly say that a working mom is better than an at home mom. I think we all do the best with our own personal situations. For me both situations were and continue to be very challenging. So my perfect solution has been to go part time and get the best of both worlds. If you can, then why not? Works for me!

Anonymous said...

I am an adult child (now in my mid-30's) of a stay-at-home mother, and I vote for the working mother option. About 7 years ago, I came across an online article that mentioned a study which concluded that children of stay-at-home mothers are more likely to struggle financially and be less emotionally independent than those of working mothers. I have been unable to find the article again since, but indeed most of the people I know who grew up with stay-at-home mothers are lazier and of lesser financial means. As Marty points out, this is probably because working mothers provide more connections for children and are better career models. I don't know if it reverses the pattern if a mother goes to work when the child is 5 or 8 or 10 or whatever. I also don't know what effect part-time work has on the phenomenon. I think that my experience being raised by a SAHM could have been better if my mom had not had depression, anxiety problems and low self-esteem, or if I had grown up in a more urban environment where it is easier to find work and build a good social circle. But over the years, as I read more and more stories about dynamic career mothers, I feel more and more like I missed out on something bigtime by not having a working mom.

phillyboy said...

I can not believe that anyone would agree with the notion that children of working mothers are better off than S.A.H.M. kids. Take a look at the current state of affairs in this country. The proof is in the puddin'. Many, if not all, of the sociological problems that we are dealing with in America can be directly traced to the breakdown of family values. I have found that the exact opposite of what you are saying is true. Our children have many friends and cousins who have working mothers and almost to a child they are less mature, more disrespectful of their own parents (and adults in general), extremely less disciplined and overmatched in school compared to my children and the children of other S.A.H.M. that we know. On several different occasions we had to take a friend of my daughter's home because he or she was completely out of control. I'm talking about different kids on different occasions. Every time, they were kids from families with two working parents. Where was the "improved interaction with other kids" that they were supposed to have learned from daycare? As far as my girls having respect for their mom, they know mom works her tail off. They know mom is educated. They know mom was a collegiate athlete. They know mom had a good job before they were born. In fact, they have more respect for my wife knowing that she chose to stay home with them when her options were about feeling special! You assume that everyone is a liberal and therefore values the same Marxist qualities that you value. My wife's "worth" is not measured by her ability to earn money. That's dad's job. My wife has been there for my four children for every single bump and bruise. That's mom's job. Undoubtedly there are children of working mothers who go on to become very successful. Likewise, there are children with S.A.H.M. who become total dregs. But there is no doubt that these are exceptions. Successful societies are not formed by following the exceptions, they are formed by following the rules. IMHO, mommies raising their own children is one of Mother Nature's most important rules

Anonymous said...

Pretty one-sided, but I suppose that was the intent.

Used to be, most mothers were SAHMs. Now they're in a minority.

Overall, we are a much richer society than we were 50 years ago. Have you ever asked yourself how it is that it is harder to make ends meet with one working parent than it used to be?

If you dislike SAHMs, you have cause to be happy. I am sure we will get universal government day care within a couple decades if not sooner. You'll really have to swim against the current to be a SAHM then.

The trend is clear. We're all supposed to fit within some institutional hierarchy or other. For kids, a school. For adults, a corporate workplace of some kind. Succeeding within these approved institutions is supposed to be our transcendent purpose in life. If you decline to follow the plan and try to treat things in life as more important (say, raising your own kids), you'll be regarded as suspicious, probably unhealthy, maybe even dangerous.

To me, it's not much of a vision for a society. Ah well.

Meep said...

I'd have to agree with those who say it is best when there is an option whether to stay at home and raise your children or work outside the home and pay others to do so. In this 21st Century world, it is a narrow choice. Personally, it worked better for my children for me to remain at home. Both are now in professional positions in life with high end college degrees. But more importantly, we have a feeling of family bonding that would not exist as much, in my view, had I been too self-involved with my own career goals during their childhood. Nearly every professional person over the age of 40 has probably been raised by a mother who stayed home, so the argument that working mothers instill good work ethic is rather bogus.

But perhaps because we have now a focus on raising girls to be work force women, our daughters will look at it differently when it is their turn to bring children into the world. If we have become a society that measures the worth of a human being solely by the wages earned, then perhaps it is best to at some point allow the choice to become non-existent.

But something is diminished when we hand our infants and children over to someone else to care for and sometimes up to 10 hours a day. One rarely hears the sounds of children playing outdoors imaginatively during the summers anymore. The poetry of living is lost to schedule and car exhaust.

Scholar said...

A very provocative post. I can't help myself from assuming that you are married to a career woman. Maybe that's not fair, but you make all the classic justification arguments--but add a few I hadn't heard. Also, the research in this area is far from monolithic so it is not difficult to find a selection of evidence to support a point--so I will be careful myself with that.

I do want to say that your post illustrates a lens that puts money and public acclaim as what matters most in life. That's common and understandable. But it's not the only alternative. One could reverse this article and argue that fathers who only work part time are better fathers--as long as one doesn't really care about fame and fortune. I realize that employment can serve the public good as well--but far too many use that line of reasoning to justify neglecting the most challenging work of all--raising a child.

Sure, it doesn't take much to keep a child alive and to learn basic life skills, but it requires so much more to help a child reach his/her potential. What non-employed mothers have on their side is time and thus patience--they don't have to find the quick and convenient response, which often is less about teaching and more about controlling behavior--or purchase the child's loyalty. Sure, some won't use that time like they could, but at least they have it available. Quality time demands quantity time.

I want to point out that employed (esp. full time) mothers are much less able to fill in the needs of schools and community--countless women contribute to society in ways that do not earn money (and thus status) but that benefit everyone's children. Unfortunately, those countless hours of service go unheralded and are taken for granted--until those mothers disappear.

Fact is, most mothers are employed--so the issue is based on a false dichotomy. With children under the age of 1, it is about 50/50, but even the most traditional women these days earn some money once their children are adolescents, if not sooner. It is the young children that are most relevant here--and if people sit back and think about it, they will probably see that children are growing up these days faster than ever--and that isn't necessarily a great thing. Young children who don't have to have their lives shaped around an employment schedule have the opportunity to have a childhood, to grow up at a healthier pace, and be more willing to embrace adulthood because they don't feel like they missed out on being a child.

Marty Nemko said...

The advantages to society are not mainly about making money but about making a contribution outside the home. The case for working outside the home, full-time, is strengthened by my point that 24/7 moms often are WORSE moms--becoming the co-dependent helicopter moms who inhibit their kids' sense of efficacy, lose their tempers with their children more easily because they're with them all the time, or become poor role models because indeed, many moms say their brains "turn to mush" from being a stay-at-home mom. Finally, the kids don't get to see mom as more than just a housekeeper and mother.

Anonymous said...

Helicopter moms (and dads), like soccer moms (and dads), are a recent societal phenomenon and are not confined to working mothers or stay at home mothers. They are parents who see themselves as saving their children from the unfairness of the world and do not have the creativity to allow their own children to be creative. They feel compelled to be involved with group activities. Stay at home mothers are much more than housekeepers. I do not see my mother or my grandmothers as having been housekeepers. They were so much more, and I am grateful for their presence. That is what it is all about. Presence and taking on the full responsibility of child rearing.

But to each his own. I have worked with a lot of women who would trade their employment for being at home with their children in a heartbeat, so it works either way.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I am sick of hearing ignorant people bashing us women who choose to stay at home. I wouldn't call anyone else a bad mother simply because they chose a different path. No two families work the same way and yet most families function well. I wanted to keep working, but I found that I wasn't able to meet my own high expectations for my home, my family, and my work. I would rather do one thing well then several poorly. I know some women handle this well and I am in awe of them and have a great deal of respect for those ladies. I don't like the use of the term "helicopter mommies" as being exclusive to stay at home moms. It's simply untrue I don't want my children to believe that the world is supposed to rotate around them. Some working parents take on the "helicopter parent" role out of guilt, so it's really ridiculous that you went there. This article is simply an idiot stating that their way is better and if you aren't living the way that they live their lives you are a bad mother. My children don't see me as a housekeeper they see me as their mom. They also tell me all the time that they are proud of me and glad that I am their mommy. Sounds like I'm a real bad mother and a poor role model, huh?

Anonymous said...


Kim said...

Written by a man? Hillarious The writer is a retard. He probably wants his wife to work so he is not soley resposible for taking care of his family

Jessie said...

I've been both a stay at home mom and a working mom. As a nurse, it is easy to find work and arrange a schedule around my husband's 9-5 job. I just wanted to make a point regarding the reference to spending quality time with your kids. I recently read an article that called this "time" into question as a justification for working moms/dads to not feel guilty about not being with their children all day. Even though a stay at home mom may not make a point at a specific time of day to sit down and play with their child, it is that parent who is interacting throughout the day with them. As a mother, I CHOSE to have children, and my husband and I are the ones teaching, guiding, and instilling moral values in our children, not a paid stranger who may have completely different values. With reference to financial status, is replacing yourself with material things really going to make your child better? It is my intention to work more when my children are both in school, but never to the extent that it affects their well-being. As far as your outragous claim that stay at home moms are not productive, my children are the fruits of my labor. Their ability to do well in school and be compassionate to other people is proof of that. I agree with the other blogger who said that there are good and bad parents from both sides, and they fuel the fire to continue the arguement, so generalizations must be viewed as simply an opinion, not the truth.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why people think society is worse now when it is obviously so much better than the fifties. There is less racism, sexism and homophobia. People can achieve things they couldn't dream of 60 years ago. Child abuse was rampant back then and to make matters worse it was covered up. Women weren't expected to be intelligent they just had to get knocked up and raise children. The fifties were a horrible time of ignorance, intolerance and polio. We live in a much more civilized time. Wars, terror, murder and other horrendous issues have always happened and they will always occur.

Also kids are not being able to grow up faster these days than ever before. Less children work now then ever did in the past. We live in a society that over sanctifies children and childhood. Don't forget you are not raising children you are raising adults and we have to deal with your overly entitled "special" children spoiled by stay-at-home parents when they enter the workforce so thank you!

I always find it funny that right-wingers advocate capitalism and stay-at-home mothers. In capitalism money is the economic source and in communism it is people. Capitalist economies naturally empower and elevate those who are successful at making money. In this system stay at home moms are inherently inferior to working moms with less respect from their children and society at large.

Children of working mothers are less sexist and the daughters are more ambitious. That in and of itself makes the world a better place. Women need to be in positions of power not in the kitchen. Haven't you ever heard of it takes a village to raise a child. Children are more well-adjusted when that are surrounded by intelligent, caring adults not just their parents. They become more worldly, accepting, interesting, independent and nicer to be around.

Since personal anecdotes are prevalent in these comments. I will conclude with a few. Every time I meet someone at work who is whiny, with an overinflated view of themselves and a strong sense of entitlement they were inevitably raised by stay-at-home moms. Also never date a men raised by a stay-at-home, wise words from my working mother :-)

Marty Nemko said...

Most Recent Anonymous,

Helpful comments, filled with points not made previously. Good.

Sassi Pants Boutique said...

Well, some of you may not know if you agree with him, but I COMPLETELY DISAGREE with him!! My mother stayed at home and I am an extremely driven, independent, and am VERY open minded individual.

I had my first official job when I was 13 (several babysitting & work with dad jobs before then) and have been on my own since I was 16(my family moved from Seattle to ID & I wanted no part of that). While I lived at home I was taught how to work, and work hard. My dad is a contractor and I went to work with him (along with other siblings) whenever I could. I worked my way through high school, some college, married life, and up until my 2nd baby was born (6 1/2 months ago, my first is now 5 1/2).

I can truly say,for our family, that we benefit MUCH MORE with my being home!!!! I have seen a huge change in my 5 year old sons behaviors (for the better) and am now at home to teach him right from wrong, money responsibilities, work ethic (he now has chores, yard responsibilities, has to help with sister, etc...), general respects and kindnesses towards other people--including his parents! He now has a sense of respect & duty that he didn't have before. When both my husband and I worked 40+ hours per week we were too tired at the end of the day to deal with much--even our son!! That is no longer true and we now find our children a joy, not a burden!!

So I completely disagree with this author and truly question where he gets his literature and research!!

**That being said: I believe how a person turns out totally depends on how he is raised and taught to treat others, not weather or not his mother worked inside or outside of the home!!**

Anonymous said...

How about sequencing? For example, a women works hard on her education and career, ramps down when she has kids to PT or being a SAHM, then ramps up again as the kids go to school? The kids get to avoid daycare centers, the Mom still has a career, etc.

How about advocating for a society where women are not penalized so much for taking this route? A society where maybe mothers and fathers have more of an option to share childcare (greater emphasis on job shares, healthcare not tied to full-time work, adequate parental leave)?

Anonymous said...

Raising your children is very important, but in all honesty and reality, you don't know what the future will hold. Its easy to sit in your house/apartment with the bills all paid, food in the fridge, and clothes on your back & make judgments about other people's decisions. I'm getting tired of the argument that moms who work are "all about money & they're working to pay for the expensive house, car, etc." Food costs money. Clothes cost money. A house/apartment costs money. Many people, moms and dads, struggle to afford these necessities, especially in today's economy.

While I do agree you must do what's best for your children, making the claim that staying at home is going to "make my child a productive member of society, and therefore that's my contribution to society" is presumptuous. Your child/children will grow into adults with a mind/minds of their own, and you can't determine whether they will benefit society, or be a detriment to society. That's a determination that will be up to your child, not to you, even with teaching your child good values. That decision is still up to them.

Every mom has their reasons for being at home, or working, based on their needs and experiences. I can't presume what's "right" for everyone, only myself, and based on my own experiences.

Experience 1: A good friend of over 20 years got married, had 3 kids, and decided to stay at home for them. After 12 years, she decided to go back to work, due to her husband's hours at work being cut back. She went to school for nursing, completed her degree and her certification, and started applying for positions. Its been 8 months, and she's still looking for a job. The issue?? The places she applied to told her she didn't have enough work experience from the 12 year gap in her work history.

Experience 2: My 2nd cousin got married and had 2 kids right after high school, because she felt her biggest goal at that time was to raise a family. Her husband was on his way home from work, when he was hit by a semi, killing him instantly. The day after his funeral, she got a call from the bank, saying their mortgage payment was overdue. She had almost no work experience, and no education aside from high school, and there wasn't any family in the area to help her out in terms of childcare.

Experience 3: A close friend of my mom stayed at home to raise her 4 kids & was out of the workforce for about 30 years. She decided she wanted to start a job in accounting, and went to school, graduated, and got her CPA certification. She also applied for jobs, and was also turned down many times. The issue?? One interviewer told her straight to her face, "you're too old for the job." She's in her late fifties.

Experience 4: One of my neighbors is a stay-at-home mom of 4 kids. Her & her husband have been married for a little over 15 years. After Christmas last year, she came over for a visit & told me her husband had filed for divorce. There are equal marital laws here, but most of their assets are gone due to the bad economy (her husband lost over half of his 401K from the recession & they had to sell their boat, move to a smaller house, and get rid of their 2nd car to make ends meet). And on top of that, he's suing for custody of the kids. She doesn't know what she's going to do.

Again, people's choices are their own, but for me, I'd rather keep working.

Anonymous said...

is an article by a stay-at-home dad.

He does not explain how he came to be a stay-at-home dad, but his experience is a mix of, in his words, isolation & shame, in dealing with his image, and loving the actual child-rearing.

I'm not a parent, so this is something I can't relate to. I can't say what a better choice is.

My mother was, and still is, a working mother, but I can't say whether I would have been better off if she stayed at home. I do know that she would not have had it any other way. When she got divorced, she had to work, but she wanted to work even before then, when my father was bringing home plenty of money.

There are so many factors that determine the effectiveness of a parent and the outcome of a child that I can't be sure that whether or not a parent stays at home is key.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, excellent article with research to back up your points. Too often stay-at-home advocates point to their own personal experiences which can be short-sided and limited. Frankly, I do not believe a good mother is defined by working versus staying at home. Both can be outstanding mothers or employ extremely poor parenting skills. However, a working mother who is dedicated to her family sets an outstanding example (specifically to young women) that women can achieve great things beyond cooking, cleaning and carpoolinh. Personally, I am an educated working mother who outsources all of the mundane household tasks (laundry, cleaning, etc) so that I can stay focused on being a mother while also demonstrating to my children that mommy is a smart, accomplished and happy woman. It is a personal choice as to what works for each family. However, I would rather see an opinion, particulary if it is one or judgement, based on facts versus a small-minded opinion. The book Freakeconomics also provides some excellent fodder/research on this topic. I recommend the stay-at-home judgemental advocates read the particular section on parenting before making a snap judgement about working mothers' parenting skills.