Family Groups - Women - 7 myths of working mothers
By Suzanne Venker
Review by Jerica Griff
If separating is hard for you -
set up opportunities to practice
separating. For example, arrange to drop your child off at
house additional times each week until it becomes easier for
you pick your child up, don't be overly emotional. It's OK
to act glad
to see her, but don't start crying and hugging her excessively
- to do
so only shows your child how hard separation was for you.
- E. Christophersen, Ph.D. in "Preventing Separation
No wonder children are growing
to adulthood with serious misconceptions
about commitment and attachment! The most important people
lives, parents - and particularly mothers - are being taught
leaving their children should become easy and natural. In
7 Myths of
Working Mothers, Suzanne Venker examines why increasing numbers
mothers are entering the workforce, and how this decision
their children's lives.
If motherhood was understood by
society to be a full-time job, Venker
believes it would not be regarded as something to be done
"on the side"
of a career. She is quick to acknowledge, however, that accepting
motherhood as a full-time position does not translate into
18 years out
of the workforce; it only means creatively seeking ways to
your children's schedule.
Many working mothers fail to realize
that day care centers and nannies
are raising their children, relegating the mothers themselves
role of a babysitter. Feeding the children and putting them
to sleep is
a far cry from true motherhood. As Venker writes, "The
real work of
mothers is done when no one is around." She goes on to
fallacies that keep women away from their children.
The first deception Venker tackles
is the idea that "Men have it all -
why can't we?" Men don't have it all. Many dads miss
out on a large
portion of parenting - first steps, first words, soccer games,
recitals, etc. - because their commitment to providing financially
the family means traveling, late nights at the office, and
Second, many women believe that
staying at home full-time means throwing
their education and work experience out the window. Before
have children, before they look into the eyes of their own
they have spent even one hour watching this new life sleep,
completely dismiss the idea of staying at home full-time.
they have spent the majority of their developmental years
careers. Venker acknowledges that a mother's education is
benefit to her children, but only if the mother is present
that knowledge to them. Statistics show that children of mothers
advanced degrees or work experience have a great advantage
peers. Instead of "wasting" their education, many
moms have found
resourceful ways of pursuing other interests without compromising
health and well-being of their little ones.
Third, many believe that women
who choose to stay home with their
children must be wealthy. Venker contends, however, that except
single-mother households and other specific exceptions, the
put children first has nothing at all to do with economic
everything to do with budgeting and self-discipline. In fact,
women's second income is almost entirely eaten up by commuting,
childcare, eating out, work attire, dry cleaning and taxes.
Fourth, some women believe that
their stress level in balancing work and
family could be lowered if only they had more support. The
movement completely negates this excuse. There has never been
time to be a working mom. Working mothers are often puzzled
surprised by how well-behaved the children of full-time moms
they wonder why their kids are having trouble in school. But,
argues, as with anything else in life, one cannot expect the
outcome with an eighth of the time investment. No company
would allow an
employee to hire someone else to do her own job, so how can
expect to hire someone else to raise her own offspring?
Fifth, many women claim that they
are better moms because they work.
Venker counters with the argument that consistency is the
controlling factor in the health and well-being of children.
removed from the home, working mothers often neglect kids'
(proper amounts of sleep, healthy diets, regular exercise,
discipline, help with schoolwork, etc.) because they are unable
to those needs themselves. How is this being a better mom?
wonder why kids are falling asleep in school, overweight,
or coming home
with less than flying colors on their report card.
The sixth myth of working mothers
is the claim, "My children just love
day care." Psychiatrist John Bowlby disagrees: "A
home must be very bad
before it can be bettered by a good institution." Because
a basic desire for the familiar, red flags should appear when
do not want to go home with their parents. As anyone who has
children can attest, the things children claim they want are
the best things for them, whether it be candy, staying up
or playing video games all day.
The final deception of working
mothers, according to Venker, is the idea
that women can "have it all planned out." Thus many
women plan their
lives around their careers while postponing beginning a family.
wrongly assume that fertility and children will fit as easily
planners and lifestyle as any other appointment. Venker encourages
women instead to choose careers that are conducive to motherhood,
live near parents or siblings who could help out with creative
schedules, and to be financially responsible. Taking these
make the transition to motherhood smoother when the time arrives.
It is distressing that the incredibly
fulfilling, joyful responsibility
of motherhood is often looked upon as a dull waste of an intelligent
woman's time. Venker does an excellent job fighting back against
society's prejudices. Her hope is that anyone reading 7 Myths
Mothers will encouraged by the mounting evidence that the
best place for
the next generation is right at home. Mothers who are the
cultivators of knowledge for their children will no doubt
Jerica Griff, a Spring 2004 Witherspoon Fellow with the Family
Council, is currently interning with the Georgia Family Council.
a recent graduate of Colorado State University with degrees
Administration/Marketing and Music.