JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

Why moms shouldn’t stay at home

August 4th, 2004 · 2 Comments

Gretchen Ritter in her piece The messages we send when moms stay home published in the Austin-American Statesmen (registration required) described why “full-time mothering is bad for children”, women, men and society.

I found her essay through my homeschooling yahoogroup and I’ve seen a number of rebuttals to her piece.

However, I wanted to link to it in order to present an opposing viewpoint on my blog.

And to say that when I read her essay, I found that I agreed with many of her points. I do think fathers should be involved, and thanks to OSAF, Ted is able to work from home and participate in family life.

I agree with her last paragraph:

Raising children is one of the most demanding and rewarding of jobs. It is also a job that should be shared, between parents and within communities, for the sake of us all.

I could try to refute the points that I don’t share. I agree that children are pressured into perfection, but I’m not sure that only occurs in homes where the mom (or one parent) isn’t employed. Certainly it is true that stay-at-home parents create a different effect on the economy and jobs, day care, libraries and schools. The same though is true for working moms. None of us live in a vacuum.

But I don’t want to argue with Gretchen Ritter. On the one hand, I believe in the choices I have made. I believe in them enough to put years of my life behind them. I can defend my choices and, at times, I have done so.

Yet when it comes to the at-home versus working mom debate, I don’t see the point of divisive argument. We are all mothers. Why should we try to segregate ourselves or cast each other into categories? Why bring out the buckets of black and white paint? We need to be united, not divided, to raise our children in community together, to share this country and world we call home. In that sense, we are all at-home moms. And we all work.

As far as I know, no one has determined the one right way to raise children that will guarantee perfection and happiness for all. Until then, I think that the freedom we have to enjoy choice provides us with different paths and different lifestyles that we should celebrate with grace, understanding and sensitivity.

Tags: motherhood

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kris Hasson-Jones // Aug 4, 2004 at 10:42 am

    I think the essay strives (but misses) to make an important point, though, which is that it’s not just about what is best for kids. It’s also about what is best for individuals and for the community.

    Some women make terrific SAH moms. I am not one of them. I’m a “good enough” mom (and also a darn good mom), but if I had stayed home, I would have been psycho and would have become overinvolved with my kids in a narcissistic way. Having a job allowed me a space, a place, and companions with whom to exercise my other talents and skills, many of which are non-parenting-relating. And as a result I wasn’t frustrated and resentful when I was doing the parenting, and I did a better job of it.

    The other thing that is missing from so many discussions of parenting is consideration of the relationship. A relationship between and among individuals, with differing needs and desires and abilities. I was not the same mom to my younger son that I was to my older son, because they are different people and we had different relationships.

  • 2 Julie // Aug 5, 2004 at 1:44 am

    Thanks, Kris, for your thoughtful comments and for taking the time to read…