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Monday, August 15, 2005

It's quality, not quantity, people

The Sarcastic Journalist found a letter to the editor in American Baby magazine from a self-righteous at-home mom. This mom basically said parents who work neglect their kids. This letter spawned a fantastic flurry of comments worth reading about the work vs. stay home mentality.

Granted, I didn't read the March issue's article "Juggling a Job and Baby," which this letter was responding too. It sounds like the people interviewed in the story didn't have much time to spend with their kids. And because I didn't read the article, I can't gauge whether or not those people love their kids.

And isn't that the most important thing? Kids need to feel loved and supported and encouraged and good about themselves.

It got me thinking about a comment that Babs made in June in response to my Parenting, the blissfully carefree way. She wrote, "I know my kid loves me and I know I'm a good mom, even if I don't spend every single waking moment with her."

And I've often wondered if perhaps working moms spend more quality time with their kids because they cherish the time they do get with them because they're away for many hours during the week. Sure I'm with Toddler in Chief, but he does get dragged around quite a bit while I'll running the household errands and puttering around trying to manage and minimize the household mess.

But even when I'm not totally present with him, I am here. I will hear the squeals of delight when he's found a fun new "parking lot" for all of his cars. And I will be there when he bumps his head on the table after bending over to pick up one of the cars from the floor.

That does not mean I'm a better or worse parent than someone who works a lot. Kids just need to be loved. They need to fell good about themselves and know that someone cares about that.

It seems that the "I'm right, you're wrong" negative attitudes must permeate into molecules inside parents brains. I think it must be some kind of survival mechanism. If we thought we were doing stuff wrong every day and out kid wasn't perfect, and our parenting choices were all wrong, we would never have more than one kid. It also affect our ability to get out of bed each day thinking that every day we spent with our kid was screwing them up.

I think the women who are at home perpetrating this kind of evil do it because they secretly wish they were working, or had the guts to work. And the parents who work secretly wish they were at home. But to make themselves feel better, that claim staying at home with your kids sets a bad example, especially to girls.

It's like those extremely homophoic people. I'm convinced they are so extreme with their hatred because they in fact are gay and aren't willing to be honest with themselves. So they need to lash out and try to make other people feel shitty about their decisions.

6 comments:

  1. I feel like such a cheerleader... GO! GO! GO!

    Really, I also think it is the "grass is always greener' disease as well. You hit hte nail on the head.

    I have been both (well, sorta). A work at home mom and a work out of the home mom. While engrossed in both categories, I as convinced the other is better. So, if you want to call me proof--I'm it. Though I won't start pointing fingers and calling names. We do the BEST WE CAN WITH WHAT WE HAVE OR WHAT WE KNOW.

    And honestly, what works for me as a mom and a person, will not work for you. So why do we insist of calling each other names and passing judgements? Just like the old saying, "Each child is different and unique," aren't we, as people, as mothers/parents different and unique? Can't we just give each other the benefit of the doubt and raise our children the best we can?

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  2. I agree completely! Some women are happier if they work, therefore making them more satisfied and in relation better mothers. Other women, like myself are happier at home, and are just as wonderful mothers. I think the biggest downfall of feminism is that women tend to attack eachother for their choises when it comes to work and parenthood. But wasn't the whole thing of feminism to have the CHOICE to stay home or to work? That is what I want to instill in my daughter, she can choose to do WHATEVER she wants.

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  3. The working moms who think SAHMs set a bad example that I've seen comment in blogs about it seem to often have had the experience that their moms were SAHMs and their moms were miserable. It would be interesting to see actual data on this rather than just random anecdotes, but it does resonate with me - if your mother seemed unhappy, regardless of what she did or didn't do, then you may be naturally tilted away from those things.

    My mom was a SAHM technically, but found a variety of activities to keep her interested (I really only remember age 8+ and I was the last of 5, not sure what it was like before me)... but she always seemed just fine with the way things were. So I grew up without any specific plans that i definitely would or wouldn't be one or the other. I certainly always planned for college, always planned to work, always planned to keep working after getting married... and then I never really thought about the "work post baby?" until a year or so before I had one.

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  4. I think cynical mom might be on to something here. My mum was not so much unhappy, as clearly diminished by being a SAHM (went from being halfway through a PhD in physics to believeing herself incapable of tutoring high school math) and that made me determined not to go down that path.

    The fact that I've ended up with a spouse being the SAHD suggests that I'm not against stay at home parenting per se!

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  5. Linda2:01 PM

    Jennifer, could you explain why you think being a stay at home parent was diminishing to your mother, but is not equally so to your husband? Why are you opposed to your mother staying home, but in favor of your husband staying home? What's the difference?

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  6. Anonymous1:54 PM

    Linda,

    I think the difference is SAHM often found themselves having that title because they also had ovaries. Cynical's husband may be better suited for full time parenting than she is. Stay-at-home parenting has been proven to work wonders, but the best person for the job wasn't always the woman. We are slowly beginning to break out of the stereotype that keeps women in the home and men in the workplace. In doing so, families and companies are benefitting.

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