In this hectic world, it so often seems that we value what is not important (big car, fancy house) and devalue the most important things (time with our family and friends). And as we spend Christmas with our families in snow-covered Buffalo, this time underscores what is most important to me. Even though I often struggle with floundering, non-existent career, I’m so grateful that I get to raise my son.
That seems like such a strange thing to say. It makes it seem like it's a privilege instead of a right as a parent. But more often that not, parents do not get to raise their kids. In 2004, 70 percent of women with children under 18 years of age were in the work force, compared to 27 percent in 1955. And of those currently working, "only 16 percent say they would choose to work full time if they felt they had the choice," according to the January 2006, Sojourners Magazine cover story called, "Taking Back Our Kids: Child rearing, never an easy endeavor, has become in many ways a countercultural activity." (free registration required)
How did we get here? How did something so valuable as raising our families end up in the backseat? Or how did we get to a place where parents don't feel they have a choice in the matter?
Much of it comes down to our government not caring enough about its future. It has done little to preserve manufacturing jobs in this country. It has done little to curb the "womb to tomb" adverting overload, which overwhelms influential kids with advertising, increasing the wants that families have. And it would rather spend money on war than on benefits that would revamp the way the American families live, such as a separation of job and health care and longer, better-funded maternity leaves. At the same time, real wages have declined by 10 percent from 1973 to 1993, according to the magazine, leaving families with less money.
So what does this have to do with moms working? Families are making less, there are fewer jobs, and advertising has increased people's expectations about what they should have. And many families find that the only way to do this is to have two incomes.
The more I think about the policies of our government--especially the Republican party who claims to be so "pro family"--I'm disgusted and disappointed that the priorities actually sacrifice families and instead focus on short-term gains, personal vendettas, and profits for the wealthy and corporate America.