07-18-2004, 01:17 PM
Joined on: Jun 2004
Location: State of Confusion
I guess we're destroying society... (eyeroll)
Ok hold your breath and count to ten while you read this... this person's thinking is so backwards that at first I was angry when I read this, then I was furious, then I was laughing at how absurd the whole thing was and now I am just sad that there are women and men in our society who actually believe this kind of crap... sigh.
Ritter: The messages we send when moms stay home
By Gretchen Ritter
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
"Well, I could have just stayed home and baked cookies." In the
firestorm that followed her comment, Hillary Rodham Clinton learned
that you should never deny the virtues of stay-at-home motherhood.
Nowadays, the candidates' wives prove their maternal merit by
competing in a cookie cook-off every four years. In the decade or so
since this line was uttered, women's rights advocates have grown
silent on the topic of motherhood. Few dare to criticize the new
stay-at-home mom movement recently discussed on this page in the
It is time to have an honest conversation about what is lost when
women stay home. In a nation devoted to motherhood and apple pie,
what could possibly be wrong with staying home to care for your
Several things, I think.
It denies men the chance to be involved fathers. This is a loss for
them and a loss for their children. What does it mean when fathers
are denied the opportunity to nurture their kids in ways that are as
important as their work? What do the children miss when they don't
have fathers changing their diapers, picking them up from school,
coaching soccer, making breakfast or dinner and doing homework with
them? On both sides, the answer is too much.
Women who stay at home also lose out - they lose a chance to
contribute as professionals and community activists. Parenting is an
important social contribution. But we need women in medicine, law,
education, politics and the arts. It is not selfish to want to give
your talents to the broader community - it is an important part of
citizenship to do so, and it is something we should expect of
Full-time mothering is also bad for children. It teaches them that
the world is divided by gender. This sends the wrong message to our
sons and daughters. I do not want our girls to grow up thinking they
must marry and have children to be successful, or that you can only
be a good mother if you give up your work.
Nor do I want boys to think that caring for families is women's work
and making money is men's work. Our sons and daughters should grow
up thinking that raising and providing for a family is a joint
enterprise among all the adults in the family.
The new stay-at-home motherhood movement parallels the movement to
create the "perfect" child. It's not just that mothers are home with
their children; they are engaged with their children constantly so
they will "develop" properly. Many middle-class parents demand too
much of their children. We enroll them in soccer, religious classes,
dance, art, piano, French lessons, etc., placing them on the quest
for continuous self-improvement.
Many of these youngsters end up stressed out. Children should think
it is all right to just hang out and be kids sometimes. They should
learn that parents have interests separate from their lives as
parents. And we should all learn that mothers are not fully
responsible for who their children become - so are fathers,
neighbors, friends, the extended family and children themselves.
Finally, the stay-at-home mother movement is bad for society. It
tells employers that women who marry and have children are at risk
of withdrawing from their careers, and that men who marry and have
children will remain fully focused on their careers, regardless of
family demands. Both lessons reinforce sex discrimination.
This movement also privileges certain kinds of families, making it
harder for others. The more stay-at-home mothers there are, the more
schools and libraries will neglect the needs of working parents, and
the more professional mothers, single mothers, working-class mothers
and lesbian mothers will feel judged for their failure to be in a
traditional family and stay home their children.
By creating an expectation that mothers could and should stay home,
we lose sight of the fact that most parents do work - and that they
need affordable, high quality child care, after-school enrichment
programs and family leave policies that allow mothers and fathers to
nurture their children without giving up work.
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.
Ritter is director of the Center for Women's and Gender Studies at
UT and an associate professor of government and women studies.