A woman’s right to choose how to raise her own children, that is. I came across an interesting article in the Washington Post, published a few days ago, called Unleashing the Wrath of Stay- at- Home Moms. I missed the original controversy, last December, when the author published an article in The American Prospect putting forth the following premises (taken from the Washington Post article):
1) Women who quit their jobs to stay home with their children were making a mistake;
2) The tasks of housekeeping and child rearing were not worthy of the
full time and talents of intelligent and educated human beings, because:
a) They do not require a great intellect;
b) They are not honored; and
c) They do not involve risks and the rewards that risk brings.
These assumptions shocked me, frankly. Perhaps most telling is her history of how she arrived at these assumptions: She set out to research “how the
first generation of women to grow up with feminism managed their marriages … When I began my book research in 2002 by calling couples who had announced their weddings in the Sunday New York Times in 1996, I thought I’d find a bunch of female managers, lawyers, journalists and doctors. Instead, they were, as my first interviewee described his wife, ‘at home in Brooklyn taking care of’ the children.”
Even her premise is a faulty assumption; that the first generation of women to grow up with feminist mothers began marrying in 1996. It is my belief that it is much earlier, and that women who were raised by working mothers more often choose to stay home themselves to raise their own children.
The author admits she is retired with married grown children, so I assume she is older than I am — I am in my mid- 40s. But was she raised by a mother who worked full- time? Was she raised by minimum- wage day care providers? I was. My mother worked full- time. Being raised by babysitters who do not love you, who you know do not love you, who you know are only giving you basic minimum care because your mother is paying them to do so, is a horrible childhood. Going to a stranger’s house after school and not your own home, day in and day out for years on end, is horrible. I turned 18 in 1979, and then already knew that I would be a stay- at- home mom when I married and had my own children. My younger sister is a stay- at- home mom for the same reason – we hated being raised by babysitters.
I wonder how many of those women who married in 1996 were raised in day care and by babysitters, and I wonder how many chose to stay home to raise their own children because their own experience in day care was heart- wrenching. I wonder if the author asked that question. Somehow, I doubt
To be continued …