Monday, September 13, 2004

The War

I'm not a big Dr. Phil fan. The sound of his voice is irritating. The high chairs he puts his guests on are ridiculous. The extreme situations of his guests seem almost Maury-ish. I can only stand a few minutes before I must turn it off.

The other day he had a show about stay-at-home mothers (SAH) versus work-out-of-the-home mothers (WOH). The SAH seemed to me extremely judgmental, carrying on about how there is only one way which is her way. This is not unusual, I've heard it before. I just don't understand it. Today in the comments at Grrls site, another SAH mother named Pam went down that same extreme high road. Her quote, "She'll pay." Nice, huh?

First, how does one develop such a sense of righteousness that they have the extreme wisdom and right to determine what is best for everyone? If it works for you, great, but why do you get to decide that it must work for everyone?

Second, why the hositility? Why the anger at another woman's choice? There's something psychological going on there that I don't have the credentials to uncover.

Third, why is it always focused on the woman? Parenting choices are made by both parents. Why is the mother the evil one for working when the father is to be crowned? Doesn't either have an equal opportunity to give up working and stay home? Yet one only one is chastised. And the SAH mother usually will talk about how the child of a WOH won't know them since they spend such little time with them, while at the same time the SAH's husband is working extra hours to support their choice. Isn't it just as bad if he isn't there either? Why can he still be a good parent but a WOH isn't?

Fourth, why is this the best situation for all children? When SAH mothers describe child care, they describe something akin to a Russian orphanage where the child is dropped off for 10-12 hours a day. In reality, there is such a variety of different nurturing environments, with few children, different methods, caring teachers/care givers, and different schedules. Most WOH parents try to arrange something with staggered schedules, flexible schedules, or extended family to have a shorter period of time in daycare than what is generally assumed. Also, if the parent is going to be miserable at home all day every day, that doesn't make them a bad parent, although some SAH would disagree. By pushing that sort of belief to the far end, you can end up with Andrea Yates. That poor mother needed help, not judgments. One size does not fit all.

I understand how someone could choose to be a SAH parent. I do. I also understand how someone could choose to be a WOH parent. What I don't understand are the harsh judgments made towards the other choice. Why not just respect that what they've decided is what is best for them. It doesn't make you a better or worse parent, just a different parent. We don't all need to be the same. Our kids are not the same and neither are our situations. We don't need the hositility from each other when it is hard enough raising a child today. What kind of example are we being to our children when we pass judgment on one another? We need to support each other and understand there are pros and cons to each side. Make your own decision and refuse to stand judgment on the other side.

For me, I work full time at home. My daughter was home with me full time her first two years while I worked full time for my company as an analyst. After she turned two, neither of us were happy with the situation, so I started her in Pre-K at a Montessori school. First part time, now full time (9-3). My schedule has been such that I can volunteer at her school and be very involved. At the same time I've been able to enjoy my work and being part of that world. This situation wouldn't work for everyone. However, it has been best for us and that is solely our decision to make.

As to anyone who finds fault with it, do what your mother said and mind your own business.

23 Comments:

Blogger amanda said...

First of all, I'm not a Dr. Phil fan, either. In fact, I can't stand the man.

Now, about the SAHM vs. WOHM business. I agree with you. Why can't everyone just be grown up enough to realize and admit that one thing will not work for everyone. You've got to do whatever's going to work in your particular situation.

I've wanted to be a SAHM for quite a while now. All that's missing is the kid. But, I totally see how it's best for some women to be WOHMs. I think we should all have the right to do what's best for our families.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never understood the hostility that some SAHM's exhibit to those who work either. My mother was a SAHM and couldn't be bothered to be a real parent because it didn't interest her. The key isn't whether someone stays home or not, but whether or not that they are a supportive, caring PARENT who is interested in raising their child, period.

You just do what's best for you, it's no one's business and in the end, when your children are healthy, happy, well-adjusted people that's all that matters.

Emily
scrambledeggs

11:48 AM  
Blogger chris said...

You're so right about the hostility that some SAHMs have. Now first I have to say, I stay at home with my son. It's really hard and the money sucks. Well, you know the drill. And sometimes I miss working and having a life that is only mine. But this is what works for us right now. I've never understood why some stay at home moms are so hostile to working moms. Is it because they're tired and cranky? Broke? Unappreciated? Because I've heard some pretty nasty comments on the old playground about working moms and they just strike me as unfair and ridiculous. I say whatever works for the family is what is best. And frankly, some of my friends' children who are in daycare (not nice little preschools and such, but regular old daycare) are pretty smart and well-adjusted and independent, maybe more so than my son, who is home with me all day and doesn't have that kind of interaction with other kids.

Oh, and I hate those Dr. Phil chairs, but then, I'm really short and can only imagine how uncomfortable it must be to have you feet dangling.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Jen P said...

here here! Brilliant post Pazel! I honestly don't give a damn whether you work or are at home as long as your child is taken care of, you know? There are some pretty damn dodgy SAH moms too. I know a lot of wonderful working mothers who do a brilliant wonderful job with their children. You've got to do what you've got to do. Brilliant post!

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*clapping*

Agreed.

Mandy

10:36 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Oh, you rock the house, my dear.

4:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, and more yes.

I have to think that the self-righteous stay at homes are upset, secretly, because they feel that if their life is solely kids and house then every other woman's life should also be. Maybe they feel working moms make them look like they do less work (which we do know isn't necessarily true).

Anyway, great post!

Karen/Naked OVary

9:10 AM  
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