The Healthy Family Connections Podcast
Episode 078 · Duration: 00:14:39
Is It Okay To Be An At Home Mom?
Many women are surprised by their choice to leave their career and stay home when they become a parent. Is that a good thing, or is it over the top?
Claire Cain Miller of the NY Times wrote and article last month titled, The Costs of Motherhood Are Rising, and Catching Women Off Guard.
According to the article, new research shows that college-educated women in particular underestimate the demands of parenthood and the difficulties of combining working and parenting.
The study that shows the percentage of woman in the workforce was on the rise until the 1990’s when it leveled off, in spite of more woman getting degrees and anticipating careers and not planning to be stay at home Moms. Between 15 and 18 percent of women stay home after their first child is born even though only 2% anticipate doing that.
Judy Davis and Sandy Fowler from the Mighty Parenting Podcast tweeted the following in response to my share of this article.
The easiest and most direct answer to your question, Mighty Parenting is YES, there are real and legitimate reasons for parents to take on full-time parenting and homemaking, or in many cases, taking less career track positions in order to devote more time to parenting and some of those reasons are specifically related to our times.
Reasons Parents Choose To Stay Home
What I hear from many woman is, the amount I can make working barely pays for the childcare. Why should I work so someone else can raise my child?
We don’t have universal high-quality childcare and preschool in the United States. We don’t have guaranteed maternity and paternity leave like they do in many other Western countries, so it makes sense economically for many parents to simply take on full-time parenting and homemaking.
For duel career couples, where both parents are chasing career advancement, the stress of that leaves too much undone in the home.
In my podcast a few weeks ago, Parental Burnout is an Epidemic, one of the top causes parents listed was Both Parents Working. Many couples decide it’s better to let one person make the big bucks and let the other come home, and surprise, surprise, usually it’s the Mom. Why is this?
Why Are More Moms Stay-At-Home Parents?
My cousin, Dr. Bonnie Fox, a Sociology Professor at the University of Toronto, did a study where she followed forty couples from pregnancy through the first year of life after the birth of their first baby and she wrote up her discoveries in her book, When Couples Become Parents. One of her many fascinating and informing discoveries is that woman, in general, develop more traditional ideas about gender roles after giving birth than they had prior. So, they are more willing and desirous of taking on the role of “at home parent”.
Woman, as the Clair Cain Miller article points out, are told from the time they are very young that they can do anything they want, and then they find out:
- Babies and children are a lot more work than they thought, and
- They fall in love with their babies and don’t want to leave them in someone else’s care. Having a baby changes us, and it changes women more than men. Women fall in love with their babies and want to prioritize their needs and bond with them. They often don’t anticipate that.
There are a lot of other reasons parents will want to leave the work force and come home or in many cases, put limits on their work so they can be home more. We know more about child development now than we use to.
Advances In Child Development Knowledge
Remember when Type A personalities were dying off from heart attacks, and we thought everyone has to learn to be a Type B? Then the data came out about how a poor diet and lack of exercise cause heart attacks, and suddenly Type A’s true to their personality type changed their diets and started jogging and going to the gym, and Type A heart attacks dropped way off?
I think it’s much the same with raising children. We know a lot more about the importance of breastfeeding, engagement and responding to baby’s cues, and exposure to language, music, and nature. We know a lot more about the importance of bonding and early neurological development. Now that we have this knowledge, we’re compelled to act on it.
Other knowledge we now have is about neuro-diversity. It’s the realization, that all kids can learn and there is a lot of diversity in how we are wired. If your child has Learning Differences or is differently wired in any way, ADHD, on the Autism Spectrum, whatever, parents now know they can and need to advocate to get their child the services they need to be able to succeed. I just wish our society would catch up to that realization and fund schools to ensure every child’s success.
Now if you have a differently wired child, in many situations, advocacy with the school is necessary to get your child the services and accommodations they need. On the other hand, often schools are trying to offer accommodations and parents fight it believing that labeling their child will hurt them, so either way, if you have a differently wired child, learning and collaborating with schools and other resources will be important and it can be a full-time job to do it right.If you have a differently wired child, in many situations, advocacy with the school is necessary to get your child the services and accommodations they need.Click To Tweet
Revealing Facts About Parental Burnout
In the Parental Burnout study, almost all respondents reported that parenting today is more difficult than it used to be. Why is that?
In the survey, parents said social media, lack of cooperation from children and teens, and child and teen emotional and behavioral dysfunction contributed to burnout.
Clearly, the internet and the access all kids have to the internet, creates a set of parenting challenges that are new. Controlling kids’ access to addictive devices, particularly when they need to be on those devices for school purposes, is pretty darn challenging.
- Explaining and helping kids integrate what they’re seeing on the internet, including pornography and violence, is another challenge.
- Helping kids manage their social media lives by setting limits with it and teaching appropriate use and protecting them from abuse.
- Making sure our kids get exercise and good nutrition. There was no fast food when I was growing up and eating out was a very occasional event. We ate healthy home cooked meals.
- When we came home from school, after a snack, it was “go out and play”. Now kids are in after school activities so if your kid is going to get exercise, they’re on a soccer team or some sport or after school physical activity. We don’t just let kids go out and play.
So, raising kids is a lot more management of their time, food, and education. We have to find that balance between appropriate support and structure, and letting kids learn and grow independently.
Here is where I think we bring parenting anxiety on ourselves and end up over-parenting.
- We have to make sure they go to the top preschool so they can get into the best private school so they can go to the best college.
- When we think if we do everything right as parents, that our children and teenagers won’t have any problems. All kids have problems and learning to solve them is how they grow up. All adults have problems and healthy adults have learned how to solve problems.
- Parents today are far more reluctant to set and enforce limits or use parental authority. They expect that if they explain things well enough and are supportive enough, their kids will cooperate without enforcing limits. So when kids test limits, or are uncooperative, or get into trouble, parents can take it personally and respond emotionally rather than creating a learning opportunity for our children and teens.
So parents, if you’ve decided to be an at home Mom or Dad, or are limiting your work to be able to prioritize parenting, good for you! Being a proactive, conscious parent is a wonderful thing. Beware of expecting perfection from yourself or your child, get support for yourself, and have and engage other interests. That way, you’ll stay healthy and you’ll be able to sustain your high-quality parenting self.If you’ve decided to be an at home Mom or Dad, or are limiting your work to be able to prioritize parenting, good for you! Being a proactive, conscious parent is a wonderful thing.Click To Tweet
Thanks for tuning in today everyone and special thanks to Judy and Sandy of the Mighty Parenting Podcast for your tweet question. They have some killer interviews on their podcast, including one with me so go check it out!
Please remember, take care of yourselves; you need it, you deserve it, you’re worth it. Bye for now.
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