Published 19 Aug 2017
Working mothers are a widespread social phenomenon that reflects both economic necessity and new-found freedom for women to go beyond their traditional role in society. Just as mothers have responded to this dual challenge and responsibility, so too should the rest of society. One of the toughest choices of a woman’s life comes with motherhood. The question is whether to stay at home or pursue a career? Both types of mothers deserve recognition, but the question remains, “What is best for the children?” Many mothers have special reasons and feelings about working outside of home.
Some mothers want the self-fulfillment of having a career; they suppose their children will be more self-sufficient and more mature than children with full-time mothers. They work for their own emotional well-being, and deal with dual duty by balancing work and family. Unlike stay at home moms, working mothers have high self value as they are working in the same way as men, and their lives are not restricted to just children and husband. In present society if you ask a woman what her occupation is, and she is known as a stay-at-home mom, people have the tendency to look down on her. However, if she is a working mom, they might ask, “how does she manage it all?”
This problem with many women makes it harder for them to decide between their children and work. One cannot be the best career woman and the best mother at the same time; a woman has to decide one over the other. (Goldman, 47-54) There are some married women who are economically strong and their husbands work, these women must make a decision whether they should work or stay home. Family life would be better if mothers decide to stay at home.
Of course, these assumptions did not apply to millions of women who had to work to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads–women abandoned by their husbands (or who never had husbands), for example, or women who filled a whole variety of jobs ranging from maid to laundry worker to factory worker.(Hirshman, 112-115) It is important throughout this discussion of the pressures of jobs and families to bear in mind that to a large degree this applies to middle- and upper-middle class families in which women once stayed at home and now are most often found holding daytime jobs.
When thinking of working women, two models come to mind. One of which is paid employment that has a protective and positive mediating effect. Employment protects women against certain negative aspects of being full-time homemakers and mothers, such as monotonous housework, reliance on the male partner for financial and emotional support, increases self-respect because they are causal to the world they live in. These women receive a transformed interest in life because they are in the thick of it. They are living life to the fullest. This model is the one that is regularly referred to as “bad” because it portrays the woman as someone who does not actually care about the consequences of working will have on the baby. (Goldman, 47-54) In fact, most of these mothers have made this choice with thorough care. They are continually feeling what everyone is thinking, and this in turn causes unnecessary stress on these mothers.
The other model of the working mom is the one most people think of when talking about working mothers. This model is one of a woman having too many demands of her –housewife, mother and paid employee – which may lead to responsibility strain due to tiredness and role excess. The contending demands of such roles may also lead to clashes and mental stress. Both of these models can be seen in the working mother at any given time. They are simply a fact of life, an outcome of the world in which we live. Mothers are continually jumping back and forth in these roles, determined to find a sense of balance. If the scales were balanced, it would seem that they would either be cruel heartless women, simply worried with their jobs, and caring less about their children. (Hirshman, 112-115) This is simply not the case. It seems that the perfect circumstances is when the father helps around the house, as to ease some of the stress the mother feels from working and the aptitude for the mother to have a supple schedule.
American society was willing to grant part of this wish–a greater percentage of women now attend college than do men–but not both parts. Today, a majority of women hold jobs outside the home, but when they get home, things haven’t changed much. Its still Mom who is expected to cook dinner, make sure the children have clothes for school, oversee arrangements for birthday parties, and so forth. As a general rule–one that is difficult to measure with precise statistics–men have been willing to take advantage of having a second income stream without stepping up to relieve their wives of a myriad of household tasks traditionally assigned to full-time mothers.
It cannot be over-emphasized that this last statement, like many in this essay, applies to a broad range of “average” families. It’s not hard to find instances where the male has become a full-time stay-at-home Dad while the mother works outside the home, or instances in which males share equally in family care. But it’s a lot easier to find instances where mothers take on a job while not giving up their role at home. (Jacobs, 92-97)
Ironically, women’s new-found freedom to pursue careers has introduced a new element in the “economics” of family life–freeing women from the “economic bondage” of marriage. Before women regularly earned salaries, the fact that their husbands were the sole source of income served as a disincentive to divorce–the cost was too great and there was no effective guarantee that the ex-husband would contribute alimony. (Goldman, 47-54) Today, women find it much easier to exit from unhappy or unsatisfying marriages; indeed, the majority of divorces are instigated by women.
Many working mothers today are facing the reality of the “second shift”. This is where they put in a full day of work at the office only to come home to start their “second shift”, the one that entails all the housework and the raising of the family. Mothers feel that they have no choice in the matter, in order to be the “perfect” mother; they need to put in this shift, because it is their responsibility. But why is it their responsibility? Why does the father feel it is his right to come home and relax, when the mother is busy fixing dinner, and disciplining children? In order for the working mother to keep her understanding, the father needs to jump in and help with the household tasks that were formerly held by the homemaker. (Hirshman, 112-115) Many women today want and desire careers and a place in this world. They want to become a self-sufficient individual, free of reliance on another individual.
Most importantly, the money earned by working mothers is advantageous to both their children and families, and they can afford sending their infants to day care centers or having a governess for them. Many working parents commit that they both work because they need money, but, they should also concern on an old truth – children need love and attention that money can not buy.
On the other hand, stay-at-home moms have different viewpoint towards family relationship. One perception is the relationship among the spouses and the other outlook is the relationship between the parents and the children. Early infancy is a very vital stage in the raising of a child, and the mother’s role at that stage is better than that of anyone else. For a great purpose that God has determined, the only nourishment of the baby at this stage is by nursing from its mother. This does not only medically affected the health of the child, but also has psychological effects. For these reasons, doctors always advise mothers to nurse their babies themselves, and if for some account a mother could not, she is advised to keep it close to her and take care of it all the time.(Jacobs,: 92-97)
Therefore, one can understand the mistake a mother makes when she leaves her child at this stage to a day care or to a governess who takes care of it. It is also very tender for a mother to leave a crying child, giving out the role of motherhood with a stranger, and neglecting the child’s emotional needs. In such a situation, a baby misses a lot of the psychological care it needs.
This suggests that a mother can leave matters of cooking, house cleaning, and similar chores to the maid, because a baby will not receive as much tenderness and care from a maid as from its own mother. According to the psychological perspective, infants without a bond are likely to grow up with some serious character disorders as well as become depressed and neurotic. On the other hand, infants who receive enough attention and admiration from parents from the beginning are most likely to succeed socially and emotionally. Not only infants, children also need special care in their teen years as this is an important stage in their life. (Goldman, 47-54) As fathers are usually busy, a mother therefore should spend most of her time with them. A mother can be more aware of the affairs and activities of her children. Thus, in this way the children would be able to get enough affection and mother would be more likely to discover problems that her children suffer from. Their values and morals can be guided and the children can be disciplined more consistently.
There is no doubt that it is extremely difficult for a woman to work outside and take care of the child at the same time as raising a child is also a full time career with its own ample rewards. Because every person has the limited amount of time and energy so the women with competing demands suffer from overload and inter-role conflict, which make their life stressful and less satisfied. On the other hand, stay at home moms receive gratification and inner satisfaction from knowing they are giving their children a strong moral foundation and are being able to watch them grow. When mom does not work children develop tremendous feeling of fulfillment and thought of being important that makes them feel more secure and more confident. There an issue arises, which is why can’t father stay home with children? A woman is born with the nature of making her house and children her first priority whereas men are expected to be protectors and caretakers of the family. Also, children do not feel comfortable when their father stay home instead of mother.
The above information on this subject is controversial, but it also demonstrates that majority of married women have a lifestyle choice instead of an economic choice. It all comes down to women’s satisfaction, if they are happier working or staying at home with their children. It is an important decision that all mothers must make, but how it influences their children is still debatable. In short, both the quantity and quality of time spent with children are better when mom is at home. There is not any job as challenging as raising a perfect child, which is a full time career.
- Goldman, Paula (Ed). Imagining Ourselves: Global Voices from a New Generation of Women. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2006: 47-54
- Hirshman, Linda R. Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World. New York: Viking, 2006: 112-115
- Jacobs, Jerry A, and Kathleen Gerson. “The Time Divide: Work, Family and Gender Inequality.” Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005: 92-97.