A recent Op-Ed piece in the New York Times titled, “Off to Work She Should Go” annoyed me. Every once in awhile, the media reports about working mothers versus stay at home mothers. Any parent will tell you, all mothers are working mothers!
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published, “Trends in Labor Force Participation of Married Mothers of Infants”, thus reporting that,” In recent years, the labor force participation of married mothers, especially those with young children, has stopped its advance.” According to the NY Times, “Sixty percent of married mothers of preschool children are now in the work force, four percentage points fewer than in 1997. The rate for married mothers of infants fell by about six percentage points, to 53.5 percent. The bureau further reports that the declines ‘have occurred across all educational levels and, for most groups, by about the same magnitude.’” Is this a bad thing? Is this a good thing? It is impossible to decide as a nation the value of such statistics. Each family must find their own balance between financial needs, childcare, and their beliefs on child rearing, that is why this article annoys me.
Furthermore, “Off to Work She Should Go” states, “What has changed in the last decade is that the job of motherhood has ramped up. Mothers today spend more time on child care than women did in 1965, a time when mothers were much less likely to have paying jobs, family scholars report. The pressure to increase mothering is enormous. For years, women have been on the receiving end of negative messages about parenting and working. One conservative commentator said the lives of working women added up to “just a pile of pay stubs.” When the National Institute of Child Health reported recently that long hours in day care added but a single percentage point to the still-normal range of rambunctious behavior in children, newspaper headlines read, ‘Day Care, Behavior Problems Linked in Study’. Should we care if women leave the work force? Yes, because participation in public life allows women to use their talents and to powerfully affect society. And once they leave, they usually cannot regain the income or status they had.”
Can we just leave mothers alone? As a mother who works part time in a job in which I take my youngest to work with me, I feel I straddle the working versus stay at home labels. Mothers can still participate in public life without working, and what more than raising responsible, compassionate citizens of the earth affects society? The article continues, “The next generation of girls will have a greatly reduced pool of role models.” Why?, because their mothers have left the work place. Now I am pissed and not just annoyed.