Make us your home page

The battle between parents who stay at home and work continues

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Stop the stay-home/work war; we just need to do our best

Ginger: On Monday, "SAHM" asked, "How does one express the accomplishments and strides that no one else seems to value?"

She seems to think the only capital-M "Mothers" are stay-at-home-moms. Working moms deserve just as much admiration as SAHMs. It reminds of that old saying, "Ginger Rogers did what Fred Astaire did, but backward and in high heels." Working moms do what stay-at-home moms do, but with a full-time job and in high heels.

Carolyn: No no no! This is not a Ginger-appropriate situation. Working moms and at-home moms and working dads and at-home dads all have their challenges, and so do the single parents and single nonparents and paired-off non-parents, whether they're working or non- or under- or unemployed. (Did I cover everybody, or did I (tick) off people in communes?)

She, an at-home mom, called upon me, a working mom, as one who can sympathize. The inclusive way to look at this was just as readily available as the divisive one.

Anonymous: Re: Raising children:

I wonder about the context of SAHM's family's and friends' comments. For instance, if she complains about how hard it is to stay home, a friend may say, "Well, you're getting something huge out of it, right?" trying to be encouraging, but taken as "suck it up."

Also, if SAHM is saying to her working-mom friends, "It's just so hard to do the right thing by your children when society has made it okay to abandon them to strangers," it may offend working moms, who defend themselves with a snippy, "Well, if you had a real job, you would have twice the responsibilities."

SAHM may be the paragon of tact, but because these issues are deeply felt on both sides, she may want to re-evaluate her own comments.

Carolyn: Widely applicable, thanks.

Anonymous 2: Like you, I am heartily sick of the stay-at-home vs. working parent debate. I know mothers who totally suffocate their children because they have nothing else to do, and moms who do the same because they need to "make up for lost time" while they are working. It's not whether they are gainfully employed, it's how they approach parenting. (I'm trying not to dis dads here, but I hope you get the point.) So much wasted energy.

Carolyn: Hear, hear. Thanks.

Working dad: Man, everything seems to be black-and-white! I'm a working dad who is considering becoming a stay-at-home dad. We all try to make choices that are the best for our kids WITHIN THE CONSTRAINTS OF OUR LIVES. There's no right or wrong answer overall, because it is each parent's responsibility to do the best for their children given what they can do. In SAHM's case, she needs to go back to work to provide financial security for her family. In my case, we have financial security, and my staying home would take pressure off me and especially my wife, who has an accelerating career. Judge parents based on the decisions they make given their circumstances, not in some one-choice-is-right-or-wrong world.

Carolyn: You could replace child-rearing words with words for just about any other pursuit, and this would still apply. That, and it would be an awesome Mad-Lib. Thanks for the shot of gray.

The battle between parents who stay at home and work continues 07/05/10 [Last modified: Monday, July 5, 2010 12:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours