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THE WORTH OF A MOTHER
I wrote the above article on Friday, February 7, 1986, in response to a 20/20 show aired out of Youngstown, Ohio, on the previous day. At the time I was leading a parenting group and had spent eight years as a family day care home proprietor, which allowed me to be at home with my children and enjoy their growing up years. We (who are not employed out of the home and having children in child day care) are intelligent adults who made a decision to invest in our nation’s most valuable resource.
Something troubled me about a show, Working Mothers, aired on 20/20. I finally got it—there was a contradiction expressed in statements by two separate persons:
- The psychological need to be a breadwinner
- Children are our most important resource
It implies that a person not receiving a paycheck is not contributing his/her share. It is too bad that a mother’s worth is defined only in terms of the paycheck they bring home and not in their overall contribution to the good of society.
- Parents not earning a paycheck are not pulling their weight
- Parents (or others) caring for non-custodial children have more worth because they earn a paycheck
Employed-outside-the-home parents, especially those doing so full-time, become so exhausted and harassed in their attempt to “have it all” that the children must seek emotional support from others—and often, there is no “other.”
What happens when parents “achieve it all” but “lose their children?”
This concern is not about parents who must work for the purpose of survival—they don’t have a choice—but about the trend to work for self-fulfillment. I feel strongly that self-fulfillment can and must be designed in such a way that our children aren’t sacrificed in the process.
We need to re-evaluate our value system and possibly accept less of the “good life” (things that advertising hype tries to convince us that we cannot live without) in order to change direction and develop our “most valuable resource.”
The question needing evaluation is Is a stay at home mother being an equal “breadwinner” when she/he invests their energy in the children and the family?
I wrote this in 1986. Has the issue been resolved in the intervening years? I invite you to write your comments in the comment box at the end of this post.
QUOTES ABOUT MOTHERS:
By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class. —Anne Morrow Lindbergh, author
The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom. —Henry Ward Beecher, US Congressional clergyman
All mothers are working mothers. —Author Unknown
Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs… since the payment is pure love. —Mildred B. Vermont
Nobody knows of the work it makes To keep the home together. Nobody knows of the steps it takes, Nobody knows-but Mother. —Anonymous