Do “working moms” make for better moms? I may be meddlin’ here.
An article posted on the website Quartz claims mothers who work outside the home have “more successful daughters and more caring sons.” The story is based on some new Harvard “research” that should certainly help reduce the guilt that many “working moms” might have. http://qz.com/434056/working-moms-have-more-successful-daughters-and-more-caring-sons-harvard-business-school-study-says/
If you do a little more Internet research you find quite a mixed bag on this topic. There are many stories of women who leave professional careers to be at home. Others explaining how they are able to maintain the balance of work and family.
One of the more statistically deceiving set of numbers comes from a 2014 Pew Research study. It was titled, “7 Key Findings About Stay-at-Home Moms.” Point #5 claims the share of these stay-at-homes in poverty has doubled since 1970! But pay close attention to the fact that the overwhelming increase comes from married mothers with non-working husbands, cohabiting mothers, and single mothers. Actual poverty level of married mothers with working husbands increased by 15%.
The Harvard study leaves me questioning their value system for mothering. They seem to value more money and managerial jobs for the grown up young women, and more chores and home responsibilities for boys.
The final paragraph from this article really got me. It includes a quote from Professor Kathleen McGinn at the Harvard Business School and the lead author of the study. Here goes:
“Her message for working mothers is that being employed has long-lasting, positive effects on children. ‘When you go to work, you are helping your children understand that there are lots of opportunities for them,’ says McGinn.”
Hmmm. Wait. I have questions.
Let’s say a couple with children at home approached me as a faith leader at church and asked for my counsel on whether it’s best to have a stay-at-home mom. She has a nice offer from a company.
I would first ask why the mom is considering this decision. Various answers could result. Financial reasons are, indeed, usually first. Wanting to use education or professional skills would be up there. Needing greater “challenge” or purpose might come up. Each reason has its own justifications.
Next, I would ask the couple where “being the primary influencers” in the development of their children ranks. The influencer role applies to more than one category. Foremost, the moral and spiritual foundations. Next, the social skills and the vital learning of navigating difficult situations. Then, having a keen awareness of the uniqueness of the children and how to help them pursue the person God created them to be. And, of course, engaging them in meaningful conversations daily about their world.
The answers to those questions would be of significant value in offering counsel. Parents who put financial interests and personal advancement as priorities will likely go for the working mom. But common sense should tell us less time and attention with children means less influence.
I’ve yet to meet a grown up child who says, “I wish my mom worked more outside of the home.” Kids learn to take pride in their parents regardless of status. The praise I’ve witnessed most from grown up children are about the sacrifices their moms made for them. Rarely are those sacrifices derived from spending less time with them. Or earning more money.
There are situations where moms must have a paying job. However in this age, we need more moms being present and available to guide and grow their children. A stable home environment is the greatest predictor of future family well being. PLENTY of research on that.
Proverbs 6:20-23 helps here: “Good friend, follow your father’s good advice; don’t wander off from your mother’s teachings. Wrap yourself in them from head to foot; wear them like a scarf around your neck. Wherever you walk, they’ll guide you; whenever you rest, they’ll guard you; when you wake up, they’ll tell you what’s next. For sound advice is a beacon, good teaching is a light, moral discipline is a life path.” (The Message)
That instruction comes from the home. Mothers nurture children best. Why yield that privilege of child development up to someone else? Just asking.
Now…are the cookies and milk ready? Just kidding!
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