Seven Myths of Working Mothers

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Registered: 03-31-2009
Seven Myths of Working Mothers
Tue, 04-07-2009 - 11:55am

Seven Myths of Working Mothers

Why Children and (Most) Careers Just Don't Mix

By Suzanne Venker - Review by Jerica Griff

If separating is hard for you - set up opportunities to practice separating. For example, arrange to drop your child off at someone's house additional times each week until it becomes easier for youŠ When you pick your child up, don't be overly emotional. It's OK to act glad to see her, but don't start crying and hugging her excessively - to do so only shows your child how hard separation was for you.
- E. Christophersen, Ph.D. in "Preventing Separation Anxiety"

No wonder children are growing to adulthood with serious misconceptions about commitment and attachment! The most important people in their lives, parents - and particularly mothers - are being taught that leaving their children should become easy and natural. In 7 Myths of Working Mothers, Suzanne Venker examines why increasing numbers of mothers are entering the workforce, and how this decision resonates in their children's lives.

If motherhood was understood by society to be a full-time job, Venker believes it would not be regarded as something to be done "on the side" of a career. She is quick to acknowledge, however, that accepting motherhood as a full-time position does not translate into 18 years out of the workforce; it only means creatively seeking ways to work around your children's schedule.

Many working mothers fail to realize that day care centers and nannies are raising their children, relegating the mothers themselves to the role of a babysitter. Feeding the children and putting them to sleep is a far cry from true motherhood. As Venker writes, "The real work of mothers is done when no one is around." She goes on to debunk seven fallacies that keep women away from their children.

The first deception Venker tackles is the idea that "Men have it all - why can't we?" Men don't have it all. Many dads miss out on a large portion of parenting - first steps, first words, soccer games, piano recitals, etc. - because their commitment to providing financially for the family means traveling, late nights at the office, and weekend functions.

Second, many women believe that staying at home full-time means throwing their education and work experience out the window. Before they ever have children, before they look into the eyes of their own flesh, before they have spent even one hour watching this new life sleep, they completely dismiss the idea of staying at home full-time. After all, they have spent the majority of their developmental years preparing for careers. Venker acknowledges that a mother's education is of great benefit to her children, but only if the mother is present to impart that knowledge to them. Statistics show that children of mothers with advanced degrees or work experience have a great advantage over their peers. Instead of "wasting" their education, many moms have found resourceful ways of pursuing other
interests without compromising the health and well-being of their little ones.

Third, many believe that women who choose to stay home with their children must be wealthy. Venker contends, however, that except in single-mother households and other specific exceptions, the choice to put children first has nothing at all to do with economic status and everything to do with budgeting and self-discipline. In fact, most women's second income is almost entirely eaten up by commuting, childcare, eating out, work attire, dry cleaning and taxes.

Fourth, some women believe that their stress level in balancing work and family could be lowered if only they had more support. The feminist movement completely negates this excuse. There has never been an easier time to be a working mom. Working mothers are often puzzled and surprised by how well-behaved the children of full-time moms are, and they wonder why their kids are having trouble in school. But, Venker argues, as with anything else in life, one cannot expect the same outcome with an eighth of the time investment. No company would allow an employee to hire someone else to do
her own job, so how can a mother expect to hire someone else to raise her own offspring?

Fifth, many women claim that they are better moms because they work. Venker counters with the argument that consistency is the most controlling factor in the health and well-being of children. By being removed from the home, working mothers often neglect kids' basic needs (proper amounts of sleep, healthy diets, regular exercise, consistent discipline, help with schoolwork, etc.) because they are unable to see to those needs themselves. How is this being a better mom? Still, we wonder why kids are falling asleep in school, overweight, or coming home with less than flying colors on their
report card.

The sixth myth of working mothers is the claim, "My children just love day care." Psychiatrist John Bowlby disagrees: "A home must be very bad before it can be bettered by a good institution." Because children have a basic desire for the familiar, red flags should appear when children do not want to go home with their parents. As anyone who has worked with children can attest, the things children claim they want are not usually the best things for them, whether it be candy, staying up after bedtime, or playing video games all day.

The final deception of working mothers, according to Venker, is the idea that women can "have it all planned out." Thus many women plan their lives around their careers while postponing beginning a family. They wrongly assume that fertility and children will fit as easily into their planners and lifestyle as any other appointment. Venker encourages young women instead to choose careers that are conducive to motherhood, to live near parents or siblings who could help out with creative work schedules, and to be financially responsible. Taking these steps will make the transition to
motherhood smoother when the time arrives.

It is distressing that the incredibly fulfilling, joyful responsibility of
motherhood is often looked upon as a dull waste of an intelligent woman's time. Venker does an excellent job fighting back against society's prejudices. Her hope is that anyone reading 7 Myths of Working Mothers will encouraged by the mounting evidence that the best place for the next generation is right at home. Mothers who are the primary cultivators of knowledge for their children will no doubt reap extraordinary rewards.

Jerica Griff, a Spring 2004 Witherspoon Fellow with the Family Research Council is currently interning with the Georgia Family Council. She is a recent graduate of Colorado State University with degrees in Business Administration/Marketing and Music.


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Registered: 04-22-2005
Mon, 05-11-2009 - 4:36pm
Cool trick! Thanks!
This also reminds me that I'm going to need some nursing tops soon...

pregnancy calendar




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Registered: 03-21-2001
Mon, 05-11-2009 - 3:57pm

This was invaluable to me (didn't have hands-free pump or bra):

Let me work on the computer, write, do planning while pumping.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2001
Mon, 05-11-2009 - 3:55pm
Must be a district thing. Every female teacher I know here (a bunch of them), nursed their babies for at least a year. They were able to pump sometimes, nurse sometimes (one woman's hubby would bring the baby to her to nurse). Even the ones who work full time.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-15-2006
Sun, 05-10-2009 - 1:03pm

One of the Kindy teachers is retiring(she's 74 and has been teaching 32 years at our school) she had 5 kids and found teaching a very family friendly job!

that is incredibly inspiring.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-07-2009
Sun, 05-10-2009 - 7:23am

All seven statements are just dead wrong. It's that simple. Whether we work or not, moms are smart and intuitive and do not need a book to tell us that we are just confused by society.

I've personally been able to work part-time since my son was born two years ago; now my children go to daycare 20 hours a week. They do enjoy it and not because it's all fun and games. They're learning social skills and experiencing a little variety in their lives.

Even if I didn't have to, I'd still work at least part time. I'd be saddened if I had to work full-time, but for selfish reasons, not because I think my children would be adversely affected.

I think

My parenting blog:
Laugh. Cringe. Relate!
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Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 04-14-2009 - 12:17pm


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Registered: 11-08-2006
Mon, 04-13-2009 - 8:07pm


I'll ditto the last part!


and it may be, but remember we ARE only getting her side -- which is extremely colored with her fatalistic view of it all. Some people always look for the problems, even when viable solutions are offered.


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-17-2007
Mon, 04-13-2009 - 7:49pm

I agree with the glass half full read. I will add my own "the grass is always greener" to it.

I just wanted to put it out there that her situation seems like it is ready made for failure.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-08-2006
Mon, 04-13-2009 - 5:56pm

i know the first year of teaching can be hard -- as I've been a mentor on many different occasions (like the last three years in a row). I know that there are lots of demands made of a first year teacher -- par for the course.

However, I've been posting on this board with CLW for a LONG, LONG time and everything in her posts over the years suggests a glass more than 1/2 empty outlook -- no matter what the issue. Frankly, no matter what is suggested, she'll find a way to poo-poo it or say that it just won't work.

First, I find it hard to believe that in a high school setting, there is not ONE other science teacher in that building NOR the district that hasn't taught that class -- I'm assuming that she's teaching a basic chem class because she hasn't specified its specialty in any way. I find it hard to believe that there are no internet resources (lesson plans, labs, etc) available to cover some of the topics that she teaches. One of the things that you learn as a veteran teacher is that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. I've used the web for some of two of my units - scientific method and genetics.

At my school, the lot is filled each morning by 7:30 and school starts at 8:00. Many of us are here by 7:00 or 7:15 and are often seeing students by 7:20. As for an hour after school, there are probably 1/4 of the cars in the lot....

As for planning time, each teacher has a prep period per day. As a team leader, I have two of them -- although very often they (or at least one of them) gets eaten up with those responsibilities.


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-17-2007
Mon, 04-13-2009 - 1:33pm

I have read that the first year of teaching is the hardest. I think CLW's case is worse than others- since she has no mentoring program (official or unofficial) and there is no one else who is teaching what she is teaching to lean on for support. That type of position should never be given to a first year teacher IMO. There is too much to learn from other teachers in that first year.

Here, I don't see very may cars in the parking lot an hour after school has closed or 30 minutes before school is in session. The elementary school teachers here get every Monday afternoon for planning and the Middle and HS get at least one class time each day. We also have a mentoring program for first year teachers.