Being a parent is hard work and once the job is undertaken
there is no turning back. Young working couples face a dilemma.
Should they give up their accustomed life style in order to have
a child? Will something be missing from their lives if they
decide not to have children? Does anybody know for sure the
right thing to do ? Probably not. This is a private decision
each couple must make for itself. There are, however, somethings to consider when making the decision.
It is usually the mother who assumes the greatest
responsibility for rearing the child. This sometimes comes as a
shock to women who, before the child arrived, have been used to a
marriage in which both partners worked and shared everything as a
fifty-fifty proposition. There can be dissension and
disappointment, unless the mother accepts this fact before
having a child. She will probably have to give up more of her
time for their child than her husband will.
The most crucial years in the child’s development are the
first three. After that time, parents can legitimately find
alternative care-givers, like nursery schools and day care
centers. It is important that parents be prepared for a
full commitment for these three important years. Since this
commitment will probably fall greatest on the mother, she needs
to be given some support and have some time off. Today’s mothers
are in lonely professions. They are expected to spend full time
at home with no adult stimulation and usually no other help. The
grandparents usually live far away and their next door neighbor
works. It is not only hard work, it is an impossible task.
Planning ahead for some support and time-off is important.
Recently there has been controversy among women over who is
the better mother:the stay-home mother or the mother who goes to
work. The latter enjoys her job but feels guilty because she is
not home with the children. The former feels that she is being a
better mother by not going to work but finds that raising
children is not always that much fun and she misses adult
associations and professional stimulation she got from her job.
The mother in both cases is in a no-win situation and society
does not make it any easier for her.
The fact of the matter is that women who resent giving up
their careers in order to raise a family, probably do not do well
as parents when they “sacrifice” themselves for their children.
Their resentment will affect their relationship with the
children. They and their families would do better if they found
a suitable substitute for the time mother is working out of the
home. The controversy over who is the better mother is
meaningless. It depends on the personalities and talents of the
people involved. Some people are natural parents, others have to
learn, others because of temperament never enjoy the role or do
well at it. Staying home does not mean the mother does a better
job. It depends on the mother. Mothers should understand
themselves, however, and make wise choices based on this
understanding. There is no reason to feel guilty or apologetic
for a choice made keeping in mind your own talents and needs as
well as the needs of the children.
Of course, the best solution is not to make it an either-or
proposition. Women have many talents which should be nurtured.
One of these talents is being a mother but being a mother does
not preclude the development of other talents. A woman has more
to give to her children when she is happy with herself, feels
appreciated for what she is doing, feels some rewards from it and
has some sense of accomplishment in her work. Women who work
part-time seem to accomplish this ideal the best. They are able
to nurture and develop their talents on the job. They have the
stimulation of other adults. They do not feel guilty about being
out of the home because they can be available when their children
need them. They also contribute their talents to the work-force.
One of the most important outcomes for these women is they
do not feel they have sacrificed everything for their children.
Mothers who abandon their career sometimes find it difficult to
let go of their children because they have nothing else. That
kind of maternal sacrifice puts an unreasonable burden on
Nobody should have to give his life completely to one thing
be it family or work. It is unreasonable for employers to
require complete full-time commitment from their employees to the
exclusion of family responsibilities. In the long run, the
employers are doing themselves more harm than good. They are
losing out on a competent work force today and they are
jeopardizing the work force of tomorrow.