Do Working Moms Screw Up Their Kids?
Working Mom Guilt
Give up trying to be “the perfect Mom.” Newsflash: She doesn’t exist! And if she did, how annoying would she be?
The scariest question we working Moms have is: Are we messing up our kids?
Many women don’t have the luxury of being a stay-at-home mother; however, there is a recent trend of mothers returning to the household. The Pew Research Center released a 2014 survey revealing that, “The share of mothers who do not work outside the home has risen over the past decade… Two-thirds are ‘traditional’ married stay-at-home mothers with working husbands, but a growing share is unmarried.”
It’s important to get behind the averages. A USA Today article cited findings from Census Bureau data, which indicated that, “Since the 1970’s, the percentage of children raised by a stay-at-home mother who has a working husband has fallen by half, from 41% in 1970 to 20% in 2012... Kids raised in such arrangements are increasingly rare, especially among white and African-American families. The percentage of stay-at-home moms in Asian and Hispanic families, by contrast, is higher – about 10 percentage points or more, on average.”
Don’t get caught up in the numbers. Remember the “Great Recession?” Many of those stay-at-home moms couldn’t get jobs and some opted to start businesses at home. As such, some of these entrepreneurial women are considered stay-at-home moms. Also, sometimes low-paying jobs don’t even cover the costs of daycare and transportation to and from work.
Working moms do not carry the old stigma, which they once did. USA Today also reported that, “Public opinion over the past few decades also has grown more supportive of working mothers. In 1977, only about half of Americans believed a working mother could establish ‘just as warm and secure a relationship with her children’ as a stay-at-home mom could... the figure since 2008 has again hovered around 70%.”
Who Said This Would Be Easy?
Where there are two parents working full time, the balancing act of who does what is also hard. Pew Research did find that, “About six-in-ten American parents in these dual-earning households say they share responsibility evenly for playing or doing activities with children, disciplining children, and taking care of chores. However, when it comes to certain activities, about half of parents still say mom takes the lead.”
I was a full time working mom, who had no choice but to work. I was divorced and the sole support for my two young kids. I was certainly not alone, and didn’t resent it, except when I met self-righteous non-working mothers, who stomped on me for working and not caring about my kids. Guilt is a powerful emotion and I felt it in full-force. I love my kids more than anything, but I also had to provide for them. Did I have to be a bank president? No, but working two menial jobs to make ends meet probably wouldn’t have freed up much of my time, and certainly I could not provide private school, travel and other privileges that my career did. Am I justifying my choices? You bet I am.
Did My Kids Benefit From Seeing Me Have A Career?
I sure hope they did. I can see an amazing work ethic in them today. They are both entrepreneurs, who have chosen to start businesses that contribute greatly to society. I won’t take credit for that (even though it does assuage some of my guilt). As a full-time working mom, I couldn’t attend all of the games or plays or events. I did the best I could. Oprah even changed the taping of one of the shows I was doing for her, so I could fly back to New Jersey to see my 10-year-old daughter win a forensics contest she had entered. Yet, it was a constant pull.
Top Four Tips To Kill The Guilt
- Be In The Moment: My kids got me a bracelet with that saying on it. When you are at work, be there. Obviously, you need to stay in touch with home to make sure things are okay, but you know what I mean. The same thing goes for when you are with the kids. Turn off the cell phone and don’t constantly look at the screen. You know how you hate when people do that to you; your kids hate when you do that to them, as well.
- Outsource The Menial Tasks: If you can afford it, hire others to help you with tasks you don’t have to do, like cleaning and schlepping all around town. If not, get used to dust bunnies in your home. I told the kids they were soft sculptures and we named them.
- Make Lists Of Everything: Make sure the kids know that they have to list their sports games, parties, school activities, birthday parties, peanut butter that needs to be replaced, etc. Explain that it really makes life difficult if they all don’t pitch in and help. The “gotcha” as you are walking out the door in the morning, where your daughter announces, “I forgot to tell you that 20 of my soccer team friends are coming here for a party today after school,” won’t warm your heart.
- Communicate: Let your kids know that you are trying your best and that you are all in this together. You are a family and all have to pull together. You are there for them, and they need to be there for you. If you have a big meeting coming up and need to work after dinner, that is important. If they have a big game coming up, they need your understanding, just the same.
Any Evidence That Kids Of Working Moms Are Okay?
The New York Times reported, “…evidence is mounting that having a working mother has some economic, educational and social benefits for children… In a new study of 50,000 adults in 25 countries, daughters of working mothers completed more years of education, were more likely to be employed and in supervisory roles and earned higher incomes.”
Also, Pamela Lenehan just came out with a new book on this topic, My Mother, My Mentor: What Grown Children of Working Mothers Want You To Know. She gives working mothers a boost in the confidence they need to pursue a career and raise healthy, successful children. Her research points to the fact that children of working moms are just as happy as children whose mothers stayed at home. Halleluja! Music to every working Mom’s ears.