How part-time employment benefits mothers and children
“Working Moms” vs. “Stay-at-Home Moms”. Can we all just agree that those are nonsense titles for both groups of women? Why? ALL moms work.
These Mommy Wars have got to stop. And thanks for Hilary Rosen and Ann Romney, we are all back in the same boxing ring. This blog writer has hit this whole thing right on the head.
Is it just me or do both of these women look alike? (When I was little and first immigrated to the US, I thought all white people looked alike. You know, just like how people think all Asians look alike? LOL :) ) Sisters. They are probably more alike than they are different.
This whole bit of silliness is just a non-issue that the media has stirred up. Want proof?
1- Hilary said clumsily that Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life.” Hilary then had to clarify her “poorly chosen” words.
2- Then Ann answered this as ” …an early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother…”. Ann then had to clarify her own controversial “birthday” boon.
It must be election season, which seems to last 3 years…. So where do I want to go with all this??? No, not politics. I’ve been looking for research that I had read (but neglected to file), and I finally found it. (This post has been almost 2 years in the making trying to find that research!) When I had quit my corporate career to have babies and raise them, I immediately did what most soon-to-be moms did: I read lots of books such as how to get them to sleep, what happens in each trimester, the pluses and minuses of Baby Einstein videos and classical music in the womb …
Then I read a research report summary in the USA Today that in effect said: children of mothers who were employed outside the home viewed them as more competent in the traditional masculine jobs than children of housewives. Moreover, these girls performed better academically and had greater success in their careers.
What??? And here I’ve been lucky enough to make the decision to stay at home on my husband’s income to start our family and raise our children and to find out that my efforts may make my children view me as less competent? I am the one who entered the marriage with more tools than my husband. I had my own tool box with a cordless drill. He doesn’t even pre-drill, for goodness sakes! He didn’t even own a leveler or stud finder. (Insert your own “find a stud” joke here :)) Or hammer. I better stop before I emasculate him any further, which I don’t mean to do, but as I tell my children: we all have our own strengths and interests.
Here’s what the research showed in a nutshell. Before you jump to conclusions, bear in mind that the research only showed overall picture and there are exceptions to everything. Every family is different as is every child. I’m going to focus on the daughter and mom, because my business motto is “Putting Women in Business” after all, but overall:
- Whether or not the mom was employed had a bigger effect on daughters than sons. Sons of full-time homemakers did not view their moms as any less competent then sons of working moms. But daughters are a different story! Daughters of employed moms were more likely to view their working mom as more competent than daughters of full-time mothers.
- Mother’s employment status mainly has positive effects on both boys and girls. Whether married or single, when moms are employed, girls view moms as more competent and therefore they have a higher sense of self and ability which translates to more independence, asking more questions, being more comfortable in leadership roles, and having higher academic performance and test scores.
- Mom’s employment also increased mom’s overall well-being due to social/professional support, increased perception of control of their lives, and ability to earn a wage. This overall well-being in employed mothers resulted in an authoritative parenting style over two other parenting styles (permissive and authoritarian), which meant kids were less likely to act out or have behavioral problems.
- When mom works, dad participates more in household and child rearing tasks. The dad’s increased involvement in the home and children meant that kids had less traditional views of the “male”/ “female” roles/activities in the home. His involvement increased the impact that employed mothers had a daughters even more so.
- So it boils down to mom’s employment – whether full-time, part-time, or at home. Employment benefited the mom, the children (the biggest impact on the daughter) and the family.
So what about me and my choice to stay home and raise my kids? Did I screw myself by giving up that career, the earnings, the sense of self only to have my daughter think that I’m not as competent? Will she view all full-time moms without a paid job as less competent?
The research results seems to suggest that in order for children to view their moms as competent, mothers had to be working. But since I chose to stay home and raise them, how do I show them this? For little kids, “work” usually means seeing a parent getting dressed in a suit, uniform, or work clothes of some sort and heading out because mommy has to “go to work”. Just like it’s drilled into them when Daddies do this on a daily basis and they hear “Bye! Have a great day at work” or “Daddy is going to work”. They know Daddy is working. Full-time moms? She does everything but it’s never said that “Mommy’s going to work”. So to me, I think verbiage has some role in forming that mindset as well. But since I chose not to have a paid job outside the home, I figured that I could show my kids my competency, by working at home – paid or unpaid. Whatever that needed to be done that I could do, I would do and let them see me doing it. I would use the verbiage as well. So when I did things, I put a name to it.
And interestingly, there is a slew of research survey findings that say that more and more women would prefer to work part-time rather than full-time.
Given the reality of finding part-time work, it’s no wonder that only 1/4 of all women can work part-time. I’ve long said that part-time work is a fallacy. We all know how the woman in the office who works only part-time for 3 days a week is viewed. We also all know how her office peers begin to rely less on her because she’s only there for 3 days a week. This scenario is not a good long-term situation for anyone.
I am not presenting an argument for work outside the home or work inside the home. Both have value and are valued differently by all women. Those who are lucky enough to have the choice not to have paid outside work and can subsist on one income, like me, can make that choice. Even if one can afford to subsist on one income, if a woman wants to continue her career, then I support that as well. I really believe that if moms (and dads) are fulfilled, then that is what is good for the family and child(ren).
But in having made my decision to raise my kids and upon reading this research, I really wanted both my daughter and sons to see value in work, in overcoming challenges, in breaking a sweat. Aside from whatever work that needed to be done, I decided to start my own home business that was flexible so I could raise my 3 kids. I have found that even though my first few businesses were unsuccessful, it gave me an outlet to do something creative. Fast forward 11 years later, I have a thriving business that I truly love because of my customers who I consider to be my peers (though virtual). I get that social and professional support. And I find that by supporting other women by promoting their businesses on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or via my Sellers list, I get that back in spades. I have dear customers who convo me (Etsy’s email feature) from time-to-time just to say hi and check in on me, my kids, or my grandma. How blessed am I??? Very. Very.
And in the midst of all this dervish activity of keeping the house, raising kids, and doing all the work are 3 kids who have heard and seen me work. Whether I was paid or unpaid was – and is – irrelevant to them. I still get dressed every day for work Monday – Friday and they see that. (Getting dressed, doing the hair and makeup helps to put me into that mindset as well.) They also helped me out when I needed to do my daily post office runs. They helped carried the packages and let me tell you, my local USPS folks new my kids very well. They, too, got into the habit of saying “Are you guys helping Mommy work today?”
It’s hard to believe that my businesses started based on reading this research over 10 years ago! Much like you when you are done making that clutch, I take a lot of pride in my work and derive a lot of satisfaction from it. That is why the motto has never been “Selling purse frames, one at a time”. That doesn’t sound bad but my aim has been to help other women derive satisfaction and joy in finding a skill they can do. There are untold women who have skills but can’t find a job or know what business to open. Many businesses require a lot of capital and banks are tighter than the corset on Dita Von Teese! So while I didn’t change the world or even nudged it by a little, I hope that my work in putting many women (maybe even you!) to work has benefited them, their children, and their families.
Whether you make some side income making clutches or doing another skill or craft, how have you found part-time work of benefit either to you or your family?
April 23, 2012 - Posted by Thy Khuong | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | Ann Romney, authorative parenting, Baby Einstein, career moms, clutches, free clutch pattern, Hilary Rosen, Mommy Wars, Parents, part-time work, SAHM, work at home moms
8 Comments »
I am the #1 US seller of purse frames and I’ve been incorporated since 2001. This blog is mainly aimed at my audience of clutch handbag makers. I have a very small niche that is comprised of 99.9% women. I am loyal and promote handbag makers who are loyal to me by using my fine purse frames. When they are successful, then I am successful.
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