Weighing In On "Working Moms"
Years before NanC Weiland started her career, I decided that my children ought to have a parent at home ("The new debate over working moms," Working Life, Sept. 18). I felt strongly enough to put, not my wife's, but my own career on the line. I tried consulting from home, a little day-trading, temporary assignments. Fortunately, a successful wife and a cooperative stock market have left us in great shape for retirement as our children leave for college.
Many a modern man would like to have the opportunity to spend more time with his family, as I have so fortunately enjoyed. Men also deserve to benefit from part-time jobs that offer proportional pay, benefits, and opportunities for advancement.
Daniel F. Kane Jr.
Your article implies that women are incapable of making good decisions about how to live their lives. I am a 42-year-old working mom with two bright, active, small children. I am also blessed with a husband who delivers his 50%. I also made the decision to work for my own well-being and believe it is in the best interest of my children for me to feel contented by my career.
I have two words of advice to the women you interviewed--get therapy. Unhappy people cannot raise happy children, whether they stay at home or work. There is no relationship between the mental health of children and whether or not a mother works. There is, however, a direct relationship between the emotional well-being of parents and of the children they raise.
As a new mother who recently returned to work on a reduced schedule, I'm troubled that so few women seem to find the right balance, becoming either isolated and unfulfilled as stay-at-home moms or frazzled, tired, and absent as working moms.
I am especially troubled, though, by the toll this may be taking on our children. While stay-at-home moms are held up as the ideal model for raising children, is this really the case? Don't children deserve mothers who are excited about their lives and the contributions they are making, beyond taking care of the home? Should isolation and depression be the price they pay to be proper mothers? On the flip side, what of the children whose care is being "outsourced" to nonparents? This can't be good for them. Yet I understand the impulse to use as many household services as possible to ease the burden.
It is high time women workers call U.S. corporations to task and demand work schedules that can better accommodate the demands of parenting. But it is also high time American women--working in the home or outside the home--demand that men take this problem as seriously as they do and commit to sharing the burdens of creating a home and raising children. Wouldn't this be the best thing for children? If men were to join us in this crusade, perhaps the corporations they control would, too.
Lisa B. Baird
Each year more mothers are choosing to work. The percentage of mothers of young children in the workforce has increased virtually every year for the past 30 years and has now reached 62% (vs. 30% in 1970). This percentage has not fluctuated with changing economic times, but has steadily increased year to year. It is also interesting to note that the percentage of working mothers increases with education and income, indicating that women are choosing to work.
Your article assumes that the dad and the workplace are immutable; it's the mom who has to accommodate. Assuming that fathers shouldn't equally shoulder the responsibilities and joys of the home traps mothers and fathers into rigid roles. To be healthy, productive employees, mothers and fathers need jobs that allow them to also be devoted, effective parents. Employees are voting with their feet. More and more are actively seeking a workplace environment that supports dedication to family rather than prevents it.
Chairman and Founder
Bright Horizons Family Solutions