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why is it assumed, because im a mother, I dont work?? (outside home)

128 replies

BarbieLovesKen · 01/03/2007 17:01

am so so so sick of this, what year is it??

for instance, last Sunday dp and I were out at a dinner party, type thing.. we met a couple there for the first time, lovely, lovely people.. they had their dds there and we had dd with us. Anyway, we all got chatting and dp asked what they (BOTH) did for a living, then in return, they both asked dp what he did for a living and listened with interest when he explained, I sat there, all smiles, and they moved on.... NOONE asked what I did... I took from this that it was assumed that because I had a little girl I didn?t work.

I was really insulted! Im not being overly sensitive, it wasn?t a once off, this is such a regular occurrence......

My job is just as interesting, paid, conversation-worthy as dps... so why is he ALWAYS asked what he does while I just sit there, smiling, proud, like a dutiful little wife?? Is this just the way things are????????? AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHH

OP posts:
yellowrose · 02/03/2007 21:39

No it isn't weird to stay at home in London, even as a prof. woman. What part of London ?

I used to live in a very affluent part of North London. There are millions of ex-prof. women who are staying at home until their children are 4 - 5 yo. London has a pop. of what 15 million during the day ? So, yes there must be millions of mums at home with kids.

The women you know are not the majority Xenia, they are a very small proportion of the entire capital.

yellowrose · 02/03/2007 21:43

"don't you know children are better off if both parents work" = better off FINANCIALLY, yes.

There are a great no. of world studies of pre-school children indicating that psychologically/physically they are better off with at least one parent at home, ideally the mother with whom they tend to have the greatest bond.

Jalexdra · 02/03/2007 21:56

Unfortunately Yellowrose, alot of published studies are biased towards the mother staying at home. There are many other studies that the media chooses not to publish which tell a different story.

BarbieLovesKen · 02/03/2007 22:05

Jalxedra, what were the findings?

OP posts:
yellowrose · 02/03/2007 22:09

What is the different story ? Let's just use common sense here, how or why would a baby of say 3 months old be "better off" in a nursery 8 - 12 hours a day, being held and fed by someone other than his parents/grandparents ?

I know I am going to get bombarded with comments on this, but this is my gut reaction as a mother.

Jalexdra · 02/03/2007 22:18

Yellowrose, I am not disagreeing with you. My point was simply that the media has an agenda, which is often biased towards women staying at home, and other 'traditional' roles.
Barbielovesken, I will attempt to link to some findings, but not tonight as the books I am refering to are in a giant box under my bed

BarbieLovesKen · 02/03/2007 22:21

Oh please dont go to any trouble!! was just really interested..I have a million reasons for wanting to work and a million reasons why I think its best for our dd but none of them seemed to be backed by any of this, as you say biased research. interesting.....

OP posts:
yellowrose · 02/03/2007 22:27

Yes, agree re, media. One must always read between the lines. I used to be a political analyst, so totally agree with the media being biased one way or the other.

I think it is a disgrace that any research should be used as a tool to beat women on the head. The research I have seen recently did say that children were happy with FATHER staying at home too and that it was preferable to a non-blood relation looking after an infant, so it did suggest that parents should share child care.

Please do dig out the research you refer to though. I would be very interested to see it.

Judy1234 · 02/03/2007 23:07

It's ridiculous that they need a blood link. What about adopted parents or all those children whose fathers think they are theirs but they're the mother's lover and why do you need a parent anyway? Many grandparents do marvellous work - they#re the main childcare I think for many women.

Anyway if it makes some stay at home mothers feel better wrongly to think they are doing the best for their children fine but they are wrong. Children with consistent loving carers do just as well if not better. So stay home if you prefer it but don't do it as a martyr or because you think it's best for your child.

yellowrose · 03/03/2007 08:05

Ah, if you read my post properly I did mention grandparents as a very good substitute for parents. Adopting is VERY different from putting into nursery, esp. if the adopted parent is at home with the child.

I do it because I love my son and because it is BEST for my son as the alternatives would clearly not be best for him. We have no close relatives nearby, so I won't leave him with anyone other than dh.

Your assertion Xenia is as absurd as those who accuse child-led weaners like me of bf for THE MOTHER'S SAKE.

What you say just isn't supported by, biology, human evolution, research or common sense.

Judy1234 · 03/03/2007 10:42

I don't see why that blood tie is the thing that matters. Do you think then it's if someone is paid money that it then becomes bad compared with a parent or grandparent doing it for no pay? But that doesn't work does it because lots of peopel do make some payment to the grandparents.

yellowrose · 03/03/2007 11:00

No, money is not the issue. I would pay my mother, sister or MIL to look after DS a few hours a day so I could go shopping on my own. Not that they would ever ask for money of course. It is just because I would be absolutely certain that they would treat DS as their own child. Sadly they all lives hundreds of miles away.

I don't have that certainty with a non-relation. If you do know and pay someone who loves your child as much as your relatives, you are very lucky indeed.

Of course there are relatives in some families who can't stand children. They would not be good candidates for looking after a child, no matter what their blood link.

Judy1234 · 03/03/2007 11:17

I don't think you need family love and some fathers see their children less than their nanny and the bond is less close. It's the time you spend with someone that builds up the bond but under 3s can have several people maintaining those bonds even if they are left in the gym creche with stranges 4 mornings a week whilst the housewife mother works out etc.

I don't think you need love from every carer for the child to be emotionally healthy. As long as it has one or more known loving adults who do love it like a parent or in my case the much older children, then you can add a nanny who is there for a year or less or the key worker in a nursery who may well only stay 6 mnoths but you still have the constant of the mother or father in the background. What is clear is that having no one - the Romanian orphanage with no human interaction for babies etc is very damaging indeed.

yellowrose · 03/03/2007 15:17

Xenia, I think the orphanage situtaion is an extreme one, certainly studies have shown that many orphanage children are emotionally disturbed.

It is also true that there are many parents and blood relations who are not good carers and in situations like that (again it would be an extreme scenario) the child may be better off with a stranger.

Not all children are fortunate enough to have loving children or adults around them. Sometimes they have none at all.

paulaplumpbottom · 03/03/2007 15:44

If they have rotating nannies or nursey workers how can that be stable for a child if they are the primary care givers?

Judy1234 · 03/03/2007 16:05

They have the stabilith of mother and father between from 5pm to 8am which is fairly constant. Take off nap times and it's not a hugely long time in a nursery and usually they have regular staff and one person who tries to bond with that baby. Personally I think having a childminder or a nanny with a baby under 2 is better and that's what I did but I think if you feed in all the variables as to what makes a happy child from the state of their parents' relationship, how happy that parent is at home, the poverty the family may have if the parents don't work, food, all kinds of issues that make children as they are you just can't say well that one facet - the fact they were in a nursery trumps all and will ruin that child.

Some stay at home and even working parents won't agree with me and think their child is damaged if it's not with a parent most of the time 24/7. Others will say banishing them to a cot or other room at night is child abuse virtually because they don't have that skin on skin contact all night at the other extreme.

Jalexdra · 03/03/2007 20:06

"Research over the last two decades has consistently found that if childcare has any long-term effect on children, it seems to make them slightly more gregarious and independent. Day care children also appear to be more broad-minded about sex roles; girls interviewed in day care centres are more likely to believe that house-work and child rearing should be shared by both parents. A National Academy of Sciences panel concluded that children suffer no ill effects in academic, social or emotional development when mothers work." Susan Faludi, Backlash 1992.
She lists her references to the research.

Unfortunately the research referred to above is over 20 years old so you have to question it's validity today. Still interesting though.

yellowrose · 04/03/2007 07:57

Thanks Jalexdra for digging this out.

"A National Academy of Sciences panel concluded that children suffer no ill effects in academic, social or emotional development when mothers work"

This is very vague as it stands. What is the National Academy of Sciences ? Are they experts in child psychology ? How many children did they study, how old were they, what sort of day care ?

Don't worry if it doesn't say. Thanks for posting it any way.

Jalexdra · 04/03/2007 08:18

It is very vague. There is a very long list of references at the back of the book which to be honest I have not bothered checking as they are all from the early eighties. There must be some more up to date research.

yellowrose · 04/03/2007 08:41

Don't worry Jalexdra - I am sure there is more recent stuff arguing either way. Will look up if I have patience and time !

stargazeypie · 04/03/2007 09:21

honestly though these studies just go in cycles don't they? - we'll have one telling us that children are emotionally damaged by both parents working and then a year later we'll be told it's the stay at home parents who have the less emotionally balance children! Call me a cynic, but it's probably all linked to how the economy is perfoming and what the government agenda is that week. To go back to the original post - yeah it's truly shocking in this day and age for a woman to not be treated as an equal, and for any asssumptions to be made about her being at home. Yellowrose - sorry but I can't agree about the blood link thing and children being better off with relatives. I live in a village where I see quite a lot of grandmas/aunties etc doing unpaid childcare. They often look bored, harassed and with a fag hanging out of their mouth - NOT my ideal of childcare. Xenia makes some excellent points about womens responsibilities here. I've known some mothers who moan about their husbands not doing enough in the home/with children but don't do ANYTHING to change the status quo. In fact some of them seem to not even want their partner to take an equal role in parenting - mothers can at their most extreme be very possessive about their babies which probably isn't great for theri emotional health. Finally, I look at my dds and I always ask myself the question - what do i want for them when they are adults? Yes, I'd love them to find partners and have their own children (eventually!they're only little) but it would horrify me to think that after the years of nurturing by dh and myself, our belief in developing enquiring minds and the importance we place as a family on education - it would literally horrify me to think that they could end up feeling second class citizens who don't have every right to be working in fulfilling jobs.

Judy1234 · 04/03/2007 10:12

The surveys never get people anywhere except if you find one that backs your position and it makes you feel better. Probably we all agree that no relationship with any loving adult is pretty disastrous. You only have to look at war evacuation stories to see that. My uncle was jealous of his new brother in about 1918. You can hardly imagine this now but you know what they did? They sent him to board at nearly 4. He was also left handed and forced to write with his right hand. Obviously we now know that is bad. Same with caning children so of course some fashions don't just come and go and stuff we've leant from Freud/Jung and lots of psychiatrists about child care and relationships, much of it is correct and will always be so - it's a discover not a theory.

Having parents whether tey work or not who can't emotionally connect with you and always criticise you or shout a you all the time is going to be pretty damaging too. All these things factor in to whether a child leads a happy life or not.

I did think that quote below is good and in particular the finding that some kind of nursery school education benefits children. In our case we had 3 under 4 and I thought the oldest at 3 would benefit from nursery school every morning because the home with the nanny was just so busy with all the attention needed on the younger two so I definitely think it was right she went to nursery school in the mornings.

The other factor is poverty which does govern outcomes for children as so so many studies show. Poverty has more of an adverse outcome than if you go to nursery school I would be pretty sure. So if both parents can work and the family is better off that may be better for the children than having so little money they can barely be fed.

What I notice with my children compared with some of those whose mothers don't work from school - I mean the 3 children at university - is that my daughters in particular have an independence, a coping ability their friends sometimes don't. They know how to get a night bus from London at 2am because I can't be bothered to drive in. They know how to get themselves out of messes and scrapes. The boy knows how to cook as he often cooks for his brothers. The twins can work the oven because I may not always be there to do it. So pros and cons and no point in any parents, male or female beating themselves up over it. Most parents love their children and do a very good job.

What I do thik is very very important is that if a parent at home really is having a pretty miserable time, if your experience with a baby is like Rachel Cusk in her book on becoming a mother, which reflects how I felt at home (i.e. very hard work, not satisfying and your whole life and self feels as if it has gone) then go back to work and you won't do your children one iota of harm and a whole lot of good. In other words don't justify being home when you're miserable about it on the grounds it's best for the children. Do it because you want to do it and you love being home and may be your previous job was badly paid and awful anyway.

yellowrose · 04/03/2007 10:48

Star - yes Xenia does make some valid points re. the role of women, but quite a lot of what she says isn't supported by facts or reality of any kind.

The vast majority of women with children, don't stay home for 40 years. They do it for the first few years of each child. I only have one child, so for me it means until ds is old enough to go to school and then I am back to work.

I am returing to work (self employment this time) as soon as ds self-weans or goes to school. He is 2.8 and still bf, I do not wish to leave him in a any kind of day care before school age.

I do not wish to have a discussion re. the merits of bf and self-weaning. It is not something that I feel as a woman/mother/bf-er I wish to compromise on. MY CHOICE, not that of dh.

I don't know any subservient martyr sorts who were forced to stay at home by a dominant male. It is a complete caricature.

yellowrose · 04/03/2007 10:52

"Having parents whether tey work or not who can't emotionally connect with you and always criticise you or shout a you all the time is going to be pretty damaging too. All these things factor in to whether a child leads a happy life or not"

Yes, I very much admitted to that further down. It is absurd to suggest that ALL parents and all adult relationships with a child are beneficial. You are talking extremes again.

I don't shout at or hit my child. The ONLY guarantee I have that he won't be treated badly now is for me to stay with him as long as possible. It is absurd to suggest that a stranger can look after my child BETTER than I can.

yellowrose · 04/03/2007 11:05

I disagree with the money thing. You don't have to live in Chelsea, you can have very little extra cash to spend on several holidays a year and hundreds of expensive toys and still be happy and raise a happy child. In fact studies have shown children are very happy with simple toys and simple entertainment.

The happiest moments of my childhood were spent in my parents arms, being kissed and cuddled. I remember the physical contact and being cared for. I don't remember my expensive toys.

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