As young women preparing to enter the workforce, we are often asked: “Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?” It is intriguing to ponder the future and the different possibilities that await us, but as young, single women, we find that we have a significant choice to make in the near future: Do we choose to pursue a family or attain our career aspirations? Can we have both? What does it mean to “have it all”?
The term “having it all” was coined in the 1960s and 1970s. Feminists tell us that we don’t need a man to be successful and that traditional marriage is the ultimate oppressor of women. Groups like the National Organization for Women (NOW) claim women need a career to be fulfilled. To them, it is demeaning for women to care for their babies, and therefore we should reject the roles of wife and mother for work outside the home.
Once a husband and children come into a woman’s life, however, priorities change. Looking at our own mothers, we see how their decisions benefited us. Rachel’s mother, Carol Mahaffey, home-schooled all four of her children and worked part-time in the evenings, after Rachel’s father returned from work. Rachel and her siblings were rarely left with a babysitter, and Carol even cared for others’ children just to keep them out of daycare.
Eva’s childhood experience was similar. Her mother, Rita Bell, worked at a full-time job, but Eva spent her after-school hours in her grandparents’ care, enhancing the idea of family. Despite working outside the home, Rita prepared family dinners and spent endless quality time with her children.
Our mothers’ experiences illustrate the natural ability and desire of women to be mothers. A career cannot fulfill a woman’s life the way her children can. Dr. Janice Crouse, senior fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute, agrees: “The [feminist] movement forgot that ‘having it all’ included the personal dimension. Success is not measured just in paycheck and status.”
A woman must consider some crucial factors when making the all-important decision of career or family. Women choose not to stay at home for a number of reasons, including:
- financial or economic;
- to satisfy personal ambition and to put their education to use, says Brenda Hunter, author of Where Have All the Mothers Gone;
- occasional feelings of isolation.
On the other hand, there are many reasons to stay at home, such as:
- connecting with your children, becoming sensitive to them, and developing their intellects;
- daily opportunities to build morals and values into your children;
- “the thrill, satisfaction and fun of watching your child respond and grow under your care,” writes Phyllis Schafly in Feminist Fantasies;
- “getting to see everything, the first step, [and hear] the first word,” says Wendy Schultze, certified public accountant and stay-at-home mom of two(1);
- motivating and socializing children(2) through spending time with them;
- research, as reported by The Beverly LaHaye Institute in 2002, that more than 30 hours of child care a week could result in a child becoming aggressive, defiant, and disobedient;
- a 2002 study released by the Institute for Youth Development which showed that ‘hands-on’ parents place teens at a much lower risk of smoking, drinking, and using drugs than the average teenager.(3)
Dr. Crouse says that instead of asking the common question of what is best for women, we must ask the question of what is best for our children. Her answer: “The best environment to foster a child’s intellectual development is one in which his or her mother is actively involved on a day-to-day basis; the best environment is the home.”(4)
Our own mothers, in our opinion, did not forsake anything by caring for us and our siblings; they showered us with love and showed us the concept of family that helped us become well-rounded adults. They epitomized the description of a worthy woman, portrayed in Proverbs 31:10-31. The beginning verse says, “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” A mother is a priceless jewel to her family, and it is her duty and joy to give her children the quality and quantity time they deserve.
Rachel Mafaffey and Eva Arlia are interns with Concerned Women for America’s Ronald Reagan Memorial Internship Program.
1) Robo, Regina M., “Dream Job: Stay at Home Mom”, Salon.com, http://www.salary.com/careers/layouthtmls/crel_display_Cat10_Ser253_Par358.html.
2) Hooks, Kathryn, “‘Hands-On’ Love,” Concerned Women for America, 8 July 2003, http://www.beverlylahayeinstitute.org/articledisplay.asp?id=4243&department=BLI&categoryid=dotcommentary.
3) Op. Cit.
4) Crouse, Janice, and Stover, Anne, “Daycare Dilemma,” Concerned Women for America, 25 July 2002, http://www.beverlylahayeinstitute.org/articledisplay.asp?id=840&department=BLI&categoryid=dotcommentary.