|Written by Rhonda Osborne, LPC, Centennial Mental Health|
Between the 1970s and 2004, the U.S. experienced the movement of women throwing down the kitchen towel and hitting the labor market. The Donna Reeds and Harriet Nelsons of our country trashed the pearls, put away the vacuum and dropped off the kids at day care.
The transition from homemaker to professional was met with resistance by conventional society. What would happen to the children? Certainly day care could not provide the benefits that are achieved through a stay-at-home parent.
Stay at home mothers are always happy, are devoted to a clean environment and perfectly groomed children. Stay at home mothers guarantee warm cookies and milk upon the children’s arrival at home.
Certainly, because they have so much “free” time during the day, they are much more tolerant of misbehavior and thus can rationally sit down with their children and inspire them with wisdom and values when Little Timmy discloses that he stole a pencil from his classmate.
The research about the impact of day care on the health and well-being of a child is clear: the degree of benefit from day care is proportional to the value of the day care center itself. Working mothers torture themselves with guilt for nothing.
In reality, a working mother increases the confidence in daughters by instilling the belief that women have the right to pursue whatever career they desire. They are not bound to a life of cleaning and baking, unless of course they choose to.
For sons, the picture is different. Males tend to struggle emotionally and socially with a working mom. I’ll return to this concept later.
If you eavesdrop on a female social event, you will hear women speaking of their wish to stay home with their children. The “finances” just won’t allow it; but they certainly would of course, if they could. What kind of mother would not want to stay home with her children?
Before you make judgment, consider the following. Extensive research demonstrates that life satisfaction, for men AND women, does not increase following the birth of their child. It is not until the child goes to preschool that satisfaction goes up.
Additionally, women who return to work following the birth of the baby have much better mental health than those who opt to stay home.
Interestingly, though a woman’s mental health improves, the husband’s declines when his wife goes to work full-time; especially when her employment results in a decrease in his earnings or when he is required to take on more of the duties at home.
You heard me right. Men’s mental health gets worse when they increase their contributions at home.
Maybe the female psychologists of the world will find the time to study the similarity between little boys struggling with working mothers and husbands struggling with working wives. Hmmm.