This research paper started with the intention of showing that mothers who stay home with their children as opposed to working outside of the home was better for child development. The results were surprising. The research began by exploring the attitudes of mothers toward each other. A number of stay-at-home mothers feel that working moms are neglecting their children in order to "have it all, rather than make material sacrifices."(Lowery) Various working class mothers indicate that stay-at-home moms are "soap opera watching couch potatoes with no ambition." (Walker). These mentalities have resulted in the societal war of Mom vs. Mom, pitting the working mom against the stay-at-home mom in a conflict over which model offers what is best for the children. Many of these attitudes are due to lack of education about the true effects of daycare for children. Other problems arise because employers and government policies are ignoring working families' needs.
In reality, stay-at-home mothers wear many hats. They are the family CEO, the day care provider, accountant, chauffeur, counselor, chef, nurse, laundress, entertainer, personal stylist, and teacher. Salary.com reports that "based on a 90-hour workweek, a fair wage for the typical stay-at-home mom would be $88,276 for executing all of her daily tasks. Factor in overtime, and the appropriate salary leaps to $112,797." (Robo) On the other hand, working mothers are pulling double duty by balancing work and family, and many are doing so with a divided heart. They are not trying to have it all, but whether working by choice or necessity, they do have to do it all. Both types of mothers deserve credit where credit is due, yet the question remains, "What is best for the children?"
There was a time when the primary role of women was to maintain the family and support their husbands in providing for the family. During wartime, needs shifted and women were forced into the workplace because their husbands were away. Until the 1970s, many studies were biased toward the "negative impact of an unemployed male on his family or on the negative impact of the employed female on her family." (Ambrosino 484) Those studies influenced the hearts of parents in our nation for decades. Stay-at-home moms feel studies that are more recent are biased toward alleviating the guilt many mothers feel from working outside of the home. That influence is still evident today as shown in the following survey done by Employment.com. Given the choice, more than half of all mothers would prefer to stay home with their children, at least part time. Only nine percent would choose to have a full time career.
If money or quality childcare were not an issue, which option would you choose?
23232 Total votes cast.
This graph may also reflect that parents feel daycare cannot provide the nurture a loving parent can, but do daycares really harm our children?
To counter that inquiry, it is essential to look at the effects of childcare outside the home in relationship to the care a child receives from a stay-at-home parent. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) released its most current study in April of 2001. They preformed a childcare study by "following more than 1,300 children at 10 different sites across the country from birth into the school-age years. The study looked at the interaction between child characteristics, the home environment and child-care settings to help explain how the children developed over time." (Todd)
Their study confirmed that the hours spent in various types of care affected child development. More care by relatives was neither facilitating nor unfavorable to child development. More time in "home-based, non-relative care (defined as a non-relative caregiver who cared for the child in the study and at least one other...
Cited: Ambrosino,R., Heffernan, J., Shuttlesworth, G., and Ambransino, R,. (2001). Social Work and Social Welfare. (4th ed., rev.) Belmont. Brooks/Cole. Wadsworth.
Crittendon, Anne. (2003). The Price of Motherhood: An Interview With Anne Crittendon. Family Education Network. Retrieved November 25, 2003, from http://familyeducation.com/article/0,1120,62-21810-0-4,00.html
Mothers and More. (2003). Mission Statement. Retrieved December 1, 2003. from www.MothersandMore.org
Sutton, Kyanna. (2003). Do Working Moms Make Better Moms? Retrieved November 25, 2003, from http://www.familyeducation.com/article/0,1120,62-287,00.html
Walker, Julia. (2002)How Much are Stay at Home Moms Worth. Homepage. Retrieved November 14, 2003, from http://www.employmentspot.com/features/mom.htm
Jennifer (personal communication, November 24, 2003) endorses this view.
Margie (personal communication, November 23, 2003) endorses this view.
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