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Working is not always a choice

August 5, 2012
By LESLIE LETUSICK - Copy editor (lletusick@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

Being a mom is one of the most wonderful, yet demanding jobs in the world. Most who have children also have jobs that actually bring home a paycheck. In some cases, they go back to work by choice but some mothers don't have the option of choice.

"Women at home with their children represent only a small percentage of families in the U.S.," says Dr. Beth Anne Shelton, professor of sociology at University of Texas at Arlington.

Working moms - just like stay-at-home moms - often face harsh judgments from those who question their parenting situation.

Dawn Papandrea from Woman's Day magazine recently wrote an article about the statements that working moms don't want to hear.

"Most women work because they need the earnings and/or health benefits," says Shelton. However, a family's financial situation isn't anyone's business. If one paycheck is enough for a family to live on, maybe the other is used for luxuries such as vacations and to save for retirement so one or the other doesn't have to work until they're 90.

Even a working mom provides most of the care a child needs. In addition, children can benefit from being around others. To make up for my time away from my son, I usually try to spend some extra time with him to make up for being gone, even though it is just three days a week.

Really? Experts have complied a study on everything. One week coffee causes cancer. The next week it doesn't. I just last week saw a study that said spanking your child can lead to them being a drug dealer or abuser. What? It was when parents stopped spanking their children that all hell broke lose. I'm not talking about beating them, just spanking.

Not all women work to get away from their children. Sure, I know some who do, but I do not. I would rather be home with my son than working. However, the time we spend apart is good for us both. He is expanding and building relationships with others. And I am having adult conversations that don't consist of Diego or Chuck the Talking Tonka truck.

You shouldn't have children if you don't want to be with them and care for them. I've always said that I am not a part-time parent. I want to raise my son. I want to care for him, teach him and nurse him when he's sick. However, some women don't have a choice but to go back to work after their kids are born. Some people have to pay bills and need two incomes to do so, and in some cases, they are the only income.

Just because a woman has to return to the working world doesn't mean she doesn't want to be a part of her child's life. For me, I plan to be involved in every aspect of my son's life that he will allow me. A woman shouldn't have to choose between her job and her child.

Are they actually implying that the women they are speaking to don't miss their children, that they are cold-hearted? Really? I don't think women who go back to work don't miss their children. Most women don't go back to get away from the kids. Most go back because they want a social life and adult conversation or they need to financially.

Old school. Things are changing. The world isn't what it once was. A lot of dads are staying home, and the moms are returning to the working world. Nowhere does it say that if you have a child you must stay home with it. It's a little bit sexist in fact.

Can you tell these statements bothered me? They hit home because I have heard things or been made to feel that I should be at home with my son. Believe me, it's not that I don't want to be.

However, when you need a little extra money, you have no choice. And, the adult conversation is nice.

(Letusick, a resident of Rayland, is a copy editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

 
 

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