Holls here posting another feature on the series I started a bit ago on the War on Women (first post ft. rape culture can be found here)
This time I attempt to understand parenting from a woman's perspective and as a daughter of a single mother. Unfortunately, I don't have a rascal of my own yet so take my remarks for what they're worth, eh?
The War on Women: Parenting
Earlier this week I was involved in a discussion about families and the roles that parents play in children’s lives. Things were going fine and dandy and we were all bringing up some really great insights. We began talking about what we all want in a prospective partner and someone in the group pulled out his imaginary soap box and began preaching about how this society has gone to the pits because women aren’t there to raise their children like they used to because more of them are working outside of the home and these actions set children up for failure.
After I wrapped my head around his argument, my friend Jake had to restrain me from verbally castrating him (right before I finished picketing in Washington or whatever some folks think feminists do in their spare time). What actually ensued after his remarks is another story entirely. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to attempt to reflect on his claim because I know that he’s not the only one that holds it and some of you may not see anything wrong with what he said.
Besides having an incredibly large scope for which working women can influence an entire society so abruptly (such pressure!), this guy's firm declaration does have some logical points. Traditionally, women have been seen as primarily responsible for raising children in the home. Different religions often teach of the divine attributes and characteristics that women posses that make them particularly good at raising children. (Side note: don’t ever ask me to babysit your child. It’s allegedly frowned upon to play Hunger Games with them and trap them under laundry baskets. Whatever.)
As you can tell from the nifty graph above, it's true. The amount of mothers that are working outside of the home has increased over the years. Both married and single mothers are working more. Let's go over the causes of why some mothers are working more than they were fifty years ago. Equality in the workplace has slowly increased in this time. More women have been progressively seeking higher education which generally leads to a better job outlook. Cool. Divorce is much more frequent than it used to be, maybe pushing women into the workforce when preferably they'd rather be at home. Understandable. You've got to make ends meet.
Some women like to work. Some women genuinely are fulfilled through participation in the workplace. Whatever their reason for working, it is first important to state that this is completely their choice and should never be subject to criticism by anyone else. In the fluid and changing society we're currently living in, we're going to adapt to our environments. It is never okay to rebuke a woman for having career goals because that is not what you want for your own family. Although some may not care for this insight, women can still fulfill their responsibilities as caring and nurturing mothers and still work outside the home/inside the home/in her freaking car. (Another side note: whatever your priorities are for your family, I would suggest being very transparent with your significant other about them from the beginning. Keeps everyone on the same page, feel me?)
|ugh how is she supposed to raise the kid when she's not giving him attention 24/7 uggggh #badmom (source)|
|a man holding a child?!!! V controversial! Why does she look like she's working instead of caring for the fam THINK OF THE CHILD (source)|
With that said, let's reflect on how this can influence raising children. At the risk of overgeneralizing, I'm going to make a claim of my own: those that believe in the traditional responsibilities of mothers (i.e. staying in the home, cooking for the family, picking up the kids from school, etc) generally have either cultural or religious beliefs behind this. These are valid reasons for believing in the traditional role of mothers. I'm also going to make the claim that a good amount of these individuals probably believe that the best condition for the success of a child is found within the lawful union between a heterosexual couple. For those of you who agree with this guy's claim and hold the beliefs that I just mentioned, I have a few questions I'd like for you to reflect on.
1. Is the husband and father not capable of having the characteristics and attributes of a wife and mother? Aren't gentleness and meekness the overarching characteristics of Christ who we all attempt to strive to be like?
2. If your answer to number 1 was "yeah, but not in the same way", great! With that answer, you are implying that there are other ways for the husband and father to properly raise their children. Some words like, providing for them, protecting them, etc may come to mind. Awesome.
So, there ARE responsibilities that the father has which can also contribute to the success of the child. Claiming that women are failing their children because they are working outside of the home (aka providing, which was just mentioned as a contributing factor to the success of a child) seems kind of one sided, if you think about it. Men aren't chopped liver by any means. They can also contribute to the success of the children (and do!) as well and don't have to be bound by particular actions in order to properly raise their children. It takes two, bby (if you hold that belief that you're a lawfully wedded heterosexual couple).
|luv <3 (source)|
Raise your hand if you know a family with the absolute greatest parents, ever. They seem to make all of the right moves about raising their kids, probably have fantastic Instagrams, and really hold on to those ~family values~. Keep your hands up if you know that one or more of their children are *bad seeds* gaspgaspgasp. You wonder, "Where did these parents go wrong? They seemed to have it together and tried their hardest with that child" Shoot, the mom may have even been a homemaker. Parents can do all they can to try and help their children be successful individuals in this life, but ultimately, children are going to make their own decisions and will be accountable for them. So parents, stop beating yourselves up for how your children turn out. If you tried your hardest to teach them values that you believe will make them successful (whether working outside the home or not), you're not at fault. I respect you. A lot.
Likewise, a kid can come from a broken home or an environment with a working mom and not end up on the streets of Compton. My parents divorced before I started jr high and my dad passed away when I was in high school. My mom is still single and has been a career minded individual my entire life. She still managed to raise children that didn't turn out as screw ups (yo but I'm still hood tho, don't get it twisted). Is my family the exception to the rule of working moms leading to the downfall of society? I don't see it that way. Is the threshold for kids to succeed going to be higher for those in a broken home? I'd say probably yes, but the environments we're all raised in can only come into play for so long. We are in charge of our own success through our own actions. It's unfair to place the blame on parents and particularly women for the success/failure of their children.
So hats off to you if you're doing this whole parenting thing alone, together, working, not working, being a ~work out mom~. If your'e trying your hardest for your kid in whatever way works for you, I'm about it.
|actual photograph of me as a mother someday.|