By Eileen L. Berman, Ed.D.
There are two distinct roles women can play when they are married and have children: working mom or stay-at-home mom. Each role offers different rewards.
Women who need to or elect to work need to make that choice, albeit a difficult one, if they are involved in a career and also want to be a significant force in their children’s lives.
For those women who decide to be stay-at-home moms, the risk is feeling that you are a “non-contributor” financially, that you are not fulfilling your “potential” and that you have no worthwhile purpose in your life.
Both extremes are difficult to manage. For those women who have no choice but to work, the choice is pretty well made for them. They need to work in order for the family to survive. To do it all … to become superwoman … is the trap they can fall into.
And for the stay -at-home moms, the necessity to see their role as “worthwhile” is the biggest obstacle they face in this materialistic world of ours. What do this mean?
The stay-at-home mom must see her choice as giving her a chance to bring up her children her way … to have the time to enjoy them … develop a real friendship with them … explore all manner of things with them … and take care of the house, the shopping, meal planning and preparation. She has a chance to be involved in the community as well.
This is her reward…knowing she is playing an integral part in the management of the household and the children. And this is her central purpose at the moment. This is far from having no purpose because she is not a working mom. This is a luxury she has now until the children are in school full-time and she may elect to join the workforce.
This choice brings a significant contribution to the financial stability of the household as well, since you do not need an added expenditure for day care. That money can now be saved and used to build a reserve….and that is quite a contribution to the household budget at the present time.
And for the working mom, she needs to see herself as integral in the lives of her children by being in a position where she has the flexibility to be with her children when necessary, to be available to them at all times, and still carry on her professional responsibilities. Can she be on a career ladder at the same time? I think in the early years when children are not in school all day, it will be difficult. But these are all choices women need to make. And with each choice comes certain fundamentals of good organization, planning, time for the family and time for yourself.
Is either of these choices easy? No … but they each have their own rewards. And, remember, nothing is forever!
Dr. Berman is a psychologist/consultant in Rhode Island and a regular contributor to “Personnel Perspectives.”