Working Moms v. Stay At Home Moms: Grandma’s Perspective

My daughter, a lawyer and a mother, forwarded me an article by Devon Corneal, a lawyer and a mother, from the Huffington Post, on January 28, 2013, entitled, “What Not to Say to A Working Mom.”   Ms. Corneal addressed the following questions and comments a working mom hears:  “Can’t you afford to stay home?” “I’d give anything to get away from my kids for an entire day.” “I’d miss my child too much to be away from him all day.” “The problem with this country today is that not enough moms are home raising their children.”  “Why did you have kids only to let someone else raise them?” “I don’t know how you do it. It must be so hard.” “You must be so organized to be able to balance everything.” “There’s always time to work later, these early years are so precious.” “You look exhausted.” “At least you treasure every minute you have with your son.” “Don’t you worry you’re missing out?”

If you are a Grandma and asked any of the questions and made any of the comments to your daughter or daughter-in-law, shame on you.

Working motherDevon Corneal wrote her article after reading an article by Amy Shearn, a stay at home mother, from the Huffington Post, on January 17, 2013, entitled,  “Stay-at-Home Moms:  What you Should NEVER Say to Them.”  She addressed the following questions and comments a stay-at-home mom hears:  “I love how you’re always working out.”  “So, honey… dinner, dancing or tequila shots?” “Too bad about all the dough your parents spent on underwater-welding school.” “You look like you could use some you-time.”  “I’m just checking in because you didn’t respond to my email from three minutes ago.” “That’s so nice for you, that you can afford to be home.” “Enjoy every minute!”

Amy Shearn actually quotes a grandma! Ms. Shearn says,My friend has been a devoted, happy stay-at-home mother for about a decade now. Her elderly mother (who was previously also a stay-at-home parent) still struggles to understand what went wrong. “She had a good career,” the mother is known to say, shaking her head. “I know she didn’t get fired. I just don’t know what happened.”  If you are a Grandma and asked any of the questions and made any of the comments to your daughter or daughter-in-law, shame on you.

Aren’t the Mommy wars over?

Here is Grandma’s view about questions and comments every parent of a grandchild should hear:

Every marital bargain is different and every family is different.   Amy Shearn quoted her Uncle Jerry as saying, “you don’t know what is inside anyone else’s pocketbook.”  Grandma says respect that your children have marriage that is unique and their own and different from anyone else’s.  Grandma says respect that every family is different.  Different is not judgmental, and neither should Grandma be judgmental.   Use whatever common sense phrases you have learned over the years, in addition to Uncle Jerry’s:  “The grass is not greener.”  “Everyone has problems, keep your own problems.”  “You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.” “What works for one person may not work for another person.”

Grandchildren deserve HEALTHY parents.  There is a saying among us Boomers, “if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.”  When we talk about our grandchildren’s parents, we mean we wish them and want them to have mental and physical and emotional health.  Everyone has problems.  Nothing is perfect.  But the last thing we want for our grandchildren are parents that abuse prescription drugs or illegal drugs or alcohol, homes where there is domestic violence or extreme conflict, where parents neglect their health, and because of these impairments, neglect our grandchildren.  We want our children to be healthy for our grandchildren.  Too many grandparents are raising their grandchildren because the parents are impaired.  These families are called ‘skipped generation grandfamilies,” –families  which are headed by grandparents with no parents of grandchildren living in the home.  See www.gu.org.  According to Generations United (GU),  between 2005 and 2007, the number of children in these grandfamilies has remained constant at about 1 million. Another organization, www.childrendefense.org, seems to have more current information and claims “more than 6 million children are being raised in households headed by grandparents and other relatives. Of those 6 million children, 2.5 million children are living in households without any parents present. “

Next time grandma considers whether the grandchildren are living with a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, think how lucky they are to have healthy parents.

Grandchildren deserve parents who put the children’s best interests and needs before their own.  Devon Corneal talked a lot in her comments and questions about time with children: “The problem with this country today is that not enough moms are home raising their children.”  “Why did you have kids only to let someone else raise them?” “There’s always time to work later, these early years are so precious.” “At least you treasure every minute you have with your son.” “Don’t you worry you’re missing out?”  Amy Shearn talked a lot in her comments and questions about time with children:  “You look like you could use some you-time.”  “I’m just checking in because you didn’t respond to my email from three minutes ago.” “Enjoy every minute!”  It is apparent from their articles that Devon Corneal, the working mom, and Amy Shearn, the stay-at-home mom, put their children’s best interests and needs before their own as a primary concern.

An interesting article appeared in the Miami Herald on February 2, 2013, “Less Time on the Job Doesn’t Mean More Joy.”  This article is written by Emily Oster, an associate professor of economics at the University of Chicago.  She applies the economic principle of “diminishing marginal utility” to the work – family balance.  It goes like this, “Each hour of your day—sleeping, eating, working, showering, playing with the kids—delivers some amount of happiness.  And usually the second hour of the same activity makes you less happy than the first.  In the language of economics, the marginal utility of time with your kids—the happiness you get from the last hour you spend with them – is declining as you spend more hours. . . .Knowing this, how do you divide your time to make yourself as happy as possible? It’s simple: The last hour of your time doing each activity should contain equal amounts of happiness.  If I spend eight hours at work and three with my daughter then this is ideal if the eighth hour at work has the same amount of happiness as the third hour with her.”  Hmmm.  Interesting view.  However, it seems the view is about the mom’s happiness solely.  According to Grandma, grandchildren deserve parents who put the children’s best interests and needs before their own.  Grandchildren deserve a home in which love, nurturing, learning, and preparing them for a bright and happy future is the priority.

Grandchildren deserve parents whose marriage or relationship is strong.  Now that we are grandparents, we have pure joy.  We look at the GGs, the great grandmas, and see the double joy in their eyes.  We want our grandchildren to grow up in a stable home with parents whose marriage is strong and happy at least 70% of the time.  Perfection in a relationship is an illusion.  A good role model of a strong and happy relationship is when the parents are able to make it work for them in a happy and stable way at least 70% of the time.  This is where Grandma can make a difference.  Remember, to make a marriage or relationship strong, the parents need respite and time alone to rebuild intimacy that day and day hard life saps from the relationship.  We need to encourage and make happen that the parents have 24 hours alone quarterly to rekindle the intimacy –away from their home, without their children, without their electronics.

Grandchildren deserve a home without conflict.  Living in a home where conflict is the norm more often than not is a home that destroys our grandchildren.  Domestic violence is generational –children who grow up with domestic violence either end up abusers or abused.  Our generation heard that it was good for children to see their parents fight.  We heard that it taught them that this happens and how to handle it.  This Grandma says NO.  If parents fight, they should do so outside the hearing and sight of children.  Fighting parents saps the grandchildren’s sense of security in the world.   If parents have problems with anger, there is counseling and anger management courses.  Grandma has a responsibility to watch for this in grandchildren’s home, and act responsibly to protect loved ones.  I guess this has unfortunately contributed to the numbers of grandchildren being raised by grandparents.

I know as grandparents, we want the best for our grandchildren.  Let’s get the parents of our grandchildren away from the debate of whether to stay home or work, or whether they are able to stay home and work.  Let’s turn the dialogue to the hard work of parenting in either alternative and what our grandchildren need and deserve.  Our children have the responsibility and must act responsibly so we can reap the

Joy,

Mema

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