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Thread: Linda Hirshman Says (Tertiary Educated) Stay-At-Home Moms Are Wrong

  1. #1

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    Default Linda Hirshman Says (Tertiary Educated) Stay-At-Home Moms Are Wrong

    This is an article I found in the American News website: ABCnews dot com. Raises some interesting points that I thought could be given a good ole BB analysis! As a tertiary educated mother of 3 I feel that Hirshman is specifically targeting her comments at me... but my opinion is basically "meh". Never-the-less it's an interesting discussion



    An alarming number of college-educated women are leaving the work force to stay at home and raise their children, a trend that is a tragedy not only for the mothers, but ultimately their children and women as a whole.

    Linda Hirshman says privileged, educated women who choose to stay at home to raise their children are hurting themselves and others.
    (ABC NEWS)

    So said law professor and working mom Linda Hirshman in a 2005 article for American Prospect magazine that has ignited an intense debate among mothers.

    Census figures show 54 percent of mothers with a graduate or professional degree no longer work full time. In 2003 and 2004 Hirshman interviewed about 30 women whose wedding announcements had appeared in The New York Times in 1996 and who had had children. Five of the women were working full time, and 10 were working part time. The rest were not working at all.

    "We care because what they do is bad for them, is certainly bad for society, and is widely imitated, even by people who never get their weddings in the Times," Hirshman wrote. "This last is called the 'regime effect,' and it means that even if women don't quit their jobs for their families, they think they should and feel guilty about not doing it."

    Hirshman also said educated women choosing to stay home was bad for them as individuals.

    "A good life for humans includes the classical standard of using one's capacities for speech and reason in a prudent way, the liberal requirement of having enough autonomy to direct one's own life, and the utilitarian test of doing more good than harm in the world," Hirshman wrote. "Measured against these time-tested standards, the expensively educated, upper-class moms will be leading lesser lives."

    The Other Side


    Faith Fuhrman has a master's degree in nursing, but chooses to stay home with her children.

    "The job I was in when I had, first had my child, I couldn't have done it," Fuhrman said. "I was working 14 hours a day. I was on call."

    When Debbie Klett became a mother, she quit her job in ad sales and started a magazine called Total 180 so she could work from home and spend more time with her children.

    "For me, I feel it is vital to be there for my children every day, to consistently tend to their needs, to grow their self-esteem, and to praise them when they're right, guide them when they're not, and to be a loving, caring mom every minute of the day," Klett said.

    Klett acknowledged there were consequences to her choice to stay at home. To save money, her family has given up cable, does not go out to dinner, and does not go on vacations.

    "We made tremendous financial sacrifices for me to be able to stay home with my children, and I wouldn't trade that for the world," Klett said.

    What About the Children?

    Hirshman argues that Klett's children would be fine if she worked outside the home. Statistically there is no difference in the happiness levels of the children whose mothers work and the children whose mothers stay at home, she said.

    Deborah Skolnick agrees. She is a magazine editor who will not give up her job and feels working is a good example for her children, and helps them in other ways.

    "I think my kids are as well-behaved and as well-socialized, if not better, than a lot of a fair number of at-home moms," Skolnick said. "I see at-home moms whose children won't separate from them, won't go to school, cry at the door. My children have learned, from an early age, that Mommy will be back. So they kiss me and they say goodbye."

    Fuhrman asked her 13-year-old son what he thought was the benefit of having a stay-at-home mom.

    "He said, 'Well, I really like to come home every day and finding you here,'" Fuhrman said.



    "But on the other hand, my daughter says to me, 'Mommy, when I grow up, I'm gonna get a job at your magazine, and I'm gonna sit at the same desk as you and we're gonna be on the same magazine together until we die,'" Skolnick said. "And that makes me kind of happy."

    Tune in to "Good Morning America" Thursday when the "Mommy Wars" continue.

    (End of article)

    The "Mommy Wars" thing is something I tune out as Media hype... just another example of how the media love to pit one demographic against another.
    Last edited by Bathsheba; December 7th, 2010 at 10:35 AM.

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    i wonder what the obsession is with trying to say that one is 'right' and the other is 'wrong'. i don't know why both can't be right - it depends on the individuals & their families.

    and what about if you do both? my mum was a teacher who stayed home with me until i went to school, then she returned to work. i'm hoping to be in a position to do the same thing, although finances may dictate otherwise.

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    The only thing that struck me as worthy of my (tertiary educated) opinion in this article was this

    "A good life for humans includes the classical standard of using one's capacities for speech and reason in a prudent way, the liberal requirement of having enough autonomy to direct one's own life, and the utilitarian test of doing more good than harm in the world," Hirshman wrote. "Measured against these time-tested standards, the expensively educated, upper-class moms will be leading lesser lives."
    To me that is a series of giant assumptions - how is staying at home not using one's capacities for speech and reason in a prudent way? Surely prudent is a value laden term with differing meanings.
    How is staying at home an indication of not having autonomy? How is she defining autonomy? Is having to be at Flinders Street by 0900h autonomy?
    I have no idea how doing more good than harm is related to paid or unpaid work. Unpaid volunteers pretty much keep our schools running. Most of them are SAHMs. Ladies who do good works contribute a whole heap of good to society.

    IMO that whole paragraph is flawed from start to finish.

    What drugs is the SAHM who is a caring, loving Mum every minute of the day on? I want some.

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    Meh indeed. I think being a SAHM is a huge privilege and I'm proud to do so. We have planned our lifestyle with that as a number one priority. And I'm using the time at home to complete a second degree Once my children are in school I intend to work though and I do see how role-modelling 'women in the workplace' can be a good thing for children to see.

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    Raising children is not important or worthwhile? Having to pay someone else to do it for you seems to defeat the purpose really...

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    To me education is about CHOICE. Having an education doesn't place an onus on that person to use that education in any particular way, it just provides the individual with more choices as to how they 'wish' to live their live.

    I am a SAHM with a commerce degree and 98% of a law degree (have 2-3 subjects left to finish). I never intend to use either for professional purposes. I have never held a fulltime job and that has been a very conscious choice on my behalf. There is nothing wrong with mothers who choose to work or those who have to work not through choice, but rather nessecity: however I choose to be a SAHM because to me, there is nothing else I would rather do more and we don't need the extra income. Should I not seek out education for myself simply because I do not intend on using it in a professional capacity?? For me, on a personal level, education is simply a way of keeping myself informed, enjoying knowledge for the sake of knowledge, and maintaining my options in case I ever change my mind and do decide to enter the workforce.

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    So all the smart women are choosing to be SAHMs then?? Makes perfect sense to me

    I wonder why she feels other peoples choices on how to parent impact her so much, and why she thinks she's so wise as to have discovered the one and only right way to do things?

    OMG who cares, really, I don't care if another mother works inside or outside of the home, it's up to them!!

    I have a Master's degree and am a SAHM and plan to be for a long while yet *shock horror*. This is what makes me happy, way more fulfilling to me.

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    Funnily enough, once I completed my post-graduate diploma to become a chartered accountant, I realised that I didn't want to be an accountant. I wanted to be a wife & mother. I work part-time mainly for financial reasons and partly because I do like to go to work sometimes but I would work a lot less if I could. I would much rather be a SAHM. This article is completely flawed and entirely one woman's opinion. I can't see any solid evidence in that article to say otherwise. I think she's "wrong" to generalise to such a degree. I completely agree with Marcellus - what's the point of having kids if you spend all week in an office not seeing them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowellen View Post
    I completely agree with Marcellus - what's the point of having kids if you spend all week in an office not seeing them?
    To me it's about autonomy. I like to stay at home, not because I'm really maternal but more because I'm too lazy to want to rejoin the work force and because it would be pretty silly to work for someone else when I can work for my own company.

    Spending all week in an office is just as valid as being a SAHM. I get that some women are really fullfilled by their career. It would be awful to be a SAHM if you would prefer to be working and too much time out can be pretty damaging to career and earnings potential.

    I think that what bugs me about this article is the whole one size fits all approach - that just because her choices make the author happy she assumes that they will work for other women/families.

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    Riiiight, so smart women who married smart successful men and can probably afford to stay home with their children, shouldn't???????

    What a crock. How is a smart mother "bad" for society?

    Should we get all the crackheads and alcoholics to raise the kids?? Would that make the next generation better??

    How on earth can it be a "tradgedy" for the children, having smart mummies stay home with them??? Do they even care?? I can just imagine a bunch of three yr olds running around, stressed, anxious, pulling their hair out because mummy is smart.. I mean really.....

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    Anecdotally though she is right about the trend toward tertiary educated women choosing to be SAHMs. In my circle of T.Ed friends I certainly see that it is the case. Interesting.

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    I love how the classification is that it's an 'alarming' number. Who, exactly, is alarmed? Is it the children? I doubt it. The mothers themselves? Seems unlikely. Other working mothers? Well hardly, since it will potentially mean more demand for their skills and possibly better pay. Employers? Possibly, but workforce shortages and retention are an issue across the board and not confined to those who are reproducing.

    So I'm confused. Where is the problem here?

    ETA: And how long is the SAH period for? Is she saying none of these mothers ever go back to the workforce? Because that doesn't sound like it is the case for all mothers who choose to spend some time at home with their children, particularly while they are young. I also this is quite US-centric. There's a very different social set up over there with regards to working and parenting.
    Last edited by Jennifer13; December 7th, 2010 at 11:28 AM.

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    Bath, could it be an ecomomic thing??
    Women with higher education would generally have higher incomes, and probably much better access to maternity Leave ect??
    And probably have married simular men, who earn decent money?? Many mums are forced back to work, where as these woman aren't??

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    I picked up on "alarming" too Jennifer and asked myself those exact questions! Maybe it's the prevailing government? Alarmed that they are missing out on all the income tax? Hmmmm

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bathsheba View Post
    Anecdotally though she is right about the trend toward tertiary educated women choosing to be SAHMs. In my circle of T.Ed friends I certainly see that it is the case. Interesting.
    My guess is that that is partly due the luxury of choice. On the whole people tend to marry people who have similar educational levels and a similar economic standing. As PB pointed out tertairy educated women are more likely to marry men who have the earning capacity to enable them to stay at home.

    ETA - *snap* PB

    ETA 2 - yep, it must be a US thing to be alarmed because here in Australia we would just be alert
    Last edited by Phteven; December 7th, 2010 at 11:32 AM.

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    And also where you live. The standard of education generally where I live is high, for both women and men. Of course they're more likely to have gone to uni, despite whether they subsequently became parents and then chose to stay at home or not. It'd be more unusual to find someone amongst the local mothers where I live who did NOT go to uni. Choosing to stay at home after having children is then a decision that she and her partner make, same as for any household.

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    PB: speaking for myself: I didn't have access to any paid Mat leave... but economic reasons did play a part. My DH earned too much for us to receive more than about $2 a week in child care relief... and we couldn't afford to pay $600 a week (to have two children in full time care) upfront. I know we would have got 50% back eventually... but I did the sums and it simply wasn't worth it to work outside the home. Also having worked in childcare I had a bit of an insiders perspective and good places were virtually impossible to get into anyhow. Staying at home just made so much more sense. And actually... being at home for my teenager after school has, in reality, been just as important as being home for my younger ones.

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    "A good life for humans includes the classical standard of using one's capacities for speech and reason in a prudent way, the liberal requirement of having enough autonomy to direct one's own life, and the utilitarian test of doing more good than harm in the world," Hirshman wrote. "Measured against these time-tested standards, the expensively educated, upper-class moms will be leading lesser lives."
    heaven forbid that an upper-class MOM be dragged down to a blue colar life wonder if Linda actaully has children of her own, or a maternal bone at all.


    I understand that many woman dont have a choice in having to go back to work and others I know have gone back to do it to get out of their 4 wall's and find their independance again as a person..but really do people think that woman stay at home and raise their children because hate it? Children do grown up and we can go back to our professions again when we can.

    Sign....seem's that more and more people are becoming narrow minded

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