Women have been getting mixed messages about the shoulds and shouldn'ts of motherhood. What this has succeeded in doing is…
- Putting undue pressure on women to work or not to work or be supermoms.
- Making moms feel guilty about being stay-at-home moms or feel guilty for being working moms.
- Causing self-conscious embarrassment if they aren't pursuing a career outside the home and self-doubt for pursing a lifetime career outside the home.
Get the message? You are damned if you do and damned if you don't. And that is precisely how a large number of younger moms feel.
We all know the history lesson here. Before the 1960s, Mom stayed home. The working woman was the deviant. Now that anything goes, the natural conflict of mothers' needs and children's needs should be addressed. Only then can the weight of stress and guilt building on motherhood's "shoulds and shouldn'ts" be thrown off.
According to The Motherhood Report, a study reported in 1988 by Louis Genevie, Ph.D., and Eva Margolies, the greatest satisfaction expressed by mothers in childrearing was in the early stages through the toddler years. Following that stage there was a decline in satisfaction that bottomed out (not to anyone's great surprise) during adolescence. Satisfaction began to steadily climb after puberty had been reached.
Finding a Balance: The Conflict of Motherhood and Self
Scientific findings of researchers may shed new light on the topic. Key among these findings are…
- The happiest women are the busiest women.
- Those moms who are the most harried do not have a negative feeling about motherhood.
- The choice to stay at home can mean a loss of self, believes Sally Placksin, author of Mothering the New Mother (Newmarket Press, 1994). In order to avoid that loss, women have created networks, support groups, and publications to reassure them that it is okay to stay home.
- Children in households with working mothers did not have more problems than in households with stay-at-home moms.
- More important to a child's overall sense of happiness is whether or not her mother is happy and satisfied with her lifestyle, whether this meant she stayed at home or worked.
- Twenty-five percent of couples in the United States today are choosing not to have a family.
- As Madeleine Albright, former U.S. secretary of state, observed, "Women's careers don't go in straight lines. They zigzag all over the place."