I have this rather giant pet peeve. First I would like to disclaim, before I rant, that I think that moms whose chosen vocation is their home, children, and family are beautiful and blessed. They are underrecognized and incredibly hard working: Dr. Phil says that being a stay at home parent with two children is the equivalent to 1.5 full time jobs in the work place with regards to hours, workload, and required skills. Those who homeschool on top of that are triple amazing. So don't get the wrong idea as I rant.
My pet peeve is this social tendancy to assign resonsibility for percieved 'social deterioration' amongst children to the historical shift of women from the home to the work force. Mom at work = unstable, rude, drug and alcohol abusing, God-rejecting (if one is a christian), immoral, problem children.
There are several problems with this theory.
#1, women have actually worked throughout history, including large numbers of women in the workforce during the world wars, whose generations of children were more polite and conforming and respectful (how accurate this is, I don't know, but it seems to be a widely held belief) than the current one (how disrespectful this generatoin is I don't know but it seems to be a widely held belief that this generations' children are less respectful than the last).
#2, I heard a statistic yesterday on the radio (not guaranteed accurate, but interesting) that the average man polled in the US spends 6 minutes per week with each of his children outside of the activities of eating and sleeping in the same house.
Why is it that moms are carrying the hefty weight of guilt/responsibility regarding social deterioration amongst their children when the dads are spending so little time with their children?
Obviously not all dads fit this statistic. I'm just using it as an extreme example to point out the fact that God gave each child two parents for a reason: it is a two parent job and as such responsibility for social changes lies with both parents.
#3, Social changes amongst our children would probably be better viewed in light of certain adult social changes in the last two generations. There was a lot of emancipation going on in the seventies. Women, sexuality, emotional expressiveness, art, philosophy, and especially social constraints with regards to what or who one was 'supposed' to be. My parents' generation didn't like to be stuck in boxes or follow rules, norms, or ettiquite. This is cool. Emancipation is cool.
It also follows that a more free, emotionally sensitive, expressive generation of parents would raise more free, emotionally sensitive, expressive (and less conforming) generation of children.
Are children really more disrespectful, or are they just more free?
I guess it depends on your perspective.
#4, We have this concept that divorce rates are rising, drug use amongst children is rising, and etc. Actually, divorce rates are not rising. They are lower now than they were in the late 40s/early 50s. I wonder if drug use amongst children is actually on the rise, or if it is holding steady. Any drug use is of course a concern, but if we are going to blame ourselves for something, lets at least get the 'something' accurate. If it is holding steady we can't really blame the moms' going to work. We could look at certain aspects of their parenting for sure, and maybe mom's absence during working hours is a factor, but I don't think all the responsibility lies in her lap.
I'm an attachment parent. I believe in spending a LOT of time with one's children: focused time, plugged in, tuned in, emotionally responsive time. I believe in extended breastfeeding and cosleeping and babywearing and homeschooling and all the myriad manifestations of attachment parenting. But I also think that moms can be this type of parent and work. There are all kinds of personalities and all kinds of women out there with all kinds of gifts/skills/assets/callings, so why is there a guilt inherently associated with work and mommyhood? I know myself well enough to see and admit that I am calmer, happier, more tuned in, more energetic, and have better perspective as a parent if I work one or two days a week. I don't think ALL moms have to work one or two days a week. My point here is simply that there isn't only ONE kind of mom so there naturally wouldn't be only ONE kind of manifestation of attachment parent.
Hence, some moms will work. And it does not seem fair for these moms to carry the weight of responsibility for negative social changes amongst children. That is my rant.