When I chose full-time motherhood over my career in the early 1990s, the culture was engaged in the Mommy Wars. Commentators and the media were battling the benefit of having a stay-at-home mother versus a working mother.
The debate is one to consider in making the right choice for your child.
Researchers in attachment theory (esp. Jay Belsky) believed that day-care posed a risk to children. If your child was in substitute care for more than twenty house a week, you ran the risk of her being anxiously attached and feel rejection. I always marveled that the child-care industry was focused on regulations stating how many children are allowed per worker, and how many items of play equipment was required, but no information was ever provided about how extensive substitute care impacted your child emotionally.
At the other end of the spectrum, the argument for working mothers was that a fulfilling career or work life would make for a happier mother in the home and thus a happier child.
It’s tough either way.
I failed as a super mom. I found that an engaging career wasn’t compatible with being an involved mom. For me, both worlds suffered.
One researcher noted that you can’t raise children as a hobby on the side, and that it’s unfair to set women up for the expectation that they should want or be able to do both of these things at once. Parenting isn’t forever, but for a limited time, our kids need our focus.
Current researchers have to be more sensitive to the working mother. So many work out of necessity and truly don’t have a choice. Their current professional opinion is that family matters more to children’s developmental wellbeing than child care.
We don’t really know how our choice of work and/or family will affect our children in the long run. However it is insightful to ask yourself this question: When you are 60-years-old, are you more likely to remember the first six months of your child’s life, or what happened at the office that year?
For me, when I came home to raise my children, I didn’t remember the names of significant clients. But I could remember that last dozen clever things my children said or did.
The reality is that children need quantity time, not just quality time.