ATTENTION: Mothers Need to be Supported in Today's Society

A woman’s role in the household is simple: tend to the home, and take care of the children, or at least, that’s how it was seen until the 1970s. Today, women have many opportunities in addition to being a homemaker. In the 21st century, women all over the country have strong successful careers alongside happy, healthy families. The problem arises when women are societally or personally scrutinized no matter what choices they make regarding motherhood. A mother who chooses to work outside the home is regarded as irresponsible and neglectful, not providing their children with the love and care needed. Stay-at-home mothers are called lazy and lacking in ambition because they don’t have a career or income of their own. Finally, women who can’t have children, or choose not to, are referred to as selfish and ignorant. It’s 2017. Women shouldn’t still be defined on whether they have children or if they stay at home or work outside the home. Society’s little habit of doing so is appalling. Instead of tearing women down for their maternal decisions, we should be supporting and building them up.

Motherhood is stressful enough, but trying to have a successful career additionally can be exhausting. Many women feel as if they must choose between having a family and having a career. Sixty-three percent of women, between the ages of 18 to 32, believe that having children will make it harder for them to continue to advance in their career and 56% of working moms find it difficult to balance both their career and family responsibilities (Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends, 2013). If a mother decides to return to work after having children, she will have to deal with some serious struggles. “I feel that there's a balancing act between raising children, household chores, and my full-time job,” explains Rebecca, mother of three. Mother’s working outside the home will often have to miss so many “firsts” from their children (first words, first steps, playdates and school) that it can feel like they are missing their child grow up. They’ll work long days at the office, only to come home and put more energy into taking care of the kids. Plus, childcare can be incredibly expensive and difficult to work with, and people can have some harsh, unsolicited opinions about parenting. “When I was working mom, I got told by someone who I thought was close to me that I wasn't a good mom because I worked instead of staying home with my kids,” says mother of two, Veronica. “I was a bad mom because I let someone else take care of and help raise my kids while I chose to work.” However, there are some perks to working outside the home. Working moms will have the ability to create successful careers which can bring in extra income and help boost a woman’s self-confidence. Having a social life outside of motherhood can help a woman’s mental and emotional states and it makes every moment with her children more precious.

On the other side of the coin, is the stay-at-home mom. Often criticized for a lack of ambition, this mother’s job doesn’t just end at watching the children. Currently a stay-at-home mother, Veronica, must fill many roles in her household. “I'm a chef, I'm a maid, I'm the boo-boo kisser, I'm the comforter, and I’m a tickle monster. I am anything that my kids need me to be.” Along with the financial struggles that single income households have to deal with, being a stay-at-home mom came with other disadvantages. “It could get lonely if friends are working,” says Rebecca, speaking of the time she spent as a stay-at-home mother, “and the moms who worked seemed to take my time for granted because I ‘don't work,’ so they’d always ask for favors.” Stay-at-home moms often put their career on hold for their children, and when the children have grown up, the obstacles of starting a career so late in life become apparent. However, there are benefits to staying at home with the children. The women get to spend their time with their children, watching them grow up and saving a lot of money on childcare. That level of bonding is incredibly unique and can create a strong and loving bond between mother and child that is difficult to achieve otherwise.

Overall, the decision on how to parent one’s children, and whether to have children at all, is completely up to the mother and/or father. As a society, we should focus less on criticizing women who don’t have children, or are not parenting their children the way that we might prefer, and focus more on making it easier for women to make these choices. If a woman doesn’t have children, she shouldn’t feel pressured all her life to “hurry up and get started” before her biological clock stops ticking. If a woman decides she wants to have a child and a career, it would be nice to help make it so that childcare doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and make maternity leave possible. Finally, if a woman chooses to stay at home and raise her children, she deserves just as much respect as a working woman, because it is just another full-time job. If society can’t work on building women up, it should at the very least learn to mind its own business.

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