The Blog

As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!


Being a parent is hard work and once the job is undertaken
there is no turning back.  Young working couples face a  dilemma.
Should they give up their accustomed life style in order to  have
a  child?   Will something be missing from their  lives  if  they
decide  not  to have children?  Does anybody know  for  sure  the
right  thing to do ?  Probably not.  This is a  private  decision
each  couple  must  make for itself.  There  are,  however,  somethings to consider when making the decision.

It   is  usually  the  mother  who  assumes   the   greatest
responsibility for rearing the child.  This sometimes comes as  a
shock to women who, before the child arrived, have been used to a
marriage in which both partners worked and shared everything as a
fifty-fifty   proposition.    There   can   be   dissension   and
disappointment,   unless  the  mother accepts  this  fact  before
having  a child.  She will probably have to give up more  of  her
time for their child than her husband will.

The   most crucial years in the child’s development  are  the
first  three.   After that time, parents  can  legitimately  find
alternative  care-givers,  like  nursery  schools  and  day  care
centers.    It  is  important  that parents  be  prepared  for  a
full  commitment  for these three important  years.   Since  this
commitment  will probably fall greatest on the mother, she  needs      
to be given some support and have some time off. Today’s  mothers
are in lonely professions.  They are expected to spend full  time
at home with no adult stimulation and usually no other help.  The
grandparents  usually live far away and their next door  neighbor
works.   It  is  not only hard work, it is  an  impossible  task.
Planning ahead for some support and time-off is important.

Recently there has been controversy among women over who  is
the better mother:the stay-home mother or the mother who goes  to
work.  The latter enjoys her job but feels guilty because she  is
not home with the children.  The former feels that she is being a
better  mother  by  not  going to work  but  finds  that  raising
children  is  not  always  that much fun  and  she  misses  adult
associations  and professional stimulation she got from her  job.
The  mother  in both cases is in a no-win situation  and  society
does not make it any easier for her.

The  fact of the matter is that women who resent  giving  up
their careers in order to raise a family, probably do not do well
as  parents when they “sacrifice” themselves for their  children.
Their   resentment  will  affect  their  relationship  with   the
children.  They and their families would do better if they  found
a  suitable substitute for the time mother is working out of  the
home.   The  controversy  over  who  is  the  better  mother   is
meaningless.  It depends on the personalities and talents of  the
people involved.  Some people are natural parents, others have to
learn,  others because of temperament never enjoy the role or  do
well at it Staying home does not mean the mother does a  better           
job.   It  depends  on the  mother.   Mothers  should  understand
themselves,  however,  and  make  wise  choices  based  on   this
understanding.   There is no reason to feel guilty or  apologetic
for  a choice made keeping in mind your own talents and needs  as
well as the needs of the children.

Of course, the best solution is not to make it an  either-or
proposition.   Women have many talents which should be  nurtured.
One  of these talents is being a mother but being a  mother  does
not preclude the development of other talents.  A woman has  more
to  give  to her children when she is happy with  herself,  feels
appreciated for what she is doing, feels some rewards from it and
has  some  sense of accomplishment in her work.  Women  who  work
part-time seem to accomplish this ideal the best.  They are  able
to  nurture and develop their talents on the job. They  have  the
stimulation of other adults. They do not feel guilty about  being
out of the home because they can be available when their children
need them.  They also contribute their talents to the work-force.

One  of the most important outcomes for these women is  they
do  not feel they have sacrificed everything for their  children.
Mothers  who abandon their career sometimes find it difficult  to
let  go of their children because they have nothing  else.   That
kind  of  maternal  sacrifice  puts  an  unreasonable  burden  on

Nobody should have to give his life completely to one  thing
be  it  family  or work.  It is  unreasonable  for  employers  to
require complete full-time commitment from their employees to the      
exclusion  of  family  responsibilities.  In the  long  run,  the
employers  are  doing themselves more harm than good.   They  are
losing  out  on  a  competent  work  force  today  and  they  are
jeopardizing the work force of tomorrow.

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