Myths of Modern Motherhood.

by Leslie Morgan Steiner

 

I recently stumbled upon this gem in an old issue of Parenting:

 

Six Biggest Parenting Myths



1. Bribery is Bad.

2. Children Should Never See Their Parents Argue.

3. Always Put Your Kids’ Needs Ahead of Your Own.

4. You Should Treat All Your Children the Same.

5. Children Need “Quality Time.”

6. “Losing It” With Your Kids Makes You a Bad Parent.

 

The article debunked all these falsehoods one by one. I read each validation, laughed, and felt much better about myself as a parent.

 

Then I started thinking about the biggest working mom myths. (This is also known as “copying a good idea you saw somewhere else,” a critical component of the working mom survival kit.)

 

Back to the myths. You know, those wise mantras we believed back in the day, before stretch marks, when working 60+ hour weeks seemed cool? When advancing one’s career trumped all else? When we wore clingy wrap dresses WITHOUT Spanx? When staying late on a Friday night seemed…FUN?

zbraithwaite
06.14.10

I think whether #6 holds true for a woman depends on the field in which she was working before taking time off. I feel like there's a lot of talk out there about how valuable women on-ramping are to the workforce but in practice, it seems that employers still prefer the people who haven't taken time off.

leslie morgan s...
06.08.10

Leslie Morgan Steiner

My work is great and in many ways I'm devoted to it like a lot of people here on Mommy Tracked and in the world in general...I've invested decades into my career and my economic independence. But I do not LOVE my work the way I love the people in my life or my life itself. It's fun, it's rewarding...but there is a difference between work and family. True love just doesn't apply.

leslie morgan s...
06.04.10

Leslie Morgan Steiner

My research showed that you CAN return to work -- with certain caveats. You need to go fulltime. You need to stay in the same field and the same geographic area (where people know you and can vouch for your work). You need to go back within 7 years -- and before you turn 50, when age-ism starts to creep in. You need to be confident and determined in interviews, as you must in any job search situation. And sometimes -- at first -- you need to accept a slightly lower salary. But you can make up for that later. What gets some people in trouble is that we expect to be compensated on par with peers who did not take career breaks, or we want to experiment with a new career, or we insist on working parttime. The workplace doesn't value our at-home experience and we can't expect employers to accomodate our needs or pay us on the same scale as men and women who stayed while we took our "breaks." Just because we are older and wiser, that doesn't mean we can expect to have advanced while we were away from work. In other words, if you left work at 21 making minimum wage, that's what you are going to make when you go back at 41, as lousy as that seems. If you left work as a manager at 33 making $60K and want to go back at 40, you can expect to get roughly the same job -- not the vice president job your best friend earned in the intervening 7 years. Fair is fair. And bias of course does exist. You can expect to encounter some dissing of your at-home years and future abilities...but the truth is, women who've stayed at work have had to deal with that bs too!

leslie morgan s...
06.04.10

Leslie Morgan Steiner

My research showed that you CAN return to work -- with certain caveats. You need to go fulltime. You need to stay in the same field and the same geographic area (where people know you and can vouch for your work). You need to go back within 7 years -- and before you turn 50, when age-ism starts to creep in. You need to be confident and determined in interviews, as you must in any job search situation. And sometimes -- at first -- you need to accept a slightly lower salary. But you can make up for that later. What gets some people in trouble is that we expect to be compensated on par with peers who did not take career breaks, or we want to experiment with a new career, or we insist on working parttime. The workplace doesn't value our at-home experience and we can't expect employers to accomodate our needs or pay us on the same scale as men and women who stayed while we took our "breaks." Just because we are older and wiser, that doesn't mean we can expect to have advanced while we were away from work. In other words, if you left work at 21 making minimum wage, that's what you are going to make when you go back at 41, as lousy as that seems. If you left work as a manager at 33 making $60K and want to go back at 40, you can expect to get roughly the same job -- not the vice president job your best friend earned in the intervening 7 years. Fair is fair. And bias of course does exist. You can expect to encounter some dissing of your at-home years and future abilities...but the truth is, women who've stayed at work have had to deal with that bs too!

vlarson
06.04.10

This is why I never read women's magazines. Those lists put incredible pressure on us and give us more things to obsess about. Nothing is "supposed" to look like anything — do what's right for you and your family, not what we think we "should."

All we have to remember is that, on our deathbed, we are not thinking about how far we came in our career or how much stuff we have because of our big salaries; we think about how we loved, whom we loved and who loved us back.

Really enjoyed reading this; thanks!

neuromum
06.02.10

But... I really do love my job! Not in the same way that I love my family but I think what I do is a blast and it is a big part of my identity. This article actually made me a bit confused about mommytrackd.com. I mean, I get that there are lots of people here who are currently on a break from work. And more power to 'em! But... is there really a large chunk of people here who have foregone work to raise organic chickens? Or have jobs that make it possible to take years of maternity leave and then join back in in some way? A lot of the women who write articles for this site are professional writers. This is fantastic because the quality of writing is really high. But most jobs don't offer the flexibility that being a professional writer does. I'm psyched for anyone who has time to be off raising organic chickens but it would be kind of nice to hear from people who have more traditional jobs and have to juggle kids schedules, work demands, etc.

geekymummy
06.02.10

like the article. However I do think that number 6 should be interpreted with caution. With a resume like yours then sure, taking a couple of years off is no big deal, but with a less stunning set of qualifications a woman can find it really hard to get back into the workplace, especially in this economy. I know a lot of people who are caught short right now, with both partners out of work.

Michi
06.02.10

People were flabbergasted that I, the once driving to the top destined to be association president veered off the track (Myth #3). I had to say no, I have a special needs child. I have to work full time as it is, I certainly don't need it to be hyperdrive.
I'm hoping that Myth #6 is really a myth, that I'll be able to take the on-ramp back up that former path later in life. We'll see.

julieoh212
06.02.10

LOVE IT! Just went to my Mount Holyoke College 20th reunion where we re-read our commencement speech from Wendy Wasserstein. The address is just as salient today as it was 20 years ago (a testiment to her writing). The point that really hit home was about feeling fear from not following expectations, or myths in this case. (This is my interpretation, and I'm sure others have their own...) Leslie and Wendy are both helping me in the decision making process for some change in my life. Thank you.

hotemple
06.02.10

I really like the point you make about career detours. In research my co-author and I conducted for our forthcoming book, we found a huge percentage of women making changes in their work/life fit to accommodate motherhood. We also talked to re-launch experts who talked about how that demographic is a gem from the employer's perspective -- settled, mature, and very happy for a ticket back into the game. Such an important point for moms to hear...