Working Moms: Not Guilty.

Not Guilty is the title of a terrific book by Betty Holcomb, jam packed with what she calls “good news for working mothers. The good news, to sum it up, is that kids don't suffer when their mothers work outside the home.

 

With the media saturated with stories of successful women deserting the urban corporate jungle to head off into the suburban sunset to be stay at home supermoms, one might actually be tempted to believe the hype that kids are better off when their mothers stay at home. Of course our kids need us. Of course we wish we had more time with them. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love our work.

 

Though the guilt gene seems deeply embedded in our maternal DNA, it can keep us from taking pride in what we do and who we are, both as mothers and professional women.  Guilt, unless it stems from genuine wrongdoing, is counterproductive. It sucks away energy that should be put to creative use. So it’s important to arm ourselves with reasons to resist the myth that our kids are being shortchanged because we aren’t at home with them during their every waking hour. Just because we work, that doesn’t mean we’re not a powerful source of guidance for our families. On the contrary.

 

So, about that guilt: Your working contributes to the economic stability of your family. When you leave for work each day you offer your kids a model of reliability, the dependable fulfilling of responsibility. If school is your kids’ work, your job is yours. As Holcomb points out, women whose jobs challenge and reward them rank highest on polls that ask about life’s satisfactions, and we all know that a contented mom makes for happier kids. Pitting women’s ambition against their children’s welfare cheats everyone. There’s nothing wrong and everything right with women being professionally ambitious. Newswoman Ann Curry, quoted in Wendy Sachs’ terrific book, "How She Really Does It:  Successful Secrets of Stay-At-Work Moms," proudly says that she’s more ambitious now because she strives to be a role model for her kids.

 

Research conducted several decades ago by psychology professor Lois Hoffman and continuously ratified over the years produced more good news: she discovered that girls with working mothers score better on social adjustment tests, do better in school and eventually accomplish more professionally. She also reported the results of studies that showed that girls with employed mothers tended to name their moms as the person they most admire. Kids whose moms work outside the home tend to be more self-reliant, and more flexible about male and female roles.