This is the second entry in “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” a series of guest posts about the working mom/stay-at-home dilemma. It’s written by Bonnie Rothman Morris, the owner of Company B, a branding, public relations and social media expert known for her creative approaches to marketing. Her clients have included Kaplan, Achilles International, Gevalia, Kaplan, Inc. and Shaw Henderson Interior Design . She has counseled and developed campaigns for some of the world’s leading marketers, including Kraft Foods, eBay, American Express, LeapFrog and Target, and has also helped small companies tell their stories on a big scale. You can read the rest of her bio here.
I am growing weary of the working mom/stay at home mom dilemma. It’s been a part of my reality since graduating from college when I entered the workforce on a pathway opened up to me by the first generation of feminists who insisted that women have an equal seat at the conference room table. We had to act like men, wear suits like them (only with soft, floppy bow-ties), pay for our own dinners on dates, open our own doors and, when it came time to get married and have children, keep on going, find adequate childcare and act like nothing has happened to us in our personal lives.
We were completely deluded of course, but not in the way you might think. The implication was that the conflict we were facing was about personal fulfillment. But I realize now that working in an office vs. staying at home to parent is not really about that. Or at least it shouldn’t be. Working can be about many things from earning a living to changing the world through innovation. But parenting is about raising good kids. It’s about creating an environment at home to enable our children to be great citizens, leaders, ballet-twirlers, goal-kickers and self-protectors.
A new study on the American family’s “passion points” was just released and the implications for working moms and stay at home moms are exactly the same: no matter what path we’ve chosen, we need to figure out how to make sure we’re raising our kids to be the people that we hope them to be.
The study, conducted by The Family Room, a marketing consultancy in Connecticut, found that the top priorities for families are:
- Schools and education (45% of families)
- Independence and making good choices (39%)
- Time with family (36%)
There were other priorities, such as creativity, preparing a child for success and laughing and having fun.
So the question is, if these are the priorities, and they’re pretty good ones, no? How can this be accomplished?
Staying at home with the kids is certainly one way to make sure that the kids are doing their homework, not falling in with the wrong crowd and spending time with mom because, hey, she’s there. It’s even a pretty good way to bone up on those knock-knock jokes to add a little laughter to the day. But working moms aren’t denied these, ahem, pleasures just because they’re at the office. A little bit of advance planning – say time to review homework before dinner, scheduling a parent-kid activity on the weekend, and making sure to meet your kids’ friends by friending them on Facebook to monitor some of their activities, are all good strategies. So is an ongoing game of Words With Friends. Yes, it’s hard to be truly present when you’re across the country in an all-day status meeting with your most important client. (I have so been there). Yes, if you work you will be denied the unique pleasure of seeing your child open your front door after walking home from the bus stop the first time on his own. (Missed that one, too).
If our role as parents is to enable our children to be independent and make good choices, how we demonstrate to our children how we are personally fulfilled is the goal. We need to explain to them why we work – or don’t. We need to help them understand who makes a good friend, show them how they can always be learning by doing that ourselves and, make family time a priority, even if it’s gotten in snippets. Being present when we are able to is how we’re going to be great role models for our kids.
And whether we work at an office or stay home with the kids or everything in between, helping to make great people is one of the greatest accomplishments of our lives.