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January 18, 2023

We should give all mothers a break from judgment

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We should give all mothers a break from judgment

This is an older study (2018) and there are likely studies, both newer and older, that contradict it in some ways.  I clicked on it because I, like many mothers, both those who work outside the home and those that don't, am desperate to feel that my choices are valid.  And while I appreciate the validation of the study, the comments to news articles about the study display the heart of the matter.  They include a tremendous amount of judgment (likely from those who support a choice to not work) and a tremendous amount of relief (likely from those who support a choice to work).  It would be nice to validate both without it being an either/or.  And to honor choices without judgment (judgment which I am guilty of sometimes).

I also appreciated the discussion quoted below.  My dad (who is of course biased) has oftentimes told me that even though I have a demanding job, I spend more quality time with my kids than his mother did.  His mother did not work outside the home (other than on a volunteer basis), and I have heard stories my entire life about her being the den mother for boy scouts, going on rock hunts with him, and generally supporting his interests.  So, his comment is incredibly meaningful to me.  And maybe we can all focus on that-- quality, unplugged, focused time, whether we work outside the home or do not, and not on questioning or ranking choices.

We were surprised to see in our study that parents’ time spent working and on child care — variables often much harder to do anything about, in light of economic and industry conditions — did not influence children’s mental health. So, if we care about how our careers are affecting our children’s mental health, we can and should focus on the value we place on our careers and experiment with creative ways to be available, physically and psychologically, to our children, though not necessarily in more hours with them. Quality time is real.