The Stay-at-Home Debate: A Woman's Right to Choose

Being an at-home parent is as true a profession as any.

The eternal debate over a woman’s role has returned to center stage since Democratic strategist, Hilary Rosen, said on CNN the now infamous words about how presidential candaidate Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, who stayed at home to raise her 5 sons, “never worked a day in her life."

While it appears that Rosen's intent was to question Mitt Romney's view of the average American family’s economics, her statement instead sounded like it questioned the value of the stay-at-home-mother.

Rosen has since apologized for her statement but the uproar continues and the question remains...

What do Americans think the role of a mother, or any woman, should be?  Is the role of a stay-at-home-mother of a lesser value than a mother who continues her outside the home profession?

Based on all the rhetoric, it is evident that there is no correct answer.  It essentially boils down to one’s definition of work

Webster defines work in part as an “occupation”, a way in which one “occupies one’s time; profession.” 

Why is it that stay-at-home-parent is not listed as a profession on all those standardized forms we come across?  Parenting at home seems to occupy a significant amount of my time (and all those around me). 

The pervasive stigma of the perceived “easy life” a stay-at-home-parent leads is simply ludicrous. 

Some are bold enough to ask, “What do we do all day”?

Even the way the question is posed is degrading.  I would never ask a mother who works as an accountant (or any other outside profession) that.  The question should be framed as professionally as the role, such as what does your job entail or what’s your job like?

The “It must be nice” attitude has to be eliminated.

It is my understanding that the feminist movement was all about offering women opportunity and CHOICE.  Staying at home to raise your child is just that, a choice.

Some imply that women who attend college “just to stay at home” are “wasting their education”.  I believe the opposite to be true.  I would venture to say that every woman who feels they want to stay at home when they have children should enroll in a management program.  After all, doesn’t being the head of household parallel that of being a small business CEO?

In fact, there are several books on the market that parallel the two work environments and provide home management techniques just as well as any book from Ken Blanchard, “The One Minute Manager” and “The One Minute Entrepreneur.”

For example, the book Mom, Inc. by Neale S. Godfrey includes tips on developing a family mission statement, proactive business/budget planning and delegating, all of which are critical skills for the at-home parent to develop.

The skills I learned in college and in my prior management experience have served me well. The ability to strategically plan and communicate effectively have allowed me to volunteer within my community; my ability to delegate ensures that my husband and I work as a true team; and my strong desire for ongoing professional development ensure I schedule time for play dates and coffee with other mothers which serve as both on the job training and business meetings.

Sadly, there are still a few discrepancies that will never be resolved such as the at-home parents inability to take bathroom breaks (alone, that is), lunch breaks or sick days.  But that’s okay because it leads to a greater appreciation for them later on in life.

Bottom line is that ALL mothers work and it is simply a choice for each individual family to make as to whether or not one parent should stay at home.

Some families have an easier time with this choice than others. Some simply need two incomes.

But, Regardless of whether you stay home, or juggle both an outside profession and your parental duties, there’s no need for judgment. Both can be equally rewarding in different ways. Both are acceptable choices if they are the right choices for you and your family.

As a culture we need to come to this understanding and respect every family’s professional choice, because being an at-home parent is as true a profession as any.

Lois Denneno April 17, 2012 at 07:31 PM
It's as good a profession as any unless you happen to be on welfare. Then according to Mr. Etch-a-scetch himself, you need the dignity of work outside the home.


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