Due to the changes in society and increasing financial demands on today s families, more women are compelled to take on careers, rather than stay at home. There is much debate on the subject. Some argue that a mother s presence at home is necessary for the proper development of children. Childrearing expert T. Berry Brazelton suggested that children who fail to bond with parents before the age of one may grow up to be terrorists. (Eyer, 41) Conversely, others feel working mothers gain higher self-esteem and set better role models for their children.
For women, paid employment has resulted in heightened self-esteem and improved physical and mental health, claims the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Plenty of studies show that employed women are healthier than homemakers. Who is right? At the turn of the twentieth century, definite gender roles existed. Women bore many children, cared for these children and took care of the many manual domestic chores. A woman working outside of the home was unheard of.
Men were brought up to learn a trade, many times physically demanding, and be the breadwinners for their large families. The Ozzie and Harriet model of the 1950s was the norm. Something happened in the 1960s to challenge these gender roles. Technology emerged to ease the burden of domestic tasks. Washing machines and clothes dryers made this chore a lot easier. Dishwashers automated the daily task of washing the family dishes. Fast food emerged as an alternative to home cooked meals. Microwave ovens allowed us to cook our prepackaged meals in minutes instead of hours.
In addition, women could choose whether or not to have children, how many, and at what intervals with the advent of birth control. This revolution allowed women more free time to explore their dreams, goals and pursue careers outside of the home. Many women got advanced degrees and entered into the workforce to supplement their family income. Whereas, women that continued to stay at home found themselves bored, isolated, and prone to anxiety and depression. One side believes a mother s constant presence is necessary for children s healthy development.
Children do not flourish in an empty house. (Hunter, 35) Brenda Hunter, a psychologist and specialist in infant attachment believes that children s social and psychological growth can be damaged by their working mothers absence from home. Also Hunter states, consistent maternal care is crucial to a child s sense of security and long-term emotional development. In a poll by The Roper Organization, fifty-one percent of mothers would prefer to spend more time at home with their children if money were not a problem.
The attachment theory predicts that babies are at risk psychologically if separated from their mothers for twenty or more hours per week during their first twelve months of life. (Fidelity, 37) Also, the British psychiatrist John Bowlby believes that a baby s emotional bond or attachment to his mother is the foundation of a healthy personality (Maternal Deprivation, 42). Whereas, if a mother who just had a baby, immediately went back to work, this would cause insecurity in the babies attachments with their mother.
Researchers have proven that fifty percent of day care babies are insecurely attached to their mothers (Newsweek). Conversely, reliable studies tell us that a child does not requires fulltime care from their biological mother, but that children generally thrive when they have good, stable relationships with several reasonably well-adjusted adults (Eyer, 42). Adults are more likely to be well adjusted when they have a life outside of the home. Working mothers provide a positive role model for children. These children learn to develop better social skills, assertion, and independence.
Daycare can provide opportunities to interact with other children at early ages and develop positive friendships with other children and adults. These children are better prepared when entering school. Also, older children of dual income families contribute more to family chores such as cooking, cleaning, and caring for pets. These household tasks teach self-reliance and autonomy. In the early fifties, when women only stayed at home and watched the children, they had a high incidence of depression and anxiety. This may be due to isolation, loneliness, and dependence.
Whereas, women who work outside of the home are shown to develop a higher self-esteem and have improved mental health. This balance between home and work provides a barrier against depression and anxiety. On the other hand, if a woman chose to stay at home, she could volunteer in the community and school. The mother will have time to pick up her kids from school, so they do not endure any potentials dangers of riding a bus. She has time to clean the house, run errands, cook healthy meals, and help her children with homework. These activities could provide the needed balance for strong mental health.
Due to the increasing financial demands on today s families, women are obligated to get a job. A dual income allows more financial support, and additional flexibility and insurance in case of job loss or illness. For example, in a single income household if the employed person lost their job or had a catastrophic illness, the family could be financially and emotionally devastated. Therefore, a dual income family is a good fit with today s economic reality. Other problems that may arise with one breadwinner are the potential struggles with power, dependence, and control. This may be the prerequisite to domestic violence.
Whereas, in a family with two working adults, the partners work together as a team, share roles and responsibilities and tend to get along better. This team approach makes more sense. Why can t men and women be equal? Today s financial and social structure requires collaboration across the sexual boundaries. Both sexes can benefit from dual careers, team parenting, and shared domestic responsibilities. This will result in enhanced women s self esteem and mental health, and improved relationships amongst fathers and their children. Overall, this approach seems more productive without producing terrorists.