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In praise of all moms (an anti-guilt trip)

Dr. Laura thinks you should feel guilty for working. She's wrong.

by Traci Feit Love  |  86719 views  |  31 comments  |       Rate this now! 

"Dr. Laura" is at it again.  In her latest book, In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms (which could actually be called "A Criticism of Working Moms"), she complains that working moms just don't feel guilty enough about leaving their kids with paid childcare providers (you can check out an excerpt here).

"There used to be a guilt factor about parenting your own kids versus paying someone else to. Guilt is not the motivator it used to be, as folks have shifted from 'should' to 'feel like/or not.' These days, the 'feely' answer usually wins out."

I will spare you all of my thoughts about Dr. Laura (since it would take you all day to read them) and just directly address her statement about guilt.

In Dr. Laura's perfect world, mothers would feel too guilty to work outside the home. They would feel so guilty about leaving their kids with a childcare provider that they would instead become stay-at-home moms and "benefit from the joy of motherhood." That's right -- she thinks that moms who want to work, but instead stay home out of guilt, would actually be joyful about their situation.

I'm trying very hard here to remain professional and not say something childish (such as, for example, "Dr. Laura is an idiot").  So how can I put this?  Dr. Laura fails to understand that not everyone shares her view of the world, and that she does not have the moral high ground simply because she claims to. Oh, and she's wrong.

I believe that children benefit from having parents who find fulfillment in what they do -- whether they work full-time, stay home full-time, or work out some other arrangement.  A miserable stay-at-home mom isn't doing anyone any good.  Nor is a working mom who feels horribly guilty about her choice (if she actually has a choice) to work outside the home.  

I suggest that when a mom is feeling guilty about something she's not doing (staying home, for example), she consider thinking about what she is doing (providing for her family).  Why shouldn't that mom feel proud of herself for what she's giving to her family?

No mother can be all things to her kids -- so why not take pride in what we are able to do?

When it comes to praising moms, as Dr. Laura claims to be doing, let's give praise where it's due: not only to stay-at-home moms, but to all moms doing their best to raise happy, healthy children.

What do you think?  What are you most proud of as a mother?

P.S. "Dr." Laura's PhD is in physiology (not psychology or psychiatry or anything that relates to giving the type of advice she offers). Not sure how that's relevant to this particular post, but thought you should know.

About the Author

Traci Feit Love is a freelance writer and small business consultant. She blogs at The Breadwinner Mom (

Read more by Traci Feit Love

31 comments so far...

  • To RecoveryCoach (Cheryl),

    Thanks for your comment and question. I'm all for "love and light," but I also think that it's ok to have and express a difference of opinion. I think as women it's important for us to be able to have open, honest discussions about important issues. We are not spreading "hatred and intolerance" simply because we have strong opinions. We do not always have to focus on "finding the good" - it is ok to point out the negatives of someone else's agenda.

    As for why Dr. Laura's opinion "triggers" me - well, I guess I find it hard to sit by quietly when a self-professed expert sends a message out into the world that I so strongly disagree with. That's what free speech is all about. Dr. Laura is free to say what she wants, but the check on that is that the rest of us are free to (loudly) disagree. I disagree with the notion that the only way to raise happy, healthy kids is to have a stay-at-home mom and working dad.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Traci Feit Love on 23rd April 2009

  • To n_nichole:

    Thanks for your comment. You are certainly entitled to your opinion (as we all are), and I'm glad you shared it. At the same time, I have to disagree with you that "because mothers aren't home, children aren't getting the love and attention they need." It's just impossible to make those kinds of generalizations. In my family, my husband provides full-time care to our daughter and she gets plenty of love and attention. There are a lot of ways for children to get the love and attention they need to thrive; I just don't think there's one "right way" for everyone to raise kids. I also hope for your sake that you can let go of the guilt you feel for leaving your child with a daycare provider. If you don't have a choice in the matter, then you have nothing to feel guilty about.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Traci Feit Love on 23rd April 2009

  • I am curious as to why her opinion seems to trigger you?
    When I read or heard her speak, I heard her relating to her own experience as both a working mom and a stay at home mom, and her own truths about when she was aligning with her own feelings and thoughts about herself as a mom. I didn't hear her speaking for you or your experience, or your choice.
    I think anything taken out of context can be interpreted in many ways depending on what we are each looking for. Even within the context, we will look for something that either proves or disproves what we initially believe about ourselves. We are all connected, and often times we mirror for one another the things we are afraid of within ourselves. The what-ifs... what if it is true that I am really this horrific mother? A fear many of us share deep within. So we run around trying to prove or disprove the theory so we can be and feel okay in the world. We all have the capacity to be great moms, and horrible moms, and many of us are a mixture of both at different times. That is not dependent on if we work outside the home or in the home. That is simply a part of us being human here.
    Hatred and intolerance is easily spread. It takes more energy to love and find the good within those around us.
    To acknowledge our own (seemingly) imperfections is scary, thus we point out those in others. That is much much easier. O, that bad bad Dr. Laura... :-)
    Peace begins within each of us, and it takes some effort for each of us to be responsible in having an awareness about what we say and do, and questioning our own motivation for such things.
    Much love and light!~Cheryl

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by RecoveryCoach on 23rd April 2009

  • I think she is pretty much right on.
    Why have children for someone else to raise?
    Doesn't make sense to me, and I feel guilt everyday for leaving my child with a daycare provider.
    Thanks feminism!

    Because mothers aren't at home, children aren't getting the love and attention they need.
    And now, thank god they can get the morning after pill at 17! Thank you! Because geez, I'm not at home keeping an eye on them and teaching them good morals, we have a good back up plan.

    I believe this is all fueled by greed.
    Greed for monetary items. You work for money to live in your fancy house, have nice clothes and good shoes.
    Thanks Capitalism!

    I really do stand with "dr" Laura and Ann coulter that the break up in our country is due to single mothering and mothers not being home with their children.

    I was a divorced mother. Remarried now.
    I am a working mother.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by n_nichole on 23rd April 2009

  • I feel guilty till I pay the mortgage, then am glad my son doesn't have to live in a homeless shelter. Dr. Laura needs to get a clue. How about using your public persona to advocate for better parental leave policies that don't punish working parents, and affordable high quality child care? I just met with HR about my impending maternity leave and may not be able to afford to take a full 3 months and I am devastated. Maybe Dr. Laura wants to pay my bills.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by omommy on 23rd April 2009

  • Ok, I'm going to make a very "graphic" but frank comment here. IMHO, "Dr." Laura can shove it where the sun doesn't shine, then blow it out her hyprocrite's ear. Quite frankly, I, as well as most of you here, have to live in the real world, not some utopian fantasyland. My husband has been out of work for almost 11 months now, and even before then, it took 2 of us to pay the mortgage and put food on the table and clothes on our and our daughter's back. Guilty? What parent DOESN'T feel guilty? But guess what? The vast majority of us HAVE to eat, we HAVE to pay bills, and we ALL have to live in the REAL WORLD.

    I come from a very LONG line of working women. About 6 generations worth, to be exact, and I'm damn proud of it. My daughter will soon be the 7th generation, as will, God willing, those women who come after her. Frankly, I don't put much creedence in such a self-absorbed, self-righteous "Dr." (who isn't). I have to live in the real world. Apparently, she doesn't.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by JKLD on 23rd April 2009

  • Dr. Laura worked when her son was young. This is yet another example of do as I say, not as I do. And hey, she "chose" to work as I understand it. From what's she's said in other books, it wasn't a necessity; she wanted to, so the "feely" answer that was good enough for her was apparently not good enough for the rest of us.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Beth on 23rd April 2009

  • I think the problem is is she believes we have a choice. Yes I do feel guilty for leaving my son, especially when he says please mommy stay. But unfortunatly its not like I can call up the electric company and say hey, my son wanted me to stay home today, so can you give me an extension on my bills? The economy is to crappy right now for one parent to stay at home if they both can be working. Seriously, would you feel more guilty for going to work and comming home to your children, or making your children live in poverty because you feel to guilty to go to work. She needs a grasp of reality. Sure I would love to spend more time with my son, but I also want him to be healthy, and eat good to. I don't think she has every had to experience her child crying becuase he was hungry, or having to count out 400 pennies then roll them to take to the grocery store to buy milk. I dare anyone to say I don't love my children, or don't feel guilty enough for leaving them in the morning, I work to give them the life I think they should have. My boyfriend is not rich, and he doesn't have qualifications it takes to make more money than me. You do what you have to do to make a life for you child.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by D'SMommy1329 on 23rd April 2009

  • I find Dr. Laura to be a hypocrite as well. She says moms should stay home and remain there - but she didn't. Plus I am guessing she wrote the book while at home. I consider that work too. I never liked her, now I have one more reason. I don't need her hear to ache for me. I love my child and I will always make her a priority.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Stacey S on 22nd April 2009

  • Thanks for all of the comments! It's great to hear other working moms refusing to buy in to Dr. Laura's guilt trip. Let's continue to support one another and tune out self-proclaimed "experts" who claim to know what's best for our families but whose real motivation (let's face it) is to sell their own agenda - and their books. Whether we work outside the home, work at home, stay at home, or whatever - we are all moms doing our best to raise happy, healthy kids and we all have a lot to be proud of.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Traci Feit Love on 22nd April 2009

  • Hmmm.... Dr. Laura has a career, and a son. Hypocrisy, anyone? Or perhaps her standards don't apply to herself?

    I found the Wikipedia article ( on her very interesting.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 21st April 2009

  • I didn't clarify my Dr. Laura and education comment lol. At some point, based on various factors, you entrust others to expose your child and educate your child. I send my children to daycare as opposed to a nanny or home based provider because I feel that they benefit from constant interaction with children of various ages, routines, play, education, independence, etc. I send my children to school (both private and public) for this very same reason. There are certain things that I am not equipped to provide my children, however, if I chose to stay home with my children I would be certain that I educated myself on a professional level (i.e. qualified/certified teacher). If you stay at home, make sure you can provide sufficient early education, homeschool your older children through highschool, etc. If you want to claim that it is irreponsible to "pass the buck" then practice what you preach. (just another perspective on the topic)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Dollface on 21st April 2009