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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  |  48136 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 (www.thebreadwinnermom.com)

Read more by Traci Feit Love

31 comments so far...

  • I work full time outside of the home and it works well for our family. There is no right or wrong as it is based on the individual families and their individual needs. For our family and our parenting style, it is imperative that we lead by example. It is very important for me to be a positive role model for my 3 beautiful girls. As a working mother, I feel I am teaching my girls that their opportunities are limitless, how to be independent, successful, organized, goal oriented and yet still be that loving, devoted parent that spends quality time with her children. I agree that whatever you choose, let it fit your parenting/personality style and devote yourself to that lifestyle. To say that one way is right or wrong just shows a lack of common sense and intelligence. For every study showing "x" results, another will contradict those very same results. People must realize that they are all opinions. I challenge Dr. Laura and question why she allowed the state to carry the burden of educating her children when she should have assumed that responsiblity as the parent. Not every women is lucky enough to land a dear abby talk show where we spout out random "advice" on how to live life and get paid for it. You work...you don't care about your children....you stay at home and you are lazy and not living up to your potential. How far are we willing to go to make women feel guilty about working or not working before we step back and say enough is enough with the mom wars. Don't reduce yourselfs to the stereotypical catty women who have nothing better to do than to attack each other. Emerse yourselves in whatever path you choose (SAHM or Working) and let YOUR family be YOUR focus.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Dollface on 21st April 2009

  • Great article. Dr Laura needs to join the "real world' and understand that mothers do not and most cannot stay home. I refuse to listen to her radio show because of her old-fashion thoughts of raising children.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by breedlove67 on 21st April 2009

  • I am a working mom who would love to stay home and be able to volunteer at my daughter's school, my church and other worthy causes. I choose to work so we can pay rent, buy food, you know, cool stuff like that. If there is an address I can write to Dr. Laura to request the equivalent of my paycheck every month, I would gladly do so. That being said, I don't think my daughter is suffering much from her after-school club who watch her for an hour & a half every day. She gets to be on the playgound (I just don't have those facilities at my house), hang out with other kids and do fun projects. We live in a neighborhood without many playmates for my daughter, so this is a great social time for her. Every family needs to make their own choices and every body else should mind their own business, unless somebody is in harm's way. Childcare is not harmful, if done right.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Kit Kingsley Basler on 21st April 2009

  • I assume Dr. Laura didn't have a working mom herself. I did. I thank my mom from here to the moon for being a working mom. Therefore I don't have any guilt about being one myself. I know my kids are better off this way. And as someone else mentioned, I AM raising my kids. But how can I expect someone from a sheltered existence to understand that? What I don't get is why anyone, under any circumstances, lets someone tell them what they should feel guilty about. If you are guilty, it is coming from within. Maybe Dr. Laura is just helping you put words to it. If you truly believe she is full of it, you won't care what she thinks.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by SKL on 21st April 2009

  • I'm glad the author mentioned that Dr. Laura's degree is in physiology...every mental health professional I've talked to about the subject of guilt has been quick to tell me that guilt is (at its best) useless and (at its worse) destructive. I think remorse can be a good motivator to change one's life for the better, but guilt indicates a long-standing stress about something that's often out of our control. It is paralyzing, not motivating.

    I suppose Dr. Laura would argue that working IS, in fact, within our control. But I beg to differ. As a single mom (and therefore total anathema to Dr. Laura, I feel sure), I really don't have a choice. And that whole question of WOHM v/s SAHM is a decidedly middle-class concern. Women in poverty have worked for centuries, and moms who have money have had nannies for centuries (often whether they had a paying job outside the home or not).

    I guess what I'm saying here is that her "historical" argument in fact assumes an incredibly ethnocentric and narrow-minded view of history. Somehow I'm not surprised.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Steel Magnolia on 21st April 2009

  • While I've read her book " The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands" (and loved it!) and while I typically agree with her advice on just about everything, I really do struggle with the criticism that she brings to the table for working moms. As the writer of this article correctly states, not all of us are working moms out of choice, we are working moms out of necessity. My husband's field isn't the most steady especially during these economic times whereas my job seems to be holding quite steady and yes, this is the job that provides the health care we need. I choose to tune Dr. Laura out when it comes to this particular topic and that's okay. It's just a part of a much larger pie. Let's hear it for all moms, 'cuz let's face it...we're all working.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by sammysmom on 20th April 2009

  • Glad you included that bit about the nature of her degree. Seriously? She has no medical or otherwise relevant credentials, and she's going to tell me I'm wrong for working? *Resisting the childish urge...*

    I'm an Elementary teacher who loves her job. I don't love the time it takes me out of my life, but while I'm there, I'm usually happy and fulfilled. I enjoy my job and I do it well. When I stayed home with my daughter for the first months of her life (all we could afford), I was lonely, bored, and sad. I thought maybe I had a mild case of PPD, since I obviously wasn't myself and every day seemed long and the next one longer. I delighted in my daughter, but newborns are not conversationalists, and they sleep a lot. I am one of those people who needs people to talk to, jobs to do. I was so very bored, and desperate to get out and about. I drug my little one everywhere, even joined the only Mom's Club I could find, geared towards toddlers, just so I could get out and have things to do again. Then I went back to work and suddenly I was back to myself again. I literally felt like I'd awakened from a sad dream where I'd gotten my greatest wish ( my darling daughter) but paid the greatest price (myself). Going back to work, I suddenly had both. Had my cake and ate it too, you might say. But happy as I was, I would have had to go back to work anyway. See, there's this thing called money...

    Dr. Laura's worst assumption is that every working mother is choosing to do so. 1. I couldn't afford not to work, my hubby and I are both teachers, we've tried to tweak everything in our budget down to bare bones, it just can't be done. 2. We both love being teachers and as you said, there is the importance of a fulfilled parent. 3. I AM still raising my child. Nobody just slaps their kid in whatever daycare center they find first, we all check and research or tell our babysitter how we need things done with our children, etc. I still see my daughter more hours in a week than her babysitter (Nana, in this case, luckily). I'm still #1, and I'm working full-time. So Dr. Laura can kindly sit on it.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Meg D. on 20th April 2009

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