Family Works: Speaking on mothers

Rob Coombs, ID.Min. Ph.D.
Posted 5/3/18

To work or not to work? This is the question that stresses many a young mother.

For many, the luxury of not working outside the home doesn’t appear to be an option. In fact, more than 68 …

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Family Works: Speaking on mothers

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To work or not to work? This is the question that stresses many a young mother.

For many, the luxury of not working outside the home doesn’t appear to be an option. In fact, more than 68 percent of married women with children between ages 6 and 17 are in the American labor force.

For mothers with children under age 6, the percentage drops a little to just over 54 percent of mothers currently working in the labor force. As might be expected, the numbers are much higher for divorced mothers with more than 85 percent of mothers with children between ages 6 and 17 in the labor force and more than 73 percent working whose children are under age 6. Since mothers keep their own children 92 percent of the time following divorce and their spendable family income drops as much as 73 percent (while men’s spendable income increases by 42 percent), most single mothers have a very difficult time just scraping by. For many reasons, I believe that being a single mother is one of the most difficult and challenging jobs in our society.

Since more women are currently entering the work force than men and many are doing so with extreme feelings of guilt and apprehension concerning the possible effects upon their children, it is extremely important to address this issue. Does working outside the home negatively effect the development of children? The answer to this question may surprise you and relieve you.

Research reveals that whether a mother works full-time outside the home, part-time outside the home, or full-time as a stay at home mom is really not the central issue when looking at her impact upon her children. What is of central importance is whether or not mother enjoys what she is doing. For example, there are some women who just love staying home with their children. Being a full-time mom is their love and their calling in life. Baking cookies, participating on field trips at school, volunteering a few hours a week at the local nursing home or hospital provides everything they want out of life.

Children who are cared for by a full-time mom who loves being a full-time mom, flourish. On the other, if mother does not enjoy staying at home full-time with her children, over time the children will grow to understand this. Feeling mother’s frustration and resentment, children who live with a mother who does not enjoy being a full-time mom do not flourish.

For other women, mixing work outside the home and motherhood is a better option. The balance between the two worlds of home and work brings both stimulation and relief from both worlds. A woman who loves both her work and home is more likely to enjoy both worlds. Her children sense that she loves both her roles and flourish. For other women, they hate their jobs and resent having to balance the two worlds. They go to work frustrated and resentful and come home frustrated and resentful. Children who live under such emotional turmoil do not flourish. 

Moms ... Do you love how you are living your life? Your answer to this question most likely determines how good a mother you really are.

Rob Coombs is a professor with a doctor of ministry degree and a doctor of philosophy with an emphasis in Family Systems.

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