Since I work outside the home, my decision to read Dr. Laura’s new book In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms was a bit masochistic. If you are a working mother and you pick up this book, prepare yourself for a massive guilt trip.
As I read, I tried to remind myself that this book wasn’t written for me. In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms was written for SAHMs who feel under-appreciated and who may face criticism from family and peers for their decision. And Dr. Laura provides validation, praise and talking points to use when dealing with naysayers.
There are many testimonials and anecdotes from Dr. Laura’s listeners about the importance of being a stay-at-home mom. Here’s how one Amazon reviewer (a self-described SAHM) summarized the book:
Dr. Laura is preachy and polarizing, but for the most part, I do buy into what she has to say. A quick read that re-energized me, and made me feel more confident about what I do for a living.
Being a mom is hard work, and I do not begrudge SAHMs positive affirmation from Dr. Laura. But I do think it is unfortunate that Dr. Laura felt it necessary to attack what she calls the “feminista” movement in order to empower SAHMs.
Dr. Laura admits that she was the primary breadwinner for her family, and she has been attacked by her critics for being a working mother who advocates that other women stay home. To counter the charge of hypocrisy, Dr. Laura goes to great lengths to explain how she was a great mother despite her career. (She was fortunate enough to share childcare responsibilities with her husband and to tape her show in the evenings, which enabled her to be with her son during the day.) She writes,
I have been attacked incessantly for supposed hypocrisy concerning this issue of child care; I couldn’t possibly have done all the things required of my career without neglecting my son. Well, those critics are just plain wrong — and clearly defensive out of some well-earned guilt.
As a working mom, I can believe Dr. Laura was able to advance her career without neglecting her son. But Dr. Laura had the freedom to choose the right blend between work and motherhood for her personal situation. In fact, Dr. Laura is a beneficiary of the very “feminista” movement she attacks in her book.
Dr. Laura says that “feministas” attack SAHMs and do not respect their choices. She explains:
During 2007 a spate of überfeminist authors laid guilt on women who didn’t abandon their children to “other care,” lest they do the universe and their children actual harm (no, I’m not kidding nor exaggerating) by staying home with them. All the morning television talk shows glorified, in a largely one-sided manner, of course, that necessary course of action to avoid a woman wasting herself in the mire of her children’s needs and her husband’s desires.
That’s when the feminist movement’s mantra of choice got confusing: the decision to be a homemaker and full-time mother became a stupid, gross, dangerous error instead of a respected opportunity for self-expression and a deeper valuing of family life with regard to the well-being of a woman.
If this is what “feministas” believe, I am not a “feminista.” I support an inclusive feminist movement that empowers moms to decide what is right for them and for their families. What does that make me… a “Mamanista”?