Army of Mom

So this is how liberty dies ... with thunderous applause.


Op-ed piece criticizes stay-at-home moms as "bad for children"

I don't know where to start on this one. A friend of mine emailed me a link to a Christian-based website that wrote a piece about this July 6 "commentary" in the Austin-American Statesman. Here is the link to the story, but be wary you have to do one of those Godforsaken sign-up thingees to access it.

I had a hard time completely reading this piece. You probably already know this, but I'm a stay at home mom who works as a journalist by candlelight at night, when children are napping or when I can bribe the soon to be 10-year-old to entertain his baby sister. So, I feel this is an attack on me and every woman - working mom or stay-at-home mom.

The woman who wrote it, Gretchen Ritter, is the director of the Center for Women's and Gender Studies at UT and an associate professor of government and women studies. I weep for the femi-nazis that take classes under her tutelage. I am also pissed beyond belief that my tax dollars go to support a program that goes against everything I believe in. Seriously, I'm going ADD because I don't know where to start ripping apart this woman's piece.

Her first point about why it is bad for children for women to stay at home:
"It denies men the chance to be involved fathers. This is a loss for them and a loss for their children. What does it mean when fathers are denied the opportunity to nurture their kids in ways that are as important as their work? What do the children miss when they don't have fathers changing their diapers, picking them up from school, coaching soccer, making breakfast or dinner and doing homework with them? On both sides, the answer is too much."

Ok, let me counter that with first-hand experience. My husband is one of the manliest men I know - he is also one of the most involved dads I know. His picture is in the dictionary many times beside the words testosterone, manly and macho. But, he is also one of the best dads I've ever seen in action. He changes diapers, coaches no less than TWO soccer teams, he cooks as much or more than I do, he is in the floor doing horsey rides and wrestling and he helps them with their homework. He also makes a mean hand puppet to entertain children during bathtime.

Strike one for this femi-nazi.

"Women who stay at home also lose out — they lose a chance to contribute as professionals and community activists. Parenting is an important social contribution. But we need women in medicine, law, education, politics and the arts. It is not selfish to want to give your talents to the broader community — it is an important part of citizenship to do so, and it is something we should expect of everyone."

What? Somehow because I stay at home I'm Ted Kaczynski? I help my husband coach the boys' soccer teams. I volunteer at church and I show my children the importance of being a part of the community by contributing to the food bank, the homeless shelter and other charities. I volunteer at my children's schools and I'm always at career day talking about being a writer.

Strike two, bitchcakes. This next one is my favorite.

"Full-time mothering is also bad for children. It teaches them that the world is divided by gender. This sends the wrong message to our sons and daughters. I do not want our girls to grow up thinking they must marry and have children to be successful, or that you can only be a good mother if you give up your work."

First off, I see a dramatic difference in my children since I started staying home. My oldest child struggles in all that he does and he was in daycare for the first five years of his life. My two youngest are more articulate, more schooled on little things like colors, counting, etc. as well as more well adjusted. Maybe it is a coincidence, but I don't think so. My oldest had the odds stacked against him with a speech impediment, birth defect and a divorce of his parents. But, I think had I been able to be home with him, his chances of being a little stronger would have been greater. As far as addressing gender roles and differences ... HELLO you stupid bitch. The world is divided by gender. It isn't ideal, but it is life. I see some blurring of the boundaries, but deal with it. I don't want everyone to be gender-neutral. I love women because they are soft, patient and lovely. I love men because they are harder, hairy and strong. There is a reason for these things. My daughter plays equally with Hot Wheels and trucks as she does her baby stroller and dolls. My 5-year-old boy plays as much with the toy kitchen and vaccuum cleaner as his sister. So, back off on the gender thing. Strike three, you're out Frauline Ritter.

"The new stay-at-home motherhood movement parallels the movement to create the "perfect" child. It's not just that mothers are home with their children; they are engaged with their children constantly so they will "develop" properly. Many middle-class parents demand too much of their children. We enroll them in soccer, religious classes, dance, art, piano, French lessons, etc., placing them on the quest for continuous self-improvement."

God forbid we want to offer our children opportunities for enrichment and further education. I played softball, took zoo and museum classes. I took piano and art. I don't remember wanting to commit harey-carey as a result of it. I think it made me a better person overall. I grew up with a love for art museums, wildlife and sports. OOOH, the shame of it all.

"Finally, the stay-at-home mother movement is bad for society. It tells employers that women who marry and have children are at risk of withdrawing from their careers, and that men who marry and have children will remain fully focused on their careers, regardless of family demands. Both lessons reinforce sex discrimination."

Whatever. If bosses are going to discriminate against women it isn't because we may hop off the career path, but because we won't give the guy head under his desk.

"This movement also privileges certain kinds of families, making it harder for others. The more stay-at-home mothers there are, the more schools and libraries will neglect the needs of working parents, and the more professional mothers, single mothers, working-class mothers and lesbian mothers will feel judged for their failure to be in a traditional family and stay home their children."

This point above makes zero sense to me. I was a single working mom for a while. I never felt neglected by any part of society.

What pains me worse than this article attacking motherhood on all levels, I weep that this woman is taking my tax dollars and teaching this horse hockey to impressionable young women and men at UT. She is molding our future into thinking that parents are doing their kids a favor by working and putting them in daycare where people don't really care about them like those who love them. Let's put them in those situations, willingly, to be left in hot vans and smother to death, to walk away from daycare before someone realizes the kid is missing. I feel for moms who have to work and can't be with their children. I was there once and I know how bad it hurts to put your child in another's care and entrust your most precious possession to someone who is getting paid $8 an hour. It is tragic. But, how this woman can blame the ills of society on stay-at-home moms is beyond me.


  • At 2:49 PM, July 30, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Tonie - thanks for ripping this woman a new you-know-what!

  • At 3:31 PM, July 30, 2004, Blogger Army of Mom said…

    You are welcome. It was my pleasure. I didn't call her the C-word, which I really wanted to.

  • At 4:27 PM, July 30, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Rock on...that er...woman, has some...uh, nerve to spout with that kind of tripe.

    Army of Dad

  • At 4:42 PM, July 30, 2004, Blogger Uzz said…

    Colleges and universities are the HOTBED of, not just liberal, but FARRRRRR lefties that want an openly secularist society, devoid of any God and of a diversification of gender roles. The "professor" that wrote this tripe is probably more the rule, than the exceptionat UT, where the liberal brainwashing of our kids go on with a religious zeal...if you have any questions, feel free to go to the campus at ANY time and ANY day of the week. I certainly prefer mothers to be mothers and fathers to be fathers...not mothers to be fathers and vice versa. Our son may have struggled in the past, but I think he has made great strides due to you being home, Jesse being involved and me being there in town so I can be a daily influence in his life. He literally has three parents, that despite being hard workers, also manage to soak him with parental love and direction only a daily basis.

  • At 5:44 PM, July 30, 2004, Blogger gone_1 said…

    Well, I certainly don't know where to begin... however, being one of those professional women this woman is so in freakin' love with, I speak from the other side of the fence on this.

    I think the woman is full of horseshit and would gladly tell that to her face. Being honest, I have no children, don't want any and have been freed of the burden of deciding if I should stay at home or work after the birth of a child. However, I will tell you, from my experience, that my Mom stayed home when I was in my early years, but was forced, by economic reasons (which I noticed our dear author blithely chose not to address) to work when my youngest sister was old enough to start kindergarten. The differences, which my Mom will admit to, are staggering. By the time I started school, I could read, write a bit and could concentrate for long periods of time. By contrast, my youngest sister has always had difficulty learning and hates to read, prefering to (in her words) "watch the video". My Mom had time to read to me, nuture my learning and give me a head start on my education... all without the piano lessons, soccer and other activities my parents were too poor to afford. I don't know who the author is referring to when she gives the laundry list of activities parents "force" their children into, but I can tell you, my family and my friend's families could not afford such "forced" entertainment.

    The women's movement - and I'm getting this from my Mom who was in the ORIGINAL push for women's rights, not the shrieking, man-bashing MORONS who try to pass as feminists today - was about equality and a woman's right to choose. She would choose to stay at home or she could choose to work. Simple. The push was to make sure no one made that decision for the individual. It is unfortunate that the economy has driven many women to working, when they would have chosen not to. Now, this harpy declares the basic desire to stay with one's children anti-woman, anti-progressive and simply wrong. What complete and utter horseshit! And, typical of the so-called "feminists" of today. You either are a professional working woman and thereby enlightened or you're a stay-at-home mom and therefore a stupid, uneducated, oppressed female. How utter AGAINST everything people like my Mom fought for in the ERA movement.

    I'll fight for my right to work and get paid as equally as a man. I'll fight for my right to be heard in the worksplace and have my ideas respected. However, unlike this author who has bought into the whole distorted view that women are somehow supposed to BE men, I will also fight for a woman's right to choose her life and what she wants to do with that. And, if that means having the opportunity to stay at home with her children instead of work, hell... hand me a banner and tell me where the march starts.

    To UZZ: Not EVERY university is a swelling stew of uber-liberal ideas. I invite you to visit my alma mater, Abilene Christian University, and even hear the word "liberal". :)

  • At 5:48 PM, July 30, 2004, Blogger gone_1 said…


    I neglected to read my post before I sent it and found that some words are misspelled. Being a writer, this causes me great pain, but please remember I was writing in a fit of passion and sometimes my fingers have a life of their own.

    I would politely ask the audience to please ignore my errors.

    Back to regular programming....

  • At 3:23 AM, July 31, 2004, Blogger Uzz said…

    As I re-read my statement, I am amazed at the typos...I usually double check my stuff...sorry. PIXEL...Abilene Christian is the exception sadly, but Baylor, Hardin Simmons and other private Christian schools are typically on an even keel. My comments were really meant more for the UTs of the world...though the Ivy League Schools are borderline socialist institutions now.

  • At 10:49 AM, March 24, 2005, Blogger Azure said…

    I realize that because this discussion is old, my comment may never be read, however...

    I should first say that from my memories of her article, this kind of backlash is exactly what hit Clinton and inspired Ritter to write about the issue.

    That said, she was trying to bring a minority viewpoint to light. That's right, a minority viewpoint. Mothers hold a respected place in our society because most of us had one, and she is a big part of who we are. Sadly, because of this overwhelming loyalty to good, strong mothers, no one ever consider that there may be a downside. Ritter simply makes that point that it is possible to mother a child too much, and that there may be undesirable effects that we don't consider because it's so contrary to our fundamental beliefs. Her intention is not to insult or look down on mothers, and it is not to tell hard-working, dedicated souls that they are bad parents. Rather, she raises questions about the institution of the stay-at-home-mom that have not previously been considered. Why haven't they been considered? Not because they're impossible or ridiculous or without scientific and sociological foundation, but because any point against the institution of the stay-at-home mom, or any style of parenting, is taken as a personal attack by all the members of that insitution, and it is not taken well. You obviously took it very personally because you couldn't refrain from profanity.

    These downsides may not apply in your situation, but they might apply to other similar situations- not every dad is a good dad and not every stay-at-home mom raises children capable of cleaning after themselves and doing things independently. Ritter simply points out that SOME stay-at-home situations can have negative outcomes. It may be a tiny percentage, but a percentage nonetheless, and deserves the attention of one editorial (which is an equally tiny- or tinier- percentage of popular media editorials on the subject). It deserves that tiny bit of attention because it is an angle no one has ever considered and may help some people in their personal choice of parenting. A fully-informed decision maker is always preferable to a partially-informed decision maker, and though her claims may seem ludicrous to you, there are some (a minority, but SOME) sociological and psychological studies and academic sources that support her opinion.

    On to your attack of Universities and UT specifically... UT (even UT Austin) has a very strong, very vocal Conservative minority. There are more conservatives on the UT campus than Mexican and Black students combined, and the Young Conservatives of Texas are prone to huge displays of their opinions. The "FARRRR" left mentioned above is ALSO A MINORITY, and also very vocal. Most UT students are moderate or slightly left of moderate. This is almost always the case with non-religious Universities for several reasons:
    - University students typically come from a large range of backgrounds, and as they learn about and socialize with one another, they accept cultures other than their own as valid. There are thousands of different cultures in Texas- small town, city, inner city, suburban, border towns, ranches, Catholics, Baptists, Evangelicals, Muslims, Jews, Germans, Mexicans, rednecks, mountain-folk, small farm, big farm, displaced yankees, native americans, computer-chasing dellionaires, musicians with big ambitions, and the list goes on. It's very easy to remain as conservative or liberal as you were raised while you are growing up at home, but when thrust into a world where a redneck lives and learns alongside someone from the valley and people of different religions or sexualities befriend each other before they realize their fundamental differences, it gets harder and harder to see other beliefs, traditions, and cultures as "wrong", and everyone moves toward the middle. The "slightly left" comes in because as they begin to humanize the minorities that surround them, understand and sympathize with them. These minorities range from ethnic minorities and religious minorities to sexual minorities and ideological minorities. Yes, there are a few who swing completely to the left, but even THEY are still statistically minorities, even at UT.

    In addition, University students are often learning- both in and outside of the classroom- thousands of things they never knew before. They learn the history of their own ideologies and conflicts that previously they were only taught to believe or support, and sometimes this new information changes their opinion.

    And finally, University students are out on their own for the first time. They get a chance to experience real freedom and independence that they never had at home, and often this makes them want to throw off the yokes of judgement and criticism that followed them through their upbringing. It's hard to be judged your whole life, and it's hard to walk on eggshells and deny natural tendencies (this is for both right-raised and left-raised children because both are boxed in by the stigmas their parents and peers teach them at home which, right or wrong, are constricting). Part of enjoying the freedom of leaving home is meeting new people and doing new things, and in the wake of that experiementation, everyone has moved to the center of the social spectrum. The stereotypes you have of Universities being overpoweringly liberal and "FARRR LEFT" are a throwback to the 60's and a mistaken conviction that a vocal minority is in fact, the majority.

    I invite you to walk across campus and count the liberal organizations who approach you, then count the number of religious and conservative organizations that approach you. Most of the speakers you see around campus are either strongly Conservative or non-students looking to grand stand (ie, inherently extremists and not always University-affiliated)

    There are 7 Christian organizations at UT. The only other type of organization claiming more groups (and not necessarily more members) is Greek life (fraternities and sororities). This is applicable because most people who consider themselves Christian also consider themselves conservative.

    Also, Ritter is, in fact a professor, not a "professor". She has all the required education and degrees to support her opinions as a professor.

    Try to place your personal defensive outrage aside and consider that this is an educated opinion, and she is entitled to an educated opinion of an institution.

    Then understand that before you form opinions of institutions (such as Universities) perhaps you should educate yourself on the actual political and social makeup of that institution.

  • At 2:07 AM, April 06, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Look, no offense, but I agree with the author's comment on gender role stereotypes. As a female who grew up in the 80's and 90's, I got thoroughly sick and ready to vomit at all the "homemaker" images of women that got shoved down my throat by the media, by political leaders (uhhhh, Reagan..."women are now SO equal we don't need to hire them in political office anymore!"), and by conservative America. Part of being a feminist (yes, a "shrieking, man-bashing" modern feminist--oddly enough, with a deep voice and a loving/beloved boyfriend) is being able to choose your own destiny and be your own person, with or without a male counterpart, with or without children, and whatever career you want.

    That's where our op-ed author went slightly wrong. If you want to be a stay-at-home mother, great. Good for you. I don't. I, for one, cannot afford it (and don't ever EVER take your economic ability to stay home for granted), and I believe that contributing to society by working is how I, in part, establish my identity. I want to work.

    My mother was a stay-at-home for most of my early years. But I never suffered any trauma or disadvantage when she went to work. In fact, the years in which I learned and developed the least were the years during which I was homeschooled. I was receiving a lot of attention from my mother, but I did not develop healthy skills of withdrawal from the family.

    Now I am a student at a Christian university, studying French and social work. And if I've learned anything from studying social work, it's that the "traditional" way isn't always the best way. Just because the "traditional" parenting style (father works, mother stays home) works for some doesn't mean it works for all. So respect other people's perspectives. "FARRRRR lefties" doesn't mean "REEEEALLY wrong." Remember, radicals founded this country, got women the vote, freed slaves, and made our nation what it is. Don't knock us liberals. We may be peaceniks, but look what MLK, Ghandi, even Jesus did without cursing people out or treating others as inferior.


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