Magazine article Working Mother

YOUR MOTHER, Yourself

Magazine article Working Mother

YOUR MOTHER, Yourself

Article excerpt

They say we're raising our children differently from the way we were raised. But is that really true? To find answers to this and other relevant questions in time for our Mother's Day issue, we teamed up with Harris Interactive pollsters to survey more than 600 working mothers, including about 400 Working Mother readers. The research was sponsored by Accenture, the management and technology firm, and Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical company. And now that the results are in, we're ready to challenge some myths-and maybe even change the way you think about working mothers-with our provocative findings.

Myth #1 Today's working mothers were raised by stay-at-home moms who set the standard for how we should raise our kids.

Our Finding It's true that many of us had stay-at-home moms, but most of us-60 percent in all-are actually the daughters of working moms. This includes 41 percent of us whose moms were employed most or all of the time we were growing up, plus another 19 percent of us whose moms moved in and out of the workforce, spending about the same amount of time being employed as they did staying at home. Today, we'd say they had flexible careers because of the way they took to the job trail in between taking care of us and our siblings.

One grown daughter described how her working mother continued to be employed after having her first two children, then did freelance work from home after giving birth to a third child. "She took in ironing, made Barbie-doll clothes and cleaned houses to make ends meet." Another noted that her mom had worked before motherhood, then stayed home, but was now starting "all over again" as a working mother, due to a recent divorce.

Some of us who had stay-at-home moms rue the opportunities we think they might have lost along the way. "I am glad I had her there [at home] twenty-four/ seven," wrote one grown daughter, "but I am sad because my mother did not get to pursue her dreams." Another said her mom had grown into a chronic worrier over the years due to "staying at home all the time with a feeling of little control over her fate and life. I think she would have had a more realistic view of the world if she had actually participated in it."

But others found things to envy in the lives of their stay-at-home moms. "Although my mother did not work outside the house, she was very involved with organizations that make a difference, such as the League of Women Voters," one working mom wrote. She added, "Volunteering is one thing I would like more time for in my life."

Myth #2 Growing up as the daughters of working morns, we felt abandoned and resentful when our mothers went off to their jobs.

Our Finding Actually, most of us give our mothers high marks for being attentive to our needs, regardless of their employment status. Whether we had a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, an overwhelming majority of us say our mothers were often, or always, there for us. We are just as likely to say this whether we had a mother who worked most or all of the time (79 percent) or one who stayed at home most or all of the time (78 percent).

When we evaluate our working mothers and the way they cared for us, we think of them as mothers first, rather than in terms of being employed or not. And far from feeling abandoned as children, many of us have warm memories of feeling cherished. One grown daughter of a working mom described herself as "a well-loved and well-adjusted child." Another said, "My mom did a great job at home and at work!"

Not that every daughter of a working mother feels that way. One wrote of her mom's "obsession" with her job. "Anytime she came to my school, even when I was sick, she made me feel guilty she had to miss work. I felt like a burden."

But others spoke approvingly of how their mothers mixed work and motherhood. As one reader wrote, "My mom absolutely adored her job as a teacher, so her career enhanced her ability to be a great mom. And she was! …

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