What unnerves me is realizing that somehow, my own daughter has picked up on the idea that for a mother to not work is the optimum situation, the one that, if money were no object, of course one would choose.
Excellent piece on the early socialisation of children and seemingly unavoidable gender expectations (salon.com):
We were just about out the door when she asked me. My younger daughter and I were, as usual, running late and rushing to get to school on time. I’d already been up a long time, as usual, hunched over the computer and planning my work day while the daily circus of morning family activity had played out. And just as we were getting on our coats and she was slinging her backpack over her shoulder, just as I was hurriedly draining the last of my tea, she looked at me and said, “If Daddy made more money, you wouldn’t work, right?” My child is 10 years old. A decade of her feminist mom subverting the dominant paradigm, and she asks me this.
My children have never known me as anything but a working mother. I am fortunate that I work from home, a situation that has given me the flexibility to pick them up from school and take them to doctor appointments and occasionally even volunteer for class activities. But the kids have a father whose job, while more traditional, also gives him plenty of time with them. A dad who cuts the crusts off their sandwiches and wipes their noses with the same degree of aplomb their mother does. They have a grandmother who retired as the second in command at her company. They’ve never heard either parent express a desire for a different working situation. Yet here was my kid, expressing it.
And the pervasive narrative around working women (specifically mothers):
And what I resent is the prevailing public narrative that there are exactly three kinds of working mothers. The first is the blindly ambitious, selfish witch mother who leaves behind her babies. She is a very, very popular target on your friends’ Facebook feeds. Then there’s the poor, financially strapped mom who of course would rather be home with the kids but in this economy, what can you do? And finally, there’s the rich dabbler – the woman whose spouse makes the real money but who’s spent the past two years working on her blog or getting her handbag designs off the ground or vaguely mentions “consulting.” She doesn’t have or need or, it would seem, even really want a job, but she’s content to act like her hobbies are a career – as long as they don’t overshadow her husband or children.
(Excerpt etc. first posted on. Orig. attribution above.)