I have been fortunate enough to experience being both a stay at home mom and a work away from home mom. Currently there is a societal debate on which approach raises a healthier and better adjusted child. On that I cannot comment as I have not yet raised a child to adulthood, but having my own mixed feelings on this topic I can clearly see the vast differences to each method. Does working away from home make a more secure and adaptable child? Does staying home form a stronger bond? Does working away from home leave a child to be raised by a daycare provider with different values than your own?
Does staying at home compromise social skills and personality? These are the questions that most parents face when they are trying to balance raising a happy and healthy family with paying bills and providing adequate food and shelter. Is one choice really better than the other? I will attempt to use my humble experience to compare these two approaches, not in an effort to decide which the ideal is, but simply to point out what I see to be the differences between each. Each morning as I headed to work, I stopped off along the way to drop my child off at a carefully chosen home daycare facility.
From day one, I was fortunate enough to have a child that was easy going enough to leave me for a few hours each day to learn and grow in an environment where learning was first and foremost. I’ve never had to deal with the crying and leg-clinging torture sessions that many children and parents go through almost every-single-day. As a new parent I agonized over the decision to go back to work and send my baby to daycare or stay home and live in poverty because I couldn’t bear the separation. I thought that I was doing my child a disservice by leaving her and creating an insecure environment.
On the contrary, I felt that leaving her in the care of someone that I have carefully screened and interviewed has made her a more secure little being. She was secure knowing that mommy leaves her in the morning for a fun filled day of activities and story time and will come back every evening like clockwork to pick her up. She knows that I will always come back. Being a stay at home mom, with all its merits, doesn’t give a child the opportunity to experience his parents leaving and coming back.
The routine is not a routine, mommy is always home and there s never a need to worry because she is there to immediately respond to every irrational need and desire. In this scenario a young child never has to experience separation or getting used to a different style of care. Sometimes while at work I get emotional; am I missing out on my little ones formative years? Is she missing out on a mommy that should be there with her at this crucial time? I am! She is! It is me who should be taking her to the park, teaching her to go down the slide and to not let go on the swing. Is she forming a stronger bond with her provider than with his own mommy?
Is she feeling so comfortable at daycare that she is not comfortable at home?. Those stay at home moms no doubt have a different kind of bond that working moms don’t have. They are home all day every day to attend to each bump and scrape; to sleep train and potty train on their own terms with a consistency that will foster a strong, unbreakable bond. Oh, don’t get me wrong, working moms have strong bonds with their children too, but they are just following the instructions that someone else is leaving for them. There are six things to consider when deciding whether or not to go back to work or to stay at home with your child or children.
They are as follows: 1. Money- Consulting with a financial planner would help you to make a responsible decision because it is important that you are able to afford to stay home if that is your decision. 2. Personal Preference-It is crucial that you understand your own feelings concerning staying at home vs. going back to work because these feelings will affect your children’s lives. 3. Your Significant Other-Your partner’s support in your decision is important and crucial.
4. Social Network- Find a group of friends who are doing the same thing you are doing. This will be a circle of friends who will provide you with a huge amount of support. 5. Career & Workplace-How family friendly is your workplace and your boss? 6. Culture- Think about how your family has raised all the children in the past. How will you let family tradition influence your decision? Above all, it is important to remember that Mother is not spelled p-e-r-f-e-c-t-i-o-n. All our children ask us to do is love them and take care of them. Working vs. staying at home is a decision that you have to make for your whole family keeping everything above in mind.
For now, from my stand point there is no right or wrong answer, responsible parents do what they need to do to take care of their children. In this day and this economy being able to stay at home is a luxury and it may not always be the best option. And while being a working mom has definite emotional drawbacks it has strong arguments for being a healthy alternative. In any event there is no reason for one side to bash the other. Either can work if you allow it to . If parents provide love, comfort and security and plenty of quality time, we can be sure that this generation will be just fine.