In the quest for equality, women have made significant strides. Yet the path remains strewn with social and economic challenges, particularly for working mothers. Lara Bazelon, a successful lawyer, professor and mother of two, provides an insightful exploration of these obstacles in her book Ambitious Like a Mother: Why Prioritizing Your Career is Good for Your Kids.
Bazelon delves into the complexities of juggling a demanding career while raising children, highlighting the societal biases that often exacerbate these challenges.
The challenge in balancing parenting and career
The societal expectations of motherhood often place an immense burden on working women, leading to a significant amount of stress, conflict and guilt. The modern narrative encourages women to pursue higher education, establish a successful career and simultaneously raise a family. However, the underlying expectation is that motherhood should always take precedence over professional aspirations. This “have it all” philosophy exerts an enormous pressure on working women, elevating the role of motherhood to an almost unattainable pedestal.
As a young mother, the guilt of leaving her children in the care of others to pursue her career was a familiar feeling. The prevailing belief that children fare best when their mothers stay at home was deeply ingrained. However, a global study challenged this belief, stating that children of working mothers do not fare any worse than those of stay-at-home mothers. It even suggested that children of working mothers fare better in life as they learn early on that their needs won’t always be the priority.
Equality at home is about shared responsibilities, not favours
The quest for gender equality has seen significant strides, yet the burden of household chores and childcare predominantly falls on women, even with their professional empowerment. This imbalance is not a relic of the past, but a persistent reality that many women grapple with today.
The key to achieving a more balanced distribution of domestic responsibilities lies in challenging and reshaping traditional gender roles. It is about recognising that domestic duties are not a favour done by men for women, but a shared responsibility. It is about understanding that a truly equal partnership is not just about sharing joys and successes, but also about sharing chores and responsibilities.
Balancing motherhood and career is a personal journey, not a societal standard
The delicate balance between motherhood and career is a topic that has been extensively discussed, yet remains a personal journey for every woman. The key to navigating this complex topic lies in understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each woman’s circumstances, preferences and needs are unique. What works for one may not work for another. It is crucial to remember that the love for one’s work does not diminish the love for one’s child. In fact, a fulfilled and contented mother can provide a nurturing environment for her child, setting an example of a well-rounded individual who contributes to society not just through motherhood, but also through her professional achievements.
Embrace work-life imbalance for career and family success
The societal perception of work and life as two opposing forces that need to be balanced is a concept that has been propagated for decades. However, this notion is not only unrealistic but also detrimental, particularly for working mothers. The idea that these two aspects of life are in competition with each other creates an undue burden on women who are striving to succeed in their careers while also being devoted mothers.
In the modern world, it is natural for life to be imbalanced. There are periods when work may take precedence, such as when a businesswoman is working overtime to launch a new venture. However, this does not mean that family life is being neglected. Instead, it is a temporary shift in focus that will eventually swing back towards family life.
Working mothers can positively influence their children’s future
The traditional belief that children fare better when their mothers stay at home has been challenged by numerous studies, suggesting that children of working mothers are not only doing fine but also reaping other benefits. A study by Harvard found that adult daughters of working mothers tend to earn higher salaries and hold more supervisory roles compared to their counterparts raised by stay-at-home mothers. This could be attributed to the independence and resilience they learn from their mothers, who juggle work and family responsibilities.
Adult sons of working mothers are also found to be more involved in caregiving and domestic duties, suggesting a shift in traditional gender roles. This could be a result of observing their mothers successfully managing both work and family responsibilities, thereby fostering a more egalitarian view of gender roles.
Embrace professional ambitions for a fulfilling life and a positive impact on children
In the pursuit of a fulfilling life, it is crucial for mothers to give due importance to their professional ambitions, not just their family life. This is not to undermine the significance of family, but rather to highlight the importance of financial independence and personal satisfaction that comes from a thriving career. This is a choice that every woman has the right to make, if they choose to exercise it, and should not be influenced by societal norms or expectations.
Achieving career parity in a relationship necessitates a re-evaluation of traditional gender roles and parenting norms. This involves acknowledging the economic contributions of working women, supporting mothers in their choice to work, and understanding that a supportive environment leads to happier mothers who can provide better care for their children.
This article is co-created by NexPage, a translated book summary app, and Workipedia by MyCareersFuture.