Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant was recently on the news, sharing his views on education and working moms. In front of a large crowd, he quoted the following—
“Our country’s education problems began when mothers went into the workplace in large numbers.” As you can imagine, he received incredible backlash for that thought. He later changed that statement to something a bit more palatable for the many dual career families in the audience.
There’s nothing new about the controversy surrounding moms working outside the home vs. moms working at home. In fact, when my own children were younger, I was surprised by the strong opinions on both sides of the fence. We’ve been having this battle about “what’s best for the kids” for a long time. However, the battle we really need to pay attention to is the one going on in our own heads.
I coach very successful career-minded women that juggle numerous responsibilities. They feel tremendous pressure to succeed in their careers and in their personal life. They are devoted to their families and every day is a struggle to make their lives run smoothly. My job involves helping them to identify their priorities in life and subsequently create a life that better reflects their priorities. That said, I’ve witnessed a mode of thinking that has become prevalent with successful career women— their need to not only succeed in their careers, but also be the absolute perfect parent.
So I guess the question becomes, what makes a perfect mother? Is it creating a homemade dinner every night for your family? Is it baking daily for your family or making a handmade Halloween costume for your child every year? Could it be getting your child involved in every extracurricular possible to ensure success in their life? Maybe it’s volunteering weekly in each one of your child’s classes at school?
I hear a lot of this faulty thinking with successful women. They struggle with guilt daily because of their inability to do everything they BELIEVE it takes to raise a successful child. Social Media just magnifies the guilt. On Pinterest, you can view the beautiful cakes that moms are making or the incredible craft projects. On Facebook, you can hear how a fellow mom’s child just received a 36 on her ACTS and another mom’s child just received a full scholarship to college. The pressure is on to show that you too can mold a child into a successful wonder. But, how can you do everything, and is that even realistic? Something eventually has to give, and most of the time it’s the woman’s own needs that go unmet.
I have raised two sons while working outside the home. Here’s what I know, having lived the experience as a Mental Health Therapist and a parent: Don’t get so lost that you can’t see the forest for the trees. Don’t lose sight of your true priorities. You want to raise a successful, confident, independent child that has integrity? Then give them the tools to achieve this. Give them unconditional love, rules to feel safe and your QUALITY TIME. When you’re with them, be present and listen. Make sure they feel that they can always come to you with a problem and you will help them think it through. Be a role model for your children and don’t be so stressed that you miss the opportunity to take advantage of those teachable moments.
Let go of the rest.
Let me be honest here— if I asked my kids what they remember from their childhood, they’re not going to mention the perfect meal, homemade cake, or the many hours I logged in their classroom. Those are great if you truly have the time to make it happen. However, They WILL mention the time I went hiking with them or the time I listened to them when they were going through a crisis.
So all you working moms out there— get your priorities straight and stop listening to the inside chatter. Be present in the times that truly matter.