The Message I’m Sending My Children

In response to my post on The Feminine Mistake, a recent commenter questioned what kind of message stay-at-home moms are sending their daughters by giving up their careers. 

Again, I am not a traditional stay-at-home mom, because I actually telecommute three days a week and work in the office the other two.  Therefore, I invite stay-at-home moms to use the comment section to respond to this question.  However, here’s what I think I’m teaching my daughter — and my son.

First of all, I think I’m sending the message to my daughter that she has choices.  She doesn’t have to be a traditional stay-at-home mom.  Nor does she have to, as James Whittington put it, buy into the “anti-traditional family values feminist agenda.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the freedoms that I have as a result of the feminist movement.  But one of those freedoms is choice.  I want both of my children to understand they have choices.  They have the right to choose the balance between family and careers that best suit them.  What works for their father and me might not be the same thing that works for them.  But they have that choice to decide.

I also want to teach my children independence and the ability to define their own identity.  I want them to know that their identify is what they make it.  I don’t want them to tie their identity to their career — either of them.  They should have full well-rounded lives full of interests, hobbies, friends, family and a career if they want it. 

At the same time, I want my children to know that they should establish some financial independence and learn to support themselves.  But a career is not the only reason to become educated or to work hard.  I want my children to appreciate the value of an education because knowledge, whether it be intellectual or skill-based, is powerful.  I want my children to know the feeling of a job well done and that that feeling isn’t limited to the office — it can be felt in all aspects of their lives.

I want my children to understand the value of sacrifice , compromise and risk.  My children should know that failure is not a sign of unworthiness, but a reason to persevere and a way to improve themselves.  And that anything — family, friendship, career — worthwhile is worth working hard for.

Likewise, I want my children to know independence from stereotypes.  Yes, I stay home three days a week with my children.  But my husband also sacrificed some of his career to stay home with the children the other days.  We do not have traditional roles in our house.  I’m domestically challenged, but even if I wasn’t my husband would still help out with his share of cooking, cleaning and other household chores.  We want to send the message to our children that marriage is a partnership.

Lastly, I want my children to value their family.  I’ve never heard someone regret not working more, but I have heard plenty regret not spending enough time with their family.  I hope that I’m teaching my children to not only value where they come from, but also to provide a bright future for our descendants.  I want to send the message to my children that they are the most important thing that I’ll ever do.  And that my husband and I are both willing to make sacrifices for their future.

Life is short.  I want my children to enjoy and value it.

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4 Responses to The Message I’m Sending My Children

  1. Another great post!
    Thank you for the post reference and Blogroll entry.

  2. Lisa Lindley says:

    I worked with my first daughter and then when my second daughter came along, I stayed home and then had my last daughter as well. They are now 15, 4 and 3. I don’t look at it as I gave up a career, I look at it as I sacrificed for my daughters benefit. I wouldn’t trade staying at home and having the time that I have with them for any career in the world. I do however on the weekends do lingerie/spa home parties and Daddy has Daddy Time with them. I think I send the message to my daughters that careers can be put on hold, because time with them is much more important.

  3. vacelts says:

    Thanks for commenting Lisa. I’m sure your daughters will appreciate the sacrifice you made. And it sounds like you have a nice, fun on-the-side job/hobby. As I see it there is plenty of time for careers. Our children are only young once.

  4. Diane says:

    This subject is very close to my heart. I raised two daughters, and for most of their life, I was a single parent. I have no regrets, but would have enjoyed being able to spend more time with them as they were growing up, as children grow up way to fast. I have stored many special moments in the camera of my mind forever.
    But as there is a quote that states, “quality is better than quantity”. My greatest hope is that we took advantage of those special times, though not often enough, and made the most of those opportunities to make lasting family traditions and memories.
    It was important to share those special moments like school performances, parades, plays, sports, Girl Scouting/Camping, birthdays, graduations etc.
    I do not regret being a working mother; there is a fulfillment in being independent and satisfying being able to manage and taking care of my family. And on the same token it would have been just as gratifying staying at home and raising them. Either way is not as much a sacrifice as it’s a choice.
    I don’t believe there is a right or a wrong, a career mother (job outside the home) or a stay at home mother (career in the home). A mother can have both, if she puts her mind and heart in it.
    I believe the legacy we leave our children should be to live life to it’s fullest and to survive with whatever life hands us and make the best of it.
    And then when I though raising my family was over and I would miss it all, I found a new love, my grandchildren, and I still have a career.

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