SAHM vs the working mom


I did post a thread in the popular media section to discuss this book itself (Mommy Myth) so I wonder if any SAHM or working moms who have struggled with their own choices or with being trully charitable twds those who made other choices read the book.

I find as a SAHM that I have come full circel from no opinion to rabid pro SAHM-ism to trying to be understanding of those who choose otherwise and not attacking them. The Church does give us guidelines for putting family first, but it is up to us and our circumstances as to how we do that. SO just as I can’t fault someone else for not tithing a certain amount I cannot fault them for wanting to work.


don’t we already have a thread with this same 3 foot long title? think we should decide what forum this belongs in, and stay there, following forum rules


What book are you referencing?
I’d like to read it!

As a full time working mom, I have DEFINITELY felt attacked by SAHM’s on many occasions… including family members (yeah, very tough).
Many people ASSUME that all working moms would rather pursue a career than care for their children, and I’ve had to fight against that notion on several occasions.

It’s a very painful subject for me… I would LOVE to not have to work. I go into work every day with a heavy heart praying for the day I can quit.

I’d love to read that book!


The book is called the Mommy Myth. by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels.

I do suggest you read through it. Each chapter is worth looking at. I first just looked at the ones I thought would interest me, but then I realized that the whole thing needed to be read to understand where the authors are coming from.

I think that in reading it you may be able to pick out the things that weigh on you that are not really that inportant. For example the book talks about how strongly the media pushes the perfect Mommy image that means that you would be there for your kids 100% of the time. That you would be in their face all the time making sure they are being enriched to ther fullest. etc. Even as a SAHM and with watching no TV and reading maybe the odd Parenting magazine in waiting rooms or browsing while waiting in line for check out, even this way I have felt pressure and guilt for not being “fun” enough, enriching enough etc…

So if you read the book I think you may become aware of what is trully worthy of worying about and what should trully factor in to your decision of wther or not you should be a SAHM or a working mom or part-time working mom.


Here I wished to focus on the popular media aspect of reading the Mommy Mth. In the other forum I wished to raise this issue again looking at how we can be more understanding of each other in view of what the book has to say.

I am sure that the forum rules allow for both aspects of the issue to be discussed: family life and popular media. If you are a forum mediator please feel free to correct what you see to be a misjudgement.


I think both “sides” (eventhough there are no real sides) feel attacked at times. I know a lot of SAHM’s that get questioned by family and friends about not working. So no matter what you choose there is a chance someone will give you their opinion. I think the best thing to come out of these discussions and books about SAHM’s vs. moms who work is that all of us need to remember we dont know where the other one is coming from. Some moms have a big part in “bringing home the bacon” and supporting her family. I dont feel that is a choice she has made but something she does out of necessity. I still have a hard time with woman that choose a career over being at home because they are not willing to give up their $500 purse fetish but i think that comes down to why are you doing what you are doing, for selfish reasons or not. I think if we are putting our family first then that is what should count.


Good post! It got me thinking back to my SAHM days, and how people ‘judged’ me back then–(my working friends) and then now that I work (my kids are 11 and 15 years old)–I sometimes get judged by my SAHM friends. I really never paid either side much attention, although it got to me during my early stages of being a first time mom. I think you hit the nail on the preverbial head, though–it depends on what the motivation is. (I used to be a spendaholic, and it is very important to make sure that you don’t end up working as a mom to feed your spending fetishes–that is so very true) That goes for the daddies too. I know too many men that I work with–who seem to live at the office, so they can live on their beachfront homes. So–it can happen to men, just as it can happen to women. Family comes first–no matter your gender.:thumbsup:

I would be interested in reading this book, too–it sounds like it comes from both sides of the topic. Thanks for posting this, Jehanne!:slight_smile:


I guess after reading so many of these threads is why do people feel the need to justify their decision to the point where you feel you must conclude that any decision by someone else that some how strays from your position is wrong?

Just looking at the Church for a guideline, one Order may practice their spirituality in a different way from another, but that doesn’t mean either are less valid. Some are better fit for one Order, and others are fit for different ones.


Thank you for bringing in the Church. In the Church it is easy to see how many of the decisions we make about our family can be good ones only if our motivation and most of all, our lives, are grounded in the person of Christ as we come to know Him through the teachings of the Church.

I bring this topic up again, because I have come to see the error of my ways. I have begun not jumping on people who make choices different from my own just to defend my own choice. I do not want to be laissez faire and stand for all things accepting everything from white bread (:wink: to abortion. But I do not wish to attack people anymore for their choices and maybe be a better apostle of Christ in that way. So I raise this question again to hear more of the voices looking at this angle of the SAHM vs working mom, but I wanted to preface it with a tone of charity and understanding so that all the responses will be hopefully imbued with charity.


This part of this post got wiped out and I am sure it will make more sense with the following:

The book I read that Prompted these ideas is called: The Mommy Myth by S. Douglas and M. Michaels

These were my thoughts on it:

I thought the book had some good points and some bad points.

Obviously the authors do not found any of their arguments on the premise that marrriage is sacred and that unless one has serious difficulties that cause infertility or warrant NFP usage that sex will often result in children. They seem to want to separate sex from children and becoming mothers which is unatural.

One good point

The book seems to indicate that the “war” between SAHM and working moms was created and perpetuated by the media. I wonder if this is not true. I am sure mothers have always worked or not worked depending on their circumstances and that society paced pressures on them one way or another to work or not work depending on if there was a war on or not or whether or not women’s rights movements pushed for women to throw off the “burden” of taking care of their children and families.

The way the media portrayed mothers has been extreme. either a super working mother who woks and takes care of her children and keeps her house clean and has her kids in nurturing day cares or employs wonder nannies or a slavish SAHM who had no brains, or didn’t use them and was frumpy and watched soaps all day and let her kids wreck the and slaloms to her husband all day.

Or you have the cruel working mom who dumps her kids off at a day care where they learn to be aggressive and pick up all kinds of diseases and even though they may learn a few numbers and letters they will be emotionally scarred but never ever bonding to their neglectful parents vs the SAHM mom who is virtue herself home-schooling her 13 children who are all well educated and she grinds her own grain and makes her own cloth diapers out of home woven organic cotton in a home that rivals Martha Stewart’s creations.

These are both extremes and they don’t lend to mothers able to support each other in their own decisions and difficulties.

There are certain truths of course like the fact that a higher percentage of people consider themselves as “have nots” at the same relative income level that people about 30 to 20 years ago considered themselves well off. The basics of today are often the luxuries of yesterday etc.

Another good point:

Advertising tries to make us insecure in our parenting so that we will buy more stuff.

One bad point.

There seems to be no understanding for others who decide to grind their own grain, homeschool and use cloth diapers. If we decide to do it without being selfrighteous, but grateful that we can do it why should it bother the authors of the book?

Another bad point:

The authors seem to expect the government to provide day care. I am not sure if that is necessarily a good thing. The book sites a few socialist countries that do have more and/or better daycare, but the issue is not as simple as that. The bigger the government is the more the inefficiencies associated with it. It seems to me the authors are just yelling we want day care from the government and they do no realize that there are implications that go along with that. I think if there is a demand for daycare then a supply for daycare will come about. Maybe daycare can be regulated by a government body or even a NGO, but there is more to the problem than just demanding more daycare.

The book also critiques how the results of a study were reported that studies the effects of daycare on children, but never actually refers to the study itself only to secondary or tertiary sources and the study itself is not sited in the notes. I will eventually search for the study and check it out, but I think it is shoddy reporting to not go to the source of the data one is talking about. There are a few other instances where I will check out the data they report and the studies they supposedly come from.


I book I should pick up and read. I was a SAHM for 5 years and have worked the other 7 years. I was attacked for being either a SAHM or a working mom. Fortunately my husband works while the children are in school and he able to pick up the children after school so no after school programs for them. He is able to go to PTA meeting and go on field trips.

My mom raised me, made clothes for me, had a favorite snack for me, and I watched her get criticized for it by other moms or certain in-laws who happened to work. I went through it too for a short time. People just thought I was the laziest woman for being a SAHM. Some of my friends asked if I would get bored. When they found out that I taught myself to sew and knit they thought I fell off my rocker. And then I realized that friends, children of God, aren’t supposed to make me feel bad or stupid because I am a SAHM. Now I work right now a necessary evil if we want to eat. My husband has been the greatest support and he learned how to sew. winks I have read some things on this topic and it pains me to see how we treat each other.


We lived in Europe for six years and were very pleasantly surprised at how great their nursery schools were. I am proud to say that my children did attend them from age three. There were also centers for infants - age three: all very well-run. It may be socialist but boy, are those programs great. For one thing, they pay their teachers excellent salaries; all teachers must have a degree in our equivalent of early childhood development; and the churches (usually Lutheran and Catholic) help administer the schools. We did have to pay according to salary, I might mention.
Additionally, SAHMs receive monthly benefits.
IMHO, we should reconsider whether we’ll be put off by a tag such as “socialist” or whether we’ll start putting our children in high priority in this nation.


I find that I have to defend my WOHM to SAHM Catholic/Christian women more than any other group of people. Most of these women will say “Well if you’d only cut ____ out then you could afford to stay home.” Or if you’re going to have children you **have **to be a SAHM. My all time favorite is being told I am committing a sin by working outside the home.

Personally I wish more SAHM would realize that there are many women who have to work to help provide food on the table, a safe place to live and so on.


I’m always amazed we’re still having this debate. After 20+ years of many moms working outside the home, it seems clear to me that families can successfully raise happy, healthy children with both parents working fulltime. Whether or not it’s successful depends on how many hours the parents work, their priorities outside of work, and how much dad pitches in. Some families make a mess of it, but quite honestly, I know several SAHM that I don’t think are doing a very admirable job, either.

From what I’ve observed from growing up with friends whose moms worked FT and from observing my kids’ friends whose moms work FT, in many cases the children whose moms work are just as happy, secure, successful and close to their parents as are the kids whose moms stay home.

I work half time, and I have been criticized by both sides, but far more from the SAHM segment. They seem to need to feel that their being home fulltime is absolutely indispensable to their children and get defensive if other women make a different decision for their families.

Either way, I just don’t get why women on either side feel the need to criticise other women’s decisions. It’s not as if women don’t consider their options when having children and, honestly, why do they think I care what they think? When I ask, they have no response to that.


For my family I do believe that my being home is indespensable. I do not judge others for the choices they make, however. I was a single parent for the first few years of my oldest son’s life. I worked and went to college. I felt I was a good mom. I was a good mom. He had only one parent, though. I was judged terribly. I am still judged. Everywhere I go I get shocked expressions from people that we have “so many” children and then they say " you must not work" or “your husband must be rich”. That is offensive. I don’t ask them who’s parenting their kids while they’re at work, KWIM? I think people, in general, make stupid comments to make themselves feel better b/c they don’t feel confident in their own decisions. I’ve gotten everything from “I need to use my brain more than that” to “don’t you want more than that?”.

My best friend recently went back to work full time outside the home. Her husband stays home with her kids. There are times when I’m jealous of her choice. I would sometimes like a job.

I think the media is AWFUL. They pit people against eachother in so many ways. It’s really a sin. I had to stop watching or reading about it all. I am who God wills me to be (or I try, LOL). That’s all that really matters.


ugh, I hate these threads! It always degenerates.

My two cents is that the only perfect model for any family is the Holy Family.

So, just pray, pray, pray to the Holy Family and they will send the Holy Spirit to you to show you the best way of life for any particular family. :slight_smile:

One of my favorite holy persons is Zelie Martin, the mother of St. Therese. She was a work at home mom whose business was so successful her husband quit his business and worked supporting hers.

Though, she always wished she didn’t have to work and could devote herself completely to just rearing the children. I suspect that is probably true for most working moms.

Either working or being a fulltime homemaker has the same goal: to provide a home for the family.


Yes, these threads go down hill quickly as people defend their choice by attacking the other choice.

One thing I will say about life in public school - your mileage may differ in at your school or private school - the stay at home moms run the place. They are the ones who go on field trips, come in to read to the little ones, volunteer with whatever. That gives them access to the principal and the resource teachers on a casual, how are you doing basis, and gives them input on issues that the school deals with.

I would ask working moms (and dads, too) to do a little volunteering at your kids’ school. Go on field trips if you aren’t already. They are a blast, and you get to meet your kids friends. You get to talk to the teachers about nothing and everything, and support them in their task of teaching our kids. Plus, I really think your kids will enjoy seeing you there.


I have never felt lile anyone was judging me for being a SAHM. I am the only person on both sides of our family that stays home. I think that b/c I am confident in my decision other’s can sense it and just leave it alone. I also don’t criticize them. I now work very part time selling homes in my neighborhood. I still have not had anyone comment either way. I think that if people are truly confident in their decision then they would not need to comment on others. I also believe that if a person is confident in their decision then the negative comments of others would not be upsetting b/c they would have the intimate and peaceful knowledge that they are doing the right thing.


Just something to consider.
Chapter 31
The words of Lemuel, king of Massa. The advice which his mother gave him:
What, my son, my first-born! what, O son of my womb; what, O son of my vows!
Give not your vigor to women, nor your strength to those who ruin kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, not for kings to drink wine; strong drink is not for princes!
Lest in drinking they forget what the law decrees, and violate the rights of all who are in need.
Give strong drink to one who is perishing, and wine to the sorely depressed;
When they drink, they will forget their misery, and think no more of their burdens.
Open your mouth in behalf of the dumb, and for the rights of the destitute;
Open your mouth, decree what is just, defend the needy and the poor!
When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.
1 She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax and makes cloth with skillful hands.
2 Like merchant ships, she secures her provisions from afar.
She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household.
She picks out a field to purchase; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is girt about with strength, and sturdy are her arms.
3 She enjoys the success of her dealings; at night her lamp is undimmed.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.
She fears not the snow for her household; all her charges are doubly clothed.
She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing.
Her husband is prominent at the city gates as he sits with the elders of the land.
She makes garments and sells them, and stocks the merchants with belts.
4 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come.
She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel.
She watches the conduct of her household, and eats not her food in idleness.
Her children rise up and praise her; her husband, too, extols her:
"Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all."
5 Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her a reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.


To add to that, if you do show a sign of insecurity, your more likely to inspire more comments. Just think of your kids, if they have any hint your on the fence on an issue, they’ll continue to bug you. A firm ‘no,’ that has been backed up by other firm 'no’s tend to not get as much play.

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