The Great Debate
It is mystifying to me why it still continues: that great debate regarding whose kid is better off – a Working Mom (WM) or a Stay-Home Mom (SHM). Interestingly, it's still moms who are labelled – soccer mom, tiger mom, helicopter mom…although Stay-Home Dad has become a part of the vernacular recently. But since I was both (SHM & WM) during my daughters' childhood, I wonder myself – were they better off with me there to tend to their every need or were they better off in daycare where they could mix it up with other kids and authority figures.
That said, I reflected on my own childhood where neither my mom nor anyone else's mom worked outside of the home until I was a teenager except for Ellie's mom Eleanor the Avon Lady who would cruise the hood selling her wares and handing out fabulous mini lipstick and hand-cream samples that surely ignited my love of makeup that I have until this very day. But Eleanor would be in the neighborhood, we'd see her and she'd see us as we raced by on our bikes leaving her in the wind. That's the point – we saw her briefly and only because she was walking the sidewalks. For the most part, we were largely unsupervised after school into the early evening and during the summers, from rising until the streetlights came on. And our moms were home!
Nobody knew where we were as kids. We'd go as far as our bikes would carry us, stopping at a corner store for a bottle of soda and a candy bar. We walked along railroad tracks and we jumped into the Allegheny River from what seemed like mountainous cliffs but were probably just kinda high if I'd see them now. We crawled under Holy Family Church and listened to mass going on above and we'd laugh hysterically (sorry, God). When we got a bit older, we took busses into downtown Pittsburgh and hung out at Point Park. We'd take busses to Oakland and transfer to Schenley Park to skate during the winter. Nobody drove us. We were on our own and resourcefulness was second nature. If we were hungry, we'd cajole someone into giving us something to eat. If we had to use a bathroom, we'd find a store. If we wanted money, we got a job. Mine was sweeping a hair salon in the evenings after closing time. If we fell, we got up before someone called us 'sissy' and if someone got badly hurt, like when a kid from down the block took a header over his ten-speed bars, then we ran as fast as we could and got his mom. We knew where that line was and we never crossed it.
As kids, we raised ourselves and we raised one another. We learned what was appropriate and what was not by the reaction of other kids. Our parents took us to mass on Sunday and sometimes to buy us clothes at K-mart or Sears on a week night. But other than that, we had nobody hovering over us, checking our homework or driving us to playdates. We knew better than to bring home a lousy report card so we did the homework. We would knock on another kid's door and yell "calling on (insert name here)" to see if they could come out and play. We forged relationships, explored constantly and made adventures out of nothing except imagination and some old junk we'd find in an alley.
I'm not sure if today's kids are better off with all the attention they get whether it's from their SHM or a daycare provider. I guess we'll find out soon enough.
1/6/2015 10:33:01 am
Ain't that the truth. I think it was the nature of the neighborhood where we grew up, though. I know when I got to high school, lots of the suburban kids were doted on and spoiled with attention. At least, some of them....we were lucky and peculiar!
1/6/2015 10:23:22 pm
I have to admit, I have yet to go on my daughter's school website to check on her grades or if she has turned in her homework. Her Dad does it regularly. My Mom knew my grades when report cards came out and I feel since Paxton is a straight A student that she needs to deal with whatever consequences she needs to by the teachers. I just wait for the report card, sometimes asking her how she's doing or if she needs help along the way. I think as long as our children know they are loved and cared for, they will be fine. They watch us work whether we are home working or leave the house to work so they learn the value of work. And Balance. And Maybe not.....either way, it is the love that matters. I feel kids these days are either micromanaged or neglected somewhat more than when we were young..... :)
1/7/2015 08:19:18 am
I was a shm till my kids were in school. As a family, we didn't have the big home or the nice new cars. What we did have and still have are the memoriesof our cozy little cape cod home with bikes in the garage and the basketball hoop in front of the house. Today, kids have flat screen t.v. and playstations to keep them busy. Sad to me.
10/28/2015 08:19:45 pm
Wow, Sue, your growing-up years sound a lot like mine, although I grew up in SE NY! My mom was a stay-at-home mom, but I think she could have gone back to work at least part-time when my brother and I reached a certain age. We weren't spoiled, but she may have done too much for us, which might have cramped our becoming independent. I followed in Mom's footsteps somewhat unwillingly, as I'm not as content staying home all the time as she was. I did do something different from Mom, though, in that I returned to college, part-time, as a non-traditional student, when my daughters, now in their 30s, were in elementary school. Ten years later, I was the proud possessor of a BA in English! What I've done with it, so far, is 4 years of NCLB tutoring, volunteering at a library, and getting one newspaper article published as a freelancer. This is getting long, so I'll wind it down. I like your closing comment, re: wondering whether today's kids are better off with all the attention they get, from the SHM or the daycare. I definitely wasn't a helicopter parent!
10/14/2017 10:41:14 pm
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