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Society misses out when moms give up careers30 Apr 2009 09:19 am

working-mom.jpgSo I checked the comments on my blog this morning and I came across one by Robert Graham, a long time reader of CareerDiva and one who, although I don’t always agree, makes me think.

At first I could feel the anger bubbling up in me, but I gave myself a moment to let it sink in.

Here’s an excerpt:

You are a parent 24/7. If you are not, then you are not a good parent.

Women most assuredly belong in our government at every level. However, a childless or unmarried woman would do a far better job.

The comment came at an interesting time. Yesterday evening my husband and I had a melt down over how difficult it is to raise two young kids, keep the household running, and keep our careers moving forward.

And today Robert hits me with this whammy.

His thoughts are not new. Late last year, Pennsylvania’s Governor Ed Rendell pretty much said the same thing about Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano.

“Janet’s perfect for that job,” Rendell says. “Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19, 20 hours a day to it.”

Many working moms, and working dads for that matter, often complain to me about the struggles they face balancing it all. It seems close-minded to say these people just aren’t as good at their jobs during the years when their raising the little buggers.

But I think it’s fair to include this opinion in the discussion.

That said, the biggest hole in the argument that working parents can’t cut it is this — you can not plan exactly how your life goes.

I’m old enough now to realize that sometimes life has a plan for you you never expected. I’ve lost family members, had friends die or fall ill. We never know what will happen to us or when.

Saying you will wait 10 or 20 years until your children can take care of themselves creates a huge gap in what could have been great achievements. Maybe you were meant to teach a generation of children in your community, or run a company that develops a life saving drug.

George Bailey got to see what the world would be like without him in “It’s a Wonderful Life” and you know what, the world sucked.

Society has to be more open, and the workplace more flexible, or we risk losing out on individuals that could have made a difference. We’ve already lost out on so many women that sacrificed their entire working lives for their children. I wonder what they would have done if they were able to balance it all and were encouraged by people, not put down. I’m sure my mother would have made a difference.

Robert is right, you’re a parent 24/7 and that’s both great and difficult. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be whole, contributing members of society. Clearly society needs these mothers.

I’d even argue that parents who just pour all their energies into their children are doing their families and society a disservice.

What’s your take?

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