Two working parents can do just fine

Suggesting that women should forgo working outside the home is just wrong.

On Sunday, Aug. 28, we took a step back in time.

Before our boys woke up, we got caught up on a couple of episodes of “Mad Men.” You know, the TV show set in the ’60s about a Madison Avenue advertising firm. A parallel plot to the happenings at the firm are the trials and tribulations of the family life in the 1960s. You remember the time — most of the women were encouraged to stay home to cook, clean and tend to the children. The only working women in the show are secretaries.

Our trip in the way-back machine continued after a family breakfast, when we opened up the Sunday paper and read Sybilla Pettingill’s guest column, “Home is where the heart should be” (another title could be “How to get Gloria Steinem mad at you”).

Apparently Ms. Pettingill of Lisbon is upset that women are working too much, they are spending too much time away from the home, families are suffering and husbands/dads aren’t capable of taking care of family and household needs.

We consider ourselves a pretty typical family: two kids, a mortgage, active in our community, volunteering our time and, yes, we are a two-income family.

Could we be a single-income family? It would be difficult and still live the life we want. Not if we want to help our children experience the things we believe are important. Not if we want to instill shared responsibility for family, home and community.

In our home, when one of the boys is sick, sometimes it is mom, sometimes it is dad, who stays home. When a family crisis happens, we tackle it as a family, drawing upon our individual experiences and those we share, to get through it. We create an environment of success by showing our children that dad and mom can have successful, rewarding, professional careers.

In this fast-paced world, our family flourishes (not flounders as Ms. Pettingill suggests) because we are active, engaged in our community and aware. Failure to participate and be active would mean that our children would be left behind.

Our children know that a family doesn’t necessarily always look like ours. They know that some of their friends just have a mom or just a dad; sometimes two moms or two dads. Just because those families look different, they are still like ours — sharing our values of respect and responsibility.

Before- and after-school time is centered around meal time. Yes, even with both mom and dad working, we have family meals. The catch is, without mom slaving away in the kitchen all day, dad and the boys are expected to pitch in.

During breakfast, we discuss our expectations and hopes for the day. At dinner, we talk about whether those expectations were met; what was good, what was a “bummer,” and what was our favorite memory of the day.

When a mom is working, a father can be more engaged. He doesn’t expect to come home to a wife with pipe and slippers in hand. As a team, they work together to get it done, no matter what “it” might be. With dad an active participant in all aspects of home life, mom doesn’t have to be a liaison between father and child. The bond between them has already been secured.

Working moms can provide an important perspective on the world. We have very similar jobs, but our experiences and how we perceive our work are different. We share those varied perspectives with our children.

Families have a stronger economic foundation when both parents work. That is particularly important in difficult economic times, as it provides better economic stability for the whole family and, hopefully, the opportunity to put away money for things such as college for all the children — the boys and the girls.

To suggest a world in which women should be tending only to matters at home will cause young women to forgo college and educational opportunities. Telling young girls that their only future is in the home will set our nation back and is simply sexist. Sexist, as it assumes only women can fulfill these roles in the home; sexist, because it assumes that men are not equipped or interested in these roles.

Please excuse our tone. We are a bit offended at the suggestion that working moms are bad parents and that dads aren’t capable of providing support around the home.

We want our boys to grow up to be independent, happy and secure, knowing they have two parents who love them and that we all played an active role in raising our loving family.

Jennifer Radel and Will Fessenden of Sabattus just celebrated their seventh anniversary. Each has a full-time job. They have two children in primary school.

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Comments

Amedeo Lauria's picture

Choices...

Ms. Millard sorry to hear of the difficulties you are experiencing in your life and I wish you better in the future. That said...wow...putting words in my wife's mouth, don't remember her name being on the signature of the comment...amazing! Also don't remember defecating on anyone recently. I thought the whole idea behind Women's Movement was choices. A choice to stay home with your children, at one time an honored choice in our country, or the choice to work. My wife has NEVER complained about working mothers or derided them, she was, however, taken aback by the attitude that "oh you're a stay at home mom; so you take care of my children" at the drop of a hat when they are sick or hurt and neither parent can get off work; and she did so because she cared about them and she was happy that she was in the position to help out friends in need. I'm glad your life's decisions work for you! I'm glad you are living a good life. I hope in the long run it works for the majority of the children in America as well. In the future, if you have comments please direct them toward me as these are MY thoughts on this subject; I NEVER speak for my wife she is quite capable of expressing herself.

KATHRYN PENDLETON's picture

Working families

Spot on post Jennifer and Will.

Amedeo Lauria's picture

Exception not the Rule

I consider myself lucky to have been raised in a home where one parent made the "sacrifice" to stay home with the childern. It's not a good idea to judge the 50's or 60's by sensationalist popular media of now and the time. If we did that we would think that we were a country of sex crazed, wife swapping, hippie, drug addicts; to the exclusion of all else...hardly the case. We have raised a generation of children that don't know what it is like to have a parent who is there for them 24/7; children who don't have to wait in the school office, while they track down a parent to pick them up after an injury or ilness. The title of the article is excellent "Two Working Parents can Do Just Fine", but what about the children. I know Will and his wife, they are great people and a reflection of what America has become. My wife and I made the decision to live on one income; a simple life that revolves around our children. My wife was "asked" to step in on many ocassions to watch sick children; when the parents "had" to work. Then she was derided by those same women as a second class citizen, because she did not work outside the home. Oh, by the way she has a college degree and graduated Magna Cum Laude! I respect people's right to make personal decisions in this area; and the children of American will be the result of such decisions. If you can sleep at night; then you have made the right decision; regardless.

 's picture

has your wife ever made the

has your wife ever made the "i'm a professional mother" quote? has she ever suggested to these working mothers that they don't care about their kids? like i stated in a previous post, take out all the teachers and nurses who have children, keep them at home like your wife, and where will that leave the economy? how would it impact YOUR income if we remove half the spending power? would your wife be able to stay home and claim that you can't work outside the home and still be a REAL mother? if it works for you: great. don't crap on the rest of us, and keep your unfounded personal judgements to yourself.

 's picture

oh and by the way: my mom

oh and by the way: my mom worked and you know what that did to me? i have a great work ethic, i know how to balance a budget, use creative problem solving in the real world, i can sacrafice for my family, i'm more involved in my community, i'm strong enough to manage the healthcare of my special needs child as well as my husband when he had a head injury, and encourage my husband so that we could rely on him should something happen to me. PLUS i do all the shopping, cleaning, mending, gardening, jarring, tutering, bill paying, and cooking. but i'm not a REAL MOM because i bring in income to help pay bills. oh, and i have 2 college derees, no police record, no drug or alchahol or smoking problem, and i waited until after marrage before having children. thats the horrors of having a mom who works outside the home does to a child. and i'm not a rare case.

sorry people, i'm just a little sick of being told that i don't care about my child and i'm not a REAL MOM because i work outside the home.

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