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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 88/100: In Praise of Stay At Home Moms by Dr. Laura Schlessinger

In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms - Laura C. Schlessinger

I REALLY hope stay-at-home moms have a better advocate out there in the world than Dr. Laura.

I want to preface this review by saying that I think there are LOTS of good reasons to stay home with your children, some of which Dr. Laura manages to stumble upon in the midst of her rants. I also think there are lots of good reasons for going back to work, and that this is a situation where there is NOT a "one-size-fits-all" solution -- something that people on "both sides" of the "Mommy wars" seem to forget.

Back in January, I read The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?, which argued for women staying in the workforce. I wanted to read something that showed the other side of the issue because this is a question I am deeply engaged with when it comes to my own future. But this book couldn't even come close to "The Feminine Mistake"--and not because of the viewpoint embraced, but because of the way Dr. Laura delivers it.

She opens with a preface claiming that she's not going to judge women for their choices, and then goes on to do exactly that for the next several hundred pages. I think EVERY SINGLE PAGE had some dig at mothers who work for pay, and that includes mothers who work from home and those who work part-time. There is not a SINGLE mention that a father might be the parent who chooses to stay home; instead, she stresses how you have to let your husband "be the man" by earning all of the family's income. She also gets pretty cagey around the issue of her OWN career, insisting that she's the EXCEPTION to the rule of working while you have young children because for her "her children always came first". (As if that's not true for the millions of other parents who work for pay?)

She doesn't include a SINGLE statistic or study to back up her point of view because she feels that "statistics are divisive" (and calling working women selfish and shallow isn't?), and instead bases her whole argument on anecdotes from women who have written into her radio show. For every saccharine story of the sweet thing your child said about you as a stay-at-home mother, there's an anecdote about an adolescent who is contemptuous of Mom's invisible role, or a divorce that leaves a stay-at-home mother scrambling to stay afloat financially.

Oh yes, and what about those single parents? Her solution for THEM is that they get "night jobs" so that they can work while their children sleep and be stay-at-home moms during the day. It is SO obvious that she's never had to face this situation on her own because then she would have realized that

1) As a parent, you NEED to sleep sometime, too.
2) Even if you're at work while your child is asleep, YOU STILL NEED CHILDCARE. And you're going to pay more for it overnight. Which means
3) you're sleeping during the day rather than interacting with your child, or you're not sleeping nearly enough, and either way you're still paying for childcare for the hours you are gone.

HOW is this an ideal solution?

This book has absolutely no organization whatsoever and just circles around the same old tropes over and over again like a broken record. If you've read the first quarter, you've read the whole thing. If I'd stopped there, as I'd wanted to, I wouldn't have missed a thing.

I have a feeling the audiobook was probably harder to take than the print version because I had to listen to Dr. Laura's condescending voice the whole time. I want to be very clear that I rated this book so lowly NOT because of any disrespect toward stay-at-home parents, but because it was the vehicle through which I learned firsthand what I'd only suspected in the past:

Dr. Laura Sucks.

[If you know of another book that makes a cogent argument for the stay-at-home parenting decision without all the unsubstantiated, conservative BS, please leave me your recommendation!]