It’s About Parenting, Not Politics

Hilary Rosen’s ill-chosen comments about Ann Romney’s choice to be a stay at home mom (SAHM) have ignited the 21st century version of the Mommy Wars.

Hilary Rosen’s ill-chosen comments about Ann Romney’s choice to be a stay at home mom (SAHM) have ignited the 21st century version of the Mommy Wars.

Alas! I thought those wars had been fought in the 70s, 80s, and 90s and resolved by the turn of the new century. Apparently, they have not, and that both saddens and angers me.Let me begin by stating emphatically that this is not about politics.  The debate has bordered on the absurd, and it’s high time that if we insist on beating this subject to death, we focus on parenting — not politics.

At different times in my life, I have been both a SAHM and a working mom. I actually went back to school and back to work because my husband was out of work.  With three sons, I found myself leaving at 7 a.m. and often returning after 10 p.m.  As I drove from work to school, my neck and shoulders ached from tension and I would wonder if I had time to get a bite to eat before my 6:30 evening class.  The exhaustion and stress reminded me of the nine-hour stints I spent every evening as a SAHM rocking, holding, bouncing, and feeding a screeching colicky baby who would not be consoled.

Three sons always seemed to me as many boys as I could handle. I give Mrs. Romney all the credit in the world for apparently successfully raising five (5) sons!

The current conversation revolves too much around money.  Although it’s estimated that full-time mothering should yield $112,000 per year in the marketplace, that’s not the point. It’s very easy to say mothering has to do with how much money you have, but it doesn’t.  There’s no doubt that being comfortable – or even wealthy — can make your life easier, but it doesn’t make you a better parent.

Changing diapers, wiping noses, cooking and cleaning — and the other mundane tasks — are commonly believed to be the domain of mothers. But there’s a far more important realm that has been totally neglected in this debate.  And that’s the social, emotional, and intellectual development of children.

No matter how much household help a mother does or doesn’t have, it is she who conveys the values that she wants her children to live by.  Whether a mother is a SAHM or works 16-hour days, she is a role model for her children.

She also needs to be present for her children, and available to communicate with them at all hours of the day and night. She needs to notice little things that may turn into big things, like suspicions of delayed learning or disabilities, or friendlessness.

It’s also my opinion that mothers need to know what’s going on in their children’s schools and to communicate with their teachers.  Research indicates that the more parents are involved, the more successful their children will be and the better the schools.  James J. Heckman, an economist at the University of Chicago, contends that parenting counts as much or more than income in developing a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school.

Samantha Garvey, an 18-year-old Brentwood, L.I., high school senior was recently named a semi-finalist in the Intel Science Competition while her family was living in a homeless shelter. Her mother, Olga Garvey Coreas, an immigrant from El Salvador, told the Huffington Post’s Latino Voices that parents must be vigilant in encouraging and supporting their children’s education. She pointed out that her husband, Leo, worked nights and that she worked days.

“The fact was that we never left them alone; we were always there to help them with their homework,” she said. “I believe that good communication is the basis for guiding our children.”

Some mothers have no choice but to work full-time. Some mothers choose to stay home. Some mothers work part-time. Good mothering and bad mothering can be found in every socio-economic level and working style. It’s high time that mothers stop attacking each other and focus on what’s most important – raising decent human beings.



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mary April 26, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Your article makes very good points. I, too, have been a SAHM and a working mom. While I did stay home and raise my kids, my husband took a second job. It was very difficult doing the job with little or no money, but I would not have traded it for anything. I do think Ms. Rosen's comments were as you say "ill chosen" however, her point was that Mrs. Romney does not identify economically with most of America and their struggles. There are many SAHMs who struggle economically but make that choice because they feel it is in the best interest of their children. Mrs. Romney doesn't have a clue as to the struggles of hard-working American families and her occupation choice has nothing to do with that.
sandra levine April 26, 2012 at 05:27 PM
"Mrs. Romney doesn't have a clue as to the struggles of hard-working American families..." Exactly, Mary. And neither does her husband.
mary April 26, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Amen Sandra!
Vito April 26, 2012 at 07:55 PM
I think Ms. Rosen's "point" was to judge someone's worth as a person and a parent based on their income. Does she also feel the Obamas have lost their ability to "identify economically with most of America and their struggles" because of their $2 million income in recent years? I am guessing that would be a no.
Eliza Kay April 26, 2012 at 08:17 PM
The only problem I can see in Hilary's comment is that it did not adhere to the political correctness of the day. Ms. Romney claims the demands of her home life, raising 5 boys, (or should i say 6) and her bout with cancer negated even considering the possibility of work "outside the home." The luxury of being a stay at home mom is simply that, a luxury. While only 14% of the women in this country can afford to do that and do, many of the rest of us, who would prefer to stay home, simply cannot afford to.
mary April 26, 2012 at 08:18 PM
@ Vito. I think you missed the point on this one. Ms. Rosen was merely stating what most of us were already thinking...this country is such financial disarray and it would be nice to have a First Lady who identified with the working class. She absolutely was not judging her ability as a mother. However, Mrs. Romney nor does Mrs. Obama for that matter, have any clue about how difficult it is to raise a family on two incomes today, given the state of unemployment, rising taxes, health care, no savings accounts, etc.
mary April 26, 2012 at 08:20 PM
@ Eliza...I agree!
Todd April 27, 2012 at 01:04 AM
In my opinion there is no chance of ever having a first lady or president who identifies with the working class unless they were in it, right up to being elected. Our presidents come from a background of higher education, law, senate and congress, or governorship. how then can they truly ID with a family that struggles everyday and watches their jobs disappear. I'm not complaining mind you however to think they can ever truly have a grasp doesn't make sense to me. Again just my op.
Vito April 27, 2012 at 05:02 AM
I agree with what YOU are saying but don't feel that is what Ms. Rosen said or intended. Her comments were part of an agenda and failed to recognize what you and others have said here that most politicians, regardless of party affiliation, fail to grasp what ordinary citizens are up against these days.
Eliza Kay April 27, 2012 at 08:12 PM
@Todd....maybe not, but id be willing to bet, when it comes to relatibility factor, the obama's come a heck of lot closer.
WalkerI April 28, 2012 at 02:24 AM
"Hilary Rosen’s ill-chosen comments about Ann Romney’s choice to be a stay at home mom (SAHM) have ignited the 21st century version of the Mommy Wars." This was never a remark about "Ann Romney's choice", it was about the candidate's wife presenting herself as anything other than a privileged stay-at-home mom. She may be a poster child for the 1%, but the point is that she has no idea of the struggles many women, not only single mothers, go through on a daily basis, working hard in a losing battle against debt on one side and starvation on the other. Ann Romney has no idea about what 50% of the women in this country go through, just to survive, much less represent them. THAT, to me, was Hillary Rosen's point, in the first place.
Eliza Kay April 28, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Walker's comment tells it like it is. Nice job L!
Beth April 28, 2012 at 02:20 PM
For so many women in this country it would be heaven to have the financial ability to stay at home with their kids. How many mothers have to work because their job provides health insurance, how many mothers have to work because their families would never be able to financially survive on one income...or if they are single parents they have to be the provider? Ann Romney never had to make those choices - she could work outside her home if she wanted to,,not because her family needed her to. She has never had to worry about health insurance or feeding her family. I don't know how she would be able to connect with those that have. Honestly, the Obamas have a bigger clue what it's like to have financial struggles. The Romneys have no clue.
Ron April 28, 2012 at 03:49 PM
It seems that most people didn't read past the first paragraph. The article was not about Romney vs. Rosen, but about what kind of parents are we. Whether mothers stay at home or go to work, do they instill values in their children, do they communicate with them, and are they involved in their children's schools? That was the point of the article, and I might add fathers should be asking themselves these questions as well.
Kyle April 29, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Actually, the point of the article, as summed up by the last line, was Dr. Ain's belief that Hilary Rosen had ignited the "mommy wars" and we should not be falling into that trap. In reality, Hilary Rosen was never questioning Ms. Romney's choice, she was merely stating what Walkerl so effectively summarized. Dr. Ain fell for the spin that those in the Romney camp put on this to twist Ms. Rosen's intent, falling into their trap. I usually enjoy her columns but she missed the mark on this one.
Meryl Ain, Ed.D. April 29, 2012 at 02:29 PM
I appreciate all of the comments on my piece and welcome the dialogue. My point was that the issue is NOT about taking sides in politics, but about reflecting on good parenting. The last line says it all: "It’s high time that mothers stop attacking each other and focus on what’s most important – raising decent human beings." I was using the news item as an opportunity to raise the issue of what makes a good mother -- certainly not to take sides in a political battle.
Kyle April 29, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Thank you, Dr. Ain. I understand, respect and, in fact, agree with you on this issue. I hope you can understand that we, as readers, saw you as politicizing this by tieing it into Ms. Rosen's comment, going so far as to call them "ill-chosen." I remain a fan.
Vito April 30, 2012 at 12:22 AM
The only reason you or I have a clue what Ms. Rosen said or wrote is that she is high on the democratic party food chain. The same comment could have been made about any politician or their spouse, regardless of political affiliation, as our representatives these days are largely well off individuals. The fact she singled out Ms. Romney was driven by political forces, not some desire to offer insight into the struggles of the common woman. Her "point" was to further a political agenda.
Eliza Kay May 03, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Yes, you may have not intended the focus of your article elicit these comments, but it has. You suggest they are off the mark? I dont think so. "Raising decent human beings" is a challenge for parents who spend more time at work than as a family unit. As many of your responders have suggested, this is difficult, if not impossible. Youre living under a rock, if you dont think this is political. Of course it is. Its right-in-your-face political. When there is no choice and there should be, it becomes political.
MOTHER TIME May 07, 2012 at 03:51 AM
I can"t for the life of me understand why this was not brought up when Sen. John kerry ran for the Pres.He and Mrs. Heinz were and are billion$$$$$$$$.Please make me understand..You remember SEN.KERRY HE WAS FOR IT BEFORE HE WAS AGANST IT MOTHER LOVE


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