The hand that rocks the cradle rocks or bulls the world. Up until now that hand was mom’s hand. In a way, mom is the keystone to our society and civilization – the good, the bad and the in-between.
So why isn’t mom recognized as a societal and economic power? Why did the early feminists of some 40 years ago look down on the “stay-at-home” mothers? Why the status gap between those women who got a paycheque for their work and those mothers who worked at home to raise a family without pay and societal recognition.
How demeaning the sentence: “My mother stays at home.” Nothing in the sentence to indicate the long hours, stress, joys, diversity of work, responsibility and accountability. Children and society should instead say “My mother works for us at home for love but no pay.” The change elevates motherhood to a higher level than “stays” at home.
Every mother is a working mother, 24 hours of the day. The career of motherhood is not recognized as such and when matched against a PhD career, motherhood rarely gets to the starting line.
So why has western society accepted this low status of motherhood as a career? Is it because society feels there is no tangible money value, there is no Canada Pension Plan at the end of her motherhood career? Or is it because it is too easy to become a mother – no qualifications, no experience needed. Or is it because parenthood, fatherhood and motherhood are not included in the curriculum of our schools? In the face of all those other things that are thought as being important, the omission of parenthood and its responsibilities would certainly belittle its value.
This small status is made worse by the negative impact of the modern media. These so called entertainment sources plant the wrong picture of parenthood, especially for young minds. What to do about this critical problem?
There has to be psychological change in our society, and an economic value for motherhood so that mothers (or fathers) get the equivalent of a Canada Pension Plan for the unpaid work they do.
The psychological change in the attitude of society will come through the school system. Parenthood and especially motherhood have to be taught alongside other so called important things.
At one time grandparents were closely involved with the young families to give directions and help based on their experiences. A great deal of this support and advice is gone. The influence of religion is greatly reduced and to make matters worse, quite often both parents are “out” working, so motherhood or parenting is diminished.
The career of motherhood has to be recognized as being at least on the same level as other careers. Motherhood awareness has to start in the schools along with fatherhood.
(Dr. Ed Napke is the former medical officer in charge of the federal government’s poison control program. He has also been active with the World Health Organization’s drug monitoring program).