Living the 'Right' Life
An article in this month's Men's Vogue magazine is stirring up the wrath of parents on all sides of the Mommy Wars. The article in question is a stay-at-home father's musings about his place in life - not a new topic, but certainly not one that usually stirs up anger. However, this particular article is a combination of 'woe is me who gave up my fabulous career to change diapers' and 'how dare other parents make a different choice.' It is a pity-and-sanctity stew.
Judith Warner's weekly 'Domestic Disturbances' column in the New York Times picked up on this article last Friday, with Judith coming down hard on the judgmental tone. And although she chides him for his superiority, she seems to fuel the debate more than ask us all to put it aside.
So, we'll have to do the work for her.
Comparing all the possible negative consequences of one parenting lifestyle, be it stay-at-home parent or two full-time working parents, with all the possible positive consequences of another choice is just dumb. Writing articles that blast others' decisions about how to raise their children is just ignorant. Scientific studies will never give us pat answers about which of our actions will guarantee the best results in our offspring, so we all do the best we can.
For some of us, that means a traditional arrangement where one parent stays home. For others, it means a neo-traditional arrangement where both parents work, but one is the primary parent. For yet others, it means that secret option all these articles neglect to mention - the one that we call equally shared parenting.
All we want is for all the options to be on the table for choosing, and for parents to be able to pick the one that fits them best. Some of us are made to be stay-at-home parents; others are at our best when we've got a career and a spouse to handle the homefront; others strive for their best chance at balancing both worlds.
What if an article were written about all the possible benefits of each option, with none of the possible downfalls? Crazy thought, I know, but then you could start to compare apples to apples. Even then, what really matters is that you are living the life that you're cut out to lead. If you're happy, I'm willing to bet that you are giving your kids the best shot at happiness too.