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Working mother or stay-at-home mom, which is better?
1 (a madar)

Dear friends

I would like your opinions on the posed question. Please when answering, take the following issues into account:

- Children in full-time nursery v children at home with mum, mostly their development and their personality.

- Relationship between a full-time mum with children and a working mum with children

As background, I have a 21 month old daughter. My mum has been looking after her whilst I've been at work but she is 73 and although super fit for her age, I am concerned that I am simply asking too much of her. As I want to have another child soon"ish", I am going through the dilemma of what to do when the 2nd child arrives, give up a highly paid and successful career or remain a working mum and do what everyone else does and use nursery, which I am very unsure about, how will it affect my children, will I have the same relationship with them, will they receive the love they deserve, how about their development, is it fair on them to dump them there for 8 hours a day and many many more worries which I hope you can shed some light on. Currently I have no problems as I know my mum is a 100% substitute for me, but what about nursery. I am particularly concerned with the fact that they will not receive the love in a nursery environment and also exhaustion of being there for 8 long hours a day.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to share your experience with me, it will contribute and hopefully help me make an important decision in my life.

2 (a mother)

Hi madar #1,

My own opinion is that the children do not suffer in either case as long as the parents are loving, caring parents that provide a good structure and foundation for the kids. and can provide loving & quality time with the children, even after a long icky day at work. (Don't forget the value of grandma bonding for kids - that's a big plus in my view - even if grandma doesn't babysit everyday - the intimate relationship is a great foundation for kids.)

It's a problem when mom/dad comes home from work at 5 (or 7!), picks the child up from childcare/preschool, gets home, has to put dinner on the table within 1-2 hours and still be "nice" to the family. Plenty of times, I wish I could crawl straight into bed after an exhausting day.

I'm a lawyer with an 8 year old son. I've done both - child care, nanny, and me. The combination worked well through out the years - but if contemplating another child, I'd really want to stay home (& hopefully have a wildly explosive internet business that would make me rich beyond lottery dreams allowing us to have several more kids and a live-out nanny, etc etc etc).

Cheers -

3 (a madar)

I am in the same situation but I found that best alternative is to keep working on part-time basis or if full-time start early and get home early. This way they get to play with other kids for 6 hrs. and when they come home it's pleasant for them and you also don't give up your job.

4 (a mother)

I understand your ambivalence. I work full time and feel it is too much for me and my kid. However, I think the key is to find an excellent daycare situation where your kids will be stimulated and learn to socialize. If I had a choice, I would work part time because I too need some outlet for my creative energy and a place where I can have exchange with other adults. I think this is the perfect balance. Maybe your mom could take them to the daycare so they aren't there all day? Eight hours really is a long day...

Good luck,

5 (a madar)

I have been doing the same thing (as madar #3) for about 6 years. It was wonderful when the kids were small but now they are in elementary it is a bit tiring since you have to deal with homework and other school stuff. So I would recommend this approach until they get to elementary and then the best thing would be to work part-time if possible.

Good luck,

6 (a pedar)

Dear madar#1:

You only need to look close in your home to seek the answer to your question.

I believe your mom has had a very successful career and she has been highly paid. One should not measure happiness and success with material things. I always remind myself as to the last wish of those in their dying bed. It is:

I WISH I HAD SPENT MORE TIME WITH MY FAMILY. Interestingly enough, no one yet has wished to have spent more time at the office or wished to have made more money.

Best wishes in your parenthood.

7 (madar #1)

Dear All

Let me thank you for your replies, which has re-enforced some the issues I had already thought about. As those of you in professional jobs would know, specially engineering, being absent from work and technology is kind of saying goodbye to your career. So I think as some of you suggested, part-time would be an ideal situation. I would however like to pose another question to those of you with older children:

Do you agree with the following general trends, I've shown in the following figures?, and what age would you say you can resume a full-time career without the worries?


I have also provided the source data for those of you who can't read the graphs:

Age Physical SUPPORT Emotional Support LOVE
0100%100% 100%
1 100 100 100
2 100 100 100
3 99 100 100
4 80 100 100
5 75 100 100
6 50 100 100
7 40 100 100
8 40 100 100
9 40 99 100
10 40 95 100
11 40 94 100
12 40 90 100
13 40 80 100
14 40 70 100
15 40 60 100
16 30 50 100
17 20 50 100
18 10 50 100
19 5 50 100
20 5 50 100
21 5 50 100
22 5 50 100
23 5 50 100
24 0 50 100
25 0 50 100


8 (madar #3)

I am not sure that's true all the time. Because kids get tired if they're with adults all the time. But if they in a good educational environment where they can play and learn for 6 hrs. a day they are much healthier and happier. I compare my kid to one of my friend's kid who's been at home all the time . My kid seems more alert, sociable and active. I don't have my mom around but if she were here I still would want my kid to go to daycare at least part-time. Ofcourse if they are under 2 it's best to be able to have homecare for them.

Another problem that I have sitting at home is that I also get unhealthy, I need to have my own activities and social life to remain a healthy minded person.

9 (pedar # 6)

As times change, we must also adjust our ways to the times.

In this day and age, the concept of "neighborhood kids" has changed to "daycare kids". The fact that the children need to interact with other kids has not changed. At the very least, children need to be around other people that are their own "size".

To me, (a dad), the question of "working mother or house wife?" sounds like: "working father or man of the house?" If we look at it in the right concept we see that actually a mother (or for that matter, a father) works pretty hard to raise her children. So a mother is always a "working mother". When my children were younger and people would ask me: "Does your wife work or does she stay home?", I used to answer: "She WORKS full time raising our three wonderful children."

Part of raising healthy children is to also be good role models for them. If a mother chooses to stay home, I believe that she still needs to WORK. I mean it can be being involved in school, community, neighborhood or part-time position at somewhere. I think we all agree that children, especially during early years, need the caring, love and attention of the parents. Anyway, if the parent that chooses to stay home (can be mom or dad since we are in the 90's) does not take on some outside activities in the form of a paid position or volunteer work, then I think she will go crazy hanging around a "two year old" all day long. The same is true for the child. The child needs to be around other children to learn how to play and get along and learn a multitude of other social skills. So the question is one of Balance. And the balance comes at a different shape and form for each family. One thing though must not be forgotten, and that is that our children must come first. That applies to the careers of moms and dads.

Sorry for getting long winded.

10 (a madar)

Baa salam Va Baa Takhir

I have a home based business and I started before having kids, because I wanted to be home with my kids . Now they are 4 and 2 . I think after their first couple of years it is good and healthy for both kids and mums If the mother has a part time job or even if she volunteers, just to have her own time. if you are thinking of working from home with 2 small kids , it is very hard but possible. I am doing it. It is always nice to have help but if u don't you will still manage. Your little angles will give you the energie.

Please send your replies and/or opinions regarding this subject to madar-pedar@surya.eecs.berkeley.edu.

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