Peg

Working Moms as Role Models: Part I—Role models for our kids?

A long while ago I wrote a post about the idea that working moms are role models for their children and about the judging that goes on between women including the battles being fought in the, so called, "mommy wars".  Well, I have some updates and some additional insight on the issue that I'd like to share.

First, I was recently amazed at the fact that my 5 year old daughter is completely oblivious to gender roles.  I now think that this is partly due to the fact that I am a lawyer and have always worked full-time.  I now think that my decision to work is impacting the way that she looks at the world and that I am a role model -- at least a model for a woman that chooses to make similar choices. 

I'd like to share two anecdotes about my 5-year old's view of the world.  The first is in her career plans.  5 years old is, I think, the age when kids start thinking about what they want to do when they grow up.  They start pretending to be career people and start understanding more about the world and the roles of grown-ups.  Well, my 5 year old's career goals shift between being a doctor and being Hannah Montana, but that is besides the point.  Also, included in the plans for a while was being a "mom".  Recently, she started questioning her goal of being a mom and the conversation went something like this:

Kid: "Mommy, I have decided that I will just be a doctor when I grow up and not a doctor AND a mom."

Me:  "Oh yeah, why did you decide that?  Don't you think that you can be both?"

Kid: "Oh, I know that I can be both but I don't want to change dirty diapers so I think that I won't like being a mom."

Me: "Well, that is one thing to think about because...."

Kid: "Actually, maybe I can just get the boy to change all the diapers.  I will be a doctor during the day and he can stay home and change all of the dirty diapers."

Me: "Yeah... that sounds like a good plan..."

The second anecdote is about sports.  We were watching her older brother's flag football game on Saturday and I started up a conversation about the fact that she is going to play flag football next year and that she should check with her dad to see if he would coach her team just like he does for big brother this year.  This is how it went:

Me: "You should ask your daddy if he can coach your team next year too."

Kid:  "Why, can't YOU be the coach, mommy?"

<<insert conversation about how mommy's job isn't as flexible as daddy's and I can't miss work to come to practice, so it'll have to be daddy that does the coaching...>>

Me:  "Besides, honey, I don't think they would let mommy be the coach because I am a girl."

Kid: "Mommy, that doesn't make any sense..."

I guess my point is this... I acknowledge the fact that I am modeling the choice of being a working mother to my kids.  Perhaps, when they grow up, they will embrace my decision as the best choice or perhaps they will reject it as a self-centered choice.  However, either way, my choice is playing a role in the formation of their world-view.  They are witnesses to my balance, my schedule, my relationships.  And, hopefully, if I manage to do a decent job in both roles (mother and lawyer), they will have my example to show them that our culture's gender stereotypes and roles are not set in stone. 

On a side note... how great is it that they are growing up and witnessing this presidential election and are completely oblivious to the reasons why it will be historic no matter the outcome! I love that for them.

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