Oh the Dutch! This is the society that has been the world’s leading proponent of euthanasia. It is bringing us the Groningen Protocols to legalize killing seriously ill babies and disabled adults. Now it is going after stay-at-home-moms. Dominico Bettinelli’s blog points out a Dutch politician who wants to penalize women with college degrees who want to stay home with their children because they are "destroying capital". Sharon Dijksma, a Dutch member of Parliament, proposes a substantial financial penalty for women choosing not to enter the work force. This is motivated in the Netherlands by the state funded education system. The state does not think it has gotten its money’s worth from these women it educated. However, a more serious underlying premise of this proposal is that women who stay at home to care for their children offer no societal benefit. What greater “capital” is there for a society than its future generations? Does the Dutch Labour Party really believe raising well adjusted children with a firm moral grounding is a worthless endeavor? Do they really think a college-educated mother has nothing of value to offer her children that an uneducated babysitter cannot provide?
Of course America is not free of this thinking. Linda Hirshman, a professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at Brandeis University reveals a similar perspective at Inside Higher Ed:
Recent analysis of the opt-out revolution reveals that the only group of mothers not continuing to raise their work-force participation despite economic ups and downs is mothers with graduate and professional degrees. Their numbers are flat and have been for several years. Their decisions matter because their careers, if realized, would be influential. Their decisions are a mistake because they lead them to lesser lives, by most measures, and because these decisions hurt society.
You can read her entire essay here but be warned she chooses to use some profanity when discussing comments by her critics.
Okay, I plead guilty. I am a medical doctor and I am choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. We are not independently wealthy. This has meant some lifestyle adjustments. I have not always stayed at home. My first two children were born during my family practice residency. My third child was born when I was in the military. The fourth child came when I had my first civilian job. I gradually began to decrease my work hours over the next few years because I felt the kids needed me more and more. I need to be there to greet the kids when they come home from school. I can tell by the look on their faces how their day went. If I waited a couple of hours to see them, school would be a million miles away and I wouldn’t have a clue. A great deal of learning and bonding goes on during the shuttling of kids from one activity to another. It takes time to teach the intangibles like faith and morals. It has been a blessing to be available to my children when those teachable moments arise. Once they are in high school it is even more important. I want to know who their friends are and where they are spending the after school hours. The sexual activity, drinking, and drug abuse by teens is most likely to occur when they are unsupervised after school.
My husband and I both felt the needs of our children were more important than our careers. However, his career as a military officer had far less flexibility than mine as a family physician. My career was the one that compromised. This wasn’t a sexist decision. This was a family-first decision.
I am not trying to fuel any “Mommy Wars”. Every family has to set priorities and act accordingly. And as with our family, what works for a while may not work forever. Situations change. As parents we have been entrusted with children as a gift from God. Parenting in and of itself is a valuable and worthwhile endeavor. Far from being a drain on society, being a good parent is a treasure for society.