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  • Photo du rédacteurBonnie Jean-Louis

Diversified Communities For Overall Health Outcomes - Why Stay-at-Home parents needs your support!

Dernière mise à jour : 16 août 2019

In today's day and age, this generation and the next one, will certainly be more and more complexe, diversified, and reconstructed... Friendships and the outdoors, can evidently help in creating happy habits in nuclear and new families... Get out to your local park, and meet with other moms and dads! Get to know those 'Stay-at-home' parents, to learn why and how they're doing it!

Old friends and new, hopefully for the best, even when a continent separates us.

There’s something reassuring about not feeling like your alone in a decision, or a situation. Our society and culture favors mothers to return to work, and undermines any women that makes the decision to stay home, while raising their newborns and toddlers, until they enter primary school. Maybe this is a concept that warrants another new and fresh look!

(...) We need to let women become better mothers! (...)

Just ask any mother that attends an office party with her partner, how long she can sustain a conversation with any colleague. Not because they can’t muster an interesting conversation, but on the contrary, their opportunity of being at home often leads to having more time to be updated in political policies or latest news and research, compared to a working mom that is already doing more than two full time jobs. Really, they often can’t sustain a conversation with a colleague, because most co-workers will deam uneventful, a conversation with someone that is a ‘stay-at-home’ mom… I’ve even heard of one story, where a couple sat down at their table, and when the women of the other couple asked the ‘stay-at-home’ mom what she did, she turned around and asked her husband to change tables, as she wished to have better discussion than with someone who doesn’t do anything all day long…

All of this is unfortunately completely biased and disproved scientifically. Apart from the fact that most full time working moms, actually consider being 85% more content and overall well-being with their life decisions compared to 77% of ‘stay-at-home’ moms(1), most evidence-based research, either on rats, or following entire communities and comparing both lifestyles and choices, have proven that care and nurture given on a long term period, can improve maternal and children’s mental and physical health. I sometimes wonder if the difference in content and overall well-being mentioned above, is not based on the fact that ‘stay-at-home’ moms often are seen as less, or even, don't feel like they are actually members of society no more, not contributing as the main component of not fully being content for those who choose to invest in their kids, rather than in the capitalist system.

This is all without considering, how much learning and growing opportunities, staying at home, and raising little ones actually offer to moms (and dads, if this is the case for some). As Julia Jones, a Postpartum Doula and Author from Australia mentions in her books and courses ‘Newborn Mothers, When a Baby is Born, So is a Mother’(2), we need to help women in becoming mothers, no matter how they choose to do it. If they so choose to stay at home for longer than the ‘society’s permitted maternity leave’, we should acknowledge as a whole, that this has positive repercussions overall...

It is also okay to choose to return to work! As many as more than 75% of women actually do, here in Canada, after their first year of maternity leave, or even before (if they chose to share their time with their partners), or if they had too financially… But as these mom’s actually feel like they are more productive and better overall with their mental health, by having a chance of getting a break from family time, they are also studies linking children’s mental health and stress levels, to ongoing missing links between that actual family time, running around between daycare, school, after school programs, and then, a bit of overly rushed family moments.

Just as it is explained in details with many research and studies across a few decades in ‘The Mommy Brain; How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter’ by Katherine Ellison(3), we need to let women become better mothers, in order to favor a well balanced period which in turn will contribute to a blossoming postpartum experience, that will help mothers grow into better equipped people to perform later on in society.

For some, this comes in nurturing their young ones, until preschool, while for others, its through obtaining trusting child care services, close by their homes or workplace, and find a flexible schedule that permits balancing acts that counteract the stress levels that usually accompany the mental charge of mothers today.

While some families in our area still can depend on the grandparents or other family members to provide care to top off the rigid schedules of current child daycare services for some, extended family support has been disappearing for the past two generations, making it harder for moms to balance everything. ‘’The more you get developed capitalism, the more you get child-rearing advice.’’ Sharon Hays, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia says that while the family is the last bastion of intimacy, and so few relatives are around to give care, ‘’the mother becomes crucial.’’ (4) (p. 182)

Therefore, the families who cannot depend on their family for childcare, and considering that stable Monday to Friday, 8 to 5 daycare centers are extremely expensive in Ontario, making it not affordable for most low-income families and single mothers, mothering can become ‘’the central fulfilling thing in their lives’’(5)(p.107). Providing self-esteem and practice in being a boss, ‘’mothering provides an introductory experience of having real power in the world – power enough to create and defend a new life.(…) Motherhood can be an organizing force in their lives.’’ (6)(p.106)

Instead of thinking less of mothers who chooses to stay-at-home, I’m wishing to see a drive in our culture, to support and thank those women, for the well-thought choice they made, for their families. On top of learning so many new competences, we as communities, need to acknowledge, that it is all part of making a diverse community work. I call upon all biased interpretations of ‘stay-at-home’ moms to reconsider their thinking on the subject, and instead recognize that this is an investment, of time, and money. Not in money made, but in money lost… As most families who chooses to keep a parent at home, forcibly also chooses to loose potential revenue, on top of up-to-date references in their resume, which can affect long term career goals.

I’ve had to analyze my own biases, after the time I was home with my first one. I’d felt like I was a strain on my partner, an inefficient member of society, and only was driven on getting back into the workforce. This inextricably force drove me to stresses and depression that weren’t necessary and a lack of a positive relationship with my child, as I put blame on him, for I had to refuse job opportunities, that didn’t provide flexibility as it was not worth it.

After many juggling acts and realizations that accomplishments doesn’t necessarily have to come from the exterior of ourselves, and from a paying job position. Getting pregnant with my latest little one, and this time, choosing not to return to a great paying job that I loved, made me realize that it is a choice, and a choice that shouldn’t be regarded as lightly.

For sure, it is not a choice we as a society, should diminish. If feminists activists worked long and hard to fight for women to access the working market, they surely didn’t do it, against the ones that choose to be mothers full time, be regarded as less than. To have a society that works well, we need to start being more inclusive of diversity, and that goes, by instilling a culture that respects both working mothers and the stay-at-home ones.

To make sure that all of this happens, when choosing or having to stay-at-home, parents that invest their full-time in rearing kids, have to ‘’feel good about their parenting’’. We, as a culture, need to promote ‘’becoming more flexible and resourceful, less fearful, and more ‘’dominant’’ – meaning focussed and confident – in other realms of their lives.’’ Because otherwise, ‘’if their mothering experience is negative, they eventually decline in these emotional strengths. ‘’(7)(p.108)

That is why I ask, that we give it a new and fresh look at our next door neighbor mom or dad. If somebody tells you they are a ‘stay-at-home’ mom or dad, don’t consider that they are not worth the discussion! Especially when someone tells you at the park or at the grocery story for example, ‘’Oh, I’m just a mom/I’m just a dad!’’ Please, recognize openly that they are NOT JUST, a mom or dad, ‘’THEY ARE A MOM/THEY ARE A DAD! AND THIS IS AMAZING!!!’’

Don’t shy away from this world you might not know, or have chosen. Be intrigued in what they’ve learned lately, and what they’ve witnessed. Even if it is just how their kid started using complex words, maybe they’ll surprise you with having been involved in a volunteering project you haven’t heard about, or an idea that could be useful for your job.

You never know! But, we need to stop not putting value on non-working parents. They are certainly contributing to the gross domestic product, by investing in the long turn health, happiness, mental stability and family support index. Lets consider how much they are investing freely or at the expense of financial instability, for the future of everyone. Maybe considering paying a basic income for those parents that ‘stay-at-home’, is another way, of recognizing their contribution to society, and would permit more parents to choose this avenue, without putting a financial stress and strain for the many years their little ones are home dependent… But that is another subject entirely right?

(1) ‘The Mommy Brain; How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter’ by Katherine Ellison.

(2) ‘Newborn Mothers, When a Baby is Born, So is a Mother’ by Julia Jones.

(3) ‘The Mommy Brain; How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter’ by Katherine Ellison.

(4) ‘The Mommy Brain; How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter’ by Katherine Ellison, p. 182.

(5) Ibid, p.107.

(6) Ibid, p.108.

(7) Ibid, p.108.

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