Dads Against the Divorce Industry

DA*DI is devoted to reinstating the societal valuation of Marriage and the traditional, nuclear American Family, with particular emphasis on the essential role of FATHERS.

DA*DI offers contemporary reports and commentary on culture; its aberrations and its heroes.

January 12, 2000
Staying at home with children has rewards career doesn't offer
By Kate Obenshain Griffin
SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

     Often, I am asked by those who know I am at home raising two little boys, "Do you work at all?"
     Or, I love this one: "Are you doing anything with yourself these days?"
     I used to be sheepish at this point, feeling the intensity of their scorn or at least their bewilderment, but now I say with a self-confident grin, "No, I'm home full-time, raising babies."
     I tend to get a sympathetic look and a consoling response. When I assure them of my delight in my current circumstances, the response is curt and invariably the same: "Oh, well, it's nice that you have that luxury."
     I nearly guffaw at this point and want nothing more than to wave our tax returns from two and three years ago at them.
     Making the decision to stay at home full-time and raise children certainly has its negative economic and social consequences, and I have felt both. But I believe it is worth every one of them, and so much more. . . .
     When I was 9, my world was shattered when my father was killed in a plane crash while campaigning for the U.S. Senate from Virginia. Obviously, from then on, my mother continued to work out of pure economic necessity.
     I was not brought up in preparation for being a stay-at-home mom. . . . I'm not sure what my parents had in mind for our future, particularly that of my sister and me, but I do know they never limited our horizons. Though deeply conservative and traditional, I never heard them refer to differences between the expectations of men and women. . . .
     Cutting my teeth in politics prepared me for a career in that arena. . . . George Allen came along with fire in his belly and a passionate commitment to conservative ideals that reminded me of my father.
     Running for governor of Virginia, Mr. Allen was down 30 points in the polls early on. But I was sure he could pull it off and went to work on his policy staff. When he won in a landslide, I followed him to the governor's office, where I advised him on all health and education issues.
     Then love came my way; I married and moved to Winchester, Va., where my husband [Phil Griffin] was a new, young lawyer. After a brief time commuting to Northern Virginia to work . . . I began consulting on my own for campaigns, free-lancing and serving as editor of a local human-interest magazine. I traveled occasionally to college campuses, speaking on topics such as political correctness and feminism.
     Then, without much delay, Phil and I began a family. It was not long before the consulting tapered off, and by the time my second son was born, I quit editing and writing almost entirely and committed myself completely to raising the children. . . .
     So why did I decide to give up a career just as it was beginning to get exciting? . . . As I came closer to motherhood and then when my first child was born, I was firmly convinced that there was nothing more important that I could be doing for both the immediate and long-term well-being of my family than to stay home and raise my children. . . .
     Has it been easy? Not always. There is a powerful social stigma, thanks to the resounding success of the radical feminist movement at making stay-at-home moms second-class citizens. . . .
     Do I feel fulfilled? Stimulated? Appreciated? These needs have been touted by the feminist movement as only achievable in the workplace, and we as a culture have bought into that.
     I have encountered many who say, "Oh, I wouldn't be happy or fulfilled staying at home. And that would not be good for the children. It's better for them that I work." Try asking the children what they think about that. . . .
     Now, I can honestly say I don't believe I have given anything up. And I no longer have any second thoughts, though that is too much for many to believe. . . .
     It is hard to believe when you are in the workplace, particularly doing something you enjoy, with your self-esteem soaring, feeling intellectually stimulated and useful, that you could ever be adequately fulfilled at home with small children.
     No, it is not the same; you do not get the same rush. In fact, part of the beauty and joy of being a stay-at-home mom is there is no rush. Rather, there is peace. There is peace in knowing that you are where you should be, peace in passing an afternoon quietly reading a story to a little one, or in taking a leisurely afternoon stroll, hand in hand.
     While this speech is entitled "Giving It All Up," I must state for the record, I do not believe I gave anything up. That is the bottom line of why I chose the course that I did and other women choose theirs. I believe I have reaped far more from my decision to stay home, raise my children and support my husband than I ever would have had I stayed in my career.
     And the fact that I believe that I gave nothing up is a fundamental point. Our culture — thanks to the women's movement — has created a very destructive notion, a notion that even many conservative women buy into. I certainly did. It is the notion that we who choose to stay home are giving something up —sacrificing our brilliant future to care for our young, who the experts assure eager, guilt-ridden parents will be just as well off with day care or baby sitters.
     I must say that I did buy into this mentality when I began staying home. Or else, I used it to martyr myself to make sure everyone realized what a saint I was to choose such a path.
     But I cannot continue that charade any longer. I can't even pretend to you that I sacrificed anything for this. . . .
     Let's face it. Children know when they are the priority. They also know when their parents are tired, overworked, harried and distracted by worries about work. We can comfort ourselves all we want with platitudes about quality time, but I think we are all beginning to realize how critical it is that we be there most of the time. . . .
     I have two little boys and another baby on the way. Both my husband and I have been transformed by the experience. Our careers are no longer the ultimate priorities. Rather, this awesome responsibility we've been given has taken center stage.



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