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What’s Wrong With a Stay-At-Home Mom?

Insults can have unintended consequences.

Hilary Rosen attempted to disparage Ann Romney’s knowledge of economics by saying that Romney never worked a day in her life. How does she know that Ann Romney never worked a day in her life? Find one exception and you've falsified an overgeneralization.

Ann Romney’s choice to stay at home and raise her five kids doesn’t require defending. You can be a stay-at-home mom and still understand economics.

Rosen’s statement had unintended consequences. It had implications about the value of women who are stay-at-home moms. Hilary Rosen not only insulted Ann Romney, but also appeared to disparage millions of women who chose to stay at home to raise their children.

Hilary Rosen acts as if she forgot that many stay-at-home moms leave promising careers behind to be with their children and to guide them as they grow.

Hilary Rosen’s subsequent apology for her comment had a disingenuous ring to me.

The stay-at-home moms label makes mothers easy targets for those who seek to tower over them and degrade a valued life style. Blame labeling is common in a blame culture. That doesn’t make it right. Instead of a pejorative, we can rightly view the stay-at-home mom as part of a desired tradition, holding an important central position as the adhesive for a family, and as dedicating herself to a central position as a reflection of love for family.

I’m confident that women who stay at home to raise their children are amply able to defend themselves against snobbish disparagements. Rosen’s ideological views represent a minority position that sometimes froths with intolerance.

As a son of a stay-at-home mom, I want to share another perspective.

Rosen insults my mother when she implicitly insults women who stay-at-home. There is a reason that we call a place a home—it’s a family place and moms are normally there in a central way.

My mom worked a job before she was married. She worked various jobs after me and my sisters had grown to adulthood. During the time we lived at home, she was available. She managed the household, saved, and watched out for our interests. She loved playing games with us. I remember many times when we walked together to a bakery before I first started school. There were museum trips, visits to her friends with children. She had hobbies and friends and shared these with us. I have so many good memories that there is no space here to recount them all.

It’s very clear to me that my mom enjoyed her children, husband, and her life. Was I happy that she was a stay-at-home mom? You bet!

My grandmothers were stay-at-home moms. One had 10 children. The other raised three. I never knew my mom’s mom, but I knew my dad’s.

As a child, I'd normally spent several weeks with my grandmother during the summer. My granddad was retired at the time. Both spent significant time with their grandson. My aunts and great aunts—all of whom were stay-at-home moms seemed to enjoy playing cards and games with their nephew. I went on trips to farms, ballgames, and more. Do I appreciate what each added to my life? Absolutely!

A stay-at-home mom's way of life includes doing many things that often go unnoticed or are taken for granted.

Can you be there for your children if you are a mom with a full-time job? My wife is a professional who went to work daily and raised two boys. This was a way of life for her that she still enjoys even now when our sons are young men and living on their own.

Dr. Bill Knaus

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