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Identify the principal issue presented by the source.
Identify any examples of bias presented by the author. If none exist, explain how you determined this.
Identify any areas that are vague or ambiguous. If none exist, explain how you determined this.
Do you find the source credible? Explain your reasoning.
Identify and name any rhetorical devices used by the author. If none exist, explain how you determined this.
Identify and name any fallacies used by the author. If none exist, explain how you determined this.
State one argument made by the author.
Identify the premises and conclusion of the argument.
Is the author’s argument valid or invalid, sound or unsound, strong or weak? Explain how you determined this.
Does the author use moral reasoning? If not, explain how you determined this.
THIS IS THE ARTICLE
Working Mothers Are Benefiting the Family. Reed Karaim.
Opposing Viewpoints: The Family. Ed. Auriana Ojeda. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2003.
Working Mothers Are Benefiting the Family
Table of Contents: Further Readings
"The Joys of Having a Mom With a Job," Washington Post, July 30, 2000, p. B02. Copyright © 2000 by Washington Post. Reproduced with permission.
In the following viewpoint, Reed Karaim argues that working mothers teach their children to be independent, curious, and ambitious. He maintains that children of working mothers do not suffer from less parental attention than children whose mothers stay home. Rather, children whose mothers work learn the value of personal fulfillment and goal-setting. Karaim is the author of the novel If Men Were Angels.
As you read, consider the following questions:
1. According to the author, why was the transformation to parenthood more difficult for his female friends than his male friends?
2. How do working mothers counter popular culture, as stated by the author?
3. According to Karaim, how do most children of working mothers feel about their mothers' choice?
Like many ambitious baby boomers in Washington, most of my friends married in their thirties and didn't get around to having children until that decade was ending or over. They went from being successful two-career couples, happily scaling the ladder of professional achievement together, chatting about work over dinner in Georgetown at 10 p.m., to that sudden, startling state known as parenthood.
More Difficult for Women
The transformation was shocking all around (diapers, not dinner, at 10; Gymboree, not the gym, on weekends) but the most difficult adjustment inevitably was for my female friends. Successful editors, publicists, political consultants, women whose confidence and accomplishment had seemed unwavering, were suddenly uncertain about their futures.
How devoted could they or should they remain to work? Were they hurting their children—socially, academically—by pursuing a career? In some cases, soaring professional trajectories were abandoned, part-time arrangements found, accommodations made—out of desire, yes, but also out of fear or guilt.
I understood better when my wife and I had our own daughter, a little later than most of our friends, and began pondering day care. "Of course, it's best if they can stay home with their mother," we heard too many times, as if parental roles had been perfected in the 1950s.
It wasn't as if people were rude enough to suggest this was what we should do. Most were too sensitive, or aware that we needed my wife's income. Rather, it was as if there were an implicit understanding that a mother and child, at home, together, was the ideal situation and all else was, at best, an accommodation, a compromise.
As the grown son of a mother who worked his whole childhood, I've always been offended by this attitude. Now, as the husband of a working mom, I feel more than ever that it's misguided and damaging. Watching my own wife struggle with her sense that she might be cheating our daughter, watching friends exhaust themselves trying to do it all, I think it's time we both recognize that working mothers have become the norm and celebrate all that they can actually bring to their children's lives.
According to Department of Labor statistics from 1999, 72 percent of all women with children under age 18 work. Even most moms with infants work: 61 percent of all mothers with children under the age of 3. This isn't going to change. We are several years into an economic boom of historic proportions; if ever there was a time working mothers were going to retire from the job force, this would be it. Yet the percentage of working mothers continued to climb throughout the '90s. The Beaver's mom has left a casserole in the refrigerator and gone off to work. She'll try to be home by 6.
What is her family getting in return? For starters, quite often the answer is the groceries and a roof over their heads. The money working mothers make is tremendously important to their families. Two-parent families where the mother works have an average annual income of $63,751, $26,000 more a year than households where only the father works. In most of America, this extra income may not seem extravagant, but it helps boost many families onto the verdant green lawns of the middle class, with all the comforts, chances for education and opportunity that provides to children.
Somehow this gets neglected in the various academic studies that seek to determine whether the children of working mothers do worse than their peers, either socially or academically. The studies disagree. But there's one thing we can be sure of—the money matters.
Setting a Good Example
Something else that matters is the example we set our children. And one important example is a willingness to work. There's no one who doesn't need to learn this sooner or later, and it's a lesson taught best by example.
If a mother is lucky enough to have a job she enjoys (and, while many of us like to complain about our work, the truth is that most people do like their jobs, at least a little), she provides her children a valuable window into some of the fulfillment possible in adult life.
A working mother can teach the value of independence, first through her own life, and second by expecting her children to take on more themselves. There is struggle in that, yes, but handled right, there can be pride and accomplishment.
I know this will upset some parents, but I think the children of working mothers can occasionally even enjoy a valuable sense of freedom. As a teenager, I remember visiting friends whose mothers seemed way too wrapped up in their high school lives. I found myself glad my own mother was too busy to worry about whether I had a chance of being elected prom king. (I didn't.)
A working mother, unless she happens to make her living as a swimsuit model, stands as a counterweight to a popular culture that still teaches us to value women more for how they fill out a sweater than a resume. This is obviously important to daughters, but often overlooked is how important it is to sons.
I look at my own mother, who raised seven children while working as a college teacher and librarian, and I think this is one of the great favors she did me. I saw her in charge. I saw her debating things with my father, also a teacher, as an equal, personally, professionally and financially. I marched off into adult life thinking this was the way things were, and I and the succession of female bosses I've had all had our lives made easier.
Encouraging Their Children's Dreams
Finally, successful working mothers give their children one of the best gifts any parent can, the example of a life lived to its potential. Ambition and achievement are contagious, and we all need role models to encourage our dreams.
This is not to say it's easy, or to dismiss the understandable difficulty of leaving a child and going back to work, or to suggest that our society couldn't do more to support working parents. Nor is it to say that mothers who stay home with their children are limiting themselves; there can be rewards and growth there aplenty. Nothing here is intended to disparage women, or men for that matter, who make that choice.
It is only to say that a working mother need not feel guilty. The pseudo-Victorians and Eisenhower-era nostalgics who wonder how this generation of children will grow up without mom at home with them all day are so in love with a sepiatoned still life that they've missed the bigger picture. As a parent, it's the whole life you bring to your child that matters.
Children understand this better than we think. A 1997 national survey by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance of 800 15- to 31-year-olds whose mothers worked found that 80 percent thought their mothers made the right choice. An even higher percentage, 82 percent, thought their moms enjoyed their jobs.
I knew my own mother did, and as a child it made me happy. The world seemed full of greater possibility because of it: Her interest in books was contagious; the way she enjoyed her days at the library made me eager to get out into the larger world of ideas and people. Did I feel adequately loved? Valued? Of course. But I also knew there were things that mattered beside me, and that they involved work, but they were worth it.
Someday my daughter will be paying attention when her mother comes home after a good day of teaching creative writing, something my wife loves, and will feel that same contagious joy and sense of possibility. She will be a lucky child. Because her mother works.