Family Counseling Insights brought to you by Patricia McTague-Loft
Happy Mother’s Day! To all you Moms out there celebrating the day with family and friends, I wish you a day filled with joy.
Now, here’s a question for you — after the obligatory “Happy Mother’s Day,” what are well-meaning friends and acquaintances likely to follow up with? More to the point, what comment really has you gritting your teeth while you try to smile politely?
Writing for CNBC.com, Jen Zamzow goes on a bit of a rant about sentiments expressed by well wishers. “This Mother’s Day,” she writes, “many moms will hear a familiar phrase,— ‘Thank you for doing the most important job in the world.’ But many moms I know agree that we’re sick of hearing about ‘the joys of parenting’ or how we are ‘selfless superheroes.’ “
She believes that raising kids really does require “a village.” That in turn requires individuals in their societal roles devoted to helping raise children safely and properly. So, what she would really like to hear is, “We’ve got your back. How can we help?”
In response to that implicit offer of support, she lists several things that Moms, or anyone, cannot do alone, including:
“Keeping our kids alive.” In an age where you never know when you’ll hear about the most recent school shooting, this most fundamental responsibility is outside anyone’s individual power. No easy answer here, but that doesn’t mean we can quit trying to solve the problem
“Providing for our families.” Mountains of research and accompanying data point to a very real motherhood wage gap. In general, it appears that mothers are more willing than dads to sacrifice their careers in order to raise their families, and consequently fall behind in building a career. “But,” Zamzow writes, “more flexible work arrangements, paid maternity and paternity leave, and, as Harvard economist Claudia Goldin argues, making work less ‘greedy’ with our time, can make working parenthood more doable and reduce the wage gap.”
“Supporting our kids’ mental health.” It’s no secret that there is a shortage of professional psychologists and psychiatrists. Again, no easy fix here, but long term we put the spotlight on the need for mental health services and the need for more professionals.
“Protecting our kids online.” Most everyone is aware of the enormous problem of children accessing inappropriate content on the internet. This is a problem that will involve many parties — parents, tech companies, government officials. But it is also a problem that simply must be addressed.
“Teaching our kids how to be civil in public spaces.” This is a tough one because being overly restrictive with kids is not good for their long-term development. That’s exactly what would be called for, though, if the goal were simply to keep children in line out in public. What might be a better solution? How about cutting Moms some slack when their kids aren’t behaving like perfect angels. That’s something anyone can do starting today. Happy Mother’s Day.