Archive for Monday, May 4, 2009


Mother’s way: Dr. Laura’s new book touts stay-at-home parenting

May 4, 2009


‘Dr. Laura Live!’

What: Laura Schlessinger will give a live talk simulcast to 450 theaters nationwide When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, encore screening 7 p.m. Wednesday Where: Southwind 12, 3433 S. Iowa

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a New York Times best-selling author, radio show host and marriage and family therapist. But first and foremost, she says, she’s a mother.

An unabashed cheerleader of a woman’s right to raise her children at home, her newest book, “In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms,” both gives advice to and advocates for stay-at-home mothers.

As part of the book’s promotion, Schlessinger will appear at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Southwind 12, 3433 S. Iowa, as part of a live talk, “Dr. Laura Live! In Praise of Mom” simulcast to 450 theaters nationwide. There also will be an encore screening 7 p.m. Wednesday.

We had the chance to ask Schlessinger some questions about her experience as a stay-at-home mom and about the new book.

Q. Why did you feel like now was the time to write this book?

A. Good question. “Now” was not the “right” time. Any time since the l960s has been the right time, actually. The perceived value by feminists — and then society at large — for a woman to replace self-fulfillment with full-time work and career for the beauty and benefit of hands-on mothering, creating a home out of a house, and being the spiritual and emotional center of the family has been tarnished. It has been embarrassing for women to say, “I’m a housewife ... or ... at-home mom.” These women have been derided by society, their friends, even mothers, and sometimes husbands who didn't expect to be the classical “provider and protector.” This book is actually long overdue.

Q. In the book you have a lot of anecdotes from SAHMs about dealing with naysayers. Why do you think SAHMs have to fight so hard to defend their decisions?

A. It’s funny, you know, that when I began my professional psychotherapy career in the ’80s, that women were criticizing men for putting their whole egos into “work” and not into family. I was in college in the ’60s and got somewhat caught up in the mentality that we were indeed not on pedestals, but under the boots of society when we gave up our power (work) position and took care of families: our children and husbands. That somehow became oppression.

Feminist women talked about “choices,” but actually disdained the choice in which women turned their lives into caretaking their families.

Interestingly, even The New York Times over the past 10 or so years has published numerous reports about high-powered career women tossing it for home and hearth because they were more emotionally fulfilled by being their for their husbands and children and were relieved not to be burning the candle the whole length of it!

Q. Do you believe America’s image of SAHMs is changing?

A. Well, with MOMS Clubs International and with more and more women going up against the “wisdom” that says women are not safe at home, what with domestic violence and their husbands walking out on them, with me supporting women at home and trying to get men to regain their pride in being the major support of their families ... yup, I think it is getting better for children and marriages.

My book gives so many inspirational stories from the women who have made the change and absolutely are swept away by the beauty they’ve discovered in their own lives ... in between the annoyances, of course!

Q. What do you believe the benefits are for both the mother and child?

A. Simply put: I’ve never understood why any woman would accept or want to believe that her love, attention, affection, influence, touch, smile, hugs, reassurances, life lessons, etc., could ever be replaced by hired help. Both child and mother instantly feel more important in the world; the child, for the mother's attention and love; the mother for the visible impact on her child ... and those pudgy arms around her neck.

Q. What are some examples of those benefits from your own life?

A. Since I was in college in the ’60s, I received the same lesson that we all did about self-centeredness being the right way of life. Remember the phrase, “If it bothers you ... it is your problem? Don’t lay guilt on me!”? Becoming a wife should, becoming a mother ensures, that you live for someone and something outside of yourself. It is the height of selflessness ... which helps perfect one’s character.

Q. How do listeners’ stories affect your beliefs on the matter of SAHMs?

A. The listener’s stories cement my beliefs. The stories come from women who missed it all, grabbed for it in time — as well as from the adults who reminisce about the pain of not having mama there to the blessings extolled by those who did.

It’s funny how we oohhhh and ahhhh when we see animal mommies with their young ... and then get defensive when someone suggests that humans ought to do the same.

Q. What kind of changes do you expect in women who go reroute their lives from the corporate world to the world at home?

A. At first, there is a sense of being lost. Most of such a woman’s neighbors and relatives are at work and their defensiveness will sting as they have to fend off the criticisms. Additionally, at work you have a title; at home there is so much to do and coordinate that you can easily feel overwhelmed. My book helps with this transition and reminds women not to be perfect ... but to remember that they are there for the intimacy with both children and husband ... not a home run like a business.

I remind women to have girl-time, bond with women with similar values, treat themselves like sexy girlfriends with their husbands ... and so forth.

Q. What about the problem of identity? How can women ease that transition?

A. When “Mrs. Smith, please come into my office,” is replaced by, “Mommy, I love you,” it gets easier and easier to know who and how important you are.

When your husband comes home to adore you rather to compete with who had the most accolades of the day or the most work stress or who still has important work to do ... it gets easier and easier to know who and how important you are.

Q. Why do the simulcast screenings in movie theaters on the subject?

A. The simulcast screenings allow me to hug more mothers than we could fit in one theater!


canyon_wren 8 years, 11 months ago

Wow, pywacket, you are certainly full of it! What a bitter person! I would be interested to know how you got that way.

I am leaving in a short while for a long trip so I won't have time to pursue any sort of "conversation" with you and would certainly love to follow up on this topic today, as it means a lot to me. I am just so glad that, in spite of working while my husband was in graduate school and working again since my divorce of 15 years ago, I was still able to be home with my daughter while she was growing up. That is time spent in the most worthwhile way I can think of. I realize that many women don't have "mothering" personalities, and also many can't afford to stay home, but when you can and will, it pays off tremendously.

Poor pywacket! I really do feel for you!

Chris Ogle 8 years, 11 months ago

My ex-wife was a stay at home Mom. One of the best decisions (or only decision) we ever made. I couldn't have ask for a better mother for my kids..... Now for the wife part, that was a different story.... hmmm... wonder if I had anything to do with that.

notajayhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Pywacket (Anonymous) says…

"Laura Schlessinger is a shrill, self-righteous, sheltered, judgmental nazi."

Whereas there's nothing at all shrill, self-righteous, or judgmental about that statement, Py?

"Of course, in Laura's world, the choice is obvious: Stand by your man! Making yourself financially helpless and under his thumb will help him regain his “pride in being the major support” of his family. And that's your place in the world, Lucy—helping the big strong man cultivate his ego."

Well, actually, it was more 'stand by your kids.' And it would appear that, despite the fact that Dr. Schlessinger made the choice to stay at home with her kids, in the end she isn't exactly "financially helpless" or "under his thumb."

"Feminist women talked about “choices,” but actually disdained the choice in which women turned their lives into caretaking their families."

And Py's bitter diatribe gives evidence that Dr. Schlessinger's statement is 100% accurate.

Cait McKnelly 8 years, 11 months ago

I agree with Pywacket on many levels. I have four children. With none of them was I ever permitted to be a "stay-at-home" mom. The only exception to that was when my son was born prematurely and I stayed home with him until he was a year old. I wasn't really a "stay-at-home" mom though. I was too busy taking him to clinic appointments and doing physical therapy with him. God only knows I would have given anything to be a homemaker and "soccer mom". But neither I nor my children were born to that privilege. No silver spoon in this mouth or theirs. And this is what makes Dr. Laura so irrelevant. She speaks to only a small portion of us, the class of wealth and privilege, and in the process makes us that can't have that privilege feel guilty and resentful. Feminism was born for the likes of me. Laura doesn't have to convince the ones she's really speaking to. That's preaching to the choir.

salad 8 years, 11 months ago

I don't know how any family can live above the poverty level without both parents working. My mom stayed home with us, but their mortgage wasn't $1200/month + $600/month (food) + $500/month (health ins.) etc, etc.... It's a COMPLETELY different world from the 50's and 60's.

Kirk Larson 8 years, 11 months ago

What would Dr. Laura know about stay-at-home parenting? She was out working while her kids were growing up. Of course, that was after she cheated on her husband (he didn't take those nude photos of her).

kmat 8 years, 11 months ago

Dr. Laura is a right wing idiot. Anyone that has listened to her understands this. Pywacket is completely correct!!!!!!!!

For those that want to take advise from this woman without knowing about her, here's a little bio for you. Is this really the person who should be giving out morality advise????

Married in her early 20's and got her tubes tied. Divorced in her 20's. Had an affair with her boss, a married man with children, then moved in with him. Got her tubes untied and tried to get pregnant (while not married). Finally had a kid after having an affair with the guy for almost a decade.

Also keep in mind that she had bad, nude pics taken of herself (full spread action I must add). What a role model. They're of course all over the internet.

And this wonderful women let her own mother rot while dying and never did a thing to help her. Her mother was literally found rotting in her condo. This is from a woman who loves to preach "God's commandment of honoring parents is basically the message that parents are a conduit of God. Any profanity or harm to the parent is as if we've profaned God."

"The commandment to honor parents was given to ensure that the elderly, although they may not feel wanted by family or society, are still given their appropriate reward."

"We honor parents today by making sure they are taken care of when they can no longer care for themselves."

"We honor parents by keeping them connected to family."

SOURCE: Dr. Laura Schlessinger "The 10 Commandments: The Significance of God's Laws in Everyday Life."

Dr. Laura advises women to quit their jobs if they make more than their husband to help their husband's feel like the breadwinners they're supposed to be, even if it harms the family to lose the needed income. She says it teaches a woman to respect her husband if she has to rely on him for income.

She is also a complete homophobe.

And do some googling on her son to see what a great job she did raising her own child.

And she isn't a Dr. Her PhD is in physiology. She isn't a practicing psychologist.

This is also a woman, who on her show, told a mom with an autistic kid to put him in an institution. What a great mom she is and what great advise she gives.

I could just keep on going. BUT, hopefully this showed enough of you to not listen to a word this hypocritical, cheating, crazy lady spews. She knows nothing and her life experience proves it.

staff04 8 years, 11 months ago

This ought to be right up Tom Shewmon's alley!!!

Tom, are you, as a stay-at-home mommy, in any way offended by Dr. Laura? According to pywacket you should be outraged!

staff04 8 years, 11 months ago

"you have no earthly clue what I do 24/7/365"

But I'll happily speculate that whatever it is, it'd be creepy to watch.

Tom, you're right--I've derived from your posts on this blog that your occupation on tax forms is "homemaker."

jonas_opines 8 years, 11 months ago

It seems to me that, were she simply offering the notion that a woman could herself choose, for herself, which role is more suitable, and more fulfilling, be it the maternal role in-home or a career -- or acknowledging the choice is not always that simple, but to make whatever choice with your own needs in mind, then there would be no issue. I don't have much familiarity with her work past her reputation, but I can say that this sort of quote:

"The perceived value by feminists — and then society at large — for a woman to replace self-fulfillment with full-time work and career for the beauty and benefit of hands-on mothering, creating a home out of a house, and being the spiritual and emotional center of the family has been tarnished."

. . . seems to be indicative of more than advocating personal choice, but advocating a "correct" choice for women to make. I think that notion of homemaker as being the correct choice for women is precisely what drives the backlask against it, and then people act like criticism, unfair it may be, simply came out of the blue, unwarranted and unprevoked.

Not to mention, the sheer sappiness with which she discusses the matter seems highly contrived.

Mixolydian 8 years, 11 months ago

It's all about choices. My wife stayed at home with our children and it has been an immeasurable benefit for them. We didn't have many of the "things" that many of you have, but we all had each other.

On the other hand if she wanted to go out and work, she could have done so, except she knew that if she didn't make as much as I did, we would see a drop in income because I would stay at home with the kids. It would rip my heart out to come home and find one of my kids all bruised and scratched because they were in a fight with another kid vying for the attention of an overworked child care attendant.

notajayhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

duplenty (Anonymous) says…

"Um, that's kind of the point, nota. Most people, men or women, would prefer to stay home with the kids. But for many, if not most, it's not financially tenable."

Sorry to hear that. My (stay-at-home) wife and I are far from wealthy, and we manage.

But thanks for reaffirming all the folks crying for Dr. Schlessinger's head are the usual collection of class-jealous whiners: 'We wish we could do what she's doing, but since we can't, we have to attack her 'cause she can.'

salad (Anonymous) says…

"It's a completely different world from the 50's and 60's."

True enough.

Daycare didn't cost $600/month (per kid) then. You left that part out of your little equation.

Also true, my parents didn't have a $1200/month mortgage when we were young and my mother stayed at home. They didn't have a mortgage payment - they rented until they could afford to buy (the same house they had been renting, which they still live in).

"I don't know how any family can live above the poverty level without both parents working."

With the numbers the way you present them, I don't see it either. Try an $800 (or less) rent instead of a $1200 mortgage payment, figure in the savings from not paying for child care, and the numbers get a little more workable.

QuestionMan 8 years, 11 months ago

How would the nation be different if all those families with two spouses working so they can afford toys and entertainment they don't need cut back to just one worker while their kids were young? Would there be less unemployment? Less pollution? Better jobs for those who have to work?

waydownsouth 8 years, 11 months ago

Everyone can change and has room to do so. I can bet that all of us from time to time made some really bad choices some worse than others. I made more than a few. But Growing up plus the mistakes that i made i might possability be able to steer someone away from those misstakes. Dr Laura made alot of those and learned the hard way from them as alot of people do. To use someones past against them is childish. You would not want someone to judge you on your past.

alm77 8 years, 11 months ago

I'm finding myself in agreement with nota on this one..... I think I'm gonna be sick.... ;)

We've had one parent at home for 10 years now and I'm just starting to transition back into the work force. It's been very rewarding to have one parent home and we've made HUGE sacrifices to do it. No cable, shopping at Aldi, clothing from Target's clearance rack, driving cars that are 12 and 7 years old, the list goes on and on. But we've done it. I've held part time jobs in the evenings when my husband is home at times when things get really tight. We're not the only ones I know who live this way. No one from a two parent household can tell me that they "can't afford" it unless they have a special needs child with high medical bills or some other necessary and expensive exception. Most people don't know the difference between a "want" and a "need" and they certainly aren't prepared to sacrifice to figure it out.

alm77 8 years, 11 months ago

Oh, and btw, Dr. Laura is smarmy and wishy-washy. I'm not a fan.

Bob Harvey 8 years, 11 months ago

I rarely agree with anyone 100% of the time. Same is true here. However, I believe one of Dr. Laura's statements do run true when she says, "don't make excuses for the decisions that you make." Granted that may have been paraphrased but the meaning is true nonetheless. It's a make the wrong one and its no ones fault but your own.

Deja Coffin 8 years, 11 months ago

I'm a stay-at-home mom partly because we can't afford for us both to work full time. By the time I paid daycare for two kids, fuel, etc. I'd be bringing home less then half what I made. I spent last year working 60+ hours a week at a salary job that paid me for 40 and drove 30 minutes to work 6 days a week. I missed milestones and memories with my girls I could never get back. While we thought two incomes would mean more money we were pretty much financially in the same spot we are now. Only now I get to spend more times with my girls and be more involved in their social activities. And horribly attempt to grow a garden for the first time ever!! I came from a single parent home and I know how hard parents work to provide for their kids. While I'm not buying t.v.'s for each room in the house and the new couch is probably the cheapest one we could find at NFM, I know I'm giving my girls something more then material items. I'll never knock a two income household and I respect people who can do it but for this momma it just wasn't worth the extra trip to the legends for me!

notajayhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

alm77 (Anonymous) says…

"I'm finding myself in agreement with nota on this one….. I think I'm gonna be sick…. ;) "

I have that effect on a lot of people.

Maybe you should call a doctor ... ;)

By the way, I'm not a fan of hers, either ... nor Dr. Phil, nor any other 'pop' psychologist.

And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying everyone has to take her advice. She's a Marriage and Family Therapist - most likely a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, who issued something akin to an edict a few years back proclaiming that the goal of family counseling should be the preservation of the family (when sometimes dissolution is in everyone's best interests). That professional orientation has a lot to do with the 'advice' in her book.

She's also an entertainer. 'Public' therapy is an interesting situation - even if she's truly doing legitimate work with the individual she's talking to on the radio, it absolutely, positively does NOT mean anyone else necessarily should follow the same advice. But it absolutely, positively does not mean they shouldn't, either. Just as if you were in a private therapy session, you have to decide if the advice is right for you. And with a mental health professional, just as with any health professional, although the assumption is that their education, training, and experience makes them the 'expert,' you're always free to get another opinion.

And when it comes to a book, let's face it - there's no single right answer for everyone. It's almost like a horoscope - when it says "Taurus: Your right rear tire is flat," there are millions of people scratching their heads and a dozen or so saying 'How the heck did they know?'

All I'm saying, as a few others here have, is that there usually IS a choice. And it is a choice, with tradeoffs and balance point(s). My wife and I made the same choice as both our parents did - we didn't rush into a mortgage, getting the kids started on growing up is a higher priority right now. (Incidentally, when we first moved to this area, before I decided to return to the KC area to work, I stayed home and she worked.) And when the time comes, maybe our first house (well, actually, for both of us it would be our second) might be a little older, a little smaller, and something to keep me busy with weekend projects. For other people, who may have different priorities, that choice may not be the right one.

But there are tradeoffs - during the two brief stints my daughter spent in daycare, she was absolutely miserable - and so were both of us. There's nothing wrong with Dr. Schlessinger's advice in this case - she's not telling you what choice to make, just telling you what you need to know to make the right one for yourself.

Starness34 8 years, 11 months ago

The Southwind movie theater is invested with mice. I and several of my friends have had encounters over the past 4 months. Mice are crawling up on the seats and onto movie viewers. So be on guard!

storm 8 years, 11 months ago

Folks need to be more honest about how it was in the 60’s and 70’s when their moms stayed home. There virtually wasn’t supervision.

You got up, you played outside unless it was raining. You were supposed to check in at noon but you’d forget, and sometimes that made your Mom mad. Your playmates were of varied ages, and your Mom didn’t really know them all or their parents. You ran all over the neighborhood and probably built forts with wood that had rusty nails. Everyone knew the neighborhood bully.

The other Moms were drinking coffee in some other Mom’s house sometimes. Or your Mom was watching her stories while cleaning a smaller house than today. If you had to go to the bathroom, you went home to use yours because the other Mom wanted to keep her house clean.

No one had attention deficit disorder because Sesame Street hadn’t been invented yet. You were forced to learn patience when you used the rotary dial phone.

Then Mom left and picked the Dad up from work because there was only one car. When Dad came home, you sometimes got a whipping for something you already forgot about but probably because you forgot to check in at noon and you interrupted Mom’s stories.

You couldn’t watch news with Walter Cronkite because of the body bags and body count from the Vietnam Conflict. But you had to be quiet because the news hour was special since the news was broadcast only once a day.

So really, stay at home parenting is what you make it. And excellent, supervised day-cares aren’t so bad, no whippings and parents are held accountable when their child bites another child, and you don’t play with wood that has rusty nails. Ms Laura (she's not a doctor) is just trying to stir up the pot.

notajayhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Speak for yourself, storm. Yes, we had the run of the neighborhood, but that's precisely because our parents (and the children themselves) DID know everyone in the neighborhood. And we were almost never beyond the distance that my father's summons home would reach - if by some weird chance we were, it got relayed by everyone along the way. Dad worked 30 miles away, so Mom didn't drive him. And when she did have to 'leave,' we went too - unless one of the neighbors was (actively) watching us.

Sorry your own childhood is remembered less than fondly.

And incidentally, while DR Schlessinger is not a Doctor of Psychology as some would assume, she was certified as a Marriage and Family Therapist at one time (she no longer practices as one - she's on the radio, for pity's sake), and she does have a doctoral degree, although it's in physiology - nonetheless she has earned and is eligible to use the title. And if you think trying to promote the values you truly believe in is 'stirring the pot,' that's sad.

storm 8 years, 11 months ago

No sarcastic apology needed, as this was only a general observation about young'uns in the 60's and 70's.

nouseforaname 8 years, 11 months ago

My mom was a stay-at-home mom and a homesteader. I would not have changed anything about my childhood, but now that I am older I feel guilty about all the sacrifices my parents made in order for us kids to do the things that we wanted.

I wish Dr. Laura was talking less about "feminism" and more about the problem of being a stay-at-home mom in a capitalist society. In our current economic model, mothers don't actually produce anything and therefore aren't entitled to very much (see how much negative talk there is for "welfare mothers"). Any woman going back into the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom for 20-some years will tell you the difficulties of making that transition; you can't put all your motherly duties on a resume and be expected to be taken seriously. My mother said that the hardest thing was not raising us kids, but trying to return to the workforce after doing so. I'm more concerned with the after-effects of being a stay-at-home mom; how do women re-establish themselves in the workforce after being on hiatus for so long? After watching my mother try to do that, I've realized that the process can be very frustrating and deprecating. To me, that's really the heart of being a stay-at-home mom; not necessarily the warm-fuzzy feelings about being one, but the reality of what you're losing while doing so and what you will have to re-gain if you chose to cast off that role.

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