‘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!