Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Is Education Wasted on a Stay-at-home Mom?

(Original photo source)

"If my daughter got any degree and then just became a stay-at-home mom, 
I would insist that she pay me back for the money spent on her education."

That was just one of the snide remarks I have heard about well-educated stay-at-home moms.  Before we had children, before we got married, before I even entered graduate school, I struggled with the seeming incongruity between my desires for higher education, and my desires to be present in the home while my children were young.  I knew I wanted to learn more and continue with my education, but I knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Was my education going to be just wasted if I didn't earn an actual income?

Before entering graduate school, I took a life-affirming walk with another woman.  I was doing a study on infant cognition for my Senior Thesis and her six-month-old baby was a participant in my study.  She was a stay-at-home mom, the wife of a Physics professor at a neighboring school, and she had a PhD in Child Development. 

She was a Paycheck-sitting-at-home, changing diapers, and wiping noses.

Doctoral Graduation Day
(pregnant with JR under that robe)
But this woman encouraged me to do what I was passionate about - regardless of what type of a mother I hoped to be. I knew that I loved Child Development and there was more to learn. I knew that everything I learned in life would make me a better, more prepared mother, wife, sister, daughter.  She helped me to see that education is never wasted - it is transformative. 

That walk and the conversation was clarifying for me.  Why on earth would I let others 'raise' my kids 50+ hours a week when I have a PhD in child development?  I have written elsewhere (click here) about the research on that, so let me just say here that daycare workers are loving, lovely folks and I was one myself for a brief period of time.  But many of them don't even have a bachelors degree.

"The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously and hopefully." --Ellen Browning Scripps

It isn't that school makes one a better person, but it does foster one's ability to think clearly and independently.  That is critical if you are trying to foster a child's ability to think clearly and independently. I have been chosen by our Lord to be mother to these children and the first few years of life are fundamental for both their cognitive and social-emotional development.  How could I opt out of that?  Knowing just a little about child development led me to see that there really was no choice. I had to choose to be there for them. But at the same time, I knew I wasn't done educationally because there was so much more to learn.

At the core of the idea that education can be 'wasted',  is the philosophy that education is simply a means to a source of income.  If that is all education means to you, then you would think that time and money was wasted on anyone who was not 'gainfully employed'. If you believe however, that education is personally transformative, then you would find that argument ridiculous.

Education is never wasted
 - it is transformative

I have been blessed to have a spouse who is supportive of me, of our family, and of our choices. He knew from the beginning that I wanted to be at home with the kids, and that I was graduate school bound.  He continues to work hard to provide for us financially, and it is beautiful that I am able to trust that he will continue to provide, while I focus on providing our family with the best home I can. Some women do not have a choice. Some women do and choose differently.

It is crucial that we reject philosophies that denegrate the roles that women traditionally play in society, while elevating their status only when they are financially compensated.  Furthermore, we should never discourage women from their educational aspirations, regardless of what their post graduation life plans may be, for doing so truly subjugates woman to the status of laborer and steals their true dignity.

Thanks to Dr. Melanie Wilson for her inspirational post about her choice to be a stay-at-home-homeschooling-mom.  

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...