Motherhood v. education

by Beacon Staff • October 12, 2005

The total cost of attending Emerson and living on campus is $36,534 a year, which is a significant sum to be spending for four years. Receiving an education, however, is viewed by many as an investment because college should be preparing you for your future career.

A front-page article in The New York Times on Sept. 20 piqued my interest about a topic that has come up with many college-age women regarding their greater life plans.

The piece surveyed women at so-called elite colleges, such as Yale University and Harvard University, and found that an increasing number of women plan to quit their jobs once they have children.

Out of 138 freshmen and senior females at Yale, 60 percent who responded to an e-mail interview said that when they have children they plan to stop working or cut back their hours.

The feminist movement began forming in the 1960s, when women started to seek higher education and careers that took them out of the home and away from their children. This trend has only increased over the last few decades. A survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau found that in 1950, 18.4 million women worked outside their homes. In 1997, that number spiked to 63 million. Today, it is normal for females to be both mothers and workers in our society. I am not saying that people who have careers should ignore their children and concentrate solely on work, but life requires you to balance all of your roles.

I am in no way, however, trying to trivialize the role of a mother in a child's life. I was raised by a mother who stayed home for the first five years of my life, and because of this, I know parenting is both rewarding and time-consuming. Yet, every child eventually leaves home and stay-at-home moms are left to fend for themselves. Which begs the question: In a world of increasing numbers of single-parent households, how can women be sure they will have a stable marriage with a husband who will be able to support them?

A 2004 study conducted by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics reported that 32 percent of children live in single-parent homes, which is a 23 percent increase from 1980.

So what if the marriage crumbles and the mother becomes the sole supporter of her child, forcing her back to work? The experience that most women have to fall back on will, at that point, be outdated in this ever-changing world.

While I agree with most experts who believe spending quality time with your children can only improve their development, I don't see the need to give up all that you have worked for.

I spent four years in high school working hard so that I could get into a good college and I will spend the next four years in college working hard so that I can get a good job that will support me for life. I don't want to give all of that up when I have children. I want to be a role model for them so they can see how to join the game of life and master it.

Lauren Yergeau is a freshman print journalism major and a contributer to The Beacon.

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