DC Intern Diaries

I'm a female 24 year old DC permanent intern. You name it and I've probably interned it. I'm also a graduate student in DC.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Oh the Guilt

The point of this article is that basically women should just stay home and raise kids - if they choose to have them AND want them to be normal. If you try to be a successful professional woman and have kids, as teenagers they will be lost and you will never bond with them and they will be like strangers to you. Yeah. I read this stuff and I ALREADY feel guilty for the imaginary children I don't have whom I won't see while I am working as a fulltime professional - b/c there's no way I am quittting my profession and the position I worked so hard for to stay home just so I can drive my whiny brats to soccer practice, ballet lessons, SAT tutoring, the mall, etc all day. According to articles like these, as a full time working woman, I am already a failure as a mother of teenagers!! I just thought the guilt would be about their first few years and sending them to daycare - now it includes their teen years as well!!

Washington Post: A Time to Come Home - Some Parents Quit Working to Be Around More -- When Their Kids Are Teens, Not Toddlers. That May Be Good Timing, Experts Say

When Pat Kloehn, 49, a Silver Spring mother of two, quit a job she enjoyed at CNN to stay at home with her children, the lifestyle change had a certain familiarity. It was the second time Kloehn had stepped off the career path to become an at-home mom.

Kloehn, whose children are 13 and 17, says, "The first time, I did it because I felt I wasn't having any quality time with my daughter. I didn't spend enough time with her to even know her likes and dislikes. I wanted to have another child, but I wanted to be the one to raise them, not a virtual stranger."

After several contented years at home, Kloehn returned to work when the kids reached school age. But a year ago, she decided it was time to come home again.

"With two wars, September 11, a sniper and a hurricane, my husband [also a CNN employee] and I were working 24-7," Kloehn says. "My son came home to an empty house every day."

Though it is generally regarded as acceptable to leave children home alone at age 12, Kloehn's son felt lost. "He was lonesome all the time," Kloehn said. "When he talks about that period of his life, he calls it, the 'deep blue' days."

"With teenage children, missing out on quality time seemed much scarier" than when they were younger, Kloehn said. "Without direction, I felt my kids were at risk for some really dangerous behaviors that could affect their adult lives."

Takoma Park mom Diane Mac-Eachern, 52, worked when her children were young, building a 35-employee communications and advocacy firm. After 14 years, she said, she was drained from the constant demands on her time and feeling that she was never giving her best to her clients, her employees or her family. Three years ago, MacEachern sold her share of the business and is now an at-home mom to her children, ages 14 and 16.

"I think that the middle school and high school years are much more challenging for a child than preschool or elementary school," she said. "And it's harder for parents to stay in touch with their children during the teenage years. As I looked at the challenges, I really felt like this was the time to be there for them."

Kloehn and MacEachern have discovered what many parents of older children (including Bush campaign adviser Karen Hughes and Judith Steinberg Dean, wife of former Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean) have found: that being available for their children when they are older may be just as important as when they are very young.

According to the U.S. Census, workforce participation by mothers fell from a record high of 59 percent in 1998 to 55 percent in 2000. This was the first significant decline since the Census Bureau began monitoring such data in 1976. The figure remained unchanged in 2002. The four-percentage-point decline was mostly attributable to women with infants, but it also included moms who dropped out of the workforce when their kids were older.

Numerous studies have shown that the hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are when kids are most likely to use drugs, engage in sex and get caught up in violence. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America encourages parents to monitor their children's activities during these hours, because "the rewards of monitoring are proven. Kids who are not regularly monitored are four times more likely to use drugs."



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