A MOTHER'S PLACE by Susan Chira


Taking the Debate About Working Mothers Beyond Guilt and Blame
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Here’s a backlash against the backlash assailing working mothers: Mothers who work outside the home, says Chira, can and do raise healthy, responsible children, no matter what Penelope Leach or other advocates of full-time, at-home mothering preach. Chira is married with two children and also deputy foreign editor of the New York Times. Despite a husband with flexible hours who delights in being a father and a loving and experienced babysitter, she suffered the working mother’s share of guilt and anxiety. But Chira is fighting back with this book, which sets out both anecdotal and scientific research to support the flip side of mother bashing—that children whose mothers go out to work are no more at risk of twisted psychological development than children whose mothers are at home full-time. In the first part of the book, Chira chips at the popular baby books—Leach, Brazelton, even Spock—and cites recent studies that suggest that while mothers should understand their children’s needs, others can satisfy those needs, even including helping babies develop trust and security. Chira also takes on the Promise Keepers, the dearth of quality child care, the role of fathers (it is never working fathers who are faulted for abandoning their children), custody battles and government politics and policy regarding families. She notes scathingly the dual messages from the right that fault middle-class mothers who work but wants welfare mothers out of the home and into the job market. She calls for “reimagining motherhood” by giving weight to parents’ as well as children’s needs, accepting that mothers are in the work force to stay, and offering social supports for families. Somewhat fragmented because the author never fully develops any of the many ideas she throws out, this book is nevertheless a hand-holder for all those mothers who see themselves labeled as selfish and uncaring because they choose to bring home a paycheck. (Radio satellite tour)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-017327-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1998