By Seth Johnson
A study commissioned amid the previous presidential election’s “War on Women” campaign rhetoric and accompanying attempts by feminist groups to speak for all women found many mothers want to quit the workforce to stay home with their children but say they can’t afford it.
The joint study by Forbes and TheBump.com surveyed 1,000 women, 67 percent of whom were working moms and 33 percent of whom were at home.
Just 10 percent of stay-at-home moms regretted giving up their jobs, and 19 percent said they would be happier if still working. But close to half of working moms believed they would be happier if they stayed at home with their children.
Despite decades of pressure from feminists to put off having kids or let others raise them, many women are deciding that isn’t the life they want.
Three of these women – a Hollywood actress, a psychologist and radio host, and a political news anchor – have written “What Women Really Want.” The new book delves into the true desires women have for themselves and their families in contrast to what society and media tell them.
Morgan Brittany, perhaps best known for starring as Katherine Wentworth on the hit television series “Dallas” while raising a family, said many women “are now realizing that they need not feel guilty for wanting to be stay-at-home moms.”
“The issue is, now that they have shaken the guilt, the reality and ability to actually stay at home is much more difficult,” she said.
A major factor in any career decision for mothers is the economy. The study found the high cost of childcare forces 14 percent of mothers to stay home, while others have to work just to pay the babysitters.
The study also found these economic issues lead to tension at home, with more than a third of working mothers resenting their spouse or partner for not earning enough money to allow them to stay home. Women also worry that they won’t be able to find a job if they needed to return to work, with 65 percent of stay-at-home moms saying it’s a concern for them.
Gina Loudon, a former stay-at-home mom with a Ph.D. in psychology who hosts TV and radio shows, said, “As a working mother today, perhaps the reason I don’t feel resentment toward my husband is because he worked so hard for most of our lives for me to be able to stay home.”
Loudon also said that the economy and other outside factors affected her decision to go back to work.
“The reality is that the economy, combined with my witness to the fall of America into tyranny, forced me back into the workplace in a field outside my Ph.D. studies. As the study mentioned, I went to school for more than a decade and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get multiple post grad degrees so that I could stay home with my children.”
Anne-Marie Murrell, the lead anchor and director of Politichicks.TV, was able to stay home but not until much later than she wished.
“As a former single, struggling mother, I had no choice but to work as many jobs as possible just to stay ahead. Every day I would skip my lunch break to pick up my son from his after-school program and then drop him off at whichever baby sitter I could find, then race back to work. By the time I got home in the evening, we were both too exhausted to talk.”
Not being able to give their children the amount of time and attention they need is a concern to working mothers. In the study, 52 percent said they were made to feel guilty for this by their partner.
To make things harder, the mothers reported they felt they were shortchanging their families and their bosses.
“If one word could summarize my son’s childhood it would be ‘rushed.’ So yes, I dreamed of the day when I wouldn’t have to work so hard and could stay home with him. Unfortunately this didn’t happen until he was in high school. I have very few regrets in my life, but this is definitely one of them.”
Brittany, Loudon and Murrell believe women deserve to be free to choose what works best for their families, not pressured by feminist groups to toe any line. They also believe that public policy has a large impact on families and that good legislative decisions will help make women more free.
“It is difficult for everyone in an economy that is stagnant and teetering on collapse, but unless we change the dynamic, get people back to work, lower taxes, and unburden households, women will not be able to make the choices they want,” Brittany said.