the thinking momThe Controversy Over “Opt-Out” Moms

By Guest Blogger, Michelle Walters

Some of you have been there – it’s 1pm, and you’ve just put your little ones down for a nap after a long morning of chasing toddlers, wiping everything from floors to noses, and trying to get some semblance of order in your home. You have been looking forward to nap time since about 10 a.m., and finally sit down to eat lunch when you hear it – the sound of crying when you should be hearing the sound of silence! Suddenly, you have a flashback of your B.C. (before children) days, when you had an office, a lunch break, and time to work on the things that needed to get done, and wonder if maybe, just maybe, you wouldn’t be happier going back to work?

Others might be in a full-time job, trying to juggle it all – your demanding job, the family calendar, dinner on the table every night, and trying to figure out when you’ll be able to make those cupcakes for the preschool end-of-year party. Oh, wait; make that cupcakes for one class, sugar cookies for your middle child’s class, and chicken nuggets for your oldest child’s class cookout. And your calendar is completely packed today – and there’s no way to reschedule that dinner with your out-of-town client, which will inevitably go until 9pm tonight (or maybe you can shave it down to 8pm if you skip appetizers and dessert?). Wouldn’t it be easier to be a full-time mom? And what do they do all day?

The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence, doesn’t it? And the debate between the working mom and the stay-at-home mom is fierce – which is why it doesn’t surprise me that there has been so much attention on the fate of the “opt-out mom” recently. What is an opt-out mom? The phrase was coined in 2003 in a New York Times Magazine article entitled “The Opt-Out Revolution” (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/magazine/the-opt-out-revolution.html) to describe the highly-educated, highly-paid career woman who voluntarily leaves the workforce to raise her children full-time. Ten years later, the same publication ran an article called “The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In” (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/magazine/the-opt-out-generation-wants-back-in.html), which was a “where are they now” piece that claimed that the women who opted out of the workforce were, for the most part, sorry they had done so.

I have always wondered why we don’t see more advocacy for a third approach to the working mom debate. Towards the end of the latter article, the author states: “[They had] some regrets for what, in an ideal world, might have been — more time with their children combined with some sort of intellectually stimulating, respectably paying, advancement-permitting part-time work — but none for the high-powered professional lives that these women had led.” Rather than fight to get back into the traditional workplace, why don’t we look for ways to create work that fits around our lifestyle? If you are in a season of life with little ones who aren’t yet school-aged, why not look for vocational opportunities that are intellectually fulfilling, yet don’t require full-time employment? While this may be a case of “easier said than done”, I applaud companies like www.MomCorps.com (a national staffing and career development firm that recruits moms for flexible positions in corporate jobs) for realizing that stay-at-home mothers are an underutilized talent pool. My hope is that, by the time my daughters have children of their own, the Opt-Out Mom debate will be laid to rest as moms are more educated about the many ways to pursue their vocational calling.

Michelle Walters is the Owner of Suburban Denver Properties, a residential real estate brokerage and investment firm. You can find her at www.SuburbanDenverProperties.com


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Jenny is passionate about the important role of mothers in modern America. She believes the role of moms is often overshadowed by popular culture values… like the spotlight we place on celebrities and the celebrity lifestyle. Jenny wants moms everywhere to understand they are celebrities to their Creator.

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