Monday, November 17, 2003

The "Should" Squad

From Kieran Healy at Crooked Timber, comes this quote from an interview with Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America, full-time Washington lobbyist and mother:

Interviewer: Would you like to see American products like television shows flourish in Baghdad as well?
Combs: Oh, no. I hope they don't show "The Osbournes" over there. Shows like that wouldn't exist if mothers stayed home with their kids and supervised what they watched.
Interviewer: But you yourself are a working mother. Do you think you could have been happy as a full-time housewife?
Combs: Probably not. Probably it would not have been enough for me. I always had a desire to make a difference. That is why I love the legislative process, where you can make a difference.

Kieran says that Combs does not practice what she preaches. (The same criticisms have been made about Phyllis Schlafly in the past.) Josh Chafetz at Oxblog thinks that you can argue both that staying home with the kids might be better for the kids, but working might be better for the parents. Perhaps balancing needs is best for everyone.

Maybe Combs's husband stays at home with the kids or a grandmother is around to provide the role of TV supervisor. Who knows?

I just want to comment on the "shoulds". Ever since I had kids, there seems to be a long line of people telling me one of two things: I should work or else I'll waste my education, all chances at sanity, and the kids will be completely happy at daycare for 60 hours a week. Or I should stay at home or else my kids will end up mildly retarded and homicidal, and I'll also love it.

It is troubling that Combs seems to be adding a third "should". You should stay home with your children for their good, but you'll be bored as hell and not make a difference in the world.

Pisses me off. I'm trying to find my own balance of work and family. One that doesn't neglect the kids or my own interests. I haven't quite figured it out yet, but I'm working on it, and I don't want outsiders of any political stripe telling me how to do it and implying that it is all so simple.

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