One of Dr. Laura’s publicists contacted me and asked if I’d like to read and review this book. I said yes, I have, and here it is!
I enjoy Dr. Laura’s style. She is a very direct and no nonsense person. Being a lady who is seriously lacking tact and diplomacy skills myself, her manner appeals to me. Whether you agree with her or not, it’s refreshing to hear someone state their truth without equivocation.
Dr. Laura makes three especially salient and edifying points in this book. One, the feminist movement has poisoned our collective psyches against gender influenced roles to the extent that we now deny them to our detriment. Two, no one in their right mind can suggest to a mother that her constant caring presence in her child’s life can be adequately supplanted by a paid caregiver regardless of their quality. Three, our society has encouraged all of us, men and women, to chase dollars and instant gratification to such an extent that we often lack the maturity to face “traditional” family life with the patience, gratitude and long term vision it requires; squandering our opportunity to deeply enjoy our children’s young lives and damaging our marriages in the process.
Dr. Laura takes the position that the feminist movement of the 1960’s, has taught “modern” woman that it is “beneath the dignity of an intelligent, independent woman” to stay home taking care of children. Although touting itself as a movement that supports choice, the Dr. suggests it has also stigmatizes the woman who wants to assume a traditional role as homemaker. Additionally “ years of feminist badgering both genders about their unique gender desires have left both men and women confused and somewhat cautious about expressing what is natural to them: femininity and masculinity.” We also create a competitive environment where both spouses are pursuing the same goals in the same way.
“The feministas who still wreck havoc on women’s minds concerning marriage and maintaining home and family by suggesting they are simply becoming slaves or subordinates ignore at least two important facts. One, many women can and do enjoy creating the nest like atmosphere of the home and the family; and two, a family situation is like a factory: it all works better when there is a division of labor instead of everyone competing to either do or avoid the same task.”
In assuming the stance that men and women are not only equal but THE SAME, she posits we lose an important balance in the household.”Unisexuality is no one’s birthright-it is a mistaken notion derived from feminism’s desire for equality. Equality is of value, not of substance.” Dr. Laura asserts that Femininity and masculinity are of equal value yet they are entirely different substances and that “When there is division of labor, there is nothing to compete with. Each feels like a specialist and has pride in his or her contribution-with each contribution of talents and efforts being seen as a gift rather than a fought over task.”
Dr. Laura is quite forceful in her assertion that “No matter how technologically and aesthetically spectacular a day care is, no matter how prestigious and expensive or cheap an available. There is no way on God’s green earth it can compare to, much less surpass, the loving presence of a mother” She states that she is “surprised--no amazed-- that a whole generation and a half of women have been so easily enraptured by the suggestion that what they have to give their child is easily replaced by a nanny, babysitter, or day care worker.” She suggests, with tongue in cheek, “If you knew you were going to be recycled and come back as an infant with a choice, you’d choose a Mommy, a nanny, a babysitter, or a day care worker for yourself with equal enthusiasm-right?” Aside from the few mothers with serious mental problems or chemical dependencies, it is the Dr.’s opinion that choosing “care” for a child is always choosing a poorer quality of life for that child than choosing to stay home. She speaks a length about the financial sacrifices and personal struggles necessitated by this way of life, she does not sugar coat it. She plays up the rewards of staying home and being homemaker, not just for the woman but for the family and the marriage that is the family’s foundation. She also makes a valuable point about the much celebrated idea of quality time.
“There is no such thing as quality time as an entity separate from quantity time. You can never know when a moment of angst or curiosity will hit your child, and you have to responsive to that moment or feeling in your own way. Quality moments occur only when there is quantity time for them to spontaneously occur”.
One of Dr. Laura’s main arguments is that our national proclivity for instant gratification, our need for external affirmation and our fixation on freedom makes taking on the roles of homemaker and earner problematic.
“There has been a shift in values from obligation to fulfillment. An activity has to give pleasure or it is without true value. If the activity does not make you feel good or feel better about yourself. Then it’s usefulness is questionable...so that means that tilling the soil, planting the seeds, watering and fertilizing, protecting from the elements, aren’t worthwhile activities cause in and of themselves, they are not fulfilling? How then do you get a harvest?”
Although our work a day lives provide a superficial sense of usefulness and productivity as well as reliable affirmation in terms of kudos and monetary rewards “The freedom from responsibilities that don’t lend immediate gratification, compensation, or glorification may be a surprise freedom having deep meaning in one’s life”. Part in parcel with instant gratification and affirmation, is a lack of gratefulness and reciprocity that can pollute a traditional family.
“It is important to shield your family from your personal sufferings from feeling small, bored, frustrated, stupid, tired, sick, mad, confused, etc. One only has to look at what one has…a wonderful loving husband, children, a roof over our heads, food in the fridge, and a warm bed to cuddle in at night…Venting every feeling isn’t mature. Learning to deal with uncomfortable and unpleasant feelings is an important aspect of maturity. The pop-psych notion that you have to divulge every unpleasantness or you will have gangrene of the soul and spirit is nonsense. Learning to endure, transform by perspective or action, and be grateful is the fast lane to the good life.”
“If you take on the martyr/entitlement role…you’ll be a lot less happy with your life and you will have a husband not exactly wanting to come home to you. Those of you who are acting like brats, wanting the attention and the accolades without realizing that it goes both ways, need to learn that you get more love, attention, and appreciation by giving the same, not with demands or complaints.”
In short, there is a lot to be said for shouldering your burdens with dignity and being exceedingly grateful to the partner that supports your efforts.
As far as criticism of this book, I have a few. Firstly, I would have liked to see Dr. Laura take consumerism more to task for its deleterious effects on family. Surely, the Have It All Have It Now attitude that we are bombarded with through the media is as much to blame for our short coming as our attitudes about gender. Secondly, amidst all the criticism of feminism, a line or two giving props to the movement that did indeed liberate the thinking of the women in our country was in order and was notably absent. I’ve seen lots of media from the 50’s, 60’s and even the 70’s and that was messed up suppressive propaganda being served. The whole picture changes when the traditional family arrangement is imposed and not mutually agreed upon. Lastly, I felt badly at the end for any mother that is truly trapped in a working mom scenario they can’t get out of. I am a big proponent of can’t vs. won’t and “industry need not wish” and all but I also know how nearly impossible it is to get by on one salary and getting harder everyday as healthcare costs go up and the value of our mortgages stay the same even as the value of our homes plummet (and rents aren’t any better). In better economic times, this hard line may have played better. Well into my 30's, I can finally give myself permission to have an opinion that makes other people uncomfortable. In my opinion, the best choice is to stay home and be the heart of the home but I can’t look at the numbers and say we all have this choice, especially if we weren’t wise enough to plan for it from day one (and who is?).
At the end of the day, I recommend this book. It provides lots of sound, common sense ideas for living a better, fuller, simpler life by being a SAHM. As a woman who has chosen this path with her whole heart, it is a gratifying read.
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