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Wife first, mother second makes stable children
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Q: Ever since I had children, now 7 and 5, I have resented sacrificing my executive position in the work force for staying home and giving 150 percent to my children to make sure they succeed in life. I was recently offered my last position back. I am torn between going back to work and my responsibility as a parent. My husband, who is an uninvolved father, says he wants me to be happy and thinks that going back to work is what I should do. What advice can you give me?

A: Take it from someone whose mom worked and went to college nearly all of my formative years: One can succeed in life without his or her mom sacrificing everything she wants for herself to insure that. In fact, I don’t think the self-sacrificing mom insures anything except perhaps a child who is excessively dependent upon his mother.
Why did women liberate themselves, anyway? Surely not to enslave themselves to the task of making sure their kids succeed, which no amount of maternal effort can guarantee anyway. My mom, and mothers of her ilk through time, thought it was their kids’ responsibility to figure out how to succeed in life, not theirs. They believed it was simply their job to raise children of character, not children who had high IQs or sat at the heads of their classes or went on to become doctors, lawyers, or CEOs of major corporations.
As for your husband, the “uninvolved father” who wants what is best for his wife, perhaps you are so involved with your children that he has difficulty feeling like he can get involved without incurring your micromanagement. Any woman who says she is giving more than 33 percent of herself to her kids is, by definition, what I call a 3M mom: a magnificent maternal micromanager. Obviously, you more than qualify.
Besides, as I’ve said in recent columns, I don’t think parents should be involved with their children. They should be interested and ready to get involved, but involvement should be the exception, not the rule. A husband and wife should be involved with one another. And yes, I’m “yelling” because too many of today’s parents need to be strapped to chairs and made to listen to a tape loop of the previous sentence blaring over a loudspeaker until they get it.
There is nothing that secures a child’s sense of well-being and releases his capacity for self-sufficiency more reliably than knowing his parents are in relationship with one another. Perhaps, and I say this gently, you have so immersed yourself in the role of mother that you have neglected your marriage.
Perhaps it is past time for you to rediscover the joy and liberation of being a wife first, a mother second.

Family psychologist Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his Web site at
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