Home By Choice— a book review

I read this last Friday through Monday while most of my family was sick and my husband was running the home.

Written by Dr. Brenda Hunter who completed her Ph.D. after her daughters were in high school, the book accomplishes what it sets out to do.

It makes a very complete argument for the importance of Mother staying away from full-time work in order to focus on nurturing her family.

The regular difficulty of this discussion arise: Those not fulfilling the needs Dr. Hunter describes (or having missed an early, critical window) will probably feel guilty.

It disappoints me, but I assume it’s unavoidable:

  • Either you point out the importance of the work at home (thereby building up stay-at-home moms and telling double-time working moms they’ve got it wrong),
  • Or you normalize out-of-home care, saying it’s just as good (thereby reassuring double-working moms but telling the at-home crowd that what they do doesn’t matter— a minimum-wage somebody could do just as much for your child).

That acknowledgment out of the way, those women who are “home by choice” will very likely be encouraged by this book.

~ ~ ~

Part One discusses Hunter’s observations about how childhood affects one’s parenting choices, along with her research into the needs of children and how they are “civilized” by their time with mommy. She also discusses the arrival of feminism and it’s affect on the way women value their work.

In Part Two, Hunter gets closer to practicalities of life:

  • Depression (more women than men must deal with it)
  • Relationships (most women define themselves by them)
  • Dealing with a broken past in order to parent better than you were parented, and
  • The intangible benefits of having Mother at home.

In that section she also talks about how husbands as well as children profit from Mother’s presence.

There is a very encouraging chapter about women who dove into life after their children were older, usually after their children started attending school.

Not really applicable to me, but I thought it was a very good chapter. Life doesn’t only happen in your twenties.

I appreciate her emphasis on continuing to parent from home through your children’s teenage years.

Sadly, this seems to be a time when many mothers rush back to full-time employment, but these kids still need an adult presence.

I heard the tape of an old radio show (I think it was taped in ’85 or so) and in a poll of the day most sexually active teenagers said their first sexual encounter took place “in a home (mine or my partner’s).”

Like I read in an article once, if the kids really want to, they will; my job as a parent is to make it as difficult as possible.

Sex aside, simply being at home is one of the most effective deterrents to every negitive teenage stereotype.

I’m motivated.

So that should be enough to tell you whether or not you’d enjoy the book.

Please don’t try to make this a debate here, I didn’t do the research and I’m not changing my job ;) I’m sure there are many others more interested in debating than me.

If you are interested in another (I’d say more practical) resource, I *highly* recommend Jill Savage’s Professionalizing Motherhood. It takes as a given you’re staying home and gives you some instantly applicable how-tos.

I haven’t read it this year, so it’s not getting a full review ;) If you’ve already made up your mind, read this one. If you’re trying to decide and willing to read with an open mind, look at Hunter’s book.

Yeah, you’ll probably feel guilty if you choose not to stay home, but you’ll know what you’re doing, and if you’re the type intellectual honesty is important to (no, that’s not a loaded statement) you’ll be glad you went on with your eyes wide-open.

This entry was posted in Reading.

7 thoughts on “Home By Choice— a book review

  1. Both of these sound like interesting reads. I ordered the first one from our library but it doesn’t seem to have the second (Jill Savage) book.

  2. That books sounds very interesting. But at the same time, I had to think that while she is talking about how important it is to stay home even while the kids are in high school, she was working on her PhD. I know from the experience of my mom getting her Masters when I was 12, going back to school takes a lot of time!

    Not trying to start a debate with that. And I also have to point out that some families are worse of because the mom stayed home and some are worse off because she went to work. You never can tell how it’s going to work out until the kids are grown and the damage is done.

  3. Sorry Tori– I didn’t clarify that Ph.D. thing very well in the review.

    Hunter sent her kids to public school, so when she decided to return to school herself she limited it to the hours they were away or (implied) when her husband was home.

    I’ve explained before that I don’t mind so much people making different decisions; decisions different than mine. (I do believe there are unshakable-unbreakables, but not as many as I used to think.)

    What bothers me more than many things is people making decisions not because they’ve thought them through and weighed the real costs, but because it’s just what everybody does.

    Using the Pill for birth control, or the public school system for your children’s educations are my always-examples of this.

    I acquiesce there are those for whom these are the best choice. But too many people, I believe, do these by default rather than by thought.

    (And here I’ve already said I didn’t want to debate…)

  4. Ah, it makes more sense that she would get her PhD that way.

    And I agree that it is always better to think things through than autopilot along with everyone else. If you reach the same conclusion as is the trend, then so be it. I know why I’m on the Pill and it isn’t for birth control. My sister on the other hand… well, whatever.

    If I agree with you on most things, are we really starting a debate? :D

  5. Your thoughts are balanced and appropriate. Staying at home is rewarding and very, very tough at the same time. Looking back, work was nothing compared to this.

    I have also heard that working women say that they wish they could have worked when the kids were little and stayed home when they were in high school. That was a reality check for me.

  6. Pingback: Untangling Tales » Blog Archive » Not Just Staying Home (Part 1 of 2)

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