Going Back to Work: A Reality Check

Three provocative authors — Leslie Bennetts, Pamela Stone, and Sylvia Ann Hewlett — talk about the challenges former stay-at-home moms face when going back to work.

By the editors of MORE magazine

QUIGLEY: Is this purely a problem for the elite?

HEWLETT: My data is based on folks earning more than $75,000 a year.

BENNETTS: Not entirely; I interviewed people who were cashiers at McDonald’s and who worked at Wal-Mart, among others. I think it happens everywhere but is more pronounced among more affluent women.

QUIGLEY: What would you tell stay-at-home mothers now?

BENNETTS: I’d like to encourage them to think about going back to work sooner rather than later. And I’d like to put in a plug for work: Not only does it give you money, but it also gives you something meaningful to do with your life. Women often don’t fully understand the extent to which working is a transformational experience: It transforms your marriage if you have power because you have money. It transforms your role in the household. It elevates your family’s standard of living. You’re able to provide your children with totally different educational and cultural opportunities than you might if you were relying only on your husband’s income. If women can find meaningful work, that’s what’s going to carry them over the next 50 years. You can’t count on other people to give meaning to your life. You have to provide something for yourself — and that’s work.

Originally published in MORE magazine, June 2007, as "Reality Check."

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