Book Review of the Price of Motherhood by Ann Crittendon

This book shows that even though mothers receive tons of verbal praise and get one day a year dedicated to them they are undervalued and under appreciated, and not just by those who live with them and are related to them. The nation and society views mothers and the work they do as worthless. Ann explores what women give up to be a mother and what society does to mothers. After Ann left her well paying job to stay home with her baby someone actually said to her – didn’t you used to be Ann Crittenden ?, suggesting that because she no longer was in the work force, that since she was just a mom, she was nobody.

Ann Crittendon explores how important mothers are but everyday, even now in the 21st century, we are under appreciated, under valued and even considered to be worthless economically and useless in the eyes of society. “The job of making a home for a child and developing his or her capabilities is often equated with ‘doing nothing’âÂ?¦raising children may be the most important job in the world but you can’t put it on a resume.” The domestic unpaid work mothers do is not considered work because we are not paid for it therefore we are not included in the Gross National Product (GNP) so economically we are worthless and overlooked.

“Swedish womenâÂ?¦enjoy benefits that American women can only imagine in their wildest dreams: a year’s paid leave after childbirth, the right to work a six hour day with full benefits until the child is in primary school, and a stipend from the government to help pay child-care expenses.” (pg 108) Yet here in the United States we get nothing, the government is too busy worrying about war and spending billions on weapons instead of education and supporting the mothers and children that contribute to the strength and future of the nation. Most European countries take care of their women and children. Poverty among American white children alone is much higher than the levels in Western Europe and it is left unsaid that the levels of poverty among non white children in the US are extremely high.

I think this book is wonderful because not only does Crittendon explore and discuss how women have always been overlooked, she talks about how things have changed throughout history (surprisingly little compared to the great advancement society has made in other areas) and she proposes ways that things could be changed now. She doesn’t just whine, complain, rant and rave like women have done in the past to no avail. She offers solutions (not that anyone in power is going to actually implement them anytime soon). She proposes changes in the workplace, changes in schools and education, changes that the government needs to make to appreciate and value the work mothers do.

“Women have to insist that caretaking and early education can no longer depend on their cheap or unpaid labor. And before that can happen, women have to understand the true costs of care include their exclusion from full participation in the economy and society.” (pg 258)

Some of the things she proposes are: “A child allowance paid to all primary care givers of young children, whether they work outside the home or not. Such a ‘salary’ for every mother is paid in a number of countries including Britain and France, and it is truly neutral regarding parents’ decisions how to raise their children, for the money can be used either to help pay for child care or to help pay the bills in households where one parent stays home.” (pg 266) and/or giving every parent the right to a year’s paid leave, provide equal pay and benefits for part time work, and eliminate discrimination against parents in the work place.

It’s sad that these changes probably will not happen for a very long time, if ever, especially if women do not join together and fight together. Women are so separate on the issues that affect us all. This book should be in all of our homes and read to our children, it is up to us to make sure changes take place. Every woman should own this book whether she is a mother or not. Men should have to read this book. I actually think this book should be required reading in schools.

Women have to fight for our rights. Mothers are the most discriminated against minority in the workforce and in society as a whole. Crittendon says that “American mothers are their own worst enemiesâÂ?¦” (pg 250). Mothers don’t stand up for their rights and as a whole; women do not stand up and fight for each other. “The disproportionate vulnerability of mothers is not seen as a major feminist issue, or as a pressing issue affecting children and our ability to invest in human capital; that is, in our economic future. Mothers are the true silent majority; too silent and too polite to become a causeâÂ?¦It is hard to make a revolution if the beneficiaries themselves don’t believe that their cause is worth fighting for.”(pg 255)

Women give up a lot to be mothers. Having a family and especially having a successful family is extremely hard work. Women usually do everything around the house. We are the CEO’s of the household along with being the cook, nanny, maid, chauffer, personal shopper, accountant, receptionist, secretary and so much more. One financial analyst added up all the work a mom does and estimated her worth at being $508,700 a year. Hey, someone owes me some serious back pay. Another analyst suggested that $100,000 is a more realistic estimate but even that is $100,000 more than any mom gets. Women are not reimbursed for all the time and work we put into our children, families and homes and that is why women are so much poorer than men.

Ann ends her book with this: “a society that beggars its mothers beggars its own future.” Look at the U.S. That explains a lot. Our mothers and our children are ignored and treated poorly. The first budget cuts always seem to be in our schools. Our children get 2nd rate education and the mothers get blamed for everything that goes wrong in a child’s life. Yet we can’t care for our children and support them alone. We can not give 100% of ourselves to our family and home and 100% to our careers which we need to support the children. That makes 200% when we only have 100% to start with. The old saying was that it takes a village to raise a child, yet today’s society leaves it all up to the mother. The future of this country and the world depends on our children, yet our children are forgotten and ignored and mothers are treated like slaves.

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