Originally created 05/12/02

More women considering choices of motherhood



Mother's Day should be a day when Mom can relax, get breakfast in bed and have someone else cook dinner.

It's a well-deserved break, because the rest of the year, the lives of mothers are so hectic.

Regardless of whether a mother works full time or stays at home with her children, women today face more choices than ever before - from when to have children to whether or not to work.And there seems to be an expert touting each point of view.

"In a sense, there's no one right path that women can choose nowadays where everyone is going to agree it's the right thing to do," said Linda Grant, a professor of sociology at the University of Georgia. "Some people view that as a negative, meaning that women are going to face criticism whatever they decide to do."

But most likely that criticism will not come from other moms.

"The survey data suggests that young women are fairly appreciative of the difficult choices that other women face. It's men and older women, women who are beyond the childbearing age, who are more likely to be critical," Dr. Grant said.

But in spite of occasional disapproval, having more options will most likely make women better mothers, said Lynda Walters, a professor of child and family development at the University of Georgia. She illustrated that opinion with her own family.

"I dearly love my children, but I had children because you had children and I just thought that was the normal thing," she said.

Her daughter put a lot more thought into whether to have children and how they would fit into her future.

"Now I'll say to her, 'Why don't you let me take John so you have some free time on Saturday,"' Dr. Walters said in a phone interview from Athens. "And her response is, 'But I miss him. I don't want to be away from him on Saturday."'

Dr. Walters cited several studies to support her theory.

"Women who are college seniors are saying things like, 'I don't really feel that I'm ready to be a mother; that's a really big responsibility, and when I have children, I want to do it right,"' she said.

More young women are planning to see the world, to settle into who they are and become a healthy adult before having children, she said.

"What they're saying is not that they want to put off children because they just do what they want to do and don't want to be bothered by children," Dr. Walters said. "Rather, they're really seeing that the importance of being a good mother is tied in with waiting until they're older and more mature and more experienced."

Dr. Grant said there is a flip side to having so many options.

"On the one hand, you can look at what young women can do today in the work force and they have a lot of choices," she said. "But on the other hand, there's increased stress in balancing a lot of different kinds of roles."

OUT OF THE HOME

In 2000, about 55 percent of mothers of infants and about 74 percent of mothers of older children were working outside the home.

Source: Office of the CensusReach Lisa M. Lohr at (706) 823-3332 or lisalohr@augustachronicle.com