You’ve nicely highlighted something that has always disturbed me about the New Way of Doing Things. I’m old enough to remember when full-time moms were at least as common as working mothers, especially when very young children were involved. Now it’s quite rare, and often seen as an indulgence available only to very rich wives (think Hillary Rosen’s attack on Ann Romney from the 2012 campaign.)
As your friend observed, it takes a great deal of advance work, careful planning, and prudent savings for the average middle-class mom to stay home with the kids, even for a few years. That wasn’t the case, not so very long ago. And the evidence continues to mount that all of these government-assisted “solutions” are more problematic than the time-honored way of doing things.
Of course, the end of motherhood naturally accompanies the end of fatherhood. Not many single moms have any real choice about working vs. staying at home. The accumulation of both monetary and human capital resulting from intact traditional families and full-time motherhood has been interrupted. One of the results is increasing dependency on the State, something the Obama campaign openly marketed to women with the infamous “Life of Julia” slide show. Another is the growing atomization of society. Full-time working parents have a harder time networking and forming enduring bonds of community between families. We are growing further apart from each other, and our children are having a hard time making do without the benefits intact families and full-time mothers used to bring them.
I can’t get over how urgently certain political philosophies required the dissolution of the family, and how effective they have been at promoting it, on so many fronts. If only the next generation understood how horribly wrong they are to believe they can get by without mothers and fathers.