Costs of motherhood are rising, forcing women out of the workforce? Of course, that was the goal!


Natural parenting is working.

No, not for children, silly! There’s no evidence that it has improved children’s lives. Rates of children’s psychiatric problems, including suicide, have never been worse.

It’s working on mothers just as it was designed to do. The holy trinity of natural child-rearing — natural childbirth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting — was designed explicitly to force women back into the home by problematizing infant safety, promoting maternal sacrifice as critical to child health and fetishizing physical proximity of mother to child. The result is that women who could work, who have been trained to work, are opting out of the workforce.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Those who feared women’s emancipation set out to make motherhood more demanding, intending to force women back into the home. It’s working.[/pullquote]

Finally others are taking note.

Claire Cain Miller, writing in the New York Times observes The Costs of Motherhood Are Rising, and Catching Women Off Guard.

An economic mystery of the last few decades has been why more women aren’t working…

The share of women in the United States labor force has leveled off since the 1990s, after steadily climbing for half a century…

The new analysis suggests something else also began happening during the 1990s: Motherhood became more demanding. Parents now spend more time and money on child care. They feel more pressure to breast-feed, to do enriching activities with their children and to provide close supervision.

A result is that women underestimate the costs of motherhood. The mismatch is biggest for those with college degrees, who invest in an education and expect to maintain a career …

But motherhood itself did not become more demanding. Children did not become more challenging or more needy. Socially constructed expectations of mothers became more demanding. Why? People who feared women’s political and economic emancipation set out to make them more demanding with the explicit intent of forcing women out of the workforce.

Think natural childbirth is about childbirth? Wrong. It’s about forcing women out of the workforce.

Grantly Dick-Read, the father of natural childbirth, wrote:

Woman fails when she ceases to desire the children for which she was primarily made. Her true emancipation lies in freedom to fulfil her biological purposes …

Think lactivism is about breastfeeding? Wrong. It’s about forcing women out of the workforce.

As psychologist Susan Franzblau has explained:

Out of concern that recently instituted bottle-feeding and drug-assisted births would break family bonds, these religious advocates of breastfeeding prescribed a regimen that included suckling on demand day and night with no pacifier substitute … Any work that competed with the infant’s need for continuity of maternal care was out of the question. One La La Leche League International group leader said that she was “pretty negative to people who just want to dump their kids of and go to work eight hours a day.”

Think attachment parenting is about children’s needs? Wrong. It’s about forcing women out of the workforce.

Bill and Martha Sears are explicit in their belief that God wants women to stay home and care for their children:

The type of parenting we believe is God’s design for the father-mother-child relationship is a style we call “attachment parenting.” Our intent in recommending this style of parenting to you is so strong that we have spent more hours in prayerful thought on this topic than on any other topic in this book… We have a deep personal conviction that this is the way God wants His children parented.

These socially constructed expectations of motherhood were designed by privileged white people in order to control privileged white women and that’s precisely where they’ve achieve their greatest success.

As Miller notes:

For many women, the researchers show, stopping work was unplanned. Since about 1985, no more than 2 percent of female high school seniors said they planned to be “homemakers” at age 30, even though most planned to be mothers. The surveys also found no decline in overall job satisfaction post-baby. Yet consistently, between 15 percent and 18 percent of women have stayed home…

The people most surprised by the demands of motherhood were those the researchers least expected: women with college degrees, or those who had babies later, those who had working mothers and those who had assumed they would have careers. Even though highly educated mothers were less likely to quit working than less educated mothers, they were more likely to express anti-work beliefs, and to say that being a parent was harder than they expected.

It’s harder than the expected because the social constructed expectations of mothers have increased dramatically since they were children. They did not foresee the demands since those demands — natural childbirth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting — didn’t exist until recently. In each and every case, these demands have meant more work, more pain and more self-abnegation for mothers.

The cost of motherhood fell for most of the 20th century because of inventions like dishwashers, formula and the birth control pill. But that’s no longer the case, according to data cited in the paper. The cost of child care has increased by 65 percent since the early 1980s. Eighty percent of women breast-feed, up from about half. The number of hours that parents spend on child care has risen, especially for college-educated parents, for whom it has doubled.

And natural parenting advocates oppose virtually anything that decreases the cost of motherhood like epidurals, C-sections, formula, pacifiers, disposable diapers, commercially produced baby food, etc. That’s not a coincidence. Under the guise of what’s good for babies, they have ratcheted up the pressure on mothers. The worst part is that babies don’t truly need any of what’s touted to be good for them.

Miller quotes researchers:

“It is deeply puzzling that at a moment when women are more prepared than ever for long careers in the labor market, norms would change in a manner that encourages them to spend more time at home.”

It’s not deeply puzzling; it was intended all along.