While in Rhode Island, President Obama gave a speech during which he called for greater spending on public pre-school, but one comment struck a chord in stay-at-home-moms. President Obama said that the additional spending was needed in order to “make sure that women are full and equal participants in our economy.”
“I want to zero in on the choices we need to make to ensure that more women are full and equal participants in the economy.” —Obama
— White House Live (@WHLive) October 31, 2014
The statement that has infuriated some stay-at-home-moms, according to the Weekly Standard, touched on the choice of leaving the workforce and staying home to raise young children.
“Sometimes, someone, usually Mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.”
The comment by President Obama resulted in a social media ruckus in newsfeeds and online parenting groups by some angry stay-at-home-moms, overshadowing the rest of the speech to many stay-at-home-moms and dads.
President Obama’s comment even inspired a lengthy, detailed editorial on The Federalist, which took jabs at CNN, public schools, and the president’s choice of words. In that editorial the author, Mollie Hemingway, did bring up one thoughtful point: Perhaps President Obama meant to say that he doesn’t want mothers to be forced to stay home and face low wages because the option of public pre-school is not available everywhere in the United States. She brought up three points in total. Hemingway’s readers seemed to strongly agree with the three points in the editorial. One point stood out that summarized the theme of comments on social media by stay-at-home-moms and dads.
“I’m not going to tell you that doing things the way my husband and I did is the right way. I can tell you it was the right way for us. I believe that parents have an obligation to provide for their children, but how they do it is up to them. Yes, they should make prudent decisions matched to their family’s needs, but that is going to be a different scenario for everyone. Studies show different results, sometimes seemingly contradictory, for how kids fare with time spent with parents and time spent with people to whom the parents have outsourced care of their children. And even as I stayed home with my children, my husband and I have used childcare for various reasons. But I reject out of hand the idea that parents staying home with their children — a choice that by definition means a change in labor force participation — should be viewed as a negative choice.”
President Obama’s statement during the speech in Rhode Island was strongly opposed by many stay-at-home-moms, but the issue of women in the workforce was addressed again on Sunday during the president’s weekly address. President Obama pointed out that women deserve paid leave for staying home with a new baby or for while participating in other caregiver roles, but seemingly maintained that pre-school was important for the development of American children.
What do you think? Does President Obama prefer subsidized pre-school for young children over being cared for by a stay-at-home-mom or dad, or was he just trying to be supportive of women’s choices?