This thread depresses me

Gifted-as-children stay-at-home-mothers discuss their brains atrophying and their careers dying while they nurture their gifted daughters through homeschooling.

Another reason I am not and could never be a SAHP.  (Though I’m fairly sure I could handle independently wealthy… I’m willing to experiment on that if anyone wants to fund me!)

SAH to optimize your child… for what?  So she can stay at home, miserable, with her child 10 or 20 years from now, just like you are?

Yes, I know that it is VERY difficult to find a good schooling match for a bright and gifted child.  Homeschooling might be the best solution for the kid.  But… school is not even 8 hours per day.  Sometimes you just gotta compromise a little bit.  Sometimes the kid is going to have to make sacrifices so that the mom (and it is nearly ALWAYS the mom) doesn’t lose her career ambitions and sanity as well.  That’s ok.  Life doesn’t have to be always perfect for just one member of the family.  The family is a unit that moves forward together.

And maybe, just maybe, seeing mom fulfilled and career-driven and independent (while still being a loving mom) will work as a great role-model for the grown daughter, who realizes that life does get better after you graduate K-12, and she can balance a fulfilling career and family, and it is important for all family members to pull their own weight in order for this to happen.

Thanks, mom, for never quitting your job and brilliantly raising two strong, independent, hardworking, and intelligent daughters.  I know we always came first, but it was good for us to know that we were never the only thing.  Just like our children are/will be most important but never the the sole driving force behind our existence.

Disclaimer:  We are not against SAHP.  We just think it isn’t suited for some people, and don’t think these folks should be forcing themselves into SAHParenthood because of some notion that parents (mothers) must sacrifice everything for their children.  If you enjoy it and it’s working for you and you can afford it, then go for it!

#2 continues to wonder why #1 reads depressing fora.  Come to the fora on LibraryThing!  We talk about books!


39 Responses to “This thread depresses me”

  1. Spanish Prof Says:

    Now, you’ve joined the trend of controversial post for the week. Good, I’m proud of you too. Myself, I have nothing to add. Except maybe that this is a good example of why motherhood sucks (just kidding, just kidding, I am just bored and playing around)

  2. everyday tips Says:

    I can totally see why some parents quit their job to homeschool. I have known several people who have done it, and they did it as a last resort though. They tried many different schools for their child, and nothing seemed to work. I knew one child that read Scientific American in kindergarten, but he had absolutely zero ability to socialize, period. Not just with kids his own age, but anyone. He acted out, and I believe the school (which was for gifted kids) basically kicked him out. Mom had to homeschool because their options were gone. There are many stories like that out there. Sometimes, the kids become depressed (or worse) if they can’t find a comfortable learning environment, and homeschooling is the best thing.

    That being said, mom should never have to be as miserable as is stated in that thread. Even if she has to homeschool, it is up to her to find something else in her life. Nobody says that dad can’t teach math after he gets home from math. As a matter of fact, typically homeschoolers don’t spend nearly as much time on ‘schooling’ as kids in public school do. There is no reason that ‘mom’ can’t go get a part time job, take a class, whatever. If she keeps having that attitude, it is going to spill over to the child, which will make everything even worse. I am sure I seem harsh, but when someone is that miserable, then they have to fix it. It isn’t like she is dealing with a child that needs 24 hour a day medical care.

  3. everyday tips Says:

    That’s funny. “Dad can’t teach math after he gets home from math”. I believe I meant after he gets home from work… :)

  4. Jacq @ SMRM Says:

    Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent. ~ Carl Jung

    Not that someone should sacrifice their kids to their ambition either (like was done with Ashley Judd – just read her memoir – good stuff). Balance is good. People need to use their imaginations to find other alternatives sometimes.

    This last contract, I worked 5-6 hours a day, 4 days a week, only challenging stuff and nothing routine. When my brain stops working at 100%, I leave for the day. It would drive someone else crazy that likes stability and routine but I love it. Mama’s happy and everyone’s happy. And I have time to help the non-academically gifted extroverted kid sell to the neighbours with his lemonade stand… I wish we could spend the time together reading more, but that was his older brother’s m.o., not his.

  5. Dr. O Says:

    Agreed 100%. Even in my darkest guilt-ridden moments, when I wonder if my career is suffering my family, I don’t think I’ve ever thought about giving up myself for my son. I love Monkey and want to give him the best, but I also realize that I can’t give him my best if I’m not at MY best. Some things will always fall through the cracks.

  6. MutantSupermodel Says:

    I can relate and I’m not a Stay at home but I feel like I have to take “average” jobs because I can’t take the risks to or the time for higher education for the more challenging and better paying jobs because I need stability RIGHT NOW. I like my job just fine but it’s not the most challenging thing in the world and there are definitely weeks of brain-numbingness. I think a lot of people suffer this and it’s not just SAHP. There’s always at least one reason to take the safe unchallenging way. Moreso if you’re the sole provider for others be they children or otherwise.

  7. Squirrelers Says:

    People – women or men – are doing their family a benefit by doing what’s responsible AND what’s best for them individually. This may or may not align with others or society’s “expecations” for what constitutes a “great” parent. And that’s perfectly ok. Why live a life based on other people’s ideas on what’s best?

  8. Linda Says:

    I scanned that thread and there was mention of it being a medical necessity that someone stay home with the kid, so it appears to not just be about educating a gifted child.

    Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we all could do work that we find stimulating and satisfying? I’ve had such a tough week at work and as I think more about why it has been so hard for me to enjoy my work lately I’ve had some interesting insights. Too bad I can’t come up with a way to incorporate my ideas into my current job. Instead I slog away, day after day.

    I’m addicted, too: to the security that comes with a good paycheck and benefits. Or maybe I should just say I’m a wage slave. It really has an impact on what I do with my spare time. This is why I do volunteer work and hobbies that give me a sense of accomplishment and read to stimulate my mind; I certainly don’t get that at work.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That particular woman actually works at a university. She’s… interesting. I could go into detail, but there is some doubt that her daughter actually has a medical necessity that causes her to stay out of school. At least her husband doesn’t believe there is. (One of the reasons I have not signed up for the forum and have been staying away from it… the other one is the general acceptance of sexist and racist asshattery from a few of the men on the forum.) I wouldn’t use her situation as representative.

  9. becca Says:

    I don’t know. It seems to me like a subject very ripe for grass-is-greener comparisons. All jobs have bits that can make you feel like your brain is atrophying. Changing diapers is about the same level of ‘boring’ as writing on eppendorf tubes, and I think it’s less unpleasant than harvesting bone marrow from genetically modified knockout mice.

    My Dad was a gifted-as-a-child stay-at-home homeschooling parent. I do think that the Jung quote has a lot of validity- what he *wasn’t* doing definitely concerned me- but more than him, I think. Part of that may be that it’s hard for kids to reject gender norms and there are fewer models for stay at home Dads. For his part, I don’t think he ever regretted it- not even the phase during my teen years where we basically never communicated except in spoonerisms. Of course, part of the issue was that he had some medical issues and such, and so faced challenges when it came to finding an appropriate job. Is it any more logical to be depressed about people bored being SAHP than it is to be depressed about people being bored as computer programers?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      You know, I actually wanted to be a scientist (a geneticist) before I got an internship actually doing science. Turns out reading about science is fascinating, but actually doing science is not as much. Social science is way less monotonous.

      • Comrade PhysioProf Says:

        Jeezus motherf***e! Way to generalize *your* one internship experience doing science to everyone and all of science!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Don’t worry, I confirmed it with lots of other people who do science before making a decision. I just don’t have the patience. Sure, it’s less dull once you’re running a full lab with lots of projects and have people to do grunt work for you, but I still wouldn’t be at that point at my age. Too long a wait for too little payoff.

        I actually know quite a few people who left bioscience for the more remunerative and fast-moving world of social science. Said one, “I didn’t want to still be poking worm noses when I was 35 on a post-doc salary, like that guy.”

      • becca Says:

        I’d say social science is seductively not-monotonous. If we take Jung at his word, that might be one reason I didn’t pursue such a field. My Dad was very much a social sciences person, and it lead to him being a bit of a dilettante. I wanted to focus on something and make a real contribution. Now, of course, I’ve recognized the profound difficulty of curing malaria. So my plan may have been flawed from the start. But that was the reasoning that put me where I am.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Yup, we’re a bit of dilettantes. Social science is a good fit for us.

      • Comrade PhysioProf Says:

        I suppose I can see how it might be less “monotonous” to just make up a bunch of bullshitte all f***en day, rather than have to actually do the hard work of grappling with the nature of objective reality.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Yes, dear. I imagine it has been quite some time since you’ve had to do your own scut work.

      • Comrade PhysioProf Says:

        You f*ckers think I don’t know that you’re f*cken trolling me? I wasn’t born yesterday!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Obviously you’re much older than we are. Otherwise you’d be complaining about all the monotonous work you have to do in your lab. (Just like all our similarly aged friends in biosci… well, the ones who have jobs anyway.)

  10. bardiac Says:

    If she’s unhappy enough to complain on the internet, then she’s unhappy enough that her child knows it, and the child knows that there’s a point at which it’s the child’s “fault” (though it isn’t, of course). How horrid for the child.

  11. First Gen American Says:

    I think in order to be an effective parent you have to be able to take care of yourself too. If you’re resentful and unhappy, it can’t be good. It’s hard enough to hide a bad day from my kids when it’s not even their fault. Like the others said, that resentment has got to be oozing through into this kid’s world one way or another.

    Sorry, but I just couldn’t read through the thread. I’m with #2. I’d rather read about happy stuff.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Happy stuff is good. We had beautiful pictures yesterday!

    • KC Says:

      So very true!!!
      You make your own happiness. The unhappy SAHM’s have an external locus of control. They let life happen to them instead of creating their lives. People with an internal locus of control tend to lead happier lives and actually do something about their unhappiness.

  12. SS4BC Says:

    While out of date, The Feminine Mystique talks on the very issue of the woman’s intellect deprecating while being a SAH. I could never, ever do it. Ever.

    • KC Says:

      You can still use your intellect while being a stay at home mom. Guess what? Kids nap. And with the internet you can learn all kinds of stuff in an hour. You just have to be willing to do so. I think the unhappy SAHM’s make their own unhappiness. They lose themselves because they don’t make an effort. Their career situation is not to blame for that.

      You can lose just as much intellect being a paper pusher and doing the same thing every day. And I’m sure you lose a lot of brain cells sitting through a mindless commute through traffic 2 hours a day!

      The Feminine Mystique is utter crap and, yes, out of date. Any feminist B.S. is not to be trusted. Both feminist and subservient ideals are too extreme. It’s time people just followed common sense.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        We suggest that you look up what feminism actually is compared to what you think it is, if you think it is too extreme.

        Also, reading comprehension may be one of those skills that atrophies if you don’t use it. Pretty much all the arguments that you’ve been making with your various sock-puppets are straw-men that have nothing to do with the article, or even with the general philosophies espoused at Grumpy Rumblings. (For example, nowhere does it bash stay-at-home parenting as you allege. The entire point of the article is that mothers shouldn’t sacrifice everything for their kids. It has nothing to do with you being too precious to work or to get an education.)

        And it’s obvious you don’t have gifted kids yet if you think they nap!

        Must be nice not to have to work just because you don’t want to. We’d love to be financially independent as well, especially #2 who also doesn’t have kids and hates working. The problem is that we need to make money and save it in order to stay at home and follow our muses.

        You are right, though, that professors actually want students to do the work.

  13. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    I hope it’s not true that if someone is miserable enough to talk about how unhappy they are being a SAHM on a forum that that resentment makes its way to the child. Because that’s a regular feature on mother’s forums, even for kids who aren’t homeschooled or gifted. The advice for SAHM is always the same– it’s normal to feel that way, take some time for yourself, DH should be doing household chores too, and get out and talk to adults during the day. If they weren’t able to discuss these issues they might not be able to get proactive suggestions on what to do.

  14. What would you do if you didn’t have (to have) a job? « Grumpy rumblings of the untenured Says:

    […] Cherish the scientist talks about boredom.  (Note:  it is related to this post.) […]

  15. KC Says:

    I was a HIGHLY gifted student with a super high IQ who scored above a 12th grade level on standardized tests every year in every subject except math (in which I scored at a 9th grade level until high school, and at that point I scored on par with grade level). I also had a very high ACT score.

    I BARELY graduated college the first time around (my GPA was okay but it was hard to pass those last few classes), and could not find a job in my field. There’s no opportunities. I found a different job where I wasn’t respected despite the fact that I was the only person in the office who could spell or write properly. I got fed up with the disrespect and the condescending.

    You have to be good at networking to succeed these days. And while I love dressing up in a suit and trying to impress people, it never seems to be enough.

    I went back to school recently to try another degree with more opportunities. I’m dropping out after this semester. I’m not cut out for college or career. I’m doing terribly this semester. At first I did great, then I took some tests in which I thought I aced them, but then found out I did terribly. I lost my confidence and any will to study or do assignments. I’m not a lazy person. I love to learn. But I don’t feel like I’m learning anything, I feel like all I’m doing is trying to meet impossible demands of professors and academics.

    I’m miserable trying to shove myself (a square peg) into the career world (a round hole). I’m extremely capable when it comes to getting a job done. But I just haven’t found happiness trying to push myself like this.

    There is NOTHING wrong with being a stay at home mom. They give so much of themselves to make their families’ lives better. I can’t stand people who bash stay at home moms.

    I am considering being a stay at home mom and also focusing on my writing, and various skills I’ve always wanted to develop but never had the time while suffocating under the thumb of academia. I can actually use my degree by opening a business doing photography and wedding videos, refurbish furniture, and teach my children until they’re old enough to go to school. I just want to be happy. I feel like I can be happier structuring my own life than following someone else’s schedule and forcing myself to make a long commute to work every day. I’m thankful my husband supports this.

    We don’t have kids yet, but once we’re financially ready I plan to be a stay at home mom. Until then, like I said, I’ll be focusing on my creative pursuits and finding interesting ways to make a little money.

    One thing I will never do to my children is force them to be perfect. My parents always said because I always had such a high IQ I should get 100’s on everything. B’s weren’t enough, even missing one question was bad. This carried on through college too. I did get 100’s on most things, (every spelling test I ever took) but my parents couldn’t accept that I wasn’t perfect. If I didn’t get 100’s I didn’t study enough. I hated feeling like this. I’m going to teach my kids a lot and expect them to work hard, but if they get B’s I don’t care as long as they try.

    My hope is that my kids will grow up in a better world than I have. I hope they’ll enter adulthood into a decent economy with a good job market. They might have a shot at success. But I’m not going to find success myself by playing by everyone else’s rules. I’ve spent the past 5 years trying, and it just doesn’t work that way anymore.

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