Mother's Place

Susan Chira, Author, Chira, Author
Susan Chira, Author, Chira, Author HarperCollins $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-017327-2
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 04/01/1998
Chira, deputy foreign editor for the New York Times, here confronts the cultural image of the Good Mother, the archetypical American homemaker of the 1950s and 1960s who, in the 1990s, when more than half of all mothers with children under the age of one work outside the home, is hard to find. Chira, the mother of two school-age children, notes that she works outside the home by choice, and she attacks the ""mother blaming"" for children's maladjustments that can be found in contemporary writings about child-rearing. Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton, family court judges and the religious right receive the back of Chira's hand for ignoring evidence that working outside the home has little effect on children if mothers are sensitive to their offspring's needs, provide proper care and supervision and, importantly, are themselves content. Some research suggests that children in quality daycare score higher academically, socially and behaviorally than those who spend their early years at home, stresses the author. Among her proposals to aid working mothers are better training for daycare teachers (France, for example, requires five years), more participation by fathers in child rearing, a year's parental leave at a lower salary after childbirth or adoption and job options such as flextime and part-time hours. Chira's forcefully argued, well-documented book provides an important perspective to the debate. First serial to Glamour. (May)
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