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'Regrets Of A Stay-At-Home Mom'

by Scott Cameron
Jan 19, 2011

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Scott Cameron

Few things start an argument as fast as giving new parents advice. Katy Read steps into that no-man's land with a recent warning to new moms who might consider quitting their jobs and parenting full-time: "Now I lie awake at 3 a.m., terrified that as a result I am permanently financially screwed."

My biggest handicap may be my history of spending daylight hours in the company of my own kids. Just having them is bad enough. Research shows that mothers earn 4 to 15 percent less than non-mothers with comparable jobs and qualifications, that as job candidates, mothers are perceived as less competent and committed than non-mothers (fathers, in contrast, rate higher than men without kids). Heather Boushey, senior economist at the Center for American Progress, told me last year that the outlook for an at-home mother returning to work in this economy "kind of makes my stomach drop a little bit." I know the feeling.

As she related her experience, Read is careful to point out that, "This is not a plea for sympathy. More like a warning from the front lines." Good thing, too. A quick look at some of the 250 comments after the piece shows that she's not getting much sympathy.

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