When Love Grows Cold: Mothers Against Their Own Children

One of the worst aspects of modern feminism has been its determined effort to turn mothers against their own children — to deem children not blessings to be loved but instead threats to all-important careers and self-fulfillment. My post yesterday — linking to the terrible story of a woman who aborted her child (late in her pregnancy) to preserve a short-lived volleyball career — is an extreme example, but the phenomenon crops up in other contexts as well.

A Facebook friend pointed me to this post from Slate’s Double X blog. Called ”In the Ivory Tower, Men Only,” here’s how it treats the gift of motherhood:

Our Berkeley research team has spent more than a decade studying why so many women begin the climb but do not make it to the top of the Ivory Tower: the tenured faculty, full professors, deans, and presidents. The answer turns out to be what you’d expect: Babies matter. Women pay a “baby penalty” over the course of a career in academia—from the tentative graduate school years through the pressure cooker of tenure, the long midcareer march, and finally retirement. But babies matter in different ways at different times. A new book I co-wrote with the team at Berkeley, Do Babies Matter? Gender and Family in the Ivory Tower, draws on several surveys that have tracked tens of thousands of graduate students over their careers, as well as original research.

The most important finding is that family formation negatively affects women’s, but not men’s, academic careers. For men, having children is a career advantage; for women, it is a career killer. And women who do advance through the faculty ranks do so at a high price. They are far less likely to be married with children.

Ahh yes, the “baby penalty.” That’s not a new concept. I remember my mother’s frustrations in the 1970s when her more-feminist teaching colleagues mocked her devotion to raising my sister and me, scolding her that her choices would have a negative impact on her career. She, however, was more concerned with having a positive impact on her children.

There is an explanation as to why women’s careers “suffer” when they have children while men’s careers prosper — and it has nothing to do with discrimination and everything to do with the way different sexes often approach the joys and responsibilities of parenting.

An amazing thing happens to many millions of parents — they experience an intense love and deep bond that is difficult to explain to those who’ve not had children. It’s overpowering, and — critically — it’s lifechanging. For millions of women (not all, of course), it creates an intense desire to care for their children, to be in their presence as much as possible. For millions of men (not all, of course), it triggers a similarly intense desire to protect and provide — causing many of us to take our career responsibilities truly seriously for the first time. Not as the ambitious dreamer of our pre-child life, but as the more serious and dutiful provider who recognizes that our family’s security depends on the outcome of our work.

Given that reality, is it any wonder that many women pull back in their careers, even as men push forward? And given that this action reflects the deep longing of both their hearts, is it actually a cultural problem? Make no mistake, there are women across this land who are deeply engaged in their careers not because it fulfills them, but because they must work to make ends meet.  Many of them long for the financial freedom to return home. Similarly, there are men across this land who desperately wish that they made more money, that they were more successful, so their wives could be their children’s primary caregiver.

Those values and longings are not universal, nor should they be cultural or political mandates, but they are virtuous. They are good for families and children. They are not the only way, but they are a good way  – a very good way.

Why then must feminists try to shame women out of embracing the deep desires of their heart? Why must even mothers and friends lobby their daughters and sisters into hiring doctors to commit ultimate acts of violence — to utterly reject even the most basic obligations of caregiving and love?

In reading words like “baby penalty” or hearing our president speak with horror of a daughter “punished with a baby,” I’m reminded of the words of Christ, telling of a time when — as evil increases — “the love of many will grow cold.” As the abortion industry destroys more lives, and as women speak to other women about motherhood as curse rather than blessing, our love is growing cold indeed.

This article first appeared here.

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  • hillplus

    2 TIM 3:1-3 KJV ….without natural affection… This statement is frequently on my mind as I read the news. I have mixed feelings about our front row seat to watching prophecy being fulfilled! I am grateful that I understand my role in God’s plan, and that my role as a mother to my five children is unparalleled!

  • Diane

    On the Today show this morning- a Mom who said she regrets her decision to stay home with her 3 boys. Her excuses broke my heart. She said she had “too” much time to focus on her kids and their activities/lives. They are healthy adult men now. Being the mom of 3 adult sons- I really feel sad for her and her boys. I have never regretted the choice or sacrifices made to be fully engaged in raising my boys.

  • cadranni

    This is an article by the daughter of Alice Walker on exactly this theme – unbelievable how her feminist mother treated her:


  • praxagora

    I know that there is an element of craziness in even responding to a post like this, but honestly, I just cannot understand what you are on about here. The Slate article is about the ways that employers discriminate against women who are trying to be involved in their children’s lives. Did you not catch that? Some women want to both be professionally fulfilled and be involved in their children’s lives – that’s a good thing! What do you, as a “pro-family” activist do to make that possible?

    And I reject your sad dichotomy of parenthood. When my children were born, I felt a strong desire to “protect and provide” for them. I also felt an incredibly strong desire to “care for my children” and “to be in their presence as much as possible.” In fact, I would feel nothing but contempt for any father who didn’t feel those things about his children. Here’s the thing – when I was a stay at home dad, I was protecting and providing for my kids just as much as I do now when I am the primary wage-earner in our family. And I will always long to be with my kids and I have worked hard to maintain a schedule that allows me to stay home with my son a few mornings a week now that my daughter is in school

    And here’s the thing: as a man, my coworkers view this as admirable and positive. If I were a woman, there is strong evidence to suggest that they would, instead, view this as proof of my lack of interest in my academic career and I would likely be punished for it when it comes time for tenure review (and who knows, I might be myself!).

    It would be good if you could reach past your knee-jerk anti-feminist biases

    • http://www.theundergroundrailroad.ca/oneabolitionist/ Erin

      Well spoken. Thank you.

  • http://www.theundergroundrailroad.ca/oneabolitionist/ Erin

    Blaming feminism for it all? As soon as I read that, I tuned out. Not only are there prolific and variant forms of feminism (as there are in Christianity), but there are multiple reasons — acute and systemic — beyond feminism that contribute to the choices women make today. To clout all career-minded women towards being labelled as potential baby-killers is a low blow… very low.

    If you want to dialogue about these reasons or perhaps develop a more accurate definition of feminism before using it in the wrong way, I’d like to go further. Until then, this piece is misguided. It’s unfortunate… forms of feminism past and present have allowed mothers today to enjoy their children in ways not allowed even decades ago.

    Something that should be discussed, no?

  • Pam

    I note my long critique and account of being successfully raised by academic parents hasn’t been posted. I guess acknowledging my post would disprove your ‘feminism is always evil all the time’ line, though, so it’s hardly surprising you won’t publish it.

    • David French

      I don’t recall seeing that post, Pam. But since I never said anything negative about the child-rearing abilities of academic parents (my parents were academic parents) perhaps you posted it somewhere else?

      • Pam

        It is now published below, but I’d written this comment about 2 days after my original comment which hadn’t appeared by then. Apologies for assuming you’d deliberately ignored it, but it seemed unusual for it to take so long to get published – every other time I’ve written a comment somewhere and it hasn’t gone up in 2 days it’s because it’s been deleted. Maybe it’s unfair to assume that’s always the case, but I was just going on previous experience.
        I still stand by my argument that this post is incredibly rude towards working mothers, and that to imply that mothers who desire to work are somehow lesser women is utterly disgusting.

  • Outraged

    I’m appalled that you are posting this highly offensive article. Feminists do not try to shame other women. Shame on you.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com/ Nancy French

      So you are anti-shame or pro-shame?

  • Peter

    Well David, seems you have a tin ear or are just all about distorting reality in order to make a supposed point out of thin air. The point of the article from my read of it was that women should be able to care for their kids without their careers suffering, but it is common for employers to discount their value because they want to have or already have children.

    The last sentence of the article states the point rather clearly:

    “It is time for women to “lean in” and demand family policies that will at least give them a fighting chance to have both a successful career and babies.”

    In other words, you wasted your time distorting the point of the article in order to somehow criticize the straw women you peg as “feminists”.

    Bad job all around.

  • lauraleemoss

    Or, feminists want women to have the same rights as men. If a woman wants to work, she can. If she wants to stay home, she can. Every feminist I know believes women should be allowed choices, like their male counterparts. Why is that confusing?