The question recently posed to me by ABC’s Good Morning America, as a marriage and family therapist and expert in mental health and wellness includes; is it acceptable for working mothers to take time away from their family for themselves? Specifically, is it healthy for the woman, the children, the spouse, the family? Working mothers who choose to take time away from their children and their husband to be with their friends- is that okay? What about women who leave their husband and children and travel to work outside of the home – is that okay? Provided below are my talking points to consider that answer these very questions.
- The go-go woman; that is the woman who go go goes. What is she doing you ask- what is the go-go? Answer: she does her best to balance all the many hats she wears, as she is a go-go woman. Specifically, she is attentive to her spouse, involved as a parent, attends to household chores, works outside of the home bringing in income – this is the go-go woman. A woman who is a parent, a spouse, does chores, and works outside of the home- certainly it is helpful for her mental health and wellness to take time to stop going and take time for herself. The relationship one has with one’s self is a special and important relationship.
- Giving one’s self the gift of taking time for one’s self results in the positive outcome of rejuvenation of self and spirit. It also results in a further appreciation of one’s life, of all that one has (e.g., family, job).
- Self time away from family in moderation is important. Being away too often, out of town too often, has the potential to leave children feeling unimportant, and leaves one’s spouse feeling a lack of priority. As a mother, as a wife, one must be mindful of the voice of your family- your children and your spouse, as well as your own voice. As each of their voices matters, yours and theirs.
- Taking time away from one’s family also has value for the family. It is healthy for individuation and independent experiences to occur while mommy/wife-y is away. The bonding and relationship connection is special between children and father. The dynamic between parent and child is different when mommy or daddy is away. Healthy attachments and healthy interactions are special while mommy is home as well as while mommy is away.
- Women often feel the guilt-ies when they leave their family whether it is to go out of town for work, or go out for a few hours with gal pals. Know that as a psychotherapist I support and agree with the concept of time away from the family for work and/or for self- if in moderation where and when appropriate. Know your children, know your spouse, and know yourself- this will help you evaluate what the healthy amount is for time away from them. Continue to evaluate and re-evaluate each step along the way to pace this process wisely.
- Interesting topic, as certainly we would not be discussing this as even a topic of interest, if the gender was reversed. For many years this conversation was not in question when roles were indeed reversed.
- Male or female my philosophy holds true for each. Specifically, a 2 person household is a concept that I believe in and is ideal. So if one parent (mother or father), if one spouse (man or woman) is far too often missing in action, that is not healthy for the growth of the family dynamic. It is up to each family to evaluate what that means for them. Personalities of each family member, age of the children, purpose of why one is away from one’s family, communication patterns between mother and children, father and children, and husband and wife while away – these are all relevant factors that lead to an outcome of health and wellness for all or in contrast hurt and emotional pain.