And please, please, please, don't let non-feminists tell you what feminists think. 100% of the people I've met who didn't like feminists had opinions about us based totally on what non-feminists had told them: we all think women are superior, families are oppressive, and men are evil. I ran across one stay-at-home mom recently (online) who said she felt she had to be an anti-feminist because we'd all think she was a victim of oppression because she chose to stay at home with her kids. This is exactly what every anti-feminist wants people like her to think. If you, as a woman, are not running for president, you've let us all down.
So just to bring light to the situation, here's what I, a feminist, think of stay at home moms.
If you can stay home and take care of your kids, that's great. It's very rewarding to be a mother. Part of what makes women great is the fact that we've raised so many kids.
There is an ongoing battle between psychologists about the emotional effects of motherhood. Women, we've found, need to grow and change and learn and find ourselves just like men. We cannot find fulfillment by living vicariously through our husbands and children, as psychologists suspected in the fifties. Read "The Feminine Mystique" if you doubt me. Yes, for the first few years being a wife and mother is interesting and engaging. But after the kids are in school and all we do is drive them to soccer practice, I think a woman should take some classes or do some voluteer work - use your mind for something.
I love and respect stay at home mothers. But I've known a few who had just quit using their brains after a few years, they were afraid that if they did anything outside the home, it'd take away from the "wife and mother" experience. I'd ask how they were doing, and they'd say, "Oh, Brad had the flu this week, but Janey made it to the spelling bee finals so we're all very proud!" No, I said you, how are you doing. They have no answer.
Some of the brattiest, most babied kids I ever babysat for had moms like this. Not that I want to stereotype, but I think when you're eight and your parent lives for no one but you, you perspective of the world is going to be different. When I look back at my own childhood, I don't remember the first few years of my life very well. I'm sure a lot of good things were started, but when I was old enough to start forming ideas (around six or seven) I was inspired by the people my parents were just as much as I was inspired by the relationship I had with them, if not more. Did it matter that they spent time with me, read to me, made me dinner? Of course. But at a young age I saw what they did outside... went to work, took college classes. I could see the adult I wanted to be and I learned what it would take to get there.
Another important aspect of the feminist movement is that there's more than one way to mother. Not every mom can stay home. We don't want them to feel like bad parents... they're doing their best. Some women may even chose to work, because it's where they feel comfortable. Daycare doesn't ruin children; there are millions of perfectly fine people out there to prove it. In some families, the dad stays home and the mom works. This is also good for kids. Men aren't incapable of raising children, in fact, there's been no scientific research shown that they're any worse than we are at it, just some fundamentalists pointing out biological features (men can't breastfeed, therefore they weren't meant to parent! even if breastfeeding ends after the fourth month of life! yeah sure whatever).
So I can't speak for all feminists, but I'm willing to bet that if I cross posted this and asked for some opinions, quite a few would agree with me. Women who want to be stay at home moms are wonderful, we just don't want them to feel like they have to abandon all identity they'd ever formed about themselves to do it. It's not good for them or the kids. And we don't want them to feel any differently about their families than men do... women should have no more or less responsibility for the future of America than men. Dr. Laura just wrote a book where she said that a work-a-holic dad was a good breadwinner, but a mom with a career was insensitive and had forgotten about her family. Wrong. Both sexes have an obligation to put family before careers. This doesn't mean giving up the careers, but it does mean working forty hour weeks and arranging schedules to see the ballet recital. Men and women.
Please don't let the right tell you that feminists have put all this pressure on women to leave their families at starbucks and ball-bust their way into successful careers. That's now what we're about at all, and we never want any woman to feel that way. Our message is this: your mind is important. Grow, learn, change, inspire and be inspired. It's okay... you'll still be a good mother.
It's just like how we tell high school girls that taking physics is cool. The enemies turn around and ask us why we're telling them not to take home ec. We're not, they can take physics and home ec if they want. The enemies turn around and ask us why we're forcing them to do it all and submit to so much pressure. How much pressure is it? We're talking about two forty-five minute classes... many have tried it, few died in the process.
It's not selfish to want to grow as a human being, it's healthy for you and your family. You can even stay home and do it. It's been done before.