Who is better housewives or working women

"I see you everywhere. You are the doctor who treats my children when they are sick. You are my son's primary school teacher," wrote a housewife to a working mother. And further: "Some accuse you of loving your child less than mothers who stay at home. How can they say such a thing? I know that you love your child as much as any other mother does."

The sentences are from a blog post titled "A Letter From a Working Mother to a Stay-At-Home-Mother, and Vice Versa" by Australian doctor and blogger Carolyn Ee. Your article currently has over 600,000 Facebook likes. Ee has put together two fictional letters - one from the perspective of a working mother and a second from the perspective of a housewife, both of which are aimed at the representatives of the respective other life model. In the letters, the women tell each other that they know each other's worries and fears and that they value each other.

The working woman wrote to the housewife, among other things: "Many people wonder what you do at home all day. I know it. I know the challenges you face every day: the tantrums of the toddler, the bloated pants, the struggle About food, the sibling rivalry, the baby who won't stop crying. Some people don't understand that you work, that you just have an unpaid job at home. "

Often there is a lack of solidarity

Both letters end with the lines "I just wanted to tell you that I understand you. Because we are both mothers - Love from the trenches", which translates as: "Greetings from the other side of the trenches." Apparently, Carolyn Ee hit a nerve with her letters.

Housewives and working mothers are often said to be competitive. Every working mother knows the skeptical looks of full-time mothers when she does not bring home-baked, but only a bought cake to children's birthdays or day-care parties. "Mothers, your enemy is female" is the title of a book by journalist Cornelie Kister, in which she describes unnecessary competition between women and wants to call on them to show solidarity. The mother of four has seen this struggle herself many times.

As soon as mothers talk about childcare and their own job, normal conversation is no longer possible, according to Kister. "Then we instinctively go on alert and sharpen the knives, for targeted attack or furious defense," she wrote in a 2011 article for the SZ magazine. Kister believes that women are particularly sensitive to this topic, since every life plan is the result of nerve-wracking discussions with the partner, the children and the employer.

Gainful employment is considered higher

"Mothers are under pressure because they perceive work and family as two separate areas in which they want to function equally perfectly," says Corinna Onnen, who is a professor of family sociology at the University of Vechta. At the same time, housewives in our society have an image problem. This is also due to the fact that working women now enjoy a higher reputation. "Paid work is considered the ultimate," says genealogist Onnen. Many women would no longer ask themselves whether they could reconcile their family with a job, but whether their job would allow a family. At the same time, many ignore the fact that small children are difficult to subordinate to a regular working day.

Sociologists refer to this development as the economization of society. This stresses both working mothers and mothers who look after the children all day equally. Working mothers often worry that they don't have enough time for their children. At the same time, women who devote their entire life to their families have to justify themselves much more often than those who work. In order to legitimize their life model, many housewives would put themselves under pressure, says the family sociologist. "For example, by demanding that you fulfill your role as educator, cook, housewife and wife particularly well."

Mothers share many challenges

Full-time mothers are now also in the minority. A 2011 survey by the Federal Statistical Office showed that two out of three mothers work. Most of the time, the children don't seem to care much about their parents' work - on the contrary. As part of the 2010 children's study, 2,500 six to eleven year olds were asked whether they were bothered when both parents were working. Most thought it was perfectly fine.

Gender researcher Christine Eifler from the University of Bremen is convinced that the discussion about an alleged competition between working mothers and housewives distracts from the real problems. In their opinion, most women would not decide for or against gainful employment for ideological reasons. Rather, this decision depends on many factors, for example the child-friendliness of the environment, the professional situation of the partner or other family and social reasons.

As it becomes clear in the letters of blogger Carolyn Ee, most mothers face similar challenges, regardless of whether they are employed or not: "They want to lead a good life with their children, they want to raise them well, emotionally and financially offer everything they need, "says gender researcher Eifler. That is much more important than the question of what the neighbor does differently.