Today's question: Recently, a small town Arkansas church closed down its child care center, saying that working mothers "neglect their children, damage their marriages and set a bad example." Was the church's decision right? What's a mother to do?"
Louke Vanwenszeen Siker
Assistant professor of theological ethics, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles
"As a divorced and working mother, I appreciate this church's concern for the well-being of children and for the integrity of marriage and personal character. Economic forces and the requirements of the workplace are often not people-friendly. However, closing down a child care center strikes me as an unfortunate way to express concern. I feel for the affected children, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and neighbors. I especially feel for those working mothers in Arkansas, who have now inherited all three curses of the Fall: the pain of childbearing (and rearing), the toil of work, and the humiliation of being made to look like devils. This does not sound like Good News [the Gospel] to me."
The Rev. Ignacio Castuera
Pastor, North Glendale United Methodist Church
"It is inconceivable that any organization would believe that poor, unemployed, frustrated women can nurture their children better than loving, caring, trained and committed personnel in child care agencies. Churches need to learn more about the realities of an economic system that has pushed families to have both parents working just to make ends meet instead of insisting on imposing some idealized family structure that in fact only rarely has been successfully implemented in any culture. Women need to know that religious organizations care enough to understand the real forces that impinge on them and their families and that those organizations will garner their resources to support them."
Executive director, Resources for Independent Thinking, Oakland
"As a social psychologist, I'm well aware that people twist reality into tortuous knots to fit their ideologies and psychological needs. This is just one more ludicrous example. Social science studies absolutely contradict these claims. Children are not damaged by 'working mothers.' They can be harmed by parents who neglect and abuse them but this is not correlated with working mothers; if anything, it's the opposite. Two incomes are often necessary for a decent standard of living. Poverty is far more problematical than mothers who work. What a mother--and a father--are to do is give their children unconditional love and teach them compassionate values. That's what children need, not authoritarian dictates of irrational people."