The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This stunning read addresses the harsh reality of a society that, while glorifying motherhood in theory, relegates mothers to second-class status. In fact, the author identifies motherhood as the "single biggest risk factor for poverty in old age," a chilling assertion. With a mix of outrage and sensibility, Crittenden pinpoints the failings of society toward mothers and offers suggestions for improved treatment of this marginalized sector.
Paul Starr
. . . challenges the received ideas of economists, feminists and conservatives alike and ought to be read by all of them. —The New York Times Book Review
Ben Dickinson
A bracing call to arms . . . a mind-blowingly sensible alteration of America's present parenting arrangements. —Elle
Susan Straight
Fascinating . . . shows how women have been consistently denied social and, more importantly, monetary equality for raising their families. —Los Angeles Times
Megan Rutherford
A scathing indictment of policies that cheat mothers . . . Crittenden turns out a fresh, persuasive argument. Sure to inspire vigorous debate. —Time
Paul Starr
Written with a fine passion and at times a biting wit, it challenges the received ideas of economists, feminists and conservatives alike . . . As informative and engaging in its details as it is compelling in its overall argument.
New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Americans extol motherhood as "the most important job in the world," yet when couples divorce, mothers' and their children's standards of living usually decline precipitously, while fathers' rise. Crittenden, a former economics reporter for the New York Times, lays out the going rate for a woman's time: "$150 an hour or more as a professional, $50 an hour or more in some businesses, $15 an hour or so as a teacher, $5 to $8 an hour as a day-care worker and zero as a mother." Mothers (whose labor is not calculated in any official economic index) have no unemployment insurance to tide them over after divorce, no workers' compensation if they're injured and no Social Security benefits for the work they do, although a housekeeper or nanny paid for the same work would earn such benefits. In a breezy, journalistic style, Crittenden chronicles how the Industrial Revolution created the idea of the "unproductive housewife," how this concept penalizes women after divorce and how tax policies encourage mothers to quit work. Crittenden proposes several remedies, some available in most industrialized countries (paid maternity leave, flexible work hours for parents, universal preschool, free health coverage for children) and others seemingly utopian (Social Security credits for mothering, remedying the tax bias against married working mothers). This thoroughly documented and incisive book is must reading for women contemplating parenthood or divorce, and could prove an organizing tool for women's organizations. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Crittenden (Killing the Sacred Cows: Bold Ideas for a New Economy) draws upon hundreds of interviews to illustrate the irony of American society's praise of the "profession" of maternal love/care while undervaluing and exploiting mothers. Even as late as 1995, "married working mothers in the United States with children earned half of what their husbands earned." These economic dependents have been paying the dreaded "mommy tax": lost income (more than $1 million) owing to the "wages foregone by the primary parent." Obviously, well-educated, high-income individuals are the most severely penalized. This exemplary book covers the economic myths of motherhood through the stark testimonies of childcare hardships and financial inequality in marriage: "The pay $580 a month was barely enough to cover the bills for a family of four, but not enough for decent day care .Her ex-husband never paid a nickel in child support." A wonderful resource for students of economics, women's studies, politics, and for parents-to-be, this book should be a wake-up call to America. Kay Meredith Dusheck, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
“A landmark book.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Powerful and important . . . Written with a fine passion, The Price of Motherhood challenges the received ideas of economists, feminists, and conservatives alike and ought to be read by all of them.” —The New York Times Book Review

“A scathing indictment of policies that cheat mothers . . . Crittenden turns out a fresh, persuasive argument. Sure to inspire vigorous debate.” Megan Rutherford, Time

“Fascinating . . . shows how women have been consistently denied social and, more important, monetary equality for raising their families.” Susan Straight, Los Angeles Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805066180
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/1901
  • Series: Family/Parenting
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.24 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.24 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Crittenden is the author of Killing the Sacred Cows: Bold Ideas for a New Economy. A former reporter for The New York Times and a Pulitzer Prize nominee, she has also been a reporter for Fortune, a financial writer for Newsweek, a visiting lecturer at M.I.T. and Yale, and an economics commentator for CBS News. Her articles have appeared in The Nation, Foreign Affairs, McCall's, and Working Woman, among others. She lives with her husband and son in Washington, D.C.
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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

The good mother, the wise mother...is more important to the community than even the ablest man; her career is more worthy of honor and is more useful to the community than the career of any man, no matter how successful.
Theodore Roosevelt

When my son was small, we loved to read The Giving Tree, a book about a tree that gave a little boy his apples to eat, branches to climb, and shade to sleep under. This made them both happy. As the boy grew into a man, the tree gave him her apples to sell money, then her branches to build a house, and finally her trunk to make a boat. When the boy became a tired old man, the tree, by now nothing but a stump, offered him all she had left to sit on and rest. I would read the last line, "And the tree was happy." with tears flowing down my cheeks every time.

The very definition of a mother is selfless service to another. We don't owe Mother for her gifts; she owes us. And in return for her bounty, Mother receives no lack of veneration. According to an ancient Jewish proverb, "God could not be everywhere, and therefore He made mothers." The Arabs also have a saying: "The mother is a school; if she is well reared, you are sure to build a nation."

In the United States, motherhood is as American as apple pie. No institution is more sacrosanct; no figure is praised more fulsomely. Maternal selflessness has endowed mothers with a unique moral authority, which in the past has been used to promote temperance, maternal and child health, kindergartens, a more lenient juvenile justice system, and most recently to combat drunk driving and lax gun controls.

If anything, awareness of the importance of mothers' work is increasing. In 1996 Microsoft founder Bill Gates and executive vice president Steve Ballmer gave Harvard University a $29-million state-of-the-art facility for computer science and electrical engineering. The new building was named Maxwell Dworkin, in honor of their mothers' maiden names. This may have been the first such recognition given to mothers' role in the creation of vast fortunes and an entire new industry.

When I was on a radio talk show in 1998, several listeners called in to say that child-rearing is the most important job in the world. A few weeks later, at a party, Lawrence H. Summers, a distinguished economist who subsequently became the secretary of the treasury, used exactly the same phrase. "Raising children," Summers told me in all seriousness, "is the most important job in the world." As Summers well knows, in the modern economy, two-thirds of all wealth is created by human skills, creativity, and enterprise — what is known as "human capital." And that means parents who are conscientiously and effectively rearing children are literally, in the words of economist Shirley Burggraf, "the major wealth producers in our economy."

But this very material contribution is still considered immaterial. All of the lip service to motherhood still floats in the air, as insubstantial as clouds of angel dust. On the ground, where mothers live, the lack of respect and tangible recognition is still part of every mother's experience. Most people, like infants in a crib, take female caregiving utterly for granted.

The job of making a home for a child and developing his or her capabilities is often equated with "doing nothing." Thus the disdainful question frequently asked about mothers at home: "What do they do all day?" I'll never forget a dinner at the end of a day in which I had gotten my son dressed and fed and off to nursery school, dealt with a plumber about a leaky shower, paid the bills, finished an op-ed piece, picked up and escorted my son to a reading group at the library, run several miscellaneous errands, and put in an hour on a future book project. Over drinks that evening, a childless female friend commented that "of all the couples we know, you're the only wife who doesn't work."

Maxine Ross, a stay-at-home mother in Fairfax, Virginia, admitted to me that before she had her child, she too felt nothing but scorn for mothers at home: "We used to live in a four-family co-op, and two of the other women stayed at home with their children. One of them got a cleaning lady and I thought, 'Do you believe that? She has so much time, and she doesn't even clean her own house! What does she do all day, watch soap operas?'"

Even our children have absorbed the cultural message that mothers have no stature. A friend of mine gave up a job she loved as the head of a publishing house in order to raise her daughter. One day, when she corrected the girl, the child snapped, "Why should I listen to you? You're just a housewife!"

In my childless youth I shared these attitudes. In the early 1970s I wrote an article for the very first issue of MS magazine on the economic value of a housewife. I added up all the domestic chores, attached dollar values to each, and concluded that the job was seriously underpaid and ought to be included in the Gross National Product. I thought I was being sympathetic, but I realize now that my deeper attitude was one of compassionate contempt, or perhaps contemptuous compassion. Deep down, I had no doubt that I was superior, in my midtown office over-looking Madison Avenue, to those unpaid housewives pushing brooms. "Why aren't they making something of themselves?" I wondered. "What's wrong with them? They're letting our side down."

I imagined that domestic drudgery was going to be swept into the dustbin of history as men and women linked arms and marched off to run the world in a new egalitarian alliance. It never occurred to me that women might be at home because there were children there; that housewives might become extinct, but mothers and fathers never would.

A mother's work is not just invisible; it can become a handicap. Raising children may be the most important job in the world, but you can't put it on a résumé.

A woman from Long Island, New York, with a master's degree in special education was advised repeatedly that when she went job hunting she should not mention her thirteen years of caring for a disabled, chronically ill child. All those years of courageous tenacity and resilience would be held against her or, at best, considered irrelevant. She was warned that she had better pad her résumé with descriptions of volunteer work and occasional freelance writing.

The idea that time spent with one's child is time wasted is embedded in traditional economic thinking. People who are not formally employed may create human capital, but they themselves are said to suffer a deterioration of the stuff, as if they were so many pieces of equipment left out to rust. The extraordinary talents required to do the long-term work of building human character and instilling in young children the ability and desire to learn have no place in the economists' calculations. Economic theory has nothing to say about the acquisition of skills by those who work with children; presumably there are none.

Here is how economists have summed up the adverse effects of child-rearing on a person's qualifications: "As a woman does not work [sic] during certain periods, less working experience is accumulated. [Moreover] during periods of non-participation, the human capital stock suffers from additional depreciation due to a lack of maintenance. This effect is known as atrophy." In fact, the only things that atrophy when a woman has children are her income and her leisure. The devaluation of mothers' work permeates virtually every major institution. Not only is caregiving not rewarded, it is penalized. These stories illustrate the point:

Joanna Upton, a single mother working as a store manager in Massachusetts, sued the company for wrongful dismissal after it fired her for refusing to work overtime — until nine or ten at night and all day Saturday. Upton had been hired to work 8:15 A.M. until 5:30 P.M.; she could not adequately care for or barely even see her son if she had to work overtime. Yet she lost her suit. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that under state contract law, an at-will employee may be fired "for any reason or for no reason at all" unless the firing violates a "clearly established" public policy. Massachusetts had no public policy dealing with a parent's responsibility to care for his or her child.

A woman in Texas gave up a fifteen-year career in banking to raise two children. Her husband worked extremely long hours and spent much of his time on the road. She realized that only if she left her own demanding job would the child have the parental time and attention he needed. For almost two decades she worked part-time as a consultant from her home, and for several years she had little or no income. Recently the Social Security Administration sent her an estimate of her retirement income — a statement that was full of zeroes for the years spent caregiving. Social Security confirmed that her decision to be the responsible, primary parent had reduced the government pension by hundreds of dollars a month in retirement income.

A mother in Maryland had a son who had been a problem child ever since kindergarten. At junior high, the boy was suspended several times; he was finally caught with a gun in his backpack and expelled. The boy's father sued for custody, and the mother countered with a request for more child support, to help pay the $10,000 tuition for a special private school. She also quit her full-time job to have more time for her family. At his new school, the boy showed dramatic improvement both in his academic work and in his behavior. When the case came to court, the father was denied custody, but the judge refused to require him to pay half the costs of the boy's rehabilitation, including therapy and tutoring, despite evidence that the father could afford to do so. A mother who did not work full-time was, in the judge's view, a luxury that "our world does not permit." So the mother was in effect penalized for having tried to be a more attentive mother, and the boy was forced to leave the only school in which he had enjoyed any success.

As these examples reveal the United States is a society at war with itself. The policies of American business, government, and the law do not reflect Americans' stated values. Across the board, individuals who assume the role of nurturer are punished and discouraged from performing the very tasks that everyone agrees are essential. We talk endlessly about the importance of family, yet the work it takes to make a family is utterly disregarded. This contradiction can be found in every corner of our society.

First, inflexible workplaces guarantee that many women will have to cut back on, if not quit, their employment once they have children. The result is a loss of income that produces a bigger wage gap between mothers and childless women than the wage gap between young men and women. This forgone income, the equivalent of a huge "mommy tax," is typically more than $1 million for a college-educated American woman.

Second, marriage is still not an equal financial partnership. Mothers in forty-seven of the fifty states — California, Louisiana, and New Mexico are the exceptions — do not have an unequivocal legal right to half of the family's assets. Nor does a mother's unpaid work entitle her to any ownership of the primary breadwinner's income — either during marriage or after a divorce. Family income belongs solely to "he who earns it," in the phrase coined by legal scholar Joan Williams. A married mother is a "dependent," and a divorced mother is "given" what a judge decides she and the children "need" of the father's future income. As a result, the spouse who principally cares for the children — and the children — are almost invariably worse off financially after divorce than the spouse who devotes all his energies to a career.

Third, government social policies don't even define unpaid care of family dependents as work. A family's primary caregiver is not considered a full productive citizen, eligible in her own right for the major social insurance programs. Nannies earn Social Security credits; mothers at home do not. Unless she is otherwise "employed," the primary parent is not entitled to unemployment insurance or workman's compensation. The only safety net for a caregiver who loses her source of support is welfare, and even that is no longer assured.

For all these reasons, motherhood is the single biggest risk factor for poverty in old age. American mothers have smaller pensions than either men or childless women, and American women over sixty-five are more than twice as likely to be poor as men of the same age.

The devaluation of a mother's work extends to those who do similar work for pay. Even college-educated teachers of infants are often characterized as "baby-sitters," and wages for child care are so low that the field is hemorrhaging its best-trained people. Increasingly, day care is being provided by an inexperienced workforce — what one expert calls "Kentucky Fried Day Care"— while highly trained Mary Poppins-style nannies are officially classified as "unskilled labor," and as such largely barred from entry into the United States.

The cumulative effect of these policies is a heavy financial penalty on anyone who chooses to spend any serious amount of time with children. This is the hard truth that lies beneath all of the flowery tributes to Mom. American mothers may have their day, but for the rest of the year their values, their preferences, and their devotion to their children are shortchanged. As the twenty-first century begins, women may be approaching equality, but mothers are still far behind. Changing the status of mothers, by gaining real recognition for their work, is the great unfinished business of the women's movement.

But revaluing motherhood will not be easy. Even feminists are often reluctant to admit that many women's lives revolve around their children. They measure progress by the distance women have traveled from Kinder and Küche, and worry that if child-rearing is made a more tempting choice, many women — those natural nurturers — will drift back into domestic subservience. They fear that if women are seen to be mothers first, the very real gains that women have made in the workplace could be jeopardized.

Thus the standard feminist response to the fact that child-rearing marginalizes women is not to raise its status but to urge men to do more of it. Though this has been the cry for more than thirty years, almost 100 percent of the primary caregivers of young children are still women. This suggests that feminism needs a fresh strategy.

Conservatives, for their part, are not willing to put their money where their mouths are. Their eyes grow moist over family values, but they are loath to put any tangible value on the work that a family entails. They cling to the conviction that the only "good" mother is the self-sacrificing, saintly figure who performs the moral, caring work of society at the expense of her own equality and aspirations.

Social conservatives often expect daughters but not sons to renounce ambition and serve their families without compensation. They preach early marriage and childbearing, without warning young women that this increases their chances of divorce and lowers their lifetime income. They embrace an economy that relies on free or badly paid female labor, and then wonder why women express frustration with their lot. As Burggraf has so perceptively noted, "Getting 'women's work' done when women are no longer volunteering their unpaid or underpaid labor is what much of the public discussion of family values is really about."

It is true, of course, that caring for one's child is not a job that anyone does for the sake of remuneration. As The Giving Tree implies, raising a child is much more like a gift; a gift motivated by maternal love, the most unselfish emotion in the human repertoire. How can one be paid for a labor of love? The very idea seems emotionally askew, foreign to the essence of care. But just because caring work is not self-seeking doesn't mean a person should be penalized for doing it. Just because giving to one's child is altruistic doesn't mean that it isn't also a difficult, time-consuming obligation that is expected of one sex and not the other. The gift of care can be both selfless and exploited. As Balzac so memorably put it, "Maternal love makes of every woman a slave."

Every now and then, someone calculates what a family would have to pay for a mother's services. In one such exercise, a mother's worth was estimated at $508,700 per year in wages alone, not counting retirement, health, and other benefits. This astronomical sum was arrived at by adding up the median annual salaries of the seventeen occupations a mother is expected to perform, from child-rearing, cooking, and cleaning to managing household finances and resolving family emotional problems. A more realistic assessment would probably value a mother's work at the level of a middle manager, plus the additional occasional services of a psychologist, a financial planner, a chauffeur, and so on. This package could easily add up to $100,000 a year — or $100,000 a year more than a mother is paid.

"No one's crazy enough to work for free but moms," says Ric Edelman, whose firm, Edelman Financial Services, made the $500,000 calculation." And no one has enough money to hire a good mom . . . . From that perspective our mothers are indeed priceless."

Unpaid female caregiving is not only the life blood of families, it is the very heart of the economy. A spate of new studies reveals that the amount of work involved in unpaid child care is far greater than economists ever imagined. Indeed, it rivals in size the largest industries of the visible economy. By some estimates, even in the most industrialized countries the total hours spent on unpaid household work — much of it associated with child-rearing — amount to at least half of the hours of paid work in the market. Up to 80 percent of this unpaid labor is contributed by women.

This huge gift of unreimbursed time and labor explains, in a nutshell, why adult women are so much poorer than men — even though they work longer hours than men in almost every country in the world. One popular economics textbook devotes four pages to problems of poverty without once mentioning the fact that the majority of poor people are women and children. The author never considers that this poverty might be related to the fact that half the human race isn't paid for most of the work it does.

In economics, a "free rider" is someone who benefits from a good without contributing to its provision: in other words, someone who gets something for nothing. By that definition, both the family and the economy are classic examples of free riding. Both are dependent on female caregivers who offer their labor in return for little or no compensation.

*Endnotes were omitted.

Copyright © 2001 Ann Crittenden

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Table of Contents

Introduction ..... 1
1: Where We Are Now ..... 13
2: A Conspiracy of Silence ..... 28
3: How Mothers' Work Was "Disappeared": The Invention of the Unproductive Housewife ..... 45
4: The Truly Invisible Hand ..... 65
5: The Mommy Tax ..... 87
6: The Dark Little Secret of Family Life ..... 110
7: What Is a Wife Worth? ..... 131
8: Who Really Owns the Family Wage? ..... 149
9: Who Pays for the Kids? ..... 162
10: The Welfare State Versus a Caring State ..... 186
11: The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love ..... 202
12: An Accident Waiting to Happen ..... 218
13: "It Was Her Choice" ..... 233
Conclusion: How to Bring Children Up Without Putting Women Down 256 Notes ..... 275
Acknowledgments ..... 305
Index ..... 309
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Reading Group Guide

About this Guide

The following author biography and list of questions about The Price of Motherhood are intended as resources to aid individual readers and book groups who would like to learn more about the author and this book. We hope that this guide will provide you a starting place for discussion, and suggest a variety of perspectives from which you might approach The Price of Motherhood.

About the Book

In the pathbreaking tradition of Backlash and The Second Shift, this provocative book shows how mothers are systematically disadvantaged and made dependent by a society that exploits those who perform its most critical work. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and research in economics, history, child development, and law, Ann Crittenden proves definitively that although women have been liberated, mothers have not.

Bold, galvanizing, and full of innovative solutions, The Price of Motherhood was listed by the Chicago Tribune as one of the Top Ten Feminist Literary Works since the publication of Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique. This "bracing call to arms" (Elle) offers a much-needed accounting of the price that mothers pay for performing the most important job in the world.

About the Author

Ann Crittenden is the author of Killing the Sacred Cows: Bold Ideas for a New Economy. A former reporter for The New York Times and a Pulitzer Prize nominee, she has also been a financial writer for Newsweek, a visiting lecturer at M.I.T. and Yale, and an economics commentator on CBS News. Her articles have appeared in Fortune, The Nation, Foreign Affairs, McCalls, and Working Woman, among others. She lives with her husband and son in Washington, D.C.

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2001

    A new way to encourage divorce

    In short, Ann Crittenden's new book encourages divorce and therefore female poverty by arguing for more gov't action and programs to support single female parents. She makes the very old fashioned socialist argument that since women do such important unpaid work,i.e, raise society's children, then society should recognize the value of that work and support women financially or doing it. But, the divorce rate has shot up from near 0 in 1960 to 50% today, not by bad luck or pure chance, but precisely because we have already supported divorce too much. We have insured that most kids in America now come from confusingly tragic broken homes wherein the mother (the plaintiff in most divorce cases) decides she no longer loves the father she chose for her children. If kids suffer from divorce; if nearly 100% of men in jail were raised in broken homes by single mothers, why on earth would we want to further encourage even more single motherhood? Since 1960 we have had male bashing feminism, welfare, Medicaid, WIC, section 8, child support, alimony, no fault divorce, and exclusive female child custody, all of which have encouraged women toward our 50% divorce rate. We have encouraged hate, rather than love, as an environment for our children and quite simply we should stop. The best book I know about how to encourage familial love in today's complex environment is: The 91% Factor. The Mars/Venus books are also good and groundbreaking in that they encourage us to use the differences between husbands and wives to strengthen our families rather than weaken them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2001

    Wake Up U.S.

    This is what is wrong with our world today. No one has their priorities prioiritized. People have children and pay others to raise them because they claim they cannot afford to do it themselves. I left my career to have children and to devote myself (fully) to this and I now I will suffer with the consequences later BUT I will also, some day be rewarded. Not with money but in other ways that money could not reward! The government needs to 'Wake Up' and realize this IS the most important fact for the future of our children and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! The government needs to look at other countries laws and rights on childbearing. (example, Canada & Netherlands) This book says it all to a tee!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2001

    Whiny?? Try A Long Overdue Dose of Reality!!

    This book goes right to the heart of the deliberate and systematic use of motherhood to keep women economically dependent and, therefore, unable to support themselves if need be. I love the women who say money and motherhood should not be spoken of togther...oh fools, oh naive little fools...what the heck do you think PAYS for all of the things you and your kids have???? By all means read this book and get your head OUT of the sand..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2001

    Universal preschool?

    I loved the idea of Social Security Benefits for SAHM's. I watched my mother struggle for the last 14 years on a fixed income after my father passed on. She had no skills and had to drop her health insurance. She become ill in her 60's and the hospital took everything she had. She was a devoted SAHM. I am also a SAHM who wishes society would respect that choice. But I am taking care of my future. I am going back to school part-time and hope to one day become a teacher. When my children are in school, I will be also. But for now no one can do the job I am doing to raise my child. Universal Preschool? My child is in two day preschool and it costs only 50 dollars a month. What this socity wants to do is institutionalize children at an earlier age in the name of 'Education' but it is really for the working mothers who do not want to pay for child care. Head Start is a government program that all poor children can attend and 50 dollars a month is not much to pay for early education. Are we really talking about Universal Government subsidized 'Day Care' fulltime 40 or 50 ours a week between the ages of three and five? Who will pay for that? We all will in the form of taxes? Government programs are not 'free'. Working moms will still have to pay for child care and the husbands of SAHM's will be paying for some elses kid to go to preschool or day care. Think about that! We moms do pay a price but often it is up to each of us individualy to form our own destiny. Yes it is outdated to think that that you will always have someone taking care of you. Take control of your own life. Keep your skills up and think about returning to work after your children are in school all day.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2001

    Bravo!

    Just finished 'The Price of Motherhood.' It is the kind of book that puts names, places and numbers on things that we have always known, but need to know better. At the same time it opened my eyes to ways in which my thinking contributed to everything from the poverty of children to the 'glass ceiling' still experienced by half of society. If every woman and open-minded man read this book, we could change the world for our sons, daughters and their children. Profoundly disturbing, for me it puts together studies I have read on fathers, teen violence, children's poverty as well as the many discussions I have had with friends about why women seem to be striving for something more even when we seem to have it all. I think it also addresses the male backlash against what both sexes feel are unfair divorce and child custody laws. Societies have choices and we have consistently chosen to turn our backs on our children, apparently in an attempt to spite women. Other cultures do it differently and by implication Crittenden shows how to involved both men and women more in raising our children, to the profound benefit of all three. Her research in how other cultures address childcare and 'feminine' issues is concrete, understandable and broken down into legislatable proposals, if we have the will. The argument, as always, would be 'How can we afford it?' The standard social answer, 'How can we not?' always falls short of cash. So, let's look at the numbers one, oversimplified way. Four teens were recently arrested in Las Vegas for beating a homeless man to death. The district attorney has decided to prosecute them as adults -- the current trend in dealing with juvenile offenders who commit murder. Assume they are convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, which is very likely because of the brutality of the crime. Concervately, it costs about $36,000 per year to keep a prisoner. Again, conservatively, they average 40 years before they die (none of them will have reached 60) costing $144,000 per year to total $5,760,000 over their lifetime incarcerations. But that isnt' the only cost. Given an alternative scenario they would have each earned approximately $1 million over their lifetime, paying $300,000 in taxes over their lives. $300,000 x 4 = $1,200,000 plus the cost of their incarceration = $6,960,000 to society for these four boys. Just as you can't compare apples with oranges, you can't compare social costs with real money. But you can compare real money with real money. I think we have to start fighting the radical right on social justice issues the same way, comparing real costs to real costs. Police organizations across the country have stated that providing safe, productive, interesting places for children and teens to go is more important than increasing the number of police. They know that increasing the amount of adult and parental time spent with children is the most cost effective way of reducing crime and teen violence. Unions need to bargain for flexible schedules and part time work paid at the same rates and with the same benefits of those doing the same work full time, so that both parents can increase the time spent with their children. Businesses need to learn that the opportunity costs of losing top level executives to excessively demanding schedules are greater than the costs of accomodating employee's family needs. I am recommending this book to every person I care about. Crittenden provides us with the first round of ammunition to use in the fight to improve the lives of our children, our spouses and ourselves. I think this book is that important and would love to hear your thoughts on her work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2001

    Motherhood has a price

    I thought the book was priceless.... A reality check for all parents.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2001

    Too much whine

    Too much whine with this author can make anyone shut the book rather quickly. The woman is very hung up on money vs. motherhood. Hello - there is no correlation in today's society nor in the previous past years to this choice and should not be expected. If you have chosen to stay home and raise your children, do it and be happy with the acceptable terms upon which a sahm (stay at home mom) endures. The New York Times and others who have given this a high recommendation are strange to say the least; but par for the course. Too much whine and a lot more action towards positive thoughts is what poor little Ann needs to act upon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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