Working Mother Guilt


Work, guilt, stress. Why does this afflict women more than men? One study says it’s because women are more likely to be the family caregiver, and they absorb the stress of those around them, and yet feel compelled to respond to every email, phone call, or message from work. The authors of this Canadian study conclude that women worry they will look less committed to work if they don’t maintain contact when out of the office.

Why are we so willing to put our peace of mind in the hands of others? The mothers and women I know give it all up at work, then come home and are endlessly available to their families. How can we possibly believe we aren’t doing enough? We talk about the “price of motherhood” usually in economic terms, the amount of lifetime earnings we forego by assuming the unpaid but economically essential work of manning (ha!) the homefront. It seems another “price of motherhood” is paid in guilt and stress and harm to our physical and mental health. Enough, already!!

‘Til next time,
Your (Wo)Man in Washington


  • LindaJ

    One source of guilt for mothers is the lack of good choices regarding working and care giving. If we cut back on paid work to handle home responsibilities we feel as if we've not done enough to support our families financially or we're not fully utilizing our professional expertise and risking derailing our careers. If we work as hard as we can for long hours or in two jobs to earn a sufficient salary we worry that we're not physically (and sometimes because of the stress even emotionally) available for those we're caring for when we want to be. If more women had the option of a flexible full-time work environment or a part-time option that provided proportional pay, benefits and advancement opportunities, the guilt would be drastically reduced.