Thank You, Fox News Host Megyn Kelly, for Defending Working Moms
Recently, the Pew Research Center released a study showing that mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. households with children under 18. As a single, working mother of a two-year-old, my initial response was to think, “Well, it’s nice to know I am not alone…”
There is something very comforting about shared experience, good, bad or indifferent.
For some women these numbers are a sign of our growing choices and opportunities, and for others it is reflective of the growing prevalence of homes headed by single mothers (63 percent of female breadwinners are single mothers). Very simply put, all working mothers do not look alike – obviously.
I recognize that the American family is undergoing a palpable change, and that the traditional structure of a mom who stays home, and a dad who works and supports the 2.5 kids, who ride their bikes to and from school and are home by supper, is not exactly the life that almost all of us are living.
There are certainly different stresses that come with that changing picture – financial, emotional and logistical. But different rarely equals bad in my book. So when a number of Fox News Channel and Fox Business News guests and hosts alike hopped on the “you are seeing systemically, larger than the political stories that we follow every day, something going terribly wrong in American society and it’s hurting our children” (thank you, Juan Williams, for that horribly misguided opinion), I chose to tune them out.
THEN, I came across a clip of Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who is obviously a working mother herself (and pregnant with her third child), discussing the criticism around the topic with Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs and the editor of a conservative blog, Erick Erickson (who had said earlier on Lou Dobbs' show, “When you look at biology, when you look at the natural world, the rules of a male and a female in society, and other animals, the male is typically the dominant role, the female…it's not antithesis, it's not competing, it’s a complimentary role”) – and I paused to watch.
Megyn Kelly did put aside the topic of single parents, because, as she put it, “There is more data that does support that children of single-parent families don’t fare as well” – which, by the way, I happen to attribute to lack of access to resources such as money and help with child care while working, not because of lack of love. But I recognize that this is complicated data with two key groups of women contributing to the numbers – single mothers, and mothers who earn more money than their husbands. She wanted to clearly focus on the latter group.
Kelly then went on to share data which supports the idea that children raised by mothers who work outside of the home have as good a chance at long-term success as those raised in families where Mom stays home and Dad works.
And she wasn’t put off by the disgustingly dismissive tone that Dobbs took with her when he referred to her as “Oh dominant one,” prompting a chuckle from Erickson (both the comment and the laughter is grossly infuriating) – while he tried to bring single-parent households into the focus of the conversation, instead of clearly talking about homes where women earn more than men.
Kelly pointed out that “children whose mothers work are no more likely to have any more problems than kids whose mothers stay at home” attributing it to a 2010 study by the American Psychological Association, which compiled data and reviewed 69 studies over 50 years of research.
I have to say, I was extremely impressed at her ability to stay focused and levelheaded during a conversation that she could have easily internalized, allowing it to get to her.
I am not sure I would have been able to maintain that level of decorum if I were in her shoes.