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More and More Women Dropping Out of Work Force to Become Full- Time MomsAired May 11, 2000 - 2:42 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it is no secret more and more women are dropping out of the work force these days to be full-time parents. Our two guests did, before dropping back in with their new book entitled "And What Do You Do?"
Loretta Kaufman and Mary Quigley are the authors of this book, a new chapter for these former stay-at-home moms, and they join us from our New York bureau.
Thank you, ladies, for joining us.
LORETTA KAUFMAN, CO-AUTHOR, "AND WHAT DO YOU DO?": Thank you.
MARY QUIGLEY, CO-AUTHOR, "AND WHAT DO YOU DO?": Thank you.
ALLEN: Well, the title of your book, "And What Do You Do?: When Women Choose to Stay Home," kind of tells me that it's still difficult for women to make the decision to end their careers for now, Loretta?
KAUFMAN: Yes, that's very, very true. We identified a group of almost 8 million women who have chose to stay home and to be at-home- moms and another 5 million, and it was -- another 5 million that work part time -- excuse me -- and it was not an easy decision for them to make. These women are incredibly conflicted, but they have made a decision that we feel has to be validated and we try to celebrate it in this book.
ALLEN: And most of them are happy with their decisions?
QUIGLEY: Absolutely, there is a period where it takes a period of adjustment, but ultimately -- and that's what our book tells, people have been there, done that, made this transition, that they are happy. It gives them what we call inner peace and outer peace, control over their lives and a sense of fulfillment in all your roles as a woman, not just as a title on the door.
ALLEN: Well, you talk about validation, is part of the reason that you felt compelled to write a book entitled "And What Do You Do?" is because society isn't still where it needs to be in accepting women's choice to return to the home?
KAUFMAN: Yes, and that's exactly what we are saying. Women should have choice, and unfortunately there is still a stigma for these women who are staying at home and we feel that there are role models that are quite old. These are not some souped-up versions of June Cleaver. These are women that are out there doing incredible things in their community and in their family.
ALLEN: Why do you think it is that we still aren't there as a society? Why are women frowned upon, or if they're looked down upon, because they decide to dedicate themselves to their family first?
QUIGLEY: I think it's because women, you know, especially younger women have grown up with feminism as a mantra and they are told that work, that they will work, that they should succeed in work. But, motherhood, or parenthood, devoting yourselves to children is not touted as a career choice, as an admirable choice. A lot of people say it quietly, but it's not something that you read about in books or magazines and say, hey, this is a great choice to make.
ALLEN: One of your chapters is entitled "Unexpected Rewards From Choosing to Stay at Home." Share those with us.
KAUFMAN: Well, women are learning some wonderful things about themselves. This down time, what we call our down time is a period for women to discover things, new talents, new creative ideas.
We have found women that were CPAs that found out that they were really very artistic individuals and they used the time to develop new skills and perhaps even use those when they go back to the work force, and that is truly the point of our book. Many of these women take a down time knowing it's just a period of time in their life and they could have 20 years to return to either a new career or the career that they once had.
ALLEN: Was there a particular instance that caused you to write this book? Loretta, for you, was there a particular case in point in your own personal story of giving up a career?
KAUFMAN: Yes, there was. My husband was a corporate executive on a fast track and I just felt somebody had to be at mission control. And I did have part-time jobs while my children were growing up, but it wasn't really a career.
And it was at age 50 that I actually got a Master's in journalism and Mary Quigley was one of my journalism professors, though I admit I'm older than Mary is. And I have now had -- I am now taking my turn, and my husband is supporting me the same way that I supported him and I think that's terrific, and we met many women with similar stories.
ALLEN: And, Mary, what do you want -- if this is a support book in some respects for women who have chosen to put their career on the back burner, what's the main message that you have, or advice you have for them coming out of this book?
QUIGLEY: The main message is, do it, take -- you know, sit down, take a pen and pencil, figure out if you could do it economically and then prepare yourselves -- and emotionally it will be difficult, but ultimately, as we said, the unexpected pleasures -- there's a great joy. This is a one-time only offer to raise your kids, they grow up so quickly.
You take 10 years out, 15 years out, 45, 50, you can go back to work and still have a great time for a career ahead of you if that's what you choose. But we want -- we should celebrate this choice, especially with Mother's Day coming up, this is a choice that should be celebrated, not that should be politically incorrect.
ALLEN: And very quickly, how would you advise women who stay at home to answer the question, "and what do you do"?
KAUFMAN: We would like to hear them say that I'm a mother, I'm a wife, and I feel very comfortable in what I am doing.
ALLEN: Loretta Kaufman, Mary Quigley, the book is "And What Do You Do?," thanks for joining us.
QUIGLEY: Thank you, thank you.
KAUFMAN: Thank you very much.
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