The Student-Mom and the “Good Mother” Stereotype

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The words and phrases in the image above are not terms I prefer to start a blog post with. However, these words were used in a research study where a group of traditional community college and university students were questioned on their outlook of a mother who chose to return to school shortly after having her child (compared to one who dropped out after the birth of her child). The researchers believe that the student’s opinions derived from the “Good Mother” stereotype where a mother is seen as successful if she invests all of her time in her children by remaining home full-time – she is also known as the stay at home mom. I personally have nothing against staying at home full-time and I think that SAHM’s are strong, dedicated women. I have been a stay at home mom, and I respect those who are. But that doesn’t mean that mothers who don’t stay home full-time are any less dedicated,strong or worthy of respect! Being a good mother is something that can be defined by more than how often you are home with your children.

Today I am going to give you 5 attributes of a good mother, regardless if she is employed, in college or at home!

  1. Setting an example, being a role model. It doesn’t matter if this entails being a top-notch student, employee of the year or the mom with the most organized home. In each of these roles you have the opportunity to set an example for your child in a variety of ways.
  2. Giving hugs, love and more hugs. And some kisses too. Showing your children affection doesn’t have to be a 24/7 gig, but it is incredibly important to express your unconditional love to these tiny humans. Human touch is incredibly powerful and every mother and child benefits.
  3. Being a parent, not a friend. This advice was the very first advice I was given by my first mentor (before the birth of my oldest son). Being a parent to your child is so important for their personal development. You can be friends when they are grown. Stay at home moms, college moms and working mothers all have the ability to do this by setting boundaries and finding effective ways to discipline their children in a healthy way. I have yet to meet a mother who follows this advice and later regrets doing so! Your children need guidance not a gal-pal!
  4. Accepting imperfection — in yourself and your children. No one is perfect and you shouldn’t expect yourself to be. The same goes for your children — assuring them that everyone makes mistakes and teaching them to embrace their failures with their success is a good attribute to have as a mother.
  5. Creating a safe environment for your children. In each type of mother there is the ability to create safety and security. Children are resilient human beings, but creating a safe and nurturing environment is important. However, that environment comes in many forms. Getting your child from point a(birth) to point b(adulthood) in such a way that allows them to become independent, respectful, functioning members of society is do-able regardless if you are home all day or not.

The purpose of this post is to address the issue of defining a good mother. Being a “good” mother should not be categorized by one type of mother, but rather the role should be allowed to evolve in to what works best for each individual family. So college moms, do not think of yourself as any less of a mother because you aren’t there for every milestone. You are working hard to finish college and support your family  — be proud of what you are accomplishing!

 (Mottarella, Karen, Barbara Fritzsche, Shannon Whitten, and Davina Bedsole. 2009. “Exploration of “Good Mother” Stereotypes in the College Environment.” Sex Roles 60, no. 3/4: 223-231.Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed August 17, 2013).)

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