By Bonnie Andrews
Surprisingly, mothers who stay at home to raise their children are the greatest human wealth producers in the nation, said a visiting economic journalist and author.
“It”s called human capital,” said Ann Crittenden, a Kimball Visiting Scholar, during her lectures at BYU. “Roughly 60 percent of all national wealth comes from skilled humans. More than water, more than other natural resources, more than physical capital and more than computers.”
Good mothers and caretakers are the reason there are competent people to create human capital, but mothers are not always recognized and respected, Crittenden said.
In her lectures, Crittenden said that government benefits for a mother, as a homemaker, are almost non-existent and the little that mothers do receive, usually through welfare, reflects little government respect and devalued social standing.
The irony of the situation is that a mother receives substantial government benefits and compensation if she is employed outside the home and daily leaves her children to be taken care of by a professional caregiver, Crittenden said.
The bottom-line is that mothers are not getting the respect and recognition their work deserves, Crittenden said.
Crittenden said she doesn”t consider herself a religious person. “I think I am more like a European,” she said. “I don”t belong to any single organized church. I am a community-oriented person.”
Although Crittenden may not be religious, the values and principles she sets forth in her best-seller book “The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued” are similar to the values of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Some Latter-day Saint students who attended the lectures, and who have read her book, said they think Crittenden”s influence was a power for good in the world. They said that the principles within her book also applied within the LDS church.
“The church is very liberating in the sense that women do make a difference in our church. The Relief Society of the church has a very important and viable voice. Roles the women have are important and necessary,” said Desmond Lomax, a senior, majoring in political science.
“As church members, we are taught to value motherhood,” said Andrea Paxman, a graduate student, studying school counseling psychology. “However, that doesn”t mean we always understand all of its entirety and how to go about the oppositions mothers face. I think what Crittenden had to say could be very beneficial for LDS women to hear.”
A BYU student and single mother of two explained the opposition she faced while wondering how she was going to raise her children on her own.
Raquel Covarrubias, a junior, majoring in marriage, family human development said she struggled to know where she should devote her time. She knew she wanted to be her children”s primary caregiver, but she was the only breadwinner.
“I had a visiting teacher who discouraged me from furthering my education because it wasn”t the traditional place for a mother,” she said. “However, she couldn”t see from my point of view. I knew it was my calling to be an educated mother. Mothers” decisions stem from personal experience and understanding, I had to find my place in the world, and I feel like I have.”
Many women who attended Crittenden”s lectures said they felt a responsibility to take a stand as educated homemakers in a world where homemakers may not always make the greatest financial contributions or receive the greatest recognition.