Summary and book reviews of The Price of Motherhood by Ann Crittenden

The Price of Motherhood

Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued

by Ann Crittenden

The Price of Motherhood
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2001, 323 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2002, 336 pages

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Book Summary

Bold and galvanizing, full of innovative solutions, The Price of Motherhood reveals the glaring disparity between the value created by mothers' work and the reward women receive for carrying out society's most important job. 

In this provocative book, award-winning economics journalist Ann Crittenden argues that although women have been liberated, mothers have not. Drawing on hundreds of interviews from around the country, as well as the most current research in economics, sociology, history, child development,. and law, she shows how mothers are systematically disadvantaged and made dependent by a society that celebrates the labor of child-rearing but undervalues and even exploits those who perform it. 

The price of motherhood is everywhere apparent. College-educated women pay a "mommy tax" of more than a million dollars in lost income when they have a child. Family law deprives mothers of financial equality in marriage. Most child care is excluded from the gross domestic product, at-home mothers are not counted in the labor force, and the social safety net simply leaves them out. With passion and clarity, Crittenden dismantles the principal argument for the status quo: that it's a woman's "choice." She demonstrates, on the contrary, that if mothers had more resources and respect, everyone -- including children -- would be better off. 

Bold and galvanizing, full of innovative solutions, The Price of Motherhood reveals the glaring disparity between the value created by mothers' work and the reward women receive for carrying out society's most important job. 

Introduction

The good mother, the wise mother . . . is more important to the community than even the ablest man; her career is more worthy of honor and is more useful to the community than the career of any man, no matter how successful.
--Theodore Roosevelt

When my son was small, we loved to read The Giving Tree, a book about a tree that gave a little boy his apples to eat, branches to climb, and shade to sleep under. This made them both happy. As the boy grew into a man, the tree gave him her apples to sell for money, then her branches to build a house, and finally her trunk to make a boat. When the boy became a tired old man, the tree, by now nothing but a stump, offered him all she had left to sit on and rest. I would read the last line, "And the tree was happy." with tears flowing down my cheeks every time.

The very definition of a mother is selfless service to another. We don't owe Mother for her gifts; she owes us. And in return for her bounty, Mother receives...

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This reading group guide is designed to enhance your discussion and personal reading of Ann Crittenden's acclaimed work The Price of Motherhood. We hope that this guide will also be a useful reference tool that will lead you to further topics of inquiry.


About the Book
Women may be more liberated these days, but mothers aren't. That's the provocative conclusion Ann Crittenden has drawn after years of research, including her own experiences as a mom. Revealing the glaring disparities between mothers and childless women in America, The Price of ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

New York Times Book Review

Written with a fine passion and at times a biting wit, it challenges the received ideas of economists, feminists and conservatives alike . . . As informative and engaging in its details as it is compelling in its overall argument.

Publishers Weekly

This thoroughly documented and incisive book is must reading for women contemplating parenthood or divorce, and could prove an organizing tool for women's organizations.

Library Journal

A wonderful resource for students of economics, women's studies, politics, and for parents-to-be, this book should be a wake-up call to America.

Author Blurb Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Fear of Falling The Inner Life of the Middle Class
Motherhood may be sacred to Americans, but actual mothering is consistently devalued and disrespected. Ann Crittenden makes this point calmly and reasonably, with a rich abundance of reporting and without ever raising her voice. This profoundly important book challenges us to examine how much we really care about children -- or about the work of caring in general.

Author Blurb Katha Pollitt, author of Reasonable Creatures Essays on Women and Feminism
Passionately argued and closely researched, this manifesto for mothers should spark plenty of debate over all the right issues.

Author Blurb Nancy Folbre, author of The Invisible Heart Economics and Family Values
Mother's Day meets Gross Domestic Product . . . This book offers a lively and compelling account of the ways maternal altruism subsidizes our entire economy but imposes high costs on mothers themselves. Ann Crittenden deftly combines facts, figures, interviews, and personal stories to document the unfair -- and inefficient -- distribution of the costs of rearing children. She has written a great and important book.

Author Blurb Arlie Hochschild, author of The Time Bind When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work
How do we bring children up without putting women down? In this important, well-written book, Ann Crittenden offers serious answers to this preeminent feminist -- and human -- question. A must read.

Reader Reviews

Tanzeel

Her simple but poignant writing drives home the fact that MOTHERS have yet to achieve a lot of things, too many!

A great recommendation for MEN worldwide, as a male college student this book was really an eye opener for me and made me realize mothers...   Read More

Erin

A spectacular account of the real experiences of many mothers. As a student of sociology, I have read countless manuscripts and novels, but none has been so fulfilling a read as Ann Crittenden's The Price of Motherhood. A fulfilling read - well ...   Read More

Dana

An excellent book. Crittenden outlines the problems as she understands them clearly and convincingly and then offers viable solutions. This is an important book for employers, policy-makers, parents, and those considering parenting to read. It ...   Read More

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