In their book The Mommy Myth, authors Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels point out that mothers on opposite ends of the earning spectrum are often sent vastly different cultural messages.

Middle class mothers are encouraged to postpone or forego their professional development and told that doing otherwise is selfish and damaging to their children, while poor mothers are told that they’re lazy for even thinking about staying home with their children, continually being stereotyped as welfare queens. For middle and upper class women, motherhood is glamorized as the ultimate feminine endeavor, the one pursuit that proves your womanhood. While for poor women, motherhood is classified as something they’ve “gotten themselves into” and must endure as punishment.

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