Margaret Sanger, "Does Marriage Interfere With a Career?," 25 Sept 1925.
Published article. Source: Winnipeg Free Press Sept. 25, 1926, 15. .
When a women finds that domestic work has become a drab, monotonous business in her life, she is wise if she finds something to do to fill up the gap. The moment she reaches a stage when her husband and children need only 50 per cent. of her creative energy, she is far more loyal to her family if she does something else than if she follows tradition and stays at home and grumbles. Her new work often disciplines a woman to appreciate her home more.
In my own case, my children were still very young when I left them in the case of their grand-mother and went out nursing. I was a trained nurse before I married and when I found that my family could spare me, I left the children in competent hands and went back to work.
Of course young children need their mother a great deal. But children are by nature selfish, and they will let you indulge them as much as you please. It isn’t good for them, though. As a matter of fact, they should be taught by example that a mother is not here merely to be their attendant, but she is a superior being, a personage as well. They have much more respect for her then.
My children were very much interested in the influence I brought home from the outside world, especially the boys. It was unusual for a mother to tell her children about scientific things, and to let them read literature on science; so the boys thought I was a much more wonderful mother than any mother of their friends.
But my little girl resented it when I went away. In the early days she would say to me when I put her to bed: “Mother, must you go out to a lecture tonight?” And if I answered in the affirmative, she would vent her anger on lectures, and cry: “I hate lectures. . . I hate them. . . ” I could easily have remedied her ills by promising not to go and going any way when she was asleep. But I didn’t see why I should lie to her even if she forgot about it the next morning.
But I confess, nevertheless, that when my little girl cried that way it always gave me a dull feeling until I got back home again. And yet, can you see any earthly sense for a mother to stay at home merely to indulge her child?
That is what I had in mind when I said that children were selfish little beings. Whether they need their mother or not, they want her to be near them all the time simply because they want her. To them that is reason enough.
Remember, however, that not every marriage permits the woman to behave that way. It depends on the particular case and the kind of husband you marry. Only an intelligent, sensible husband will understand his wife when she wishes to go out and do something else.
Otherwise the man who married a nice, sweet, home-loving girl will consider himself deceived, or at best disillusioned, when he finds out one day after many years that she has professional aspirations too. He isn’t prepared for it and will have none of that nonsense in his own house. Consequently. . . You know what happens then.
Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project