Working moms confront modern stigmas

Posted at 11:44 PM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 23:44:45-04

KENT COUNTY, Mich.-- Moms fighting the clock and public pressure, being asked to both provide and parent day in and day out. Some are even asked to pick one or the other, but some parents FOX 17 talked to say don't fear: you can do both.

For some, it's hard to believe that in a world where the majority of moms hold jobs, they are still getting questioned on whether they plan to quit to focus on family. Instincts may make the question feel like an ultimatum, but moms we spoke with who are doing both say the right employer can be the boost you need, but finding that employer can be the hard part.

"Mommy Wars" is a decades-old debate for some. The question itself is polarizing: should moms stay home and take care of the kids, or head to work?

The stats prove that's not really the question anymore. The US Department of Labor says 57 percent of women are working, and 70 percent of moms with kids under 18 years old are also heading to work everyday.

Crystal DeCoster has triplets who are 8 years old. She chose to work and raise a family. She said she thinks it's possible to do both, and do it well.

"After I had kids, I had the determination I needed to be better. I need to do better things and show them that with hard work it can pay off, and you get rewarded. I wanted to show them nothing you do is easy, so we are going to work for it," said DeCoster.

That's precisely why she went back to get her masters degree in health while being a waitress and raising her triplets. Nevertheless, her goal always stayed the same.

"The biggest thing for me is making sure all of my children know that you don't get something just because you want it, you have to work for it," said DeCoster.

DeCoster said being both a mom and working professional is the easy part, but finding a job that lets you be both is the real challenge.

"I am pretty sure that a lot of positions I have interviewed for as I say I have triplets and they play hockey, baseball, and gymnastics. My husband works full-time. They go 'oh we don't want to do this because she isn't going to be able to sacrifice for work," said DeCoster.

Workbox, a local staffing agency in Grand Rapids, said they don't see employers that shy away from people with families, rather they seem moms turn down jobs because the schedules and resources don't work for them.

"Some companies maybe have a stigma about working moms like work is not going to be her priority, but I think more and more you are seeing that employers are realizing moms coming back to work want to excel and do well," said Stephanie Ryan from Workbox.

There are employers stepping up their game, like Plante Moran, an accounting firm in Grand Rapids.

"One of our founding partners had a saying that the whole person comes to work. So what does that mean to us? It means 'Ok I am a partner at the company, but I am also a husband, I am a father, a little league coach, a son, and all those things,'" said Jason Marvin, a partner at Plante Moran.

Marvin said his family always comes first, and his employer is all about that.

"We provide free child care on Saturdays. Another thing is for the partners in the firm, every five years we get a sabbatical program. So we get thirty days off," said Marvin.

Plante Moran gives him flexible hours so he can volunteer to read at his kids' school, or coach their little league teams.

"What matters is the end result. That I get done what needs to be done," said Marvin.

DeCoster knows first-hand not all employers are there yet. Some even shy away from her proudest project yet.

"I always bring it up. Anything they ask me about my great accomplishment my answers is always the same. My greatest accomplishment is my family," said DeCoster.

After a few misses, DeCoster found a job in healthcare that values just that, and luckily it works with her schedule so she can make time for the moments that only happen once.

"My kids know that working hard pays off, and you have to work hard and work a lot of hours sometimes, but you have to make sure you're there for the important stuff like that first home run and the first tumbling class in gymnastics. Did I get to see every game this year? I didn't, but I got to see that first goal," said DeCoster.