Emma Thompson Is The Latest Celebrity To Weigh In On The Working Mom Debate

Emma Thompson London Film Festival Closing Night Gala London England October 20 2013

Another day, another celebrity weighing in on working motherhood. This time it’s Emma Thompson’s turn to give her opinion about having both a child and a job. And what she has to say is kind of disappointing and out of touch. Oh, Emma, why can’t you go back to acting goofy at award shows? We could have had it aaaaaall.

In a new interview with The Daily Mail, Emma, who has a 14-year-old daughter, said, “You can’t be a great mum and keep working all the time.” She continued by talking about the fact that she took a year off to spend more time with her family as a “birthday present” to herself, during which she “was just a mum.” She added, “I highly recommend that others do the same if they can afford it.”

It’s good to see Emma isn’t totally out of touch with how normal people live, since she did add “if they can afford it,” but only after implying that women who can’t afford it won’t end up being good mothers. Here’s Emma’s reasoning for why women can’t have it all, so to speak:

“Sometimes in life you’ll have some things, at other times you will have other things. You don’t need it all at once, it’s not good for you. Motherhood is a full-time job. The only way I could have continued working would have been by delegating the running of the home to other people. I never wanted to do this as I find motherhood profoundly enjoyable.”

Actually, sometimes you do need it all at once if you’re faced with raising a child on a low-income and/or as a single parent. It’s great that Emma was able to raise her children without outside help, and it’s also great that she was able to enjoy motherhood without worrying about how she would support her children. If taking time off to be with her family worked for her, awesome. But not all mothers have that luxury. Angelina Jolie gets that. Gwyneth Paltrow does not.

It’s also frustrating to constantly hear this kind of talk about working motherhood, when working fatherhood is rarely questioned. When was the last time you heard an argument over whether it was acceptable for a father to work? In that case he’s just supporting his family and being a good provider. But if a woman does it, it sparks debate. Parents are parents, no matter their gender. Some parents work, and some parents don’t. And some parents don’t have a choice in the matter.

(Photo: Awais/Pacific Coast News)

You can reach this post's author, Jill O’Rourke, on twitter.
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    • J_Doe5686

      I just realized that this is just like asking young girls what feminism is and they come out with crazy answers because they don’t know/have experienced it. I don’t have kids but if there’s one thing I know is that they need clothing, food and shelter and that cost money and most famous us don’t have a pile of money laying around so we have to work hard so the kids won’t go without any of those three things. I give her credit for saying “if you can afford it.”

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Well said, Jill!

      • Jill O’Rourke

        Thanks, Alexis!

    • Kelly

      But what does she mean by working “all the time”? That’s what I wonder. Because you really can’t be a parent if you’re working ALL the time.

      I had a job where I was traveling about three weeks out of every month and working 60 to 70 hours the week I was home. I had a hard time keeping friends and dating during that. There’s no way in hell anyone could parent effectively with that kind of schedule. It just can’t be done.

      Maybe she was talking about people who work like that. There are celebrities who keep working constantly even when they have young children. If you’re flying around the world making movies and only seeing your kids a few weeks out of each year, you aren’t parenting them no matter how much money you throw at the issue.

      • SunnyD847

        Yes, I want to believe that’s what she meant because I like her and I don’t want to have to think she’s a bitch.

    • Cliff

      Yes well actors work 14-16 hour days routinely. Often 6 or 7 day a week for month long streches. I think she’s right. Try being a good, attentive parent with that workload.