Maggie Gallagher

It is terribly costly both to the society and to the individual. And it requires a sense of sin, too, not a cost-benefit analysis by social scientists about the negative social consequences of a particular trend.

What would it mean to stigmatize working moms? What exactly is the terrible crime that makes us unwilling to associate with them? Working? But what about if they are not married? Well, of course, says Lowry, those women have to work. (Otherwise they'll cost taxpayers money, apparently an even worse crime than "abandoning" your child to day care.) What if your husband doesn't make very much money? What if he's a filthy rich alcoholic and you are afraid to depend on his income? What if your teen needs new braces while you still have a toddler at home? What if you find the perfect part-time job, and your well-behaved kid seems to enjoy church-sponsored nursery school?

Most mothers who work tailor their work lives to suit their families' needs. Maybe we don't all do the best job of it. Maybe a little guilt is a good thing. But behaviors whose immorality depends on complex judgment calls about circumstances are not good candidates for stigmatization.

Nor is it possible, in any literal sense, to ostracize the majority of your mothers. Sorry, Rich, but you wouldn't have much of a society left.

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.