Why Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s Reason for Leaving Fox & Friends Isn’t a Criticism of Working Mothers

What Hasselbeck’s decision to ‘focus on her children’ really means.
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What Hasselbeck’s decision to ‘focus on her children’ really means.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck, cohost of the show Fox & Friends, is putting her robust television career on hold to focus on raising her children. Hasselbeck has been a cohost on the show since September 2013. Prior to that, Hasselbeck was a cohost at The View, the ABC daytime talk show, for nearly ten years. She also served as a contributor to ABC’s Good Morning America and is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, The G-Free Diet and the cookbook Deliciously G-Free.

In a statement on her decision to leave her latest cohosting position, Hasselbeck explained, “Oftentimes, the most difficult decisions are between two great things. . . . I am entering into a season where I want to start my day with my children first. . . . With a heart full of gratitude and the peace that God has given me, I am confident that this personal decision is the right one for our family.” Hasselbeck has made her decision despite insisting that her experience at Fox was positive and that Roger Ailes, Fox News chairman and CEO, “created the best working environment a woman and mother could ask for.”

While certainly not unusual, decisions like Hasselbeck’s can be difficult to process in a society with so many working mothers. Whether it is Jennifer Garner wondering why no one asks Ben Affleck how he balances his work and family or Marissa Mayer’s decision to take limited maternity leave, we are constantly reminded that parents don’t have to forsake their careers for their children. So when someone announces that she feels she must, in fact, choose one over the other, it’s hard to know what to say.

Aren’t women supposed to be able to “have it all” by now? Isn’t the notion that parenthood interferes with a woman’s career archaic? And doesn’t saying that you need to leave your career to “focus” on your children strangely imply that working mothers do not focus on their kids?

The way I see it, Hasselbeck’s decision, and that of the millions of other stay-at-home parents, does not have to be a critique of their working-parent equivalents. The reality is that no sane person would argue that parenthood has no impact on your work, schedule, or free time. On the contrary, I’d wager that most parents, working or not, would admit that having children has fundamentally altered their lives and the ways they spend their time. Doing anything—exercising, working, eating, what have you—is more difficult when you have a tiny human whose existence depends entirely on you.

So, when parents decide that one will stay home or that he or she simply doesn’t have the desire to juggle both work and parenthood or doesn’t feel he or she can do both well, the decision should not be viewed as an indictment of working parents. If anything, choosing to focus on one is a testament to the herculean accomplishments of those who, by choice or necessity, must do both and make ends meet. We wish Hasselbeck many happy mornings at home!