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Kellyanne Conway suggests that moms shouldn’t work in the White House

I'm Parenting Editor at SheKnows. I'm the co-author of Let's Panic About Babies(Macmillan, 2011). I've also written for numerous publications including Salon, Redbook, Nerve, and The Onion. I live in Brooklyn with my husband, son, tiny d...

‘There are limits,’ according to Trump’s campaign manager, when it comes to motherhood and work

At yesterday’s Politico Women Rule event, Kellyanne Conway told the audience that she won’t be pursuing a role inside the White House.

“My children are 12, 12, 8 and 7, which is bad idea, bad idea, bad idea, bad idea for mom going inside [the White House]…They have to come first, and those are very fraught ages."

“We still have to make choices,” she informed the crowd, “and there are limits.” 

More: 25 best jobs for work-life balance, according to employees

Now, Conway stressed that this was her personal decision, and that Trump has no problem with moms in the White House. “Mothers and married women and unmarried women — they’re all welcome in the Trump White House, and he’s made that very clear to me,” she said. (Isn’t it odd that they even had that conversation? Did they have to go over whether fathers or married/unmarried men would be allowed in the White House? I’m betting not.) 

The implication in her comments, however, is clear. It’s a “bad idea for mom,” she said. Not for her: for mom. I’m sorry: she actually said it’s a “bad idea, bad idea, bad idea, bad idea.” Four bad ideas!

Her comments that other moms could work in the White House reminds me of that mom you meet at the park who tells you, “I mean, I couldn’t go back to full-time work because I love my kids, but you do you, I guess.” We all know what she’s really saying.

More: 15 jobs with flexible schedules for busy working moms

Incidentally, Conway’s implicit beliefs are right in line with Mike Pence, who argued in 1997 that “day-care kids get the short end of the emotional stick" and that households with two working parents lead to "stunted emotional growth.” So it’s nice they’re on the same page.

It’s not like Conway’s going to stay home baking with her four kids, incidentally; she will be outside the White House, helming a political “surround-sound superstructure.” I don’t know what that is, but it sounds complicated.

At the same conference, Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to Obama, told the audience she encouraged Conway to rethink her decision. “I think tone starts at the top and if you have a relationship with your boss such that you can say, ‘Look, this is a top priority. There’s nothing more important for me than being a good mom, but I think I can be a good mom and have the flexibility enough to do this job well,’” she said, “And that’s something I encouraged her to try.”

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