TIM WILDMON: Bryant was misunderstood

By Tim Wildmon

Gov. Phil Bryant got in trouble with some folks a couple of weeks back when, on a panel with other governors, he was asked a question by a reporter on the reason for academic mediocrity in our country. Question: “How did America get so mediocre? I mean these statistics across the board, every single one of your states – you know…”
Here was Gov. Bryant’s answer: “Oh, I’ll get in trouble if I … You want me to tell the truth? When I tell the truth, I think parents became – both parents started working, and the mom is in the workplace. It’s not a bad thing. Now I’m going to get in trouble, I can just see the emails tomorrow. But now both parents are working, they’re pursuing their careers. It’s a great American story now, that women are certainly in the workplace …”
Follow up question: “So it’s the mother’s place to teach them to read?”
Gov. Bryant: “No, no. I think there was that loving, nurturing opportunity that both parents had a little bit of time. My dad was a reader. Now he was a mechanic so he didn’t go to college, but he was a reader. But he had a little bit more time with me, and in today’s society parents are so challenged.”
For this answer the governor was portrayed as being against women in the workplace and as being critical of single moms in particular. He was not being critical of either. In fact, it should be noted that his wife held a job while they were raising their own children.
There was a time in America where the dad went to work and the mother stayed home to raise the kids. What is wrong with that? In fact, I believe that is the ideal situation, at least until the children are old enough to go to school. The key word is “ideal.” Some things happened in the 1960s and 70s that changed this normal American family dynamic. The good that happened was that more opportunities opened up for women to participate in the “man’s world” workplace. The negatives were some women were forced to go to work because of financial demands that required a second income. Also, there were lifestyle choices made by some who did not “have” to go into the workplace but chose to because they wanted more material things.
The governor was giving his opinion which was quite reasonable. To characterize his answer as somehow demeaning to women is unfair.
Fact is, children are better served when they have a mom who has the time and energy to nurture them. That is why God gave females a maternal instinct to protect, defend and nurture her offspring that is different from a male. If mom is not at home because she is at work – for whatever reason – can we really say the children are better off? That is the point the governor was making.
I just think many people are oversensitive on this issue. The governor was not saying his wife and other women who are in the workplace are bad people, not at all. He was just making a general observation that common sense says is correct.
TIM WILDMON is a community columnist and Lee County resident. He is president of the American Family ASsociation, but the column is his own opinion unless otherwise noted. Contact him at twildmon@afa.net.