Emma Thompson Insults Working Moms With Ridiculous Parenting Advice

Emma ThompsonUh oh. Looks like Gwyneth Paltrow just got another pal in the celeb moms without a clue club. Actress Emma Thompson just became the latest mom worth millions of dollars to throw out a nasty jab at working moms.

The mother of 14-year-old Gaia took a year off from filming as a "birthday present" to herself and to her family. OK, fair enough; she can do whatever she wants with her life, right? Well, here's the problem: Thompson apparently thinks every mom should do this. And that's not all. 

Thompson went so far as to say, "You can’t be a great mum and keep working all the time."



Let's just set aside the fact that Thompson, who is married to another actor, reportedly has a net worth of $64 million, making it possible for her to give up work for the rest of her life if she sees fit. Just for a second, shall we? She did, after all, soften the blow a little bit by saying moms should do this -- "if they can afford it."

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Let's, instead, talk about good moms -- more specifically the notion that one thing as particular as taking off work is going to make you one.

It's not.

There are plenty of women who haven't worked a single day of their children's childhoods who are NOT good moms (which isn't to say that stay-at-home moms don't rock ... we should be clear, there are plenty of fantastic stay-at-home moms, but correlation does not equal causation and all that jazz). Just as there are plenty of hard-working women whose children can attest to their excellence in the mothering department.

What's startling about Thompson's comment isn't simply that she is so out of touch with regular moms, but that she simplified good motherhood to the point of absurdity.

Good motherhood is many things.

It's loving your kids -- truly loving them, from deep down within you. It's showing that love to your kids on a consistent basis.

It's also more tangible -- feeding them, bathing them, clothing them, sheltering them; ensuring they have the basics covered to the very best of your abilities.

It's not abusing them in any way, shape, or form -- be it physical, verbal, mental, emotional.

It's recognizing your strengths and your limitations too, and learning when to ask for help. It's recognizing your kids as individuals, and learning to play to their strengths and to help them overcome their limitations.

It's being interested, engaged, involved, as much as you can be. It's also not losing yourself, because kids need good, strong role models.

It's all that and so much more.

Can you do that without taking a year off work? Good! Plenty of moms can.

And if you can't, well, then by all means, give your notice today. But that's about you and your limitations ... not about every other mom out there.

Because being a good mom is many things, but most of all, it's personal. Just as every kid is different, so is every mom.

What do you think makes you a good mom?


Image via London Ent/Splash News

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nonmember avatar Lena

Maybe she meant "being away from her family on a set" all the time? I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt because a) she's normally as a classy lady and b) this is the Stir. The Center for "Let's take this out of context."

April Marie McIntyre

Being a good mother is mainly about putting kids first . If you are sick you still take care of them. If you are broke you prioritize and use what you have toward their needs first. In my case if you have a broken ankle and no car and they have an appointment or prescription that you can't get to unless you walk on said broken ankle you darn well do it. 

nonmember avatar blue

Well, you can't be. She didn't say you can't be a good mom and working. She said you can't be a good mom, and working ALL THE TIME. You simply can't.

Bruic... Bruickson

Sometimes being a good mother does mean working ALL THE TIME. I have a couple of friends who are single moms and both of them have two jobs and work long hours just to provide for their kids. They sacrifice a lot so their kids won't do without. I really admire both of them. I've luckily been able to stay home for most of my daughter's life except for a yr when I worked part time to help out some old coworkers. There are definitely pros and cons for both working mothers and sahm's but one is not better than the other. I think we are all just doing our best. As far as this celebrity's comments, I am sure it was taken out of context. The media just loves to cause a stir.

nonmember avatar Kristi

I think if it was possible, that would be great advice. I agree with Lena (gorgeous name)Emma Thompson's work is much different than mine. I get to go home at 5, I am in the same state...country...continent...etc. She sometimes is not and for long lengths of time.


One could say the same about you Jeanne, when you say what you did about stay at home moms...but, you did soften the blow. Please do not put this woman in the same breath as Paltrow.

Marie207 Marie207

I think she was speaking to her audience (moms and dads with loot).  I agree with her 100%.  Even a poor family should do this if at all possible.  That six weeks off and back to work draging your newborn from the house to the sitters every morning deserves a break, not to mention tht bonding that will be created within that first year.

Marie207 Marie207

All work and no parenting makes Jane a dull girl.  She did not recommend quitting your job and stay at home to be a good parent, she meant take a break and I agree, especially women with real men, you know the kind of man that has an income, and not social security/disability benefis. No punt intended.stork

nonmember avatar Angiebee

One thing worth bearing in mind is that being a Brit, Emma Thompson comes from a country where a year of maternity leave is a legal right for employees who have been with their company on a full or part time contract (permanent or fixed term) for six months prior to their pregnancy. Companies are obliged to pay at least 6 weeks maternity pay at full pay, then up to 9 months statutory pay which adds up to about £500 per month. The last three months of the year off are unpaid. There is also now the option of letting the mothers partner take over any maternity leave left over if she goes back to work without taking the full amount.

So while it may seem like a very controversial thing to say in the context of "if you can't support yourself fully on no salary for the full year then forget it..." On the other hand, in the context of being supported by your company/the government for the majority of a year, it's nowhere near as "How dare she?"

In my experience,most mums over here (the Uk) do take a year off if they can afford to but the cost implications for us are a bit different. Perhaps participants in the "mommy wars" should think about forgetting their differences and instead band together to demand better rights from their employers and government?

nonmember avatar cordelia

The title is misleading - very partial. I have read her interview even before its frenzy in the media; every published page seem to take her statement out of context. What she meant was the relationship one has with her child, which is true, that when you work too much, you spend a great deal amount of time away from the son or daughter. Emma does not mean to insult other mothers. Put yourself in her shoes, especially, who goes to different countries to shoot; she means to say that a parent constantly needs to make personal sacrifices if he or she wants to have a healthy relationship with the offspring. Instead of bashing her statement, why don't we just reflect her advice.

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