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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
224 pages
Jan 2005
W Publishing Group

The Frazzled Factor: Relief for Working Moms

by Karol Ladd & Jane Jarrell

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


Your boss expects you to stay late at work. Your son cried because you won't be attending the big game you had promised to this afternoon. Your babysitter called to tell you that your little girl is running a fever, and your husband is upset that you will not be able to go to dinner with him to celebrate your anniversary. And if real life isn't bad enough, you've started to dream that you're on a speeding expressway with no exit ramps. Is there any way to regain control of your life?

Karol Ladd and Jane Jarrell present ideas on managing the hubbub in The Frazzled Factor. They offer tips to help women who work outside the home bring sanity to their hectic lifestyles, though they do not deal with root causes. They offer numerous helpful ideas to alleviate the childcare dilemma and to overcome the guilt for both married and single women. They discuss how to maintain relationships, success at work and what success means to you, taking time to enjoy life, personal rejuvenation, and God's grace. They encourage networking with the Golden Rule in mind. They have put together several Top Ten lists in their chapter on fun which includes some great inexpensive ideas.

Both well-established writers, Ladd and Jarrell know how to write to women effectively. They have based their book on the needs of real women. Using anecdotes, surveys, personal stories, and humor, they speak directly to women. Each chapter begins with a cartoon and ends with a summary and verses for meditation.

Ladd and Jarrell encourage their readers to seek God's will as part of their answer to the guilt that many women feel for working outside the home, but they do not bring up verses that challenge the popular reasons for many women's working outside the home. They also make some assumptions that I do not find true in my experience, such as children growing in strength and maturity, being less self-centered and more God-centered, when their mothers work outside the home. I am not saying that there are not some, but I don't see that as the rule among my acquaintances.

Though their chapter on relationships offers some good points, several aspects of it trouble me. First, marriage is relegated to a role little above the friendships of others in importance. In one chapter the wife is told to set up a monthly date with the husband to "(e)stablish a monthly 'state of the union' address," "(c)ommunicate expectations clearly and directly," "(d)ivide the responsibilities in an equitable manner," and "(p)lan to redistribute responsibilities" (pages 49-50). This may work in some families, but in many families, men would feel as if they were being bossed around.

Ladd and Jarrell encourage strengthening the marriage. They recognize that "(y)our spouse should be (a soul mate), but unfortunately for most of us, our spouses have become merely acquaintances in the fast lane of life" (page 66). Is this because we have chosen to live in the fast lane of life? The authors offer several suggestions for adding romance and showing appreciation to husbands, but those suggestions seem weak--back rubs, sexy notes--which are good, but lack the time required to build a truly strong relationship. When Ladd and Jarrell list blessings for women to meditate upon, husbands don't even make the list. Perhaps they leave husbands off because some of the readers they are addressing are single. Whatever their reason, I fear the attitude toward marriage may reflect the prevalent attitude in society which relegates marriage to a position less important than career.

This attitude toward relationships goes beyond the marital one. "Making and developing relationships with others is an attitude and way of life more than it is a time-grabbing activity" (page 64). They recognize the importance of spending time together to get beyond shallow friendships, but that goes against what they say in the above quote. Friendship, like marriage, lands on the priority list somewhere below the job. They suggest seven secrets for improving relationships which are excellent. They are actually character traits such as loyalty, taking interest in others, being real, and overlooking differences.

The authors bring out some important character traits in their chapter on success, though they do not challenge the reader to seek God's definition of success. Instead they encourage readers to define what success means to them and then give the readers tips toward fulfilling their definitions of success. Readers will find little to challenge them to biblically examine the worldly ideas of success that they bring with them, though, to Ladd's and Jarrell's credit, they do prompt women to "(d)etermine if it is worth persevering" (page105). Unfortunately they compare persevering in the harried lifestyle of the workforce to the persecution of the early church.

Their chapter on grace seeks to lead women to the Lord and help them develop grace in their lives. They have an excellent short section on anger, and they recognize that part of grace is holding others accountable for their actions. What else encourages them to repentance? However, repentance does not figure into the message of salvation the authors include. -- Debbie W. Wilson, Christian Book

Book Jacket:

According to AFLCIO statistics, seven out of ten working mothers work more than forty hours a week for their employers. But what about the hours spent juggling baseballs, soccer balls, meatballs and cotton balls? Written for the frenetic working mother, authors Karol Ladd and Jane Jarrell introduce seven simple steps designed to take the frazzled mom from feelings of guilt to the freedom of grace. Presented in a concise format with easily-skimmed graphics, encouraging quotes, and revitalizing scriptures, these tips can easily be slipped into daily routines restoring sanity to overscheduled, chaotic lives.

Working mothers themselves, the authors have made a practice of sharing their creative, positive parenting perspectives through their work with Mothers of Pre-Schoolers (MOPS), in magazine columns, as well as radio and television appearances. They plan to incorporate The Frazzled Factor into their “Lunchable” seminars and “Sanity Saturdays” aimed at other working moms.