Former top-tier news anchor Paula Faris left the news world behind to be present with her family. At the same time, she launched a business and learned some valuable lessons about life-balance along the way. Now she's out with a new book, You Don't Have to Carry It All: Ditch the Mom Guilt & Find a Better Way Forward.
She says she wrote it as an encouragement to working moms and also includes some ways corporate America – and the church – can do more to support women who juggle both work and motherhood.
In 2018, Paula was at the top of her game as an anchor of ABC's "Good Morning America Weekend" and co-host of "The View." But she says it all got to be too much, so she decided to pump the brakes and step away from those duties to a reporter role.
"I felt like I wasn't seeing my husband or my kids," Paula explained in an interview with CBN News. "I wanted to be with my children. My schedule was just really crazy."
One year later, ABC chose not to renew her contract. Faced with a decision about what to do next, she chose a less familiar path.
"I really decided to try something new which is why we blew up our lives and hit that great big reset button," she said. "We moved to a small town in South Carolina where my sister lives and I decided to pursue a company of my own."
Based on her own experience, Paula began Carry Media to advocate for working moms.
"I just saw how women were treated once they became mothers," she explained. "How they were valued less and scrutinized and penalized for having children, instead of just being celebrated."
Fast forward to 2023 and Paula is out with her new book. CBN News asked her about the title of the book and also what "mom guilt" means for her.
"I mean, mom guilt, it's not just for me," she answered. "80-90 percent of mothers suffer from some level of mom guilt. And it's just never feeling like we're enough, like we're never present enough, we're not a good enough mom. We're always projecting some sort of guilt upon ourselves. And so much of that is because in America motherhood isn't really celebrated and there's not a lot of support for being a mother."
In her research, Paula says she found a very different attitude about motherhood and work in other countries.
"Something that blew my mind is that mothers globally not only have to work but they take a lot of pride in working and having to contribute to the home," she explained. "But on the other side of that, the attitudes in other countries towards children and families are so much better. Here in America it's like, your kid, your problem, figure it out."
Paula calls the book "practical" and "tactical" and starts with a history lesson about the American family.
"I nerded out in one of the chapters about the history of American families," she said. "So often we think let's go back to the 50s and 60s, the good ol' days and we have nostalgia for the past. I was guilty of that too, but in researching the history of American families, I learned that the most traditional family in America was when the husband and the wife, the mother and the father, they co-produced together, they raised the children together. And of course, women didn't always have the same amount of rights that we do today but they were working together, they were raising the children together, that's the most traditional family."
When it comes to corporate America, Paula says working moms add tremendous value. In recent years, there have been some big steps forward, including more flexible and remote work, paid family leave, and efforts to bring women's salaries in line with men's. Still, Paula says there's more to do. She lists some other ideas, like providing affordable childcare and establishing more moms in positions of leadership.
A born-again Christian, Paula includes a chapter on the church.
"I struggled with working outside of the home because of the messages I heard from church and my faith circles and so I tackle that in the book too," she said. "It was a really hard chapter for me to write but is very freeing about what the scriptures actually say about women, mothers, our role in society at home and at work."
In her research, she talked to the head theologian at Proverbs 31 Ministries who pointed out that in the beginning, man and woman labored together. They divided tasks and responsibilities equally. He gave Paula many examples of women working outside the home, including Deborah, a judge and prophetess in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament, Priscilla and Phoebe. He also highlighted the Proverbs 31 woman.
"I learned that the Proverbs 31 woman, who we often reduce to a domestic housewife, was actually a skilled businesswoman, a negotiator, the security of her community was on her shoulders," said Paula. "She was a manager, she bought a field with her earnings. So often we have weaponized work as if this isn't part of God's plan and that's not the case. And that's where I think the church can do a lot better is just celebrate, look, the best families are when both the mother and the father are actively involved. We're raising the children together. We're co-producing."
Paula makes the case that the scriptures give sound reason and even permission for women to work outside the home and embrace their God-given ambitions.
That's what she says she's trying to do through her company and this new book and she hopes it encourages others to do the same.
"At the end of the day, what I'm trying to do, yes, advocate for mothers in the workforce, but I'm really hoping that it strengthens families."