I came across an article the other day in support of working moms. It came about due to a forum thread that said the lack of stay at home moms is what’s wrong with the U.S. No explanation of what exactly is wrong, though. There were plenty of things that bothered me about the whole deal.
1. Why the focus on moms?
This is one of the things that drives me up the wall. Why blame only moms for putting their kids in daycare and going to work? Why not the dads? I have two very competent stay at home dads in my family. Don’t tell me it can’t be done.
Sure, it’s more common and more traditional for moms to be more involved in child care. Unless you’re talking about pregnancy or breastfeeding, it doesn’t really have to be that way. Dads can do plenty, and they usually enjoy it.
2. Daycare is a perfectly acceptable option.
I may be an at home mom myself, but I have absolutely no problem with putting kids in daycare if that’s what the family needs.
My mother raised four of us on her own, so I speak from personal experience when I say daycare doesn’t have to be all that bad. It is not having someone else raise your child. They’re helping, yes, but so are the schools. Believe me, my parents still had plenty of influence on my choices throughout life, even my dad who I didn’t always see that much of as he didn’t always live nearby or even in the same state.
That said, I know daycare gets expensive fast. You do have to look at whether having both parents work makes sense in the face of daycare costs. Sometimes having a parent stay at home makes more financial sense. Still, that doesn’t mean working moms are in the wrong.
3. Not all stay at home moms are good at it.
It’s like anything else. Some stay at home moms are wonderful, attentive, caring, hard working mothers. Others aren’t. There are plenty of times when it’s better for the kids for both parents to work and have them go to daycare.
I don’t think you’re bad at being a stay at home mom if you aren’t up to June Cleaver’s level or anything. If staying at home is more of a miserable thing for you because you’d rather have a career, get out and get one. You won’t be called a bad parent by me for it.
4. Staying at home can be stressful.
Many people view being a stay at home mom as this wonderful, unstressed lifestyle. Somehow even the financial troubles just aren’t that big a problem for them. They make it work and life is good.
That’s not true for everyone. If you go to one income and can’t pay all the bills for little things you need such as rent, food and electricity, that’s stressful. Dealing with children can be stressful. Really and truly, the life of a stay at home mom isn’t all television and bonbons.
Is it less stressful for some than for others? Absolutely! That doesn’t mean it’s stress free for every stay at home parent. Financial challenges and other problems cause plenty of stress for others.
5. No acknowledgement of the real financial struggles many families face.
The people saying moms should just cope with the cutting back financially and stay at home have no concept of how much many families struggle. It’s not always a choice between a bigger house or a smaller house, or a newer or older car. It’s getting by, period.
Yes, some families are fortunate enough to have circumstances where they can get by on a minimal income and have one parent home. That’s the exception. We can’t all find extremely low rent, have family provide a home, inherit one, or otherwise get off cheap on housing costs. Some places are more expensive to live, and if that’s where your work is, it’s really not so simple as packing up to move someplace cheaper.
Then there’s food costs. Frankly, if the only way you can have one parent stay at home is to go on food stamps or other assistance, you need to look at increasing your income. That can be by working at home, I don’t mind that (obviously). I just don’t think you should use assistance to support a lifestyle choice, no matter how much you love your kids more than money. Use public assistance to keep going when you must, no problem there, but not as a lifestyle when you have other ways to get by.
6. An old car isn’t always a good solution.
Some people in the forum posts mentioned having an old car as one way to cut down on costs. That’s great when it works, no car payments, but sometimes the repairs run more than a car payment would. What do you do then? Unless you live in an area with good public transportation or close enough to work to walk or bike, a car can be a necessity.
Older cars are going to hit that point where you have to repair them more often eventually, and although they can be quite cheap to own for a time, repair costs can be more than payments on a newer car. What are families supposed to do then? A single income family can’t always save up a few thousand for a newer used car.
7. Stop with the “Only have as many children as you can afford” thing.
This one always annoys me. Certainly, there comes a point where people know they’re having more children than they can afford, but that’s not always what happened at the time the child was conceived or was born. Circumstances change. Jobs are lost, businesses close, incomes decrease. You can’t ever be certain that you can “afford” your children the entire 18 years you’ll be raising them, never mind whether or not you’ll be able to help with college.
Yes, I do agree that parents should think if their current circumstances will allow them to afford a child. It’s not my place to tell them what their final decision should be, however. If my husband and I had waited until we knew on paper that we could afford children, we wouldn’t have started when we did. We made it work anyhow, and while it’s been a struggle, we haven’t had to go on any sort of public assistance, and are finally making progress on the credit card debts.
8. Working moms spend plenty of time with their kids.
It has been shown that working moms spend more time with their kids now than stay at home moms did back in 1965. Dads are more involved too. Sure, stay at home moms spend still more time, but it’s not likely that the average kid is lacking for time with his or her parents due to being sent to daycare.
9. Women benefit from working.
I love the work I do at home. I don’t believe I would cope at all well as a stay at home mom if I didn’t have my business. It gives me something to think about beyond my home and children. That’s a good thing.
There’s also the money moms lose from not working. I don’t just mean in the moment. I mean saving for retirement as well as building a solid base for her career, missing out on promotions and so forth. It’s a long term income loss that can be hard on parents long after their children are grown.
That’s a big part of why I’m such a fan of working from home. Maybe you don’t need to earn the equivalent of a full time job, but at least you can keep some money coming in and some job skills current. Life’s uncertain, and that’s one way I cope.
I have a lawyer friend who tells me that most stay at home moms he knows don’t really understand what they’re losing out on by not working. He’s dealt with them on Social Security issues, and it basically comes down to if you don’t contribute, you don’t get anything. Sometimes that’s a huge problem.
10. The United States isn’t easy on families.
If you take a look at work policies around the Western world, the U.S. doesn’t look remotely family friendly. There’s a lack of parental leave available, childcare standards aren’t as good as other countries, education isn’t as good, the list goes on. I’d call that a bigger problem than whether or not mothers stay home with their kids.
11. It’s possible that working parents are better for kids.
12. Women have often worked outside the home throughout history.
Women working outside the home is nothing new, and they didn’t just do so before marriage or motherhood.
13. I absolutely support at home parents.
Despite everything on this rant, I absolutely support at home parents, whether it’s the mother or the father. I wouldn’t run this site if I didn’t. It just makes me mad when people glance at working moms and declare them to be awful parents. They aren’t.
There’s nothing wrong with raising kids in the tight financial situation that often results from being a single income family. I suspect there’s some good in it, as kids then learn that they don’t get everything they want all the time.
14. Parents supporting their kids is the most important thing.
What matters most in the long run is that parents support their kids. I don’t just mean financially. I mean educationally, emotionally and so forth. You’re a parent and you’re probably doing the best you can for your kids. That doesn’t mean you can’t do your best for yourself too. If your kids are loved and know it, there’s a good chance they’ll be fine whether you’re at home or working.