It is bad for a single woman to aspire to be a SAH wife and mother?
April 13, 2004 3:41 PM   Subscribe

Is it naive, selfish, spoiled, lazy, unreasonable, unrealistic, unamerican or otherwise unacceptable for, say, a 25 year old single girl to aspire to be a stay at home wife & mother and not pursue a career, despite her good education and good upbringing?
posted by palegirl to Society & Culture (73 answers total)
 
Not if that's what you want, and you have the opportunity and support to do it.
posted by scarabic at 3:45 PM on April 13, 2004


Somehow, I don't think this falls under the 'sharing knowledge' charter of AskMe.
posted by Gyan at 3:46 PM on April 13, 2004


absolutely not. it's perfectly respectable to be a well-educated woman (or a well-educated man, for that matter) to be the homemaker, child-caretaker.

(in my opinion, by the way, it's only "lazy" if you do it badly.)
posted by crush-onastick at 3:49 PM on April 13, 2004


Um... are you having a fight with your mother or something?
posted by scody at 3:55 PM on April 13, 2004


A second thought does occur to me though. The nest will be empty someday, and the less of a life you have outside the home now, the harder that will be when the time comes.
posted by scarabic at 3:56 PM on April 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


You're putting a lot of burden on the father of your child to care for the three of you, but depending on his views/career, he may be up to the task. He should have a say in the matter though, and if he objects to being the sole breadwinner, well... he ain't wrong.

I truly hope this is a theoretical question.
posted by GeekAnimator at 3:57 PM on April 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


are you having a fight with your mother or something?

not at all. It is just a question. Oh the hostility!
posted by palegirl at 4:00 PM on April 13, 2004


Is it naive, selfish, spoiled, lazy, unreasonable, unrealistic, unamerican or otherwise unacceptable for, say, a 25 year old single girl to aspire to be a stay at home wife & mother and not pursue a career, despite her good education and good upbringing?

No.

It's bizarre (and not really your fault) that you have to question this simple choice in life. Your "unamerican" gives it away though. In the UK, it's still (*shock*) normal for a mother to stay home and look after her kids. A lot of working mothers here work only because they and their husbands have made choices to the extent that they must earn X amount per year to pay their mortgage etc, so both parents are forced to work.

I find it disconcerting that someone needs to think it's "naive, selfish, spoiled, lazy, unreasonable and unrealistic" to be a stay-at-home-mum (like I say though, is it any wonder you're so defensive given the climate of today). You're right though: it's unacceptable, at least from the femmunist bloc's propaganda machine.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:02 PM on April 13, 2004


Work, Earn, Consume!!! It is un-American to do otherwise. Become at one with the machine or expect to be ground up to a pulpish hamburger under its treads.

In other words, hell no. Life is yours to live. Live it as you please... and vote Democrat!
posted by pissfactory at 4:12 PM on April 13, 2004


no more than it is for me and my partner to both work, earn a relatively high wage (by local standards) and have a great standard of living with NO children (having kids is the norm here in (catholic) s america - people ask "do you have children" and, when i say "no", reply "ah, not yet" with the tone and implication "don't worry, i'm sure you will soon"...)

however, both she and i are in happy agreement about this, and neither of us cares much what anyone else thinks. you have to make your own call for your own circumstances...
posted by andrew cooke at 4:14 PM on April 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


oh, and what scarabic said second time round - i think kids leaving home was pretty terrible for my mother, although she's since sorted out life and, at last, enjoying doing her own thing.

also, flip side of same coin - when those children grow up, they will be individuals. they'll make their own minds up about how much they "owe" you for what you've done. so don't expect some distant pay-off which involves them behaving in a certain way.

that was probably more than anyone needs to know (and a little harsher than reality, i think, now).
posted by andrew cooke at 4:19 PM on April 13, 2004


It is just a question. Oh the hostility!

Jesus, no hostility, palegirl; just a little bafflement at framing the question in such an extraordinarily loaded way. Does the proverbial "when did you stop beating your wife?" ring a bell?

But if you're asking in all sincerity, then no. Of course not. It's not any of those horrible things. It's perfectly within any woman's rights to make those choices.

However, I'm still sincerely wondering why A) you phrased the question in such a way, and B) why you think AskMe is the appropriate forum to work it out.
posted by scody at 4:20 PM on April 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


It would be none of those things to stay at home as a full-time mom. It's nobody's business but you and your hubby's.

But...

It would be unrealistic to think you can live a two-income lifestyle on one income.

It would be naive to look only at the benefits of staying at home without considering the historic costs as well.

It would be unreasonable to not think about what you're going to do when the kids are all of school age and you're home alone during the day. (that's part of the costs above)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:21 PM on April 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


Is it naive, selfish, spoiled, lazy, unreasonable, unrealistic, unamerican or otherwise unacceptable for, say, a 35 year old married father of 2 to aspire to be a stay at home husband & father and not pursue a career, despite his good education and good upbringing?

If your answer is substantially different to palegirl's, why?
posted by Irontom at 4:26 PM on April 13, 2004


I would think it's only naive if you expect Mr. Right to swoop out of nowhere and begin providing for you and your soon to be family, no questions asked.

One of my cousins belives the right man is just around the corner.. or maybe the next one... she's spent most of college chasing after boys with the thought of getting married by 21 & has neglected her education. Come her graduation this May (still sans any man who will commit to a serious relationship), it's anybody's guess as to what she'll be doing to sustain herself. She was so positive she'd be engaged by now.

On the other hand, both my sister and mother entered the workforce right after college... and both got married shortly thereafter, stopped working, and became stay at home moms.

Mom never had definite career plans, had already found a man, but still decided to work a while because she and dad needed the money. Sis wanted a career and just happened to find the right guy. But neither woman nor their families regret or demean the decision. I think it's just important that both were able to support themselves and could return to work should the need arise.
posted by Sangre Azul at 4:29 PM on April 13, 2004


I'll take issue with that last crack, SpaceCadet. On the various feminist message boards I frequent, reclaiming traditional women's "domestic work" (raising kids, knitting, sewing clothes, etc) is a popular aim. There are lots of feminist stay-at-home Moms. We aren't trying to discredit the wonderful work our mothers and grandmothers did. The issue is whether the woman chooses such a path for herself. Not everybody wants to be neurosurgeon or union leader, but everybody should have the option if they're inclined. So, palegirl, no, I don't think it's selfish or naive as long as you go into it with your eyes open. There will be drawbacks; homemaking is a lot of work and as other people pointed out: What do you do once the kids are grown? But you might have those kinds of questions in any career.

And on preview, my answer would be exactly the same to your question, Irontom. I think stay-at-home Dads rock. Isn't the guy who runs that Trixie Update site a SAHD? The key in both situations is to have a partner who agrees and is willing to shoulder the financial burden. (I think Trixie's Mom is a doctor.)
posted by web-goddess at 4:31 PM on April 13, 2004


I'll just join in and say ... if you have the means to do it and your spouse is supportive (emotionally, mentally), why the heck not? It is a completely valid lifestyle choice.

If I may step onto my little soapbox for a moment, and I promise it won't be for long, I think the real question here isn't "Should you (palegirl) be a stay-at-home mom" but rather, "Should you (or anyone, for that matter) obey the societal edict that says 'Every family must have two income-earners' which is the same society that, less than 40 years ago, was proclaimed that (hyperbole alert!) 'Women belong at home with their kids, or else they'll all become screwed-up drug-taking criminals!'" The latter turned out to be complete hysterical nonsense, and I propose that the former is equally hysterical nonsense.

An example, from my own life: My mother, college educated and highly experienced in her field (Nursing), left her job to raise my sister and I until we were in school all day. She made sacrifices to do this; she skipped getting a graduate degree, and took the risk at losing some of her skills for the 7 years she didn't work outside the home. This was in the early-mid 70s. My family was (and is) solidly middle class. We did not have a huge house or new cars every two years or spectacular vacations, but I would not trade those early years with my mother for anything.

Ultimately it's up to you and your spouse (or spouse-to-be), but it can be done, and if you do it, I doubt you'd regret it for even one minute.
posted by contessa at 4:36 PM on April 13, 2004


It would be unrealistic to think you can live a two-income lifestyle on one income.

Oh heavens, financial aspirations. We've been stuck in this timewarp since the 80's.

palegirl, seems it comes down to how much stuff you want. In my reckoning, the less stuff you want, the more choices you have. Rough yardstick, but I reckon it works.

I would think it's only naive if you expect Mr. Right to swoop out of nowhere and begin providing for you and your soon to be family, no questions asked.

Surely most fathers would be happy to provide for their family?

I'll take issue with that last crack, SpaceCadet. On the various feminist message boards I frequent, reclaiming traditional women's "domestic work" (raising kids, knitting, sewing clothes, etc) is a popular aim.

Family-friendly feminism.....preach it to Metafilter!
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:38 PM on April 13, 2004


naive - probably. Raising one or more children on a single income is hard, stressful work.

selfish - yes, of course, but why is that a problem? People should be selfish about major life decisions so they can be honest about their motivations.

spoiled, lazy - see "naive". If someone thinks that dropping out of the career world to raise kids is a trip into the luxe life, they're in for a big disappointment.

unreasonable, unrealistic: people do it. I don't envy them, but it is obviously possible.

unamerican, unacceptable: I can't imagine why anyone would want to pursue such a life if they had other opportunities. If I met someone who made such a decision, I would assume that they were sexist, old-fashioned, conservative, and probably a devout Christian; not someone whose company I would seek. I guess that means I consider it personally unacceptable.
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:40 PM on April 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


Being a stay-at-home mom IS a profession. And there are actually things one can do at home to earn a bit of money-or to make the money that the breadwinner brings home stretch further.

I have worked, and I have stayed home. I think kids fare better with an available parent. Not to mention there is more energy to put into the marriage.

Saxman, I don't know if you have kids, but they need a lot of attention. It has been my experience that they vastly prefer that the attention come from a parent. I think it is sexist that the job of raising a family and making a home for them is not respected. It's one of the hardest jobs there is, especially if done right.
posted by konolia at 4:52 PM on April 13, 2004


From my perspective, it depends what you have worked out with your partner. If your partner wants the two of you to be a two income family and you want to stay at home, then you have some working-out to do between the two of you. If not, it's really nobody's business what you do. If you have no partner and you are aspiring now to be a stay-at-home Mom, that might limit your dating/marriage options, but it's certainly your choice. Wouldn't be my choice, but it seems to be a valid one.

Surely most fathers would be happy to provide for their family?

Most of the guys I meet are looking for something more along the lines of an equal partnership, they are not looking for me to become part of a family they have to support. We're both the family that we both support, is how I see it. Then again, I'm one of those no-kid-having people which is my own "selfish" choice I suppose.

An example from my own life: my Mom pretty much dropped out of the workforce to raise my sister and I [late 60's, early 70s]. She had a college degree but not a lot of work experience. My Dad climbed up the corporate ladder. He moved out when I was 12, blindsiding my Mom, who was sort of counting on a full life as a stay-at-home Mom, not just a decade. She got on her feet, it wasn't a huge hassle but it killed a few years when she had other plans. She still gets alimony nearly a decade later which me and my sister both find a bit distasteful in some strange way. Moral of the story is, if you choose that route, be aware that it can be unchosen for you without a lot of input on your part, potentially. IMHO, it's only unreasonable choice if you feel the world owes it to you.
posted by jessamyn at 4:55 PM on April 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


If I met someone who made such a decision, I would assume that they were sexist, old-fashioned, conservative, and probably a devout Christian; not someone whose company I would seek

mars, Why do you assume such stereotypes? You need to understand people are individuals. Do you view your own parents as cardboard cutouts?

I have worked, and I have stayed home. I think kids fare better with an available parent. Not to mention there is more energy to put into the marriage.

konolia well said. Common sense is a rare commodity on Metafilter.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:56 PM on April 13, 2004


Call me
posted by banished at 4:56 PM on April 13, 2004


We are talking about your kid, right?
posted by yerfatma at 4:57 PM on April 13, 2004


No but it's tricky, as you may find yourself facing that which younger women seem to fear so terribly: loneliness. So keep improving yourself mentally through self-education, read constantly (I mean books, not fluffy magazines and so on) and by all means work out . Don't ever allow your vanity and looks to be superseded by home chores.

Also, do not become a fixture. Take a week off by yourself once in a while so that your family will be constantly reminded that you're a human being, not a motherbot. But don't become a bitter, selfish feminazi either.

Again, get this: boredom can creep in, so keep a flexible mental attitude as to changing your way of life should you decide that being a housewife is not enough.

Read Flaubert's "Madame Bovary" and watch Bergman's dramas to be realistically aware of the dangers lurking behind formulaic, empty marriages.

You see it's tricky like most choices in life, but it can be a successful, happy lifestyle. I wouldn't mind if I had a stay at home wife, would not love her any less or be less proud of her, as long as she felt truly happy and fulfilled.
posted by 111 at 4:57 PM on April 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


I don't see why it is a bad thing as long as it's something you and your partner are both happy with. If the cultural climate you live in is one which promotes the working mother, then its only fair that any future parter knows about your desire. Also, pissfactory makes a good point about consumption. There's something inherintly less socially concious about two people earning (and spending) twice as much as they maybe need.

There are a few downsides...
By promoting a lifestyle which on the surface appears to be reliant on anothers income, you may be setting a bad example for any children you have in the future.

The role of house cleaner / mother is seen as less important to the role of earner. (which is why nurses and teachers get paid so damn little) Be prepared to have people sniffing at you.

It's easier for your partner to withold money from you than it is for you to withold services.

It's a great way of reminding women who have to work in order that they and there partner can survive that you're richer than they are.

I'd reccomend that you at least find or get some kind of marketable skill before taking this role, but if ultimately you decide to go for it, and it's in a relationship where everyone is comfortable with what you do, then I say - Go for it.
posted by seanyboy at 4:58 PM on April 13, 2004


oh... and what banished said.
posted by seanyboy at 4:59 PM on April 13, 2004


Mars, I'm a Stay-at-home mom, and I am not sexist, old-fashioned, conservative, or even a Christian. If you find me "unacceptable" because my job is taking care of my child... well, you're no one I'd wish to associate with anyway.

Irontom, I'm all in favor of stay-at-home Dads. My husband would be a great SAHD--but he can earn enough to support us all, and I can't. So, it's not really an option for us. I likely can't even earn enough to offset the cost of daycare for an infant, so for us, me staying at home makes more sense financially. And guess who has the greater education? Not my husband.
posted by Shoeburyness at 5:02 PM on April 13, 2004


Is it naive, selfish, spoiled, lazy, unreasonable, unrealistic, unamerican or otherwise unacceptable for, say, a 35 year old married father of 2 to aspire to be a stay at home husband & father and not pursue a career, despite his good education and good upbringing?

If your answer is substantially different to palegirl's, why?


It's odd, since your kids and spouse will, whether they want it or not, look up to you as the male go-getter. This has been wired into our systems, so it transcends notions of PC equality. You're the man. You fix stuff. You change the tires. You get (or help getting) the money. Unless it's a barbecue thing, males who gleefully don aprons 24/7 can lose respect. I'm not saying you shouldn't help your wife, though. The way I see it, 9 out of 10 women work too much and could use some help from husband/kids.
posted by 111 at 5:07 PM on April 13, 2004


Do what makes you happy and fulfilled--as long as you keep your own bank account and credit somewhere (just in case), as well as marketable skills. Be prepared for whatever may happen.
posted by amberglow at 5:11 PM on April 13, 2004


When did working mothers stop being the exception and become the rule? It seems unfortunate that a woman's right to work if she wants to has, somewhere along the line, morphed into actual pressure on women to work. This is probably to do with "shifting social norms" (that is, "everyone else is doing it, why don't you?"), or some such nonsense, but I find it disconcerting. I'd also say that economic factors (the "two-income family") -- especially in America, I gather -- might be more important to this than some people let on.

I'd also like to chip in against the kind of person who thinks that women should have the choice of whether to work or not, but men shouldn't. It seems to me to be a variation on that "women can do everything just as well as men can, except for the things that women are much better at" line of thinking. Be prepared to swap roles at some point, and let the man have some time at home (to let him see how much you actually do there, apart from anything else). Otherwise a marriage where both parents work can, based on my experiences with my parents' marriage and friends' parents' marriages at least, become quite uncomfortable for all involved.
posted by reklaw at 5:14 PM on April 13, 2004


I am a stay at home wife (no kids) and when meeting new people, I always worry about what they will think. But in truth, no one lets on that they are thinking anything bad. Women usually seem envious.

I am educated, but I just happened to meet a man who makes twice what normal people around here make. He works a lot of hours, and has a stressful job, so it is good that he can come home and relax, and not have to worry about doing his share of the work.

Never mind those people that are saying "what will you do when the kids grow up, are in school, etc. I have never been bored. Not for a moment. There are so many things one can do.
posted by free pie at 5:34 PM on April 13, 2004


You know what's weird? Landlords (at least in NYC) don't want to rent to couples where only one leaves the apartment to work. I naively thought my wife and I would be attractive tenants because she stayed at home, but no—apparently they're terrified people staying home during the day will use up the water or something. When did our expectations get so topsy-turvy?

As you can probably tell, my answer to palegirl is "No." I'm perfectly happy being the economic support and having my wife provide the home support. But every couple is different (my first wife earned more money than I did, and that was fine too).
posted by languagehat at 5:59 PM on April 13, 2004


After looking over so much of the superficial stuff that seems to pass for worthwhile ambition in the career world, I see it as enviable work to spend time making a home -- not just a household (which is a job in itself) but a place where human beings love, care for, and support each other, make memories and come back to visit later in life. This is something many people have to work at incompletely, part time. The chance to do it full-time would be worthwhile indeed.

I do buy into what amberglow said: be educated, make sure you keep some employable skills sharp, and have some kind of financial reserve that is yours. You never know what kinds of turns you'll have to face. But go for it. This isn't any kind of choice people would reasonably be able to look down on you for.
posted by weston at 6:09 PM on April 13, 2004


Over the last few years I've reduced my work hours to a pale shadow of what they used to be.

I am essentially a stay at home father and couldn't be happier. I consider spending this time with my children to be a privilege and wouldn't trade it for anything. Sure, we take a financial hit. We tend to visit family rather than take extensive vacations, we don't buy a new vehicle every three years and I pay more attention to the garden and deer season.

However, GM will be pumping out SUVs for years to come and the Greek islands aren't going anywhere-- I can't say the same about my childrens youth. Do what makes you happy and is best for your family, to hell with what anyone thinks.
posted by cedar at 6:30 PM on April 13, 2004


I agree with the general spirit of this thread - that it's up to you and your partner to decide this, that you should be realistic about the possible downside.

I'll also add that I had two female friends who always said they wanted to stay home with their kids once they had them, yet while single and working spent everything they made and more. And they weren't prepared to live simply. Some man was supposed to come along, pay off their debts, buy them houses, and support them in the very comfortable upper-middle-class style they felt they deserved. I had no problem with their desire to stay at home, but was disgusted by the selfishness and immaturity of their expectations.

If you want to stay home, act as is becoming to half of a partnership rather than expecting to be looked after as though you're a princess or prince.
posted by orange swan at 6:32 PM on April 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


Irontom - geez I hope not. It's my frickin' dream. The irony of it is that if I ever get such an opportunity, I'll have to leave a prosperous career to do it.
posted by scarabic at 6:34 PM on April 13, 2004


With one shot at living this life the way you want to live it, palegirl, it seems obvious to me that if it's at all practical, you should aspire to do whatever will make you happiest.

If that means staying at home, raising kids to become good adults, more power to ya. We could do with a lot more parenting in this culture.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:48 PM on April 13, 2004


I bid the contents of one sporran.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:04 PM on April 13, 2004


No. There is absolutly nothing wrong with it provided it will truly make you happy and are prepared to stay the course.
posted by Grod at 7:12 PM on April 13, 2004


Simple, straightforward answer: Of course not! It's a perfectly valid thing to desire to raise a family!

Is it realistic? Sure!

It just so happens my family is structured that way, and while it's hard work -- for both parents -- and requires some hard financial choices, it does work.
posted by majick at 7:14 PM on April 13, 2004


There are many stay at home mothers in my neighbourhood. In the mornings I often see three or four mums with little ones shopping or chatting on the street. I live in a rather tony part of town and the mums I see look healthy and employable: there seems to be ample money in the arrangements. I don't think the choice is all that peculiar.

Another side is that I have known dual income families who really did not gain financially from the second income. When/if the second earner's wage is relatively low (I don't know what career you are thinking about) and they buy a second car, pay for day care/babysitting, buy clothes for work and if they want lunches out and little luxuries, they can end up with very little at the end of the year. An extraordinary amount of hustle and stress and little money to show for it. A part-time career, maybe twenty hours per week, in this case, would add more to the bank accounts and be less stressful as well.
posted by philfromhavelock at 7:25 PM on April 13, 2004


Surely most fathers would be happy to provide for their family?

Hahahahhaha. Oh. Sorry. Most guys I know would wonder why they have to work all day while Mom gets to stay at home playing with the kids. It doesn't seem so hard to them, and they grow to resent the stay-at-home parent.

That's assuming they're even willing to give it a go in the first place. The ones I have encountered wouldn't fathom it.

I second what seanyboy said:

It's easier for your partner to withold money from you than it is for you to withold services.

It's a great way of reminding women who have to work in order that they and there partner can survive that you're richer than they are.


So true, so true.

Staying home is a *luxury*, pure and simple. You are far, far luckier than most if it's even an option for you.

I think parenting a child is not by default a full-time occupation, and that it's unnatural to segregate children solely with their siblings and one caregiver all day long. When we were evolving, things weren't like this. Child care was shared somewhat and children who were old enough helped out with work. I think sharing childcare makes a lot more sense than one-on-one attention, from an efficiency standpoint as well as in other ways.

Little kids are going to have to learn how to share, take turns, and resolve disputes with other children sooner or later, and in the modern school system they'll be grouped with kids their own age for at least (one hopes) thirteen years. So why not learn those skills sooner rather than later?

Seriously, I hope all these stay-at-home moms who think they're so much better than daycare are keeping up a full day's worth of activities, day in, day out.

I know I could never do it.
posted by beth at 8:57 PM on April 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


It is not selfish when done correctly. Quite the contrary. IMO 'community' is something that used to be better maintained by the mothers and wives who didn't work. The kids are better off living in a community, so it goes to their best interest. And kids are the most important thing most people ever do.

Now all you need is a man who has the right attitude about it. Not some schmuck who'll decide the housewife is boring and dump you for someone more 'glamorous'. If you want to know an easy way to find a good crop of such men, just ask me.
posted by Goofyy at 1:55 AM on April 14, 2004


no , ask me !




*waves hands in air*
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:05 AM on April 14, 2004


"Seriously, I hope all these stay-at-home moms who think they're so much better than daycare are keeping up a full day's worth of activities, day in, day out."

What happened to just being a kid?

You know, going over a friends house or just playing. Maybe building a fort with the other kids around or even playing a sport -- without any adults, coaches or even the latest and greatest equipment. I can't count the parents I know who feel that their young children require 'schedules' -- what they often wind up with are stressed out kids who spend their time rushing around in the back seat in an endless quest for the right martial art, playgroup or dance class.

There is a huge difference between devoting the bulk of your time to raising children and living as a hermit -- extended family, community and friends can all provide the interaction you advocate without the need for 'subcontracting' child care. Of course I'm better at caring for my kids than a paid provider -- being that I love them and all and that my interest in their well being goes beyond next months payment. Providing, of course, that you can even find a decent caregiver -- much of my decision to stay home was based upon the utter incompetency of caregivers and my absolute refusal to leave them in the charge of someone I was less than 100% confident in.

As far is it being a 'luxury', that's just nonsense. The only difference between a luxury and a necessity is ones priorities and it is judgemental to assume that any given choice is better than another. It's actually hard work and believe me, there are more days than I can count that I long for the relative serenity of the workplace.
posted by cedar at 6:04 AM on April 14, 2004


Speaking somewhat to the "feminist" angle, I think that feminism is, by definition, not feeling confined to certain choices on the basis of your gender. So it's just as feminist to be a stay at home mom as it is to be a corporate go-getter or a welder or whatever, so long as you're doing what you as a human want to do, and not what you as a female are supposed to do.

That said, if the world is perfect when/if my SO and I have a kid, I'd love to take a year or so out of the work world to spend the baby/boobie time with the child, then go back to work and support my SO as a SAHD. But this is my own musing and not something we've worked out as a couple. We've got a good five years before reproduction would even enter into the picture so we'll figure it out by then, I'm sure.

If being a homemaker/mom is what some one wants to do, and this person is happy and fulfilled in that role, then more power to her.

And on preview: Cedar said "The only difference between a luxury and a necessity is ones priorities" and I couldn't agree more.
posted by jennyb at 6:14 AM on April 14, 2004


It's a great way of reminding women who have to work in order that they and there partner can survive that you're richer than they are.

WHAT?!?!?

That's not necessarily true- not all stay-at-home moms are married to someone who earns big bucks. A lot of families choose this route in spite of finances, and scrape by.

And even if it were factually true (and I freely admit it often is), people's perception of you is not your problem, and shouldn't drive a decision as major as this. It's not any woman's obligation to work out of pity for other women.
posted by mkultra at 7:46 AM on April 14, 2004


Hahahahhaha. Oh. Sorry. Most guys I know would wonder why they have to work all day while Mom gets to stay at home playing with the kids. It doesn't seem so hard to them, and they grow to resent the stay-at-home parent.

Leave daddy home alone with the little darling(s) for one weekend and the attitude will be adjusted. It's work, baby-hard work.
posted by konolia at 7:53 AM on April 14, 2004


people's perception of you is not your problem,
Never said it was (although in a broad human sense, we are all constrained according to current perceptions). I was just making the point that being a stay-at-home woman may upset people who don't have that option.

It's not any woman's obligation to work out of pity for other women.
It's up to all women to individually decide what their personal obligations are. This is called "Choice."
posted by seanyboy at 8:34 AM on April 14, 2004


Read philfromhavelock's comment again.

Working with two incomes is not necessarily financially better. On the flip side, I was a stay at home dad for the first 18 months of my son's life while my wife worked. Now we both work and we're thinking about switching- she stays at home, I work.

There are so many hidden costs when both partners are working and they have at least one kid. For example
- Daycare: an easy 600-1000 dollars a month depending on your location.
- Food: Temptation to go to a restaurant or order a pizza is much greater when both of you are exhausted. 4 carryout meals a month = 75- 100 bucks. Maybe you both go out for lunch when working instead of brown bagging it? Add an extra 150 bucks.
- Illness: The kid gets sick and cant go to daycare- who stays home? You take a hit financially and professionally. 1 sick day a month = 1 lost day of vacation/personal days
- Shopping: Sounds silly but you are more likely to run down to the corner store and buy a $3 dollar bottle of juice if you are both working and noone has the time to get it. The same juice may have cost $1 at the supermarket.
- Transportation. Do you need two cars? If not you're fortunate, because two cars mean twice the gas, twice the repairs.
- Other factors include cost of laundry and drycleaning, late bills because noone is keeping track of finances, hiring a housecleaner (I wish, personally), paying too much for something because noone has time to look for bargains or buy used.

Tie this all off with the fact that I can tell you from personal experience that raising a child is harder than 90% of the "real jobs" out there. The fact that it does not get the respect it deserves speaks volumes about American society: as evidenced by the number of responses to this thread. The fact that two income families are becoming the norm also speaks volumes about our culture of consumption.
posted by jeremias at 8:41 AM on April 14, 2004


konolia -

imo, you say some fairly weird shit on a regular basis, but this one takes the cake:

Leave daddy home alone with the little darling(s) for one weekend and the attitude will be adjusted.

some of us daddy's don't need our attitudes adjusted, and are perfectly able to handle the hard work, baby...
posted by Irontom at 8:45 AM on April 14, 2004


Irontom, you've got my respect, but I think you're misinterpreting konolia here. The very fact that you recognize child-rearing as hard work means that you're not a member of the class of un-clued daddies she's describing. As I see it, you and konolia are on the same side: babies are work, baby.

I'd also like to chime in as a third feminist vote for pursuing the work that appeals to you (be it child-rearing, welding, politics, whatever) without reference to societally-constructed gender norms.

Also, if you find you enjoy the experience, and put some thought and time into developing advanced skills in this area, then you might find yourself well-equipped in transitional situations such as divorce or the eventual empty nest. Look into your state's regulations regarding qualifications for professional childcare providers--good help in this area seems perennially in demand.
posted by clever sheep at 10:49 AM on April 14, 2004


Saxman, I don't know if you have kids, but they need a lot of attention.

No kids for me. I am the oldest of a very large family, and that was all the child-raising I will ever need.

I think it is sexist that the job of raising a family and making a home for them is not respected.

It is only sexist if you assume that the job in question should be performed by one of the sexes in particular. I will remain suspicious of the idea of the stay-at-home mother until the stay-at-home father gains equal prominence and respect. Then I will just think it is unfortunate that economic factors make it necessary for parents to divide their roles that way in the first place.

It's one of the hardest jobs there is, especially if done right.

Indeed! I respect the job itself. I am just skeptical about the true motivations of any American woman who chooses motherhood (and motherhood alone) as a career, given the Victorian legacy and strong conservative religious influence still present in the U.S.

mars, Why do you assume such stereotypes?

In my experience the correlation is useful. Sexist, old-fashioned, conservative religious people generally believe that stay-at-home-motherhood is the only appropriate career for a woman. Most people aren't that extreme, but the core of the idea survives. Not everyone who chooses to be a homemaker does it for those reasons, but it's not a bad first approximation. Maybe in another generation that will have changed.

You need to understand people are individuals. Do you view your own parents as cardboard cutouts?

Of course people are individuals, but individuals are influenced by the society they live in. American society has a strong conservative tradition that thinks of homemaking as the right and proper career for a woman, but a dishonorable and unfulfilling career for a man. Living in this matrix, decisions that line up with these traditional values will tend to have less awkward consequences than decisions which contradict them. This suggests that individual choices will tend to align with the traditional values more than random chance would suggest, which is exactly what we see when we compare the numbers of male vs. female homemakers. Therefore, I have to expect that a significant component in any American woman's decision to be a homemaker must be the influence of the society she lives in.

I don't know why you are asking about my relationship with my parents.

Mars , I'm a Stay-at-home mom, and I am not sexist, old-fashioned, conservative, or even a Christian.

Good for you. I think the fact that people feel they have to choose between the role of family-raiser and the role of provider is an unfortunate and unhelpful side-effect of our economic system, but as long as it exists, I think it's a good thing that there are modern people in both roles.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:51 AM on April 14, 2004 [1 favorite]


palegirl, one last comment--in re-reading your question, I found myself thinking that I hoped you were pursuing a career while still single. You may want to cover your bases in case you fall in love with someone who expects a working partner--or, say you never fall in love at all (assuming that might be a requirement to marry, YMMV).

Essentially, in preparing yourself for a career, whether professional childcare or some other field, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
posted by clever sheep at 11:02 AM on April 14, 2004


By the way, there will never be true "equality" in one sense: it is the female of the species that goes thru pregnancy, childbirth, and if so chosen, breastfeeding. This tends to drain one's energy just a tad.

Men, if you expect a working wife, bear that in mind. Either don't have kids or commit to being as hands-on as possible with them. There are always tradeoffs, and there will always be something that gets short shrift no matter what lifestyle you choose.
posted by konolia at 12:18 PM on April 14, 2004


"Men, if you expect a working wife..."

What kind of inhuman monster would set expectations about his (or her!) partner's choice of work? Negotiation I can understand, maybe even assumptions based on knowing an individual's character. But expectations?

This looks like another example of the broad spectrum of ways people interrelate -- it would never occur to me to expect someone to work without having actually stated that as part of some arrangement or other.

palegirl, you just go right ahead and have whatever kind of family arrangement you like. It's nobody's business but your family's as to what or why.
posted by majick at 1:35 PM on April 14, 2004


majick, aren't you overreacting a little bit? Expectations are just that; there's no reason to necessarily interpret this term as non-negotiable demands or orders. As such, I think the vast majority of people hold a host of expectations about our partners, family members, and friends, whether about such serious matters as treating themselves and us with respect, or about such trivial issues as whether they show up to a coffee date exactly on time. These expectations may be unstated or explicit. Hopefully, mature individuals explicitly discuss and negotiate such serious expectations as those relating to their partner's career choices.

More particularly, having such an expectation as "my spouse will work inside/outside the home" doesn't make someone an "inhuman monster." Presumably this expectation is generally made explicit before partners agree to spend a lifetime together, and can be discussed and negotiated. What disturbs you about this?

Heck, I'm a total feminist, and you won't find me getting myself into a lather about men who carry strong and automatic gender expectations about their spouses confining their work options within the home. Why would I bother, so long as these expectations about women's working options are not held and enforced across our entire society? It takes all kinds, and I'm sure such men will easily find spouses with matching expectations.

All I care about is that women--and men!--enjoy the freedom to choose whatever work they wish, be it inside or outside the home. And we're all thankfully free to choose our partners, which allows us to self-select for spouses with expectations that match ours for ourselves, or are negotiable.

Presumably palegirl holds expectations of a spouse with work prospects sufficient to support her and their offspring in a particular level of comfort (be that low, middle, or high). Right?

That said, majick, I think we agree that palegirl should pursue her expectations regardless of third-party viewpoints on the situation. I'd add that being forthcoming and clear with potential partners about her strongly held expectations in this area would be a very good idea.

However, I also would suggest that until such time as she marries, she pursue a career. It's a sensible backup plan in case she falls in love with someone with strong expectations of a working spouse--or perhaps if she never marries.
posted by clever sheep at 2:40 PM on April 14, 2004


What kind of inhuman monster would set expectations about his (or her!) partner's choice of work?

Well, I expect my partner will be a woman. Is that wrong?
posted by kindall at 4:10 PM on April 14, 2004


cleversheep, after reading your posts regarding family issues (across many threads), one thing is clear: You opine to the nth degree about women's rights, but you never once consider what might truly be good for children. Interesting. If you had even just a little empathy for other family members, you'd add a lot more integrity to your feminist views (I'm serious here, not snarking).

The fact that two income families are becoming the norm also speaks volumes about our culture of consumption.

jeremias, well said. Also about hidden costs of dual incomes - very true. I've been there too. Not only financial costs, but two people coming home pretty stressed out is not really conducive to a happy home.

Personally my ideal would be for one parent to work full-time, and the other not working at all and looking after the child(ren)/having some light part-time work and looking after the child(ren). Life is only as expensive as your outgoings.
posted by SpaceCadet at 6:13 AM on April 15, 2004


SpaceCadet, I'm serious here, and not snarking: if anyone I respected were to tell me that I don't care enough about children's welfare, then I might be concerned. But it's you, and so I'm not. Not in the slightest. 'Nuff said.
posted by clever sheep at 8:00 AM on April 15, 2004


No clever sheep, it's not me "telling you" - it's in the evidence of your own posting history. Your very own posts are telling on your solopsism.
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:16 PM on April 15, 2004


ahh....solipsism.
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:20 PM on April 15, 2004


I don't know how to make it any clearer, SpaceCadet: your opinions carry no weight with me whatsoever. That most emphatically includes your perceptions of my posting history. In turn, I expect you to comfortably ignore my quite immutable view of you as a deeply illogical, laughably misogynistic cro-magnon throwback.

Also, given your personal history freely revealed on this site, I would think you would be the LAST person to look to for advice about either marriage or gender relations. You created your own hell there, no matter how much socio-babble you spout. Meanwhile, this selfish feminist has one very happy husband, and knock wood, will someday have some very happy kids.

And that's all I've got to say on the subject. Why bother any further with you? Short of medication and intense therapy, or an aneurysm-inspired personality reboot, you're clearly beyond help. Quit wasting your time addressing me--those hate sites you love to link are feeling neglected.
posted by clever sheep at 4:01 PM on April 15, 2004


Wow. clever sheep, you're so full of hate to those who have a different opinion to you. Please do not mix up principles with personality. Your vitriol is not reciprocated - I have no grudge against you or anyone here, but neither do I pull my punches. Your faulty thinking is also telling: that anyone who criticises feminism is automatically a misogynist.
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:52 AM on April 16, 2004


Once again, SpaceCadet, you wilfully misinterpret me. I don't hate you--that would require an intensity of commitment that you don't rate in my world. You used to annoy me, and now merely amuse me. Sometimes I feel flashes of pity, which generally disappear upon reflection that you are personally responsible for your ugly family breakup. Your subsequent efforts to reassign the blame on a societal level to women and feminism simply can't be taken seriously. I snicker, I shrug, and I move on.

You also err in assuming that I hate those with different opinions about gender relations (including those who aren't you). Why on earth would I bother? Nice try at projection, though.

Last but not least, plenty of feminists criticize feminism, albeit in a thoughtful, constructive way that would be utterly foreign to you. Read some bell hooks, for starters; try "from margin to center". And given that feminists actively critique feminism, even you should be able to grasp the absurdity of your assertion "that anyone who criticises feminism is automatically a misogynist". This is another classic example of you trying to reassure yourself using socio-babble. Obvious, desperate, and genuinely sad.

I will repeat my request: please stop addressing me, as it's a waste of time. Your ethos is damaged beyond repair.
posted by clever sheep at 8:36 AM on April 16, 2004


Ah clever sheep, I clearly rattled you with my original observation. As I say, you would strengthen your points if you actually applied some empathy and looked at things more objectively. Now I see the wounded animal taking wild, hateful swipes at me for pointing out something that's self-evident in your posting history.
posted by SpaceCadet at 9:21 AM on April 16, 2004


You wish, sweetie.

[snicker]
[shrug]
(moves on...)
posted by clever sheep at 9:36 AM on April 16, 2004


No, I want the last word, dammit!
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:17 AM on April 17, 2004


OK clever sheep, to respond directly to your point regarding feminists self-examining their beliefs.

Firstly, I was pointing out that criticism of feminism does not equate to misogyny. You actually backed my point up by highlighting feminists who criticise feminism. We're actually agreeing here.

Anyway, I checked out your link. It seems that the book is very specific in its criticism of feminism: it attacks the "whiteness" of feminism. My persepective is wider: I criticise the femaleness of feminism. The dictionary definition of the word "feminism" tells me it's all about gender equality. The term gender equality implies that both genders be equal, therefore to apply equality measures to only one gender would not achieve this possibility as you never address the other gender's inequalities. Sadly, feminism has always operated this way, willfully ignoring it's very definition.

And guess what? I don't hate women because of it. I love my mum, my sister, my girlfriend, and my female friends. They are people. Simple isn't it? I associate myself with people who live by their common sense. I feel rather awkward that I need to explain myself like this, as if to justify my existance.

Notice in my posting history I criticise the institution of marriage, having had first-hand experience of the family courts, which totally destroy any sanctity or meaning marriage supposedly carries. Feminism brought in no-fault divorce. Feminism shaped custody laws such as "lingering doubt" (onus on the accused to prove innocence, not the accuser to prove guilt). Through flimsy laws, I lost meaningful contact with my son. The law shrugs it's shoulders and yawns. Meanwhile, feminists are up in arms that the English language contains words like "chairman". I don't hate women because of this. I criticise the feminist dogma that women can "have it all" - they can, but sadly the family carries the burden of such "freedoms". Again, I don't hate women because of this.

Imagine if you were discriminated against clever sheep, because of your gender (note: slight tongue in cheek) - wouldn't you feel at least a little radicalised? Or would you, going totally against your feminist beliefs, simply shrug your shoulders and think "ah well, life sucks don't it? I accept all forms of discrimination". No, I didn't think so.

Let me remind you of some classic feminist quotes:-

"Men are rapists, batterers, plunderers, killers"
Pornography: Men Possessing Women - Andrea Dworkin

"When a woman reaches orgasm with a man she is only collaborating with the patriarchal system, eroticizing her own oppression..."
- Sheila Jeffrys

"Heterosexual intercourse is the pure, formalized expression of contempt for women's bodies."
- Andrea Dworkin

"All men are rapists and that's all they are."
Author; (later, advisor to Al Gore's Presidential Campaign.) - Marilyn French

"As long as some men use physical force to subjugate females, all men need not. The knowledge that some men do suffices to threaten all women. He can beat or kill the woman he claims to love; he can rape women...he can sexually molest his daughters... THE VAST MAJORITY OF MEN IN THE WORLD DO ONE OR MORE OF THE ABOVE."
(Her emphasis) - Marilyn French

Sorry, these women do not win me over. There is so much feminist screed out there, it's not funny.

Finally, I want to address your personal comments regarding my marriage (yes I am still technically married). If you are truly interested in my story regarding my marriage (and I'm not sure you really are), you can follow my story by checking my e-mail address and adding "www" in front of it. You might be surprised by what you read. It's my own site, so I'm sure you can do the detective work and find my story on the messageboard. I don't like to self-link, or open up my private life to those it doesn't concern, but you've been throwing around such lazy slander, I think you owe it to yourself to actually read for the first time about my own events.

Jeez, this has been too long a post....
posted by SpaceCadet at 11:51 AM on April 22, 2004


SpaceCadet, we can hardly work toward rapprochement when you open your post with such a blatant bit of dishonesty:
Firstly, I was pointing out that criticism of feminism does not equate to misogyny.

No. You were not. That is what I said. Here is what you said, and I refuted:
Your faulty thinking is also telling: that anyone who criticises feminism is automatically a misogynist.

In stating this strawman fallacy as if it were my position, you were attempting to recast the argumentative ground and sidestep a very simple fact: that I believe YOU are a misogynist. Not some hypothetical class of "people who criticize feminism"--YOU. You, SpaceCadet, Are A Misogynist.

Your posting history provides plentiful evidence for this assertion. An entire Metatalk thread was devoted to exactly this topic on November 23, 2003. Incidentally, it was about this same time period that you posted extensively in regard to your own pitiable marriage experience. At this time, your experiences became a matter of voluntarily offered, generally available public record--no "second-guessing" or other "detective work" required, and no "lazy slander" involved. I can post some of the relevant quotations from you if you wish.

Back on topic.... Because I perceive you as both a proven misogynist and as a highly illogical, intellectually dishonest poster, your opinions and arguments carry no weight with me. In saying this, I am not attempting an ad hominem attack. I am trying yet again to make you understand why I cannot take your beliefs or assertions seriously--whether concerning social phenomena such as feminism or trivia such as your personal perceptions of my posting history. In the simplest terminology possible, you have no credibility.

For this same reason, I feel no need to defend feminism in general from your specious, strawman arguments. Not that doing so would require any heavy lifting...you quote Andrea Dworkin and Marilyn French (twice apiece!) as if they are commonly recognized as leading, mainstream voices for feminism?! Sure, sweets, and in that same universe, Jack Chick is a leading, mainstream religious leader. [shrug]

You know, in going back and reading some of your posting history today, I ran across the stories of some other MeFis here who have faced child custody struggles very similar to your own: dg and Irontom come to mind in particular. Unlike you, these people fought their battles and coped with various injustices without becoming cranks. They don't post anti-woman hate sites, or portray bizarre quotes from the farthest reaches of the lunatic fringe as mainstream, or otherwise try to whip up outrage about the evils of "feminazis". What I'm getting at here is that your unpleasant personal experiences do not justify your persistent, public displays of illogic.

And now that I'm done shooting a few fish from the barrel, I rather expect a content-free follow-up from you about my "swipes" and "hatred" blah blah blah, and in an effort to clarify in advance: I simply do not hate you. Not you, not men in general. Almost nobody, actually.

Rather, I have no respect for you, and see no need to take you seriously. And I fully anticipate that you will never engage in serious argument with me, either, so really we're probably on as good terms with each other as we'll ever get. Think of me as a hateful, deluded harpy if you wish--I sincerely promise not to care.
posted by clever sheep at 1:52 PM on April 22, 2004


Um, clever sheep, did you bother to check my site out, or are you more interested in venting your spleen?

Peace.
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:39 PM on April 22, 2004


SpaceCadet, for the umpteenth time, I cannot take you or your crankpot views seriously. Therefore, reading more of the same on your website would be a waste of valuable time.

And that's 100% spleen-free, sweets. But feel free to project some "femmunist" harpy-esque rage if it gives you the kicks you're looking for.
posted by clever sheep at 6:20 PM on April 22, 2004


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