KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 26-Feb-14 11:27:30

Guest post: Why is society so ambivalent about stay-at-home mums?

Rising childcare costs and stagnant salaries mean that more women are becoming stay-at-home mums. But society seems conflicted about those who look after their children full-time, especially those who do so by choice rather than necessity.

In this guest post, MN blogger Louise Dillon navigates the guilt and the stigmas, as well as accusations of 'not pulling their weight', and questions whether women's work in the home will ever be properly valued.

Louise Dillon

New Pencil Case

Posted on: Wed 26-Feb-14 11:27:30


Lead photo

Will caring ever be deemed as important as providing?

Historically women (and children) have always worked. The poor would either take their children to work with them, or leave them with extended families. At the other end of the scale, rich women would leave their children in the care of a nanny while they managed household staff and organised events - long before these activities became viable career choices.

What's changed is that there is now an expectation - or illusion - of choice in the matter. When I was growing up, we had a female prime minister, and Alexis Carrington was the most famous woman on TV. We were told that we could have it all – glittering career, thriving children and a happy marriage.

It was a lie. As adults, we discover that economic necessity, the needs of children and our own aspirations all pull us in different directions. Rather than 'having it all', we choose our path and passionately defend our decisions against the different choices, opinions and expectations of others. Someone, somewhere will always disagree.

Obviously, there's a tension for those who would love to make a different choice, but can't. For some, working just isn't worth it. Salaries can't compete with the crippling cost of formal childcare, and for many of us, family aren't on hand to help. For others, rocketing property prices and rents mean that often both parents must work to afford the roof over their heads and an acceptable standard of living. With the prospect of meagre pensions, tuition fees, care homes and future property prices, there's a strong chance my children might, at 25, wish I'd traded those extra games of Scrabble for a decent deposit on a flat.

Over the past eight years I've worked part-time, freelanced, stayed at home and run my own business. I gave up my “glittering” corporate TV career and moved out of London, back to the village I grew up in, after the birth of son number 2. Not one of those solutions has been perfect, none of them have been easy and I have beaten myself up over each and every decision.

But the decision to stay at home was the one that I struggled with most. Like squabbling siblings, what I wanted for my children, my own identity and my relationship constantly clashed. Enduring stereotypes are of either the dull but worthy women, who were relieved that finally nothing more was expected of them in terms of their career - or the wealthy, well-groomed types who rule the PTA with an iron fist. The woman who actively chooses to stay at home seems to stir a wealth of confused emotions in all of us.

Enduring stereotypes are of either the dull but worthy women, who were relieved that finally nothing more was expected of them in terms of their career - or the wealthy, well-groomed types who rule the PTA with an iron fist. The woman who actively chooses to stay at home seems to stir a wealth of confused emotions in all of us.

And as a feminist, I couldn't help feeling that I was letting the side down. By the time I had children I was successful, financially independent and viewed my marriage as a partnership of equals. The notion that I could give it all up in favour of singing ‘the wheels on the bus’ and sorting the laundry seemed extraordinary. I was uncomfortable with being financially dependent on my husband and I didn't like what it did to our relationship (there was an argument about aubergines I shan't forget). I had grown up with my mother laying out my father's clothes in the morning, but had expected something different for myself: this was not what feminism had fought for; this was not my place. How could I bring my sons up to respect women and treat them as equals if I wasn't an equal partner in my own house?

And yet, I wanted to be at home with my children. I wanted to be the one that cuddled them, read them stories and watched them grow. I wanted to make them toast when they came home from school. I felt my children needed me - and for many women, no job is more important.

And what about the state's position on all this? It seems to be ambivalent at best; fundamentally, it views you in terms of economic worth. We have an ageing population and we need people of working age to pay for them. The fact that children need nurturing, educating, and caring for is overlooked. That future generation of voters is not important right now. Politicians might pay lip service to the value of carers, but the welfare system reveals the truth – they are a burden; they've made a ‘lifestyle choice’ and they aren't ‘pulling their weight’.

The government's answer is to institutionalise childcare; to lengthen school days and cut holidays. They seem to be arguing simultaneously that looking after children is worthless, and yet too important to be left to mere parents. This benefits no one, except employers who no longer have the hassle of negotiating flexibility. It certainly doesn't benefit children or families.

The result is that we all feel confused and a little resentful. Working women will label stay at home mothers as ‘lazy’ or ‘lucky’, and stay at home mothers will accuse working mothers of being ‘selfish’. Both sides feel guilt and resentment over the choices they feel they should have had but didn't - the nagging doubt that we should be providing more, either emotionally or financially. Round and round we go, constantly striving to do better and tying ourselves up in knots.

There are simple, albeit naive, solutions. Cheaper housing and childcare would make staying at home or working a genuine choice rather than a necessity, as would a working culture that is not defined by the hours you work but by the quality of the work that you do - enabling mothers and fathers to do their bit at home and away.

Maybe this is feminism's next task: to redefine how society views the role of caring, and to challenge the notion that ‘progress’ is always moving in the same direction. A stage on from 'women competing in a man's world' would be to elevate caring to a level at which it can also be seen as successful - equal to the providing bit. Then we could, perhaps, put down our defensiveness, and acknowledge that we're all just doing our best with the circumstances we have - and that, most of the time, that's good enough.

We may never see the day when all we're competing over is who raises the most emotionally stable and contented children - but it's a nice thought.

By Louise Dillon

Twitter: @louloudillon

OTheHugeManatee Wed 26-Feb-14 12:22:38

Maybe this is feminism's next task: to redefine how society views the role of caring, and to challenge the notion that ‘progress’ is always moving in the same direction. A stage on from 'women competing in a man's world' would be to elevate caring to a level at which it can also be seen as successful - equal to the providing bit. Then we could, perhaps, put down our defensiveness, and acknowledge that we're all just doing our best with the circumstances we have - and that, most of the time, that's good enough.

I agree. We also need to work on getting the world as a whole to view 'caring' as not just the preserve of women - ie pushing for the part-time/SAHP route to be just as accepted and normal for men as for women. In other words it needs to stop being a feminist debate as such and become one about respect and equalities generally. As long as caring, childcare, family continues to be seen as a 'women's issue' the world will continue to expect fathers to carry on working unaffected by parenthood while people head-tilt at mothers and ask rude questions about their choices.

idlevice Wed 26-Feb-14 14:02:02

I would go as far to say the workplace is discriminatory against parents (& thus women, more so) by not ensuring there are decent childcare arrangements/practicable working arrangements available to employees who become a parent, eg flexible hours, in-house or associated crèche, financial contributions, etc This sounds like a utopian ideal but I do know of a handful of places in my (former) industry that do this & the waiting list for the crèche is naturally in the order of years. For me, I would have been back to work like a shot, albeit part-time, after 6mths if my workplace seemed supportive in any way.

ProfondoRosso Wed 26-Feb-14 14:12:38

Totally agree with OtheHuge - the idea of caring as 'women's work' is still so deeply ingrained in our society.

I would also highlight this from the OP:

What's changed is that there is now an expectation - or illusion - of choice in the matter. When I was growing up, we had a female prime minister, and Alexis Carrington was the most famous woman on TV. We were told that we could have it all – glittering career, thriving children and a happy marriage

As a society we NEED to re-examine how we assign 'value' to occupations and to how we live our lives. Of course I am deeply thankful that women can be CEOs, that they can earn as much (often more) than men, that we have the right to work, have our own money and homes. But we live in a society where competition is always emphasised: who can stay latest at work, who can get promoted quickest, who does the most unpaid overtime and doesn't complain about it? That's not choice, that's fighting a losing battle.

The media encourages us to feel inadequate. Constantly. I can't read magazines like Marie Claire or Elle, because I know I'll put them down feeling I've failed at something. Achievement and 'winning' aren't everything and we need to learn to view life with the capitalist spectacles off sometimes, because while we still have them on, SAHMs look like they're not achieving because they're not earning. Which is bullshit.

MannishBoy Wed 26-Feb-14 14:33:10

To me, the attitude of "if you're not at work then you're shirking" is still far too prevalent. Flexible / mobile / working from home is often just as productive, if not more so, than sitting in an office but management only see bums on seats.
Every manager I have ever worked for has seen working from home as the same as time off.
Attitudes in this country are stuck in the dark ages, for so many things.

MerryMarigold Wed 26-Feb-14 15:12:22

We may never see the day when all we're competing over is who raises the most emotionally stable and contented children - but it's a nice thought.

It's an awful thought. As a SAHM, I am constantly (and unwisely) assessing myself by how happy they are, how well they're doing in school, how kind they are to others, how well behaved they are. If they kick someone in the school playground, I feel like a failure. If my eldest son doesn't eat because he's suffering from anxiety, I really feel like a failure. If my daughter's reading is behind, I feel like a failure. If my ds is too thin, it's my fault.

My SIL is a bit of a basket case. She works a lot, uses tons of different childcare (this is unlinked to the fact she is a basket case!). Anyway, her kids are lovely. They seem (currently) emotionally stable and contented.

My ds is a very anxious child. I hope that's not my 'fault'. My others are not. But it's not helpful to start assessing yourself on ANY criteria that relates to your kids.

Hello, Louise here. Thank you for all your comments.

I agree with you totally Marigold and that was kind of the point I was making. It would be lovely we could move away from the idea of 'achievement' and 'excelling' and towards contentment. Happiness in the moment does not necessarily make for emotional stability later on - in fact probably the opposite.

Many parents, working or not, project their own ambitions and goals on their children which is sometimes a downside to staying at home. Some need to justify the choice through their child's behaviour or achievements. I think that goes across all groups.

I remember very definitely thinking once that I never want to look at my children and think 'I gave up all this for you and you still didn't pass!"

I agree with a lot of the points you raise. I would really like the role of caring to be more valued generally whether for children, those with SN or the elderly. I care for all three groups within my family and paid work is simply not an option for me at the moment. I know what I do has value and I think most people if they took the time to understand my circumstances would agree but generally my efforts are invisible - unless of course something goes wrong then I am solely accountable!

I agree with Marigold in terms of feeling even more judged on the outcomes of my children as a SAHM. As I haven't shared the load with anyone else apart from their father there is no-one else to blame for any shortcomings - I can't use juggling work and family as an excuse!

Wanksock Wed 26-Feb-14 16:25:16

I work for one of those companies idlevice, I went back to work 3 days per week when DS was 7 mo and he was in the on site nursery which was brilliant. It's subsidised by the company and we also get childcare vouchers. Now that DS is older and starting school in the summer I have flexible working in place so that between DH and I we won't have to use any childcare while DH works FT and me 80% of FT. I think this is the way that companies should be going.

ovaryandout Wed 26-Feb-14 16:52:54

I have always believed that feminism is all about women having a choice, stay at home or go to work. Society should not dictate which one, not all work is paid but it doesn't make it any less worthwhile.

This also applies to many more vocations than just 'stay at home' mum or dad...

Impatientismymiddlename Wed 26-Feb-14 16:54:35

Even on parenting forums SAHM's are sometimes told that they should go and get a career because they need financial independence in case their partner leaves and takes the household income with him. They are also sometimes told that they need to get a paid job in order to give their children a good work ethic.

The govt doesn't help because some of its recent policies have been punitive to SAHM's. Childcare tax credits cost a fortune, but are encouraged because they enable mums to go to work (whether they want to or not), even if the govt isn't saving any money by the mum going to work.
Parent carers of disabled children are the most undervalued because they do a fantastic, often around the clock job and save the govt billions each year, yet they get less than job seekers get in 'benefits' for their caring role.
Rant over!

IceNoSlice Wed 26-Feb-14 17:50:25

Your article is well written but (sorry) I'm not sure it raises anything new. I liked your pen picture of the SAHM stereotypes but would be interested to hear more of how you have placed yourself in that world and whether the stereotypes hold true at all - IYE do some women feel the need to become these stereotypes, or pretend to be?

I also feel, for this debate to move on, we need to focus less on the female side of things- feminism, motherhood, SAHM... And more on parent. Why do so many men feel they cannot even ask for flexible working? Why do they feel employers would immediately consider them less committed, less capable even?

maggiemight Wed 26-Feb-14 18:00:22

I would like to see research which proves that DCs of SAHMs are 'better' people in the end, than DCs of WOHM in the hope that the results appease the guilt of working mothers. (I think there was some research in Scandinavia recently which asserted that DCs attending nursery early had better social skills but don't know of much more than that.)

I was a SAHM for much of the DCs childhood, DH worked away a lot with no consistency, no family anywhere near and I hadn't really liked my job that much (so prob would have strived to get back to it if I had).

I worked hard at being a good DM. But let's face it, I am no perfect being, had some difficulties in childhood myself, so without doubt passed on some of my insecurities to my DCs. So I suspect that a mix of childcare might have been better. However was convinced at the time that I was doing what was best for them (as most SAHMs seem to be).

They are all well adjusted and career successful adults now, so I must have done something right. But then again perhaps it was in the genes, DH and I have done ok in life, but of course we are of an age when it was the norm for our own DMs to SAH.

A comparison with boarding school children might be interesting.

I suspect in the end it is the quality that decides - good SAHM as good as a good boarding school.

merrymouse Wed 26-Feb-14 18:25:12

There is an answer to this - Parents sharing the childcare burden. Legislative obstacles being removed, now men just need to take up the slack.

WidowWadman Wed 26-Feb-14 19:16:20

"We may never see the day when all we're competing over is who raises the most emotionally stable and contented children - but it's a nice thought."

As I see it that competition is there already big time and the big stick with which SAHMs and WOHMs keep hitting each other over the head with, seeking to validate their own choice (for want of a better word) by making the other one out to be worse.

As it is, both SAHMs and WOHMs are equally capable of raising emotionally stable and contented children. There is no need for this competition.

muminsuburbia Wed 26-Feb-14 20:12:02

I agree with merrymouse - the way to move this debate on is to make it less about SAHMs v WOHMs but as an issue that affects all parents. I think its a bit of red herring to say that feminism should be all about choice for mothers - what about fathers? Someone has to pay the bills and many dads want to spend time more with their children as well.

RonaldMcDonald Wed 26-Feb-14 20:28:13

I think it's because it is all so blardy repetitive and boring.
TBH we really don't value anyone in lowly paid, repetitive jobs. Our society is now only interested in extreme acts not tradition - unless the tradition is lept upon by hipsters

That is how to change the perception of SAHM, get hipsters to adopt it and do it ironically

Bonsoir Wed 26-Feb-14 21:04:09

Obviously many SAHMs believe that their DC are benefiting from having more parental presence and input than DC who have two FT WOHPs - or else they wouldn't do it! People are motivated by choices they believe are important. And when welfare and taxation systems penalise SAHMs for their beliefs they - unsurprisingly - get angry.

I am a great believer in the value of a SAHP. My DSSs, who are now almost grown-up, have a WOHM who has always worked, so they have experience both sorts of family. They are quite insightful!

Bonsoir Wed 26-Feb-14 21:15:49

And, in answer to the question in the OP: I think society is ambivalent about all mothers. Whatever you do, large swathes of the population think you are doing it all wrong and that is because the ridiculous ideal to which modern woman is held is impossible to achieve. We are doomed to failure.

LimeMiniPumpkin Wed 26-Feb-14 21:37:35

I think my opinion on this has been influenced by my grandma's recent death. She had been living with my parents for a while, then went into hospital for a week, was diagnosed with cancer and came home to die. Shewas cared for at home by family, and had three generations around her as she died. That is pretty much impossible for most people if everyone works full time. I am not saying everyone should be a sahp, but i do think that working life has to leave more time for families than the UK currently does. I feel we need to value caring more, and looking after the people we love.While paid work is rewarding, i don't want to see my parents in a nursing home in years to come. I also think that if we are leaving care of children, the elderly and vulnerable adults to those outside of the family, we have to pay a lot more for it as a society, so that it is of the highest quality.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 26-Feb-14 21:39:38

I think it would help if people didn't see looking after their own children as a burden. some of us don't feel like that and are happy to be a sahp.
I do agree that fathers should be encouraged and supported to share responsibility for raising their children.
Some of us also don't see ourselves as being successful in terms of our economic worth, don't want institutionalised childcare and the present school system, so opt out.
At the other end of the spectrum are career parents who work full time and don't want to spend more than an hour a day with their children and the thought fills them with dread. Then there are many variations in between this.
There is no right or wrong unless it is harming your children and just because something works for one family doesn't mean it is right for the next family.

BrennanHasAMangina Wed 26-Feb-14 22:11:35

Ronald grin. That's it! Brilliant.

TheArticFunky Wed 26-Feb-14 23:00:58

Did other people have a view on mothers working in the old days or did they just let them get on with it and mind their own business?

There is so much "judging" that goes on these days. I suffered jealousy from male colleagues because in their view I was having time off on my part time days and that option was not available to them. I was told by an in law that I didn't love my children because I was working. When I was a SAHM I was judged by other people (mainly women).

A stronger person would have thought stuff em and just got on with it but my emotions were all over the place when I had my babies. Hence a lot of the decisions that I made regarding working were based on other people's views rather than what was right for our family and my career.

TheHoneyBadger Thu 27-Feb-14 06:11:04

a) the mainstream discourse of our society doesn't really appreciate anyone now

b) single parents are being forced into work, workfare if they're too sluggish at finding work that fits in school hours/with available childcare) from when their children start school. the necessary climate to do this is one that doesn't value children, childcare or the realities of mothers

c) women are judged for whatever they do - if they work they're wrong, if they don't they're wrong, if they're mothers they're wrong if they're not they're wrong. to look at sahm status in isolation is missing the point imo.

d) if we genuinely valued the work and expense involved in raising children we'd have to actually make it illegal to financially abandon your children, make child support a more realistic amount and criminalise absent parents (mostly men) who don't pay and make it as easily enforced as tax - we certainly couldn't make it something mothers have to pay to try and get

and so forth.

i'm sorry we don't value sahm more but in the wider context it's hardly surprising and if sahms want their status to change they need to focus on bigger issues rather than just expect somehow their groups perception can change without major overhaul to the view of women, the sick, disabled and children, the responsibility of men to their own children (and sick and disabled) etc they will be missing the point and the way forward.

if sahms don't want to see the value of mothering totally undermined then they should concern themselves with single mothers imo as that's where it is being truly eroded and sahms will be casualties of that attack on mothers without husbands.

BeaHive Thu 27-Feb-14 07:20:57

"We may never see the day when all we're competing over is who raises the most emotionally stable and contented children - but it's a nice thought."

Not a nice thought at all; utterly depressing I would think. And it already happens constantly on MN.

Impatientismymiddlename Thu 27-Feb-14 07:54:42

Did other people have a view on mothers working in the old days or did they just let them get on with it and mind their own business?

The point in the thread is that feminism has caused this change. It therefore wouldn't have been an issue in the old days.
In the old days it was perfectly acceptable (and probably expected) that the mother would stay home and look after the children and the man would go to work and earn a living. There have been times in the old days where women did go to work in their droves as women were seen as a reserve labour force. When the men folk were out fighting wars or when there was a significant labour shortage women were expected to pick up the slack in employment. However, at other times it was expected that the menfolk would be the bread winners and women would be housewives.

I think the point raised upthread about men also having little choice is a good point. Men have always been expected to go out to work to earn a living door the family. A man staying at home with the children is still seen as worse than a woman doing the same by many people (particularly the older generation). Men are frowned upon if they take on certain jobs; nursery nurses, nannies, childminders, midwives.
Society is still by gender specific in its expectations.

I do still think that most SAHP's are women and the discussion is about whether feminism has limited their choices and I believe that whilst it hasn't limited their choices, it has changed the way some sectors of society view the SAHM. Even the govt continually pump money into getting mothers into employment and discourage mothers from staying at home with their children.

Happygolucky2014 Thu 27-Feb-14 08:08:03

I'm so bored of alleged 'femist' gobblewobbleclaptrap. I fell across this article in error. I've heard of Mumsnet - everybody has - but I always refused to go near it. I've never posted on a forum ever - not my style. But I think I've been so wound up of late - to hear women whinging every which way I look. It's ridiculous! What a load of nonsense. Maybe women could just stop feeling sorry for themselves and enjoy things - stop whinging like ....er women ....for a while. I'm a stay home Mum. I love my job. I miss my old corporate world. But I like my 'Mum' job much much more. I had the amazing luck and opportunity of choice which most women around the world do not. My peers (of course I speak personally) that work and complain they can't afford otherwise in most cases have the option of downsizing, finding a smaller house but choose not to.
We rarely hear men complain about how dreadfully hard and exhausting their lives are with so many crucial decisions to make. So perhaps let's try being a little less girly, prevent our over-anxious complaining being passed on to our children (2 dds in my case) toughen up and get on with our lives. What sort of an example are we setting for our children moaning all the time about how hard done by we all are. Life is short. Let's just enjoy the good times. Really.

Impatientismymiddlename Thu 27-Feb-14 08:16:52

Happygolucky - it is possible to have a discussion without complaining.
I am a SAHM and I am very happy to be a SAHM, I enjoy being a SAHM. I know that my husband would happily trade places and be a SAHD.

However, that doesn't change the fact that many people see me as lazy for not having a paid job. I have been asked many times when I am going to get a job and what sort of job do I intend to do. Many people expect both parents to work and many people see SAHMs as being too dependent in their families. Feminism is partly responsible for that idea.

My contentment at being a SAHM doesn't change the fact that house prices are so high that many families have no choice but to have both parents working. I do believe that if far more families didn't have two working parents house prices would be lower (due to affordability and supply and demand).
Govt policies are geared towards getting mothers working whether they want to or not.
The thread is about whether feminism has restricted womens choices, not whether women want to work.

TheHoneyBadger Thu 27-Feb-14 08:23:42

but realistically the govt is telling people who are DYING of cancer that they are just lazy and need to go get a job.

it is telling single mothers whose children are five, don't drive, live in deprived areas and funnily enough can't find jobs in a recession full stop let alone in that area and within school hours, that they are lazy and will be sent on workfare or have their benefits stopped leaving them to starve.

really to be navel gazing about whether people appreciate women privileged enough to be able to choose to be sahms work hard is rather self indulgent.

anklebitersmum Thu 27-Feb-14 09:36:30

The government's answer is to institutionalise childcare; to lengthen school days and cut holidays. They seem to be arguing simultaneously that looking after children is worthless, and yet too important to be left to mere parents. This benefits no one, except employers who no longer have the hassle of negotiating flexibility. It certainly doesn't benefit children or families.

This is the issue. The choice to parent is being insidiously removed.

Feminism, as I understand it, didn't set out to force women out of the home and into the workplace it wanted to gain equality in the workplace for those who chose to be there.

As regards the SAHM v WOHM debarcle, well it comes down to the fact that people judge each other. Be it car, clothes, house, hair, figure, accent, height, colour, religion, washing machine, curtains, carpets or how you choose to raise your child. It's just how it is.

Both choices are valid and I'd like to continue to have a choice.

anklebitersmum Thu 27-Feb-14 09:38:45

missed important *of how after choice in 2nd sentence post quote...blush

CocoCha Thu 27-Feb-14 09:42:18

"The government's answer is to institutionalise childcare; to lengthen school days and cut holidays. They seem to be arguing simultaneously that looking after children is worthless, and yet too important to be left to mere parents. This benefits no one, except employers who no longer have the hassle of negotiating flexibility. It certainly doesn't benefit children or families."

This is the post of the year I believe. I want MP's to see it and read it and realise that we know exactly what their game is.

diamondlizard Thu 27-Feb-14 09:47:08

the way i see it is, whatever you do, sahm wohm, or part time, whatever

whatever you do, some fucker will try and have a pop a you and try and make you feel your in the wrong

so you might as well just do what makes you happy,if your lucky enough to actually choose

MilkyChopsKid Thu 27-Feb-14 09:56:50

The Govt want mothers to work as it increases tax paid to the Govt more than a single person coming off benefits, and more tax for the Govt means they can reduce tax rates which is supposed to make us all happy!

Mothers who work may pay a bit less tax because of childcare vouchers but then all (or almost all) of their pay goes to employ somebody else (childminder, nursery worker etc). This person looking after the children then pays tax (and the nursery tax on profits if it makes them) so the Govt gets two lots of tax from a working mother rather than none from a SAHM.

If somebody on benefits gets a job the Govt doesn't have to pay benefits but it won't require another person to be employed and most of the money this person spends will be with big companies that avoid tax and plastic stuff from China!

wordfactory Thu 27-Feb-14 10:19:14

It is a child's parents who have the responsibilty to raise him/her. It is expected that we do it as well as we can.

How we do it, is none of the state's business and it doesn't and shouldn't place value on the methodology we use.

If a mother or father decideds to SAH because they believe that is the best way for them to raise their DC, then that's fine but I'm not sure that they should expect the state to dance around cheering.

In fact I'd go so far as to say I've never met a SAHD that did expect it! It seems to be women who have given up careers to SAH that want the state to recognise them as they were previously recognised by their employer.


Why can't they just be happy in the knowledge that their private choice is the best for their individual circumstances? Why do they need society to recognise it as best?

chocoluvva Thu 27-Feb-14 10:45:53

On the other hand, why should my DH's taxes be used to subsidise child care costs for other people's children? I know that some couples have no choice - they both need to work. That's different. I accept that.

I work one day a week - consequently we can't afford lots of things we'd be able to have if I worked more. I never complain about it though. That's my choice (and I'm grateful to have it). But I don't appreciate people who both work full time complaining about being too busy.

It gets my goat that SAHMs are often classed as lacking a work-ethic while it would be outrageous to suggest that parents who are working full-time through choice are greedy.

Sorry, I know that's simplistic, but it really annoys me.

anklebitersmum Thu 27-Feb-14 10:46:43

SAH doesn't to be recognised as best, just equal.

Personally I don't expect the state to cheer but similarly I don't expect them to sneer.

chocoluvva Thu 27-Feb-14 11:00:31

Indeed. And to recognise that if all parents worked full-time there would be no slack in the system for the times that children have to go home from school unexpectedly when they're not well, parents are called on to help with school activities, to help run play-groups etc.

MerryMarigold Thu 27-Feb-14 11:13:04

Very good point about WOHM's paying/ contributing to 2 sets of taxes. No wonder the government encourage it. Doesn't mean we have to as well though.

Also have to agree a little with HappyGoLucky. A lot of SAHM's (Ok, I speak for myself here!) are their own enemies in terms of downgrading their importance and constantly self doubting. Today is parents' evening, and I realised that really parents' evening is for my dh. I already know what my kids do. I spend 15 mins every day in their class (they are in YR), I talk to the teachers nearly every day, I go on school trips, I have a very close level of involvement even with my Y3 child. I remembered why I have chosen to live life this way (and make the necessary sacrifices too).

Impatientismymiddlename Thu 27-Feb-14 11:35:41

The Govt want mothers to work as it increases tax paid to the Govt more than a single person coming off benefits, and more tax for the Govt means they can reduce tax rates which is supposed to make us all happy

But it only reduces the benefit bill IF the person goes into a job which pays enough for them to be ineligible for help with the cost of childcare. Childcare tax credits cover up to 70% of childcare costs, which can mean that the person is eligible for a couple of hundred pounds a week in childcare tax credits. If one parent works full time at minimum wage and the other parent works 16 hours at minimum wage then they will be able to get the full 70% of their childcare costs paid! which will be a damn sight more than what they pay in income tax. So there is no reduction in income tax for the whole public.
Working doesn't always pay, nor does it always benefit the public coffers. But people are still encouraged to have 2 parents working because society tells us that it is the morally right thing to do and the govt forces it on people to make their unemployment figures look fantastic.

TheHoneyBadger Thu 27-Feb-14 11:49:45

in reality single mothers working is often more expensive than being on benefits for the state. minimum wage worker will qualify for loads in working tax credit and 70% of the childcare costs being paid to another minimum wage mother who again is claiming tax credits.

this is ideological rather than financial i think.

if i say worked 16hrs a week and had one child, using 20hrs a week childcare (travel time obviously) and got £200 ctc and wtc plus £70 childcare element that's £270pw the government is paying out for me to do that job. in reality if i am on minimum wage i will still get housing benefit also. so in reality i will be more expensive than just paying me income support and housing benefit and i'll be taking a job that someone else could take without it being a gateway to a load of tax credits being paid out. bear in mind also that the above is cheap because i'm saying one child - imagine the bill if i had three?

so no i don't think in the majority of cases wanting mothers to work is about tax revenue bar wealthy women or women whose husbands are already higher rate tax payers.

i honestly think actually this is about discouraging single motherhood - it's about social engineering and they don't give a toss if some of 'good women' (re:wives and sahms) get denigrated a bit more in the process.

TheHoneyBadger Thu 27-Feb-14 11:51:47

this is why really we can't afford to divide up into wohm, sahm, married mums, single mums, young mums, old mums etc. it's all joined up and we all have to avoid the divide and rule and see that it's all joined up.

merrymouse Thu 27-Feb-14 13:00:19

From the government's point of view I don't think the economic benefit is supposed to come from keeping somebody in work while you pay them WTC. The benefit is supposed to be realised over their entire working life.

The cost of taking a career break is not just the years when you aren't working, but your reduced salary earning potential after you no longer need to care for children.

(Not making an argument for or against working parents, just pointing out the economic argument.)

TheHoneyBadger Thu 27-Feb-14 13:14:26

except vast masses of the population never go onto earn enough to not need wtc.

Merrymouse, I agree. However I do think the 'career break' stigma is largely artificial. The skills and talents of people don't change. They might need to update their knowledge but if you are a good manager, you still will be, and if you are good at sales, you still will be.

People who have taken a career break are often stigmatised unnecessarily and it's this attitude that needs to be challenged. This will make parents both comfortable making a choice to take a break for a few years, and more inclined to go back to work at a later date. Now there is often the perception that they'll have to go back down to the bottom.

lainiekazan Thu 27-Feb-14 13:20:15

Whenever this argument crops up (all the time) it's always trotted out that women need family-friendly hours, policies etc. Sigh. Can these people not appreciate that not everyone works in an office? And neither does everyone work in the public sector/for large company.

I read that although more women than men train to be doctors now, there is a recruitment crisis in certain areas - those areas where night working or unpredictable hours are required. Why should men only man (no pun intended) casualty departments? Or perform heart transplants?

It's just so unhelpful when all the talk of women in the workplace is limited to an office experience.

merrymouse Thu 27-Feb-14 14:13:40

The problem is not that women need more family friendly hours, but that the issue of family friendly working hours always seems to focus on mothers, not fathers. Childcare (and caring for children with SN and elderly parents) should not be a female problem.

TheFowlAndThePussycat Thu 27-Feb-14 15:38:27

I think it would be helpful if we stopped framing the debate as the choice to mother or the choice to work. I cuddle, nurture and watch my children grow and I go to work too.

Being a mother is not a job, any more than being a daughter or a sister is a job. It is a role and an identity, of which we all have many. No-one thinks that a father chooses between being a father and going to work. Or is it that SAHMs are Mothers with a capital M?

BTW it absolutely is possible to have a great career, wonderful marriage and thriving kids. What a load of nonsense to suggest it isn't.

TheHoneyBadger Thu 27-Feb-14 15:56:20

it's possible - that's true. i wonder if you realise how few people actually have a 'thriving career' as opposed to jobs though?

ormirian Thu 27-Feb-14 16:03:16

This seems to suggest that it isn't 'society' that is ambivalent about SAHMs, it's some SAHMs that are.

The goverment just wants everyone to work regardless of whether they are also parents or not.

'Society' (if by that you mean Joe Public) doesn't tend to give a stuff IME.

ProfondoRosso Thu 27-Feb-14 16:08:07

We rarely hear men complain about how dreadfully hard and exhausting their lives are with so many crucial decisions to make

Maybe you rarely hear this from men, Happy. It's not rare in my experience! grin

anklebitersmum Thu 27-Feb-14 16:25:48

I am a daughter or sister by birth. I am a mother by choice.

I had a 'thriving career' and then we had our children. I chose to stay at home and look after them rather than pay someone else to.

That's not a snide, I'm not being a 'mummy with a capital M' it's just a fact. That's what I chose.

Trouble is, while we're all busy pointing the poisonous finger at each other, defending our own way of life and in a lot of cases being professionally offended the rights of our daughters to make that choice for themselves are quietly being stolen.

TheFowlAndThePussycat Thu 27-Feb-14 16:46:42

You chose to become a mother - you can't change your mind now you are one! It is not career choice.

It absolutely is snide to say that you look after your children and WOHM 'pay someone else to do it'. Unless you simply mean that you chose childcare for your children as your new job - but somehow I don't think that is what people do mean when they say that.

TheHoneyBadger Thu 27-Feb-14 16:52:55

the right has already been taken away ankle and not just for our daughters.

if your husband walks out on you and the kids tomorrow you will have to get a job as soon as your child is 5. just a few years ago it was 12 and there was some discussion about whether to bring it down 'a bit' now it's 5. they have already decided that children having a mother at home is unnecessary.

i sometimes think that married women don't realise they're one affair or bereavement away from being single mothers - just look at the relationship threads.

married sahms should be fully aware of and prepared for the fact that their 'choice' is entirely contingent on their husband not fucking off but the state has already said that choice is not legitimate. they dropped from 12 to 5 - what do you want to guess the age will be by the time our daughters that you mention get there?

TheFowlAndThePussycat Thu 27-Feb-14 16:56:40

HoneyBadger I do realise that many people don't have jobs that they enjoy or that they would class as a 'thriving career'. Society/government/employers could and should do a lot more to change this. Equally if you and your partner agree that you want to have no out of home work at all then that is a legitimate choice.

I feel that we have almost gone too far the other way now though, where we angst so much about it not being possible to 'have it all' that we almost start to think that it is not desirable to strive for that, or that it is not even possible to have a 'nice bit of most things' grin

I think this is what is robbing our daughters of choices - the impression that they get that they must make one choice rather than having a series of compatible options.

TheHoneyBadger Thu 27-Feb-14 17:06:00

i think the fowl that you are blissfully unaware of socio-economic reality for the vast majority of people in this country. the idea that our daughters future lives are determined by choicy choiciness and thinking positively is a bit.... well.... obviously a view that i don't think applies for the vast majority of people.

TheFowlAndThePussycat Thu 27-Feb-14 17:53:18

I'm not unaware (blissfully or otherwise - how I do enjoy being patronised on mumsnet) of the socioeconomic reality. My original point was addressing two points in the original blog about choices the author made - it seems fairly clear that her economic position allowed her to make the choice to become a SAHM.

Despite your assertions that is a choice that is open to many other women and it was that aspect of the debate I was addressing.

TheHoneyBadger Thu 27-Feb-14 18:45:21

I feel that we have almost gone too far the other way now though, where we angst so much about it not being possible to 'have it all' that we almost start to think that it is not desirable to strive for that, or that it is not even possible to have a 'nice bit of most things' grin

^^that's what i was referring to - which you addressed to me. the grin seems to add insult to injury.

having it all is not really what most people are angsting about.

TheHoneyBadger Thu 27-Feb-14 18:47:43

would love to see how the mum being sent on workfare because she couldn't find a job instantly in a recession when her child turned 5 is meant to have a nice bit of most things let alone grin about it.

should she just think more positively and make better choices?

anklebitersmum Thu 27-Feb-14 19:12:14

TheHoneyBadger she should have known better than to trust that feckless husband or partner that left her in the financial poo. wink

I'm not unaware of the fact that marriages break up far from it and I have no doubt that I could get 'a job' tomorrow (ish) and probably have something more suitable lined up within a few months if necessary.

The old 'if hubby leaves you're screwed' argument for not being a SAHM isn't really much of an argument in my book. There are an awful lot of WOHM's who'd be equally screwed, truth be told.

To be clear, TheFowlAndThePussyCat what I said is absolutely what I meant. I chose not to go back to work and instead stayed at home with my children. Had I gone back to work I would have had to pay someone to look after them. I could have easily done so but I chose not to. No snide. hence I said no snide. grin

I genuinely think that we're all whacking each other about the head with our oars moaning about whose boat is better while the crocodiles are sneaking up behind us just waiting for someone to fall in.

LaLay Thu 27-Feb-14 19:23:48

I spend quite a lot of time thinking that this whole thing aught really to be turned on its head.

Rather than 'what's best for a mother or parent or what's best for the government' aught really to be 'what's best for the child/ren'.

Government needs to stop putting 'childcare' at the forefront of this debate and start putting 'children' there instead.

lainiekazan Thu 27-Feb-14 19:35:55

Interestingly I have noticed that increasingly in surveys - and last night in a telephone conversation with an insurance salesman - I am classed as "economically inactive". There is no box for "housewife" "SAHM" "household duties" or whatever term someone chooses to use for looking after children/home.

I'm not quite sure what I think about being "economically inactive". Actually I think I might quite like it. Makes me feel like a young slacker sticking up two fingers at the system, rather than a middle-aged woman spending rather too much time MNetting...

bomboncito Thu 27-Feb-14 19:53:52

I sooo agree with newpencilcase on the 'career break' stigma. That would solve part of the problem and people (both men and women) would be able to press/impress the career accelerator according to their priorities at the time. I think it all boils down to 'unconscious bias' and we are ALL guilty. That's why women blame men, working blame non working...and viceversa. If we were all to just let everyone be and live with their choices we would all be happier. As another post suggests...it is human nature and yes difficult to change but then why don't we just start with ourselves - be happy with your own choices and leave the rest with theirs!

TheHoneyBadger Thu 27-Feb-14 19:55:08

ankle i didn't mean it as an argument against staying at home - i meant it as a call for married women not to see single mothers as 'other' and think the political changes being made don't concern them.

nothing against sahms. i stayed home till my son was at school and would love to be at home now and am trying to find a way to earn a living from home.

Lanabelle Thu 27-Feb-14 20:19:05

Way way way blown out of proportion. Correct when stating that some mothers are forced to stay at home due to childcare costs etc when they would like to work and others would like to stay at home when financial issues force then to work but as a stay at home mother (and fortunate enough to have been able to make that choice for myself) I can honestly say I don't give two hoots how I am perceived by society or portrayed in the media. My child is happy that I am at home, my husband is glad to have clean clothes and hot food on the table and not to have to learn how to work the iron. There have been some sacrifices to be made, we haven't had an 'abroad' holiday in 3 years but we still manage a holiday camping or caravanning, we don't have a TVs or games consoles or smart phones in every room but we have one that is shared. This is our choice and we get by, am I less happy now because I left my job when I had my baby or feel I don't have it all? no. Do I give a seconds thought to what anyone else thinks of my lifestyle? certainly not. Would people be better off if they jus got on with it instead of worrying about the perception the world outside has of them? absolutely.

Offred Thu 27-Feb-14 20:24:08

Thanks for this really thoughtful blogpost. I do agree it is an issue facing parents rather than mothers though. It was just what I needed to read just now!

Mrsfrumble Thu 27-Feb-14 20:25:54

TheFowlAndThePussycat, I'm absolutely not looking to get into any sort of argument over it, but I'm genuinely interested as to why you think that a SAHM saying that she looks after her own children while a WOHM pays someone else to is snide?

I went back to work when my son was a year old, and I payed our lovely child minder to give him his breakfast and lunch, change his nappy, read to him and take him to the park between the hours of 8.30 and 5.30. I would have said she was "looking after him for me". That's just a statement of fact rather than a judgement, surely?

Shrinkgrowskids Thu 27-Feb-14 21:22:32

I agree with many points in the blog, e.g. Parenting is under rated and the government's solution of extensive child care is unhelpful. I don't think comparing the different roles of women is at all helpful though, I think that men need to wake up to their parenting responsibilities. I am a child psychiatrist and there are many children who would have benefited from having engaged input from fathers. Parenting is about parents, not just mothers and given that women have now proved their competence in the work place (at age 29 women's pay is equal to men's, but it declines thereafter, as women drop out due to motherhood), it is about time they insisted that men pull their weight in the home. There is no scientific evidence that women are biologically predisposed to be better parents beyond breast feeding. Even if there was evidence that mothers were better at "nurturing" children, (which there isn't) 90% of what I do as a mother (making packed lunches, changing nappies, laundry, laundry, taking to ballet, making costumes, cooking, feeding, laundry, ironing name tags, laundry etc) is clearly gender non-specific. Indeed most paid chauffeurs, chefs, sewage workers are male! If men took over these tasks, there would be plenty of time to work and "mother". The reality is that it's not just the white haired man sitting across the table from us in the boardroom that is blocking the success of women, but also the greying man snoring next to us in the bedroom. Women can not win equality in the workplace without first winning equality in the home. If we can move to a society where women and men share child care and financial responsibility, I think we can move to a society where our daughters as well as sons can 'have it all'. See more on these ideas at shrinkgrowskids.com/2014/01/24/i-hate-affordable-childcare/

TeamWill Thu 27-Feb-14 21:52:35

Shrink YES !!!!!!
Bloody brilliant post - you have said everything I wanted to say.
My DC have benefitted by having a loving, involved father and so have I .
I come home to hot food and clean clothes and so does my DH.
To some people this is incomprehensible - "he does what ?"

morethanpotatoprints Thu 27-Feb-14 22:24:27

Lainie grin
Fantastic post.

TheFowlAndThePussycat Thu 27-Feb-14 22:37:57

HoneyBadger I don't disagree with you that many people don't have choices. However it is not a lie that you can have a job you enjoy, a happy marriage and happy kids. And I don't believe that this is an ambition that we should give up on because you 'can't have it all'. We should make damn sure that everyone who does want it can have it. By whatever economic and political means necessary.

anklebiter, I apologise if I misunderstood what you meant.

mrsfrumble it is fine to say that WOHM pay other people to provide childcare for their children for a proportion of the day. My problem is with the implication that WOHM somehow outsource the emotional development, or nurture or their children (which I accept is not what anklebiter meant). People say 'I simply couldn't hand my child over to someone else to look after' or 'I just didn't feel anyone else could give my child the upbringing that I could if I stayed at home' but it is a false dichotomy. When your DS was with his childminder you hadn't 'handed him over to someone else' to 'bring up' - you were still nurturing him and raising him.

And I totally agree with shrinkgrowskids

morethanpotatoprints Thu 27-Feb-14 23:01:09

I think we got a bit prescriptive with the meaning of having it all.

Going to work is really something I don't want to do, so I don't see that raising children, career, running home is having it all.

To me having it all is being completely satisfied with your life and not wanting for anything more. Maybe this is what we should all be striving for and maybe a bit more realistic.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 27-Feb-14 23:05:22


The emotional development, nurturing and raising my children is the reason I am a sahp.
Of course I would expect a child minder to do this in my absence, a couple of hours a day would not cut it for me.

maggiemight Fri 28-Feb-14 00:27:53

The emotional development, nurturing and raising my children is the reason I am a sahp

This was my point on my post on the first page, are DCs really receiving the best upbringing with one parent, it takes a village, after all.
Is it a 1950s myth?

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 07:32:55

Shrinkgrowskids - I think that the concept of equality in the home is a perfectly reasonable one but I don't agree that it hasn't been achieved. In some parts of Europe where there are bothy good state-supported childcare provision and reasonable working hours both parents do take an active and equal share in childcare in those families where both parents don't do jobs that are too demanding. If both mother and father are doing the French "35 hour week" (I live in France) fathers take an active role. The problem is that works for people who don't have too much career responsibility and, sadly, those families are not net contributors to the French economy.

I completely agree that the debate needs to focus more on fathers.

I know many children who have a SAHM but don't see their father all week as his hours are so long. It clearly works for these families but there is no argument that this setup is better than for children than one where both parents work but manage to spend family time together on week nights.

I set up my own business recently, as soon as my youngest son started school. The alternative was that DH found a higher paying, more pressured job to enable me to continue to stay at home - which neither of us wanted.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 07:48:31

I appreciate this is your subjective opinion,but I'm really uncomfortable with your cliche by number generalisations. Didn't have To go far before guilt, resentment why isn't housewife valued,etc. Your use of pejorative terms such as institutionalised childcare is erroneous and makes clear an underlying prejudice you have?do you think childcare is filled with whey faced children in austere institutionalised care?the obvious inference is but of course your children are free of institutionalised childcare constraints...

Essentially,you chose to enact a stereotypical housewife role and are now ambivalent?you're enacting the patriarchy by being the carer,mother whilst your husband has an unencumbered career. Yes Your proposed solutions are flawed simple, based on^enabling mothers and fathers to do their bit at home and away^. Flawed as you still depend upon the model of waged (male) adult to maintain your lifestyle.

This isn't about feminism or society it's about you trying to make peace with your lifestyle choice. Slipping into inevitable cliches of institutionalised childcare To justify why you chose to be housewife

Do wbat you want,what you're comfortable with,but be honest with yourself. This isn't a searing précis of what next for feminism it's you justifying your lifestyle choice. And you giving up a well paid career to become dependent upon your partner is a lifestyle choice

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 07:59:31

"Your use of pejorative terms such as institutionalised childcare is erroneous and makes clear an underlying prejudice you have."

I would argue the contrary: institutionalised childcare is a descriptor, not a value judgement. If you don't like it you are revealing your own ambiguity about the form of childcare you are purchasing for your child.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 08:09:16

Agree with bonsoir (unusually), the govt are trying to institutionalise the care of our children. It is simply a description of what is happening.

Scottishmummy, I am not a housewife, and nowhere did I say that I was.

Of course the article is about me making peace with my own choices - that's kind if the point of it!

My point about institutionalising childcare refers to proposals to lengthen school days & shorten holidays. It claims to be 'family friendly' but actually it is merely to appease businesses who will no longer have to negotiate flexible requests as 'the kids can just stay at school'

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 08:37:05

missing the real point again i'm afraid - it's real purpose is to ensure single mothers have no reason whatsoever not to be able to be sent on whatever workfare the govt chooses to send them on.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 08:38:15

and the lower they bring the age for 'free childcare' the sooner they'll demand mothers go out on that workfare.

impty Fri 28-Feb-14 08:38:53

I think the ambivalence is caused by the fact having a sahp is simply not a choice many families can make any more.

When I had my first child 17 years ago, the people in my local community did usually give up work to look after pre school children as childcare costs out weighed potential earning (pre child tax credit days etc). Many parents were on some kind of benefits.

We moved to a more affluent area after a few years. Here most in most households both parents worked, in order to pay the mortgage, and live a decent lifestyle. Not affluent by any means. It was an area where house prices and wages reflect UK averages. So in a sweeping generalisation I would assume this area reflected the majority of people in the UK.

Currently, we live in an affluent area. The vast majority have a sahm (although not all), who also have 'help' in the form of cleaner's, gardeners. The mothers who do work tend to have Nannies.

So depending where you are on the social scale, I suspect that the vast majority of the UK sees the sahp as either being poor/uneducated/not working through laziness or as being rich/privileged/ entitled. It's no wonder that the sahm has to forever justify themselves. Especially if they fall in neither of those camps.

Alongside this childcare provision has increased, allowing and encouraging those who wish to to work. I have no problem with this. I don't know whether this is beneficial or detrimental to our children. But in all honesty, it's really not something most parents can dwell on too deeply. There isn't an alternative but to work.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 08:42:16

impty - are you suggesting that the current lack of choice as to whether a family has a SAHM is an unpleasant fact of life and that it is therefore not worth analysing? shock

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 08:45:05

she didn't seem to say that at all - it seemed she was saying given most people don't have the luxury to view this as a 'choice' but are forced into one or the other by their socio-economic position then of course they are 'ambivalent' about it and don't spend that much time pondering the 'choices' of those in the privileged position of having them because they're rather busy getting on with what they have to do.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 08:55:22

If you're housewife,yes your economically inactive.given you don't work,no salary
Can't see why stating the obvious causes consternation?its not a job,it's not ardest job in world
I simply cannot get het up about navel gazing about why op gave up work. It's peppered with angsty cliches,notion of guilt and the obligatory mention of institutionalised childcare

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 09:09:31

A salary is not a pre-requisite for being economically active.

wordfactory Fri 28-Feb-14 09:15:50

No it's not Bonsoir but for the vast majoirty of people that's what it involves.

Just as the vast majority of people use child minders and grand parents for child care in the UK (so no instutionlised child care).

So...as a topic for feminism it is low priority for most women.

impty Fri 28-Feb-14 09:25:36

Bonsoir not at all. The sahp/ wahm debate always draws huge response on MN and absolutely is a debate worth having!

But I do think the ambivalence comes from it just not being a realistic choice for many families. Whether you should be able to choose this, whether it's beneficial to choose this, whether this option should be shut down, is part of the debate.

scottishmummy My children are at school, now, and I don't work. You choose to label me as a 'housewife'. That's fine. I am comfortable with my choices.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 09:27:46

Domestic or personal services provided by unpaid household members for final consumption within the same household are excluded from the economic production boundary and hence are not considered to be economic activities UN definition

Spending your partner salary is being a consumer

Choosing to not work to raise your own family,is a legitimate personal choice. It doesn't require a state recognition or intervention as it's an essentially private individual act. Don't seek external approbation it's unlikely to be forthcoming

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 09:31:26

scottishmummy - I think you need to be careful before trying to teach economics. I doubt you have ever done a lesson on the subject in your life. If you have, forgive me - but your teacher was terrible!

anklebitersmum Fri 28-Feb-14 09:39:32

I think that the ambivalence comes from housewives/SAHM's still being portayed in the wider media as something that harks back to a 'golden age' of tartan dressing gowns, pipes, slippers and detached houses with nice tidy gardens.

Choosing to not work to raise your own family,is a legitimate personal choice. It doesn't require a state recognition or intervention as it's an essentially private individual act.

You're absolutely right. So why are they interfering? other than the obvious figure fudging benefits

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 09:43:25

so that they can eradicate single mothers right to spend any time at all with their children and can have zero justification for not being free labour for their pals via workfare.

that is why they are interfering.

anklebitersmum Fri 28-Feb-14 09:50:36

HoneyBadger that was kind of my point. It's institutional bullying, and from people who have no idea what it's like to live in the 'real world'.

I think we're very much on the same side of the fence here grin

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 09:52:23

Domestic or personal services provided by unpaid household members for final consumption within the same household are excluded from the economic production boundary and hence are not considered to be economic activities - isn't that the point? It clearly contributes to the economy but is not being considered an economic activity which is the source of the discrimination against all people doing unpaid caring work within the home for children or adults who need care.

As a SAHP I volunteer with CAB and for the NHS as well as studying for a degree and looking after the children and housework. What you're really doing as a SAHP is unpaid work because if you didn't do it you would have to pay someone else to do it. It isn't that it has no economic value therefore, it's that the economy doesn't treat the people who do it as valuable.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 09:55:36

They are doing it because parents doing work in the home aren't being exploited for the benefit of profit making companies, who all the mp's have interests in either pecuniary or non-pecuniary. They are working in unpaid positions for benefits to their individual households and the govt would prefer they be forced into the workplace where they can contribute their labour to making a profit for capitalists.

wordfactory Fri 28-Feb-14 11:04:21

I suspect this government don't give a monkey's left gonad if a parent doesn't work, in many ways it helps the unemployment figures.

But they're no longer prepared to pay people to do it...there is quite simply, no public appetite to continue funding it.

So no one is going to force women like the guest blogger into employment. She'll carry on as she is, occasionally forgetting how lucky she is and moaning about how she isn't valued wink...

But parents who can't afford to stay at home without benefits will be buggered.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 11:14:31

It might help the unemployment figures but you fail to consider that under a capitalist system people are a resource to be exploited for profit just like anything else.

That's why wages are low, that's why more and more people; the unemployed, SAHP returning to work, young people, older people, are being expected to provide free labour.

It isn't that the majority of these people are not doing work, it is more often that they aren't doing work that contributes to the profits of big business who have infiltrated govt, also making it hard for small businesses to survive as well as individuals. It isn't logically consistent with a capitalist government to say they don't care what type of work people do.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 11:16:09

Most people coming into the paid economy now have to work for free in order to earn paid work. When they get paid work, the very essence of the economy is that they see less and less of the products of their labour.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 11:20:18

The rhetoric and much of the policy is simply around preventing people being able to challenge this because they live in fear of disrupting their children, losing their homes and their jobs and being left without support from the welfare state. Lots of the changes to the welfare state have not been in order to save money or target the needy better. Evidence shows means testing is more expensive and less efficient, that's why despite constant undermining for decades the NHS is still so popular and efficient comparable to the rest of the world. It's the last bastion of the original approach to the welfare state - improving the health and security of individuals in order to create a healthy, efficient and productive economy.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 11:22:33

Capitalism isn't much concerned with efficiency, it's concerned with profit and private wealth and therefore does not require a healthy and secure workforce and in actual fact can benefit from poor health and insecurity because it is the people being exploited who have to pay for their own exploitation by and large.

ovaryandout Fri 28-Feb-14 11:34:23

Traditionally women have had to fight harder to do and be accepted in the role they want to take, fight for a vote, fight to go to work and now it seems to stay at home. I'm not sure our male counterparts have been prevented in many things they want to do.

Women in general i think are more judged for the decisions they take in life, we are lucky due to feminism we now have more choices to take. The life of a 'stay at home' Dad however is still a relatively new one and more difficult to take than the 'stay at home' mum.

Men fighting for equal paternal rights in the workplace and the home I would really like to see. The day when we can all equally be accepted for who we are and what we do will be a very happy place to be.

I feel the term 'stay at home' does no one any favours. It implies we stay indoors all day somehow with nothing to do. To lighten the mood any ideas for a better title?

CathMGreen Fri 28-Feb-14 11:37:06

The reason is simple, the state wants everyone out working, so that the state can then educate and 'bond' with your children. If you are staying at home and bringing up YOUR children, there might be a possibility that that child may turn out not to want to be the next generation of worker ants or slave to the system. Your parents might bring you up free thinking and 'unique', something which the school system and outside carers are less likely to do.

The so called 'stigma' is because those around you have brought into this state form of 'brainwashing'. You are not taught that staying at home and bringing up YOUR child is YOUR responsibility, YOUR responsibility is to go go out to work, so that strangers can bring up your child and then then hopefully that child will not be close to the family unit and the state will then have more control....and so the cycle continues.

YOU bringing up YOUR children is way it should be, surely? Why have children otherwise? Oh, and as for sending your children to state run slave indoctrination prisions, aka SCHOOL, how about people being encouraged to 'hOme school', or even...'UN school', for, don't you have a right to educate and bring up your children the way you see fit? Better stop here, that is another WHOLE big subject!!

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 11:55:15

ovaryandout - completely agree. Gender roles are bad for both genders but I think whilst also having their roles proscribed the particular roles men have traditionally been put in have been ones of power (whether domestically or in wider society) which compensates a little more. Men's roles are often determined by the economy and women's in turn by men. Women are therefore observably further down the pecking order by pure accident of the physical effects of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.

I think the reasons we liguistically determine between SAHP and WOHP are partially related to the fact that caring work is not seen as work and is not seen as of value. This is reflected in the large swathes of care providers who are under paid as well as those who are not paid at all. Women are meant to strive towards WOH, building in the fundamental acceptance that they should begin from a position of SAH. The flip side is there is also a prejudice that WOHM particularly are not seen as 'proper' mothers which reflects the social pressure for women to remain under the control of men.

The struggle is not just one about choice but one about status. It is the traditional fight for equality of status with men which underpins it all. The fight for economic security for people generally is also important but within it is the fight for the valuing of women. Not necessarily for 'women's work' to be valued but for it to not be seen as 'women's work' by it being recognised economically and socially as valuable IYSWIM? Why would men concede to accepting a role which is considered of lower status when they have the opportunities to not do that?

If the answer to the question 'what do you do?' was validly able to be answered by 'I'm a childcare provider' whether you worked with your own children or other peoples (and really how real is the distinction economically or socially there) or something similar, we might not invest so much in our status as either SAHP/WOHP whatever gender we happened to be. The way you make the role valuable is by valuing it, economically and socially, and we are far, far away from that as a society. It affects women more than men because of the fundamental belief that women are lesser than men which is based on a society that values money and men's expected roles within that structure.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 12:01:51

Also agree with you cath. State childcare places from earlier and earlier ages are partly designed to build in fear of disobedience from an earlier age. No coincidence that they are trying to implement institutionalisation during the crucial developmental period between birth and 3 now or that despite evidence it is not beneficial they are trying to implement constant assessment and streaming at ever earlier ages within education institutions.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 12:05:31

and under funding of educational institutions is because it results in harsher discipline and less education because teachers have to struggle more to control the class in an environment which is not conducive to gaining knowledge. Much about the education system exposes that the real motivation is to teach children to do what they are told, not to learn.

MillyONaire Fri 28-Feb-14 12:13:54

I have been a sahm for 11 years. I now need (financially) to get back to work and am finding it very difficult. My cv is not lacking (I did voluntary work, educational courses and worked in our own business while being at home) but where I live there is a lot of support for unemployed and Jobseekers - I qualify as neither and as my husband is self-employed I cannot register for any back to work schemes. I have never felt so invisible or that I made such a bad decision to stay at home with my children. Never mind that my husband worked 7 days a week and long hours to establish his business - which he could do without guilt or pressure as I was at home and available to help out when needed and it seemed a sensible decision when my financial contribution was not essential to our household.
My friend with a burgeoning career has had her first baby recently. She has gone back to work but is questioning whether this is the sensible option with regard to her earnings v the cost of childcare. I find myself staunchly encouraging her to stay at work - for her own sake and for the example she is setting her child. 11 years ago, this was not my thinking; my experience has changed it. I can console myself somewhat that my children have benefitted by my being available to them constantly but a good childminder might have done as good a job.
It is a shame that there is not a more structured system to support mothers to stay at home and then go back to work and of course it's a shame that women will turn on each other in terms of the sahm v working mother debate but we do it on so many other issues too.
I will be encouraging my daughter to keep working when she comes to have a family; When it comes down to financial benefit against emotional benefit the one which is quantifiable will win.

bordellosboheme Fri 28-Feb-14 12:27:16

Fantastically written. Thank you smile

OTheHugeManatee Fri 28-Feb-14 12:38:20

Regarding a point made upthread about the choice (or lack of choice) to be a SAHP, I think it's easy but perhaps misguided to blame state policies.

An unintended consequence of the feminist drive for equality in the workplace is that, as more and more women have worked, the country's economy has adjusted accordingly. More double-income families means more money to spend, which in turn means rising prices (housing, food, clothing etc but especially housing). The result has been that increasingly for ordinary families both parents need to work in order to get by. Whereas (for the middle classes at least) a second income might have been a luxury in the 1950s and families got by comfortably on one wage, nowadays raising a family on a single income is a struggle for all but the highest-paid. And that's partly due to adjustments in the economy driven by more women entering work.

This isn't to say women entering work is a bad thing. Personally I have no desire to be a SAHP (though of course I respect others' decision to do so) and am very grateful for my feminist predecessors' efforts. But I'm also aware that calling anyone's decision to work/sahp/whatever a 'choice' glosses over the fact that for many there isn't much choice involved. The ever-increasing prevalence of double-income households has created an economy where many single-income households simply can't earn enough to keep up.

Blaming this on the government is mistaken, in my view; arguing that the objective is to institutionalise children from as young an age as possible in order to create a compliant new generation of capitalist drones is, frankly, a bit bonkers. More likely is that the government wants to encourage more people into two-income households because, given the current economic structure, they are less likely to need to prop double-income houses up with tax credits and other forms of support.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 12:41:43

More likely is that the government wants to encourage more people into two-income households because, given the current economic structure, they are less likely to need to prop double-income houses up with tax credits and other forms of support.

But that is not true. Vast majority of households get tax credits. If both parents are working (whether in one household or not) they are also likely to be claiming for childcare which makes the cost to the state greater.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 12:43:07

What would avoid tax credit payments and low wages are changes to the economic structure which can only be made by the govt so I don't see how you could say the state is nothing to do with that.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 12:48:38

I mean profit making companies are not going to decide to become not for profits off their own backs are they? Capitalists are not just going to decide to hand the money they make from the economy (and therefore steal from the state as a whole) back to the people in whatever way they might... It is the govt who have the power to actually change the structure of the economy. People may have limited power to change the structure of the workforce but the economy doesn't have to adapt to this, which is what we're seeing since women began entering paid employment en masse.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 12:50:24

No,the state shouldn't be supporting solvent women to be unwaged at home watching own kids
There are enough statutory demands,health,social care,police,to be met
If solvent woman chose dependence on waged partner,she doesn't need a state support system

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 12:51:53

Scottishmummy - why?

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 12:56:15

Because if you're solvent,have no health or social needs and are simply solvent housewife yiu don't need help
If you have a health and/physical need then that is assessed and provision made
Solvent housewife with dp working isn't in need of a support system as was suggested

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 13:01:52

Well I got that part. What you appeared to be making was an 'we spend enough on the plebs already' argument.

But I'm particularly interested in the idea that you don't think SAHPs have social needs.

Surely the answer to that is obvious - people (mainly women) doing unpaid work in the home need the protection of the state from exploitation, same as any other person doing any other work.

Do people who are 'choosing' paid to do childcare in a workplace not have social needs either or is it just because one is regulated and paid and the other is domestic work? Why apply different standards? Is it because you think there is a difference in the status of the workers? Maybe you wouldn't even call one a worker at all?

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 13:02:48

and that is even avoiding the tricky question of choice and what that means.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 13:04:41

Childcare workers are employed,they have DBS checks,expected level competency
Watching your own kids isn't a job,it's unregulated,not subject to external regulation
I haven't called anyone plebs so don't erroneously paraphrase me. Housewife isn't a job it's not comparable to childcare

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 13:08:56

Health and social care needs are assessed,and provision made by public sector
The state offers individuals protection from exploitation in legislation,and in services provided
Housewives are subject to the legal protection,they're not a disqualified group

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 13:10:01

Housewife isn't a job no, but the word I used was work.

Raising your own children is regulated and supervised, you can have conditions imposed on you and ultimately lose care of your children if you fail to provide them with satisfactory care. You have to meet certain state requirements like complying with laws surrounding education and you care is monitored by health services and social services.

It's for the same reason childcare workers are scrutinised and monitored. There is less regulation of private childcare because it is assumed people who love the children will provide better care and because the state considers itself to have less jurisdiction over private homes. There are still monitoring, standards to meet etc

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 13:11:07

better care without supervision that is

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 13:13:27

No,raising your own kids isn't routinely scrutinised or inspected.external childcare is
A childcare worker had a job description,expected competences.housewife doesn't
You don't need DBS to work with your own kids.you need to work with children externally

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 13:13:50

housewives don't have legal protection regarding their work. Married women have some financial and so do parents but this is dependent on having access to money to pay for court claims.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 13:15:23

you think raising children is not routinely scrutinised? Have you not heard of health visitors, schools, school nurses etc?

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 13:15:50

Housewives don't work they have no employment right as they're not employed
If housewife informed police/statutory service she was being abused,exploited that'd be investigated

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 13:18:51

It wouldn't though because abuse is not illegal. Women can leave abusive relationships but there's no legal protection from abuse unless the abuse happens to be a crime or unless the woman is married and therefore entitled to make a financial claim for support. The woman who is prevented from WOH has no protection or right to support.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 13:21:19

I know they have no employment rights, which is my point.

But returning to the subject of work. Why is caring for children work when you are paid but not when you are not? Are grandparents providing childcare not working? Are parents providing childcare not working?

I'm not talking about employment or a job, clearly free work does not fall into those categories, but what about not being paid makes something not work?

impty Fri 28-Feb-14 13:24:07

I think the expectation of women has swung so that we do expect them to work, to be flexible in that work, but to contribute financially to their own family, whilst also caring for it. To be a supportive wife, mother and a capable employee.

I simply don't think the same pressure is on men. I don't see the majority of men balancing work, child care, house work in the same way women are expected to. I don't see them reducing their hours once they have a child.

The state does try and help women to work, the increase in child care options, and things like child tax credit, which wasn't around 18 years ago does help women who want to work, able to work.

Society, however has a bit of catching up to do. Sahm are often regarded in the same way as 'benefit scroungers'. People on benefits are currently being ostracised as a drain on the public purse (when in fact many recipients of benefits are employed) therefore sahm's are also a drain.

If the society expects both adults in a family to work, then working hours, pay, time off for child appointments, flexible employers all needs to be addressed and enforced by the state.
Equal house work, equal child responsibility, equal leisure time, equal financial control, needs to be addressed by the individuals within that family. You only have to look at MN boards to see that we are a long, long way from equality.

merrymouse Fri 28-Feb-14 13:25:16

Who on earth stays at home to be a housewife?

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 13:27:28

Any Individual can report abuse to police or health/social care it will be investigated.Abuse can be include

Physical abuse

Sexual Abuse

Psychological/ Emotional Abuse

Financial Abuse

Neglect and Acts of Omission

Discriminatory Abuse

Institutional Abuse, Neglect and Poor Practice

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 13:30:06

Why is paid childcare work?because it's regulated,Runs on for profit basis,employs staff

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 13:33:37

I'm aware of what abuse is, thank you.

I think you fail to understand my point. Abuse is not illegal. A person has no right to not be abused unless it is covered by specific legislation such as the matrimonial causes act or offences against the person act. The government definition of abuse is helpful only in encouraging individuals to take individual action when a relationship is problematic. Social services may step in in order to help with abuse but the only thing that can be done is for the woman suffering the abuse to leave. That is not much help really is it? If you're abused by an employer there are numerous claims available to you which serve the dual purpose of discouraging abuse and compensating the victim for losses/bad behaviour suffered.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 13:34:24

that's a definition of a job not of work. Work is putting mental or physical effort into something in order to achieve an outcome.

impty Fri 28-Feb-14 13:36:05

Part of the reason mothering isn't highly regarded, is because child care workers are poorly paid, and not highly regarded.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 13:36:49

even if we accept your definition of work. Why do women not deserve protection from exploitation just because they are not paid? Why would you be opposd to giving women (usually) greater protection/status?

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 13:41:40

and the choice is only an illusion. The gatekeepers of choice are still men. Any father can choose to go to work while the mother is producing their child, the father can choose how much the pregnancy and birth affect his employment. The mother has no or limited choices. This is why women end up sacrificing their careers to raise children. The choice only exists if the father of her child is willing to allow the choice to exist. The terms of the choice are often dependent on how many concessions the father is willing to make. Obviously women can increase their power through getting and keeping secure and higher paid work but this is not a reality for most people nevermind most women I think.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 13:43:04

I hold nursery workers and childcare workers in high regard.

impty Fri 28-Feb-14 13:44:45

But not mothers?

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 13:45:34

The point was that society doesn't. Neither economically or socially. Being a doctor (of most kinds) is no more or less important or difficult than being a childcare worker IMO but look at the difference in status.

JanString Fri 28-Feb-14 13:49:46

It was interesting to read your post. I am still reeling in some ways from the experiences I have had during the last twenty years of parenting, including those of my own misconception. I too have dealt with the conundrum of working versus staying at home (the former still wins for me) even eventually homeschooling my teens, but the latter is what has been needed most of the time. I am viewed, rather negatively at times, as a feminist but have only ever wanted to keep my independence, as well as parent but as the years have gone on and I have experienced the negative attitude formulated by the government about Parents that 'choose' not to work and stay home to bring up their children, and how that is then integrated into society - much the same way as the anti-smoking message has been. I find myself thinking that the minions are only hamsters on a wheel and sometimes you just have to step off and look at life differently - but be prepared at times to be alone, as you may become invisible to/or even considered a threat by your peers.
Caring is not valued in this country, it is overlooked and dismissed and I truly believe that it is a wonderful quality to hold and I for one feel very lucky that I care!

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 13:49:50

scottishmummy - you contradict yourself. On the one hand you object to the terminology "institutionalised" childcare and on the other you claim that work only exists where it is institutionalised by regulation.

Like I said upthread - maybe you should avoid talking quite so vociferously about economics and take an evening class.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Fri 28-Feb-14 13:57:49

you dont get paid for looking after your own children, in the same way you don't get paid for doing your own laundry.

want someone else to do it, and you will need to pay them.

OTheHugeManatee Fri 28-Feb-14 14:10:52

Offred - a handful of points:

Vast majority of households get tax credits As far as I can make out from as search for statistics, this isn't true. The most recent stat I could find (2011, here ) says 17% of working age households are in receipt of tax credits. Unless this has gone up to over 50% in the last three years, which I doubt, then the vast majority of households do not get tax credits, no.

It is the govt who have the power to actually change the structure of the economy My point in my previous post was not that governments have 'nothing to do with' social/economic changes. The government of course has some ability to affect the economy, but I would argue that this ability is often overstated.

For example the decline of the UK's ports is sometimes blamed on Margaret Thatcher's industrial policies, but in reality a far greater culprit was containerisation, which reduced the number of stevedores required and made an entire workforce largely redundant. I tit's human nature to imagine ourselves (and our governments) as having lots of power, as it's preferable to seeing ourselves as basically at the mercy of geopolitical forces with the government of the day simply twiddling knobs at the edges. Which is, I think, far closer to the reality of what governments are able to do.

Finally, the money [capitalists] make from the economy (and therefore steal from the state as a whole) Do you seriously see any and all profits made by businesses as 'stolen' from the state? Do you mean that all money in the economy should properly belong to the state? If so I think you and I have quite different ideas about the kind of country we want to live in grin

I realise this is all a bit off-topic for a thread on SAHPs though. As you were smile

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 14:24:01

i'm a bit stunned at all the 'wife' centric talk and complete disregard for what policy and discourse changes are really about and the people who really are suffering from it and will suffer further. even if people only had self interest you'd think they'd be able to think of their potential self (re: if divorce or bereavement occurs).

there are women out there being sent on workfare an hours distance from their home with 5yo children forced to be in childcare and school for ten hrs a day regardless of needs because a woman can't find a job in the current economic climate. this in exchange for jsa. it's not about whether you're valued or which wife has made the best choices vis a vis childcare and career.

the state doesn't give a fuck if you live off of your husband or go out to work - you're just a woman and in your right place by living with a man and can do what you like (or what he likes as after all a man has the right to manage his household as he pleases). what they care about is what happens if you are not living with a man and are expecting to be treated as an actual citizen whose needs need to be accounted for within the system. either people are being a bit dim or are just so self interested and short sighted as to where their 'self' could end up that they don't bother to think this through further than their own back yard.

ProfondoRosso Fri 28-Feb-14 14:25:00

Part of the reason mothering isn't highly regarded, is because child care workers are poorly paid, and not highly regarded

Which is insane. I'm pretty sure writing my PhD was less hard work than taking care of a room full of babies/toddlers. A whole room, not just your own. I have a lot of respect for those who work in childcare.

There's insidious classist angles to that too. People who work in a lovely Montessori daycare in a nice middle class area tend to have their occupation regarded with greater respect than people who work in state nurseries.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 14:29:11

and in the context of more than a quarter of families being led by single females of whom about 70% receive zero child maintenance and of those who do nearly half receive less than £10 a week clearly saying well men need to pull their weight and do more childcare and take career breaks etc is a bit of a red herring. it'd be nice if men were even made to take financial responsibility for their children in law even when they don't come attached to a wife washing their socks and shagging them be she sahm or wohm.

but don't mind me nero. navel gaze away.

Sillylass79 Fri 28-Feb-14 14:30:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 14:31:32

Those stats are expressing a rise in poverty by looking at tax credits over and above the family element. They aren't stats relating to numbers of families receiving tax credits. It may not be as true since they lowered the thresholds but it is still a high percentage and it has been lowered through engineering rather than assessment of need.

Yes, we do have different views on the economy and what kind of state we would each like to live in. Mine is based on the fact profit is made by workers underselling their labour to owners. That unaccountable companies shouldn't have greater control over the economy than a supposedly accountable state.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 14:46:41

Whilst you hold childcare workers in high regard, obviously some of us don't, hence we don't use them.

This is one example of a differing opinion in terms of the wohp and sahp debate there are many.
Everybody has their own view of what they want to do, how to raise their children, what is best for them, what makes their family happy and of course it is a personal belief system.
Maybe society should realise this first, then we can move forward and expect to get acceptance of our choices.

maggiemight Fri 28-Feb-14 14:49:30

We still have almost the highest teenage pregnancy rate in this country so making work obligatory for single parents might be seen as a way of tackling this. With the morning after pill, contraception freely available something must be encouraging girls to have babies early, possibly lack of opportunity but starting a family isn't the answer to that. Perhaps this policy will lower the numbers.

Well the capitalists exploiting the workers is one way to look at this but in theory if you start working young enough and work to improve your situation you will eventually be able to invest in the capitalist economy yourself and benefit from it financially. This theory has recently been scotched by the immigrant incomers contributing to keeping incomes low.

And instituionalising DCs? Isn't this partly to improve the opportunities for some DCs at the bottom of the pile. There has been research done which says that if DCs are behind at 3 they will behind their peers for ever (sorry not prepared to look this up and provide links)

No one has brought up the point that we live much longer nowadays. So flexibility in work to allow mothers to continue working part time once their DCs are born, with a view to returning full time at some point in the future. Or fathers of course.

Surely this would be the best situation. If your youngest goes to secondary school when you are 40 you have 30 years of working life still ahead of you. That is a long time to do pin money work and tricky to start again as competing with 18-25 year olds. Thinking of all those girls qualifying as doctors nowadays, gov should encourage keeping them in the workforce or all that education is not being exploited.

impty Fri 28-Feb-14 14:54:20

thehoneybadger the demonising of single mothers has been a problem, since... well forever. My mother was made a single mother because my father walked out on her in the '90's. It was the time of the Tory back to basics campaign, and she did feel she was demonised because of this.

You are completely correct when you say fathers must be financially responsible, and have that enforced. You are right when you say lone parents must have a safety net which is much more conducive to parenting, and sympathetic to those particular needs.

I don't need to be in that position to believe that. It is part of making parenting more equal, and choices more equal.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 15:01:35


I don't think any woman should be encouraged into work when she has had children. Supported if this is her decision but not considered as the norm.
This is exactly where we are now, except the encouragement has gone much further and is compulsory.
No, everybody wouldn't want to benefit from a capitalist society.
Finally, if your children attend nurseries at whatever age or irrelevant of your income they are institutionalised, that's what they are, no judgement there. It is not only there for those at the bottom of the pile.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 15:04:48

i believe that just 2% of single parents are teenagers.

average age is 38.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 15:06:17

impty do you see then that the real target of attitude change to sahp and increasing hours of school etc is single parents?

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 15:11:25

morethanpotatoprints - society cannot afford long term to support mothers who don't work and have no alternative form of financial support (a husband, an ex-husband, maintenance payments, a trust fund, investments or whatever else). There are many reasons why the current situation has become politically unpalatable.

While I am no fan at all of long days for children in wraparound care, and I know that many people who use such childcare don't like it, I'm not sure that it isn't better to have a mother who goes to work as a manicurist in a nice salon and talks to customers and gets ideas about the world than one who sits at home doing very little, with her child doing very little, because she has no money (just to take an example of someone I spoke to very recently).

maggiemight Fri 28-Feb-14 15:18:39

impty do you see then that the real target of attitude change to sahp and increasing hours of school etc is single parents

But what is the answer to this? Is the Gov deliberately trying to ruin the lives of single parent families? Which is what some posters seem to imply. I would think it is more a money saving idea. Or an attempt to force fathers to pay more.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 15:22:38

The research says that children don't need to start formal education until they are 7, that's why many countries don't start a formal education until that age and why early years curriculum is based on play.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 15:23:40

I think it is very simply, as I said, that they want all labour to be contributed to the making of profit and not to be contributed to private households.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 15:25:19

Offred - very few countries "do not start formal education until 7". What people fail to grasp is that countries have radically different curricula and learning paths from one another - the dichotomy between informal and formal education is a false one.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 15:26:54

However, I agree that governments want all labour to be declared and taxable. They cannot get their greasy mitts on domestic labour provided for free by family members!

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 15:27:08


I believe society can afford to support mothers who don't work tbh. We are just told by a government that we can't.
No doubt society can't afford the tax fiddles from the large corporates but government turn a blind eye to this and other issues.

I do think you have a point about the manicurist example you give, but then I only agree if it is by choice and not compulsion.

I believe the government are trying their best to conquer and divide and they are succeeding. There is something wrong with a society that believes everybody should work, even when it isn't in the interest of the family or financially viable for that person.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 15:30:15

Hmm. It's not PC to say so, but all SAHM are not equal in what they can provide for their DC. If you have no money at all and little education, your DC are probably better off spending their early days in an institutional setting where there are (relatively) more interesting things to do with other people than spending it at home.

However, if you have plenty of money and lots of education and you enjoy spending time with your DC and opening their eyes to the world, then your DC would not be (relatively) better off cooped up in an institutional setting.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 15:34:05

That's not strictly what the research says actually bonsoir. It says children are almost always better off in a home style environment with a parent, nanny, au pair, childminder etc than in an institution. Institutions only benefit children who are being abused/neglected and that isn't necessarily related to wealth.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 15:35:22

Offred - that's not true. Children's language and motor skills can be severely adversely affected without any form of neglect or abuse in the home, merely from being in a limited environment.

wordfactory Fri 28-Feb-14 15:36:37

Blimey do people really believe that Cameron and the rest of his shower have some Grand Plan?

That they're sitting working out the best ways to punish single mothers? Or that they're devising methods to get all our DC in 24 hour child care?

I mean, c'mon. These guys are hopeless. They don't have any plan, least of all a grand one!

They're just reacting to a massive decrease in tax take and a recession. And one thing they can cut and know won't be unpopular generally is benefits for those not in work.

The working population and the retired population welcome these cuts. That's the truth of it. There is no need to divide the nation to conquer it. The majority, who work, do not wish to support those who chosoe not to, whether they have DC or not.

That's the long and short of it!

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 15:37:29

This country currently doesn't start a formal educational curriculum until year 1 IME. The focus before that is on play and whilst I think there are benefits to 15 hours a week preschool from 3 in order to emotionally adjust to school and full time school from 4/5 in order to emotionally adjust to formal education, I don't think children need to be starting formal style education from 2 as is currently being touted.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 15:38:26

wordfactory - you are sweetly naïve (not something I would usually accuse you of). Cameron et al are not alone - all Western European governments are up to the same tricks and, you know what - they do talk to one another grin and use the same bleeding consultancies!

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 15:38:47

merely from being in a limited environment.

That is neglect when it is severe enough to affect development isn't it and it isn't necessarily because of poverty.

wordfactory Fri 28-Feb-14 15:39:32

No one has to place their DC in any institution. They don't have to go to school at 2, 3, 5 or indeed ever!

This governemnt for all its faults is committed to the freedom to chose how to educate our own DC. Unlike Ed Balls who tried to remove the right...but failed !

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 15:39:44

Blame McKinsey

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 15:41:20

This governemnt for all its faults is committed to the freedom to chose how to educate our own DC.

That isn't the effect of the policies. It's the spin about the effect of the policies.

wordfactory Fri 28-Feb-14 15:42:03

Bonsoir I'm sure they do and they consider it A Good Idea to have as many people working as they can...but this shower don't seem to have any proper ideology as to why that would be or how they could do it.

At least you know where you are with the left. You might not agree with them, but they're consistent.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 15:42:25


I'm sorry but I have to disagree with you.
Until my dc were well into their school years I had very little education and we were very poor.
I prepared 2 children to start school with no help from anybody or any institution.
I later became qualified to PG level, but had nothing in their early days.
My children would never have been better off in an educational institution, as you know at this time I also include school.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 15:42:26

if they wanted fathers to pay more they'd do something to address that. in reality they are charging for the use of the csa and taking a cut from mothers of any money they collect. if they wanted fathers to pay more they'd make it a legal requirement to pay and attach deductions to earnings. it isn't that. and yes i do believe they are deliberately aiming to make life more difficult for single parents - it is called social engineering and it is governing by ideology rather than economics or representation.

cutting funding for shelters and legal aid is also a part of this.

as is workfare policy, changing the age of child at which women must be in work, cutting ctc and wtc and childcare element and deciding the cut off for child benefit will be based on 'one' earner being a hrt payer rather than using household income as the cut off point.

do you really not see how strategically this government has been targeting single parents? regardless of whether they are working, not working, high earners, low earners they are being attacked. so clearly this is ideological not economic.

maggiemight Fri 28-Feb-14 15:43:20

The working population and the retired population welcome these cuts. That's the truth of it. There is no need to divide the nation to conquer it. The majority, who work, do not wish to support those who chosoe not to, whether they have DC or not

And, in the future, those with DCs will no longer have them to care for as they will be adults, and then at some point after that they will live on pensions so be supporting the Gov of that time who reduces benefits to the non-working. So it all balances out in the end grin

wordfactory Fri 28-Feb-14 15:44:09

offred I think the idea that you may do as you choose with your DC, but that you must fund it is pretty well established on the right.

impty Fri 28-Feb-14 15:44:33

impty do you see then that the real target of attitude change to sahp and increasing hours of school etc is single parents?

No, I think the increasing of school hours as a vote pleaser for working parents, who would benefit from this.

As I've said before sahp's tend to be lumped in with people on benefits, and lone parents also get put in this very general catagory. A group who are reliant on state help.

It's a very simplistic view, but one that appeals to the massses of two working parent families. It demonises them, and therefore propels more into paid work.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 15:46:46

No, because McKinsey consultancies don't have an ideology. They have cost-cutting tools and benchmarking with other countries and they just try to copy what the neighbour is doing marginally better.

Where did Liz Truss get all her very superficial ideas of what goes on in other countries if it wasn't some consultancy benchmarking exercise? To give just one example. I can just see that great binder of Powerpoint slides and all those bar charts churned out by well-paid but overworked Oxbridge graduate analysts... Same sort of thing in France (except that the analysts come from HEC and Polytechnique).

maggiemight Fri 28-Feb-14 15:46:56

But what is the ideological point of targeting single parents? They aren't going to become any less due to these policies (except maybe a few young mothers)

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 15:47:29

i genuinely believe the increasing of school hours and workfare have a hand in hand relationship.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 15:47:56

offred I think the idea that you may do as you choose with your DC, but that you must fund it is pretty well established on the right.

I know. Problem is most people can't afford choice. This govt has made policies which make most people poorer and less able to afford choice.

impty Fri 28-Feb-14 15:51:39

Oh, and I agree there is no grand plan! No hidden agenda.

Most people have to work to live. Therefore, most people resent those who don't work. Politicians try to appeal to most people.

So, if you don't work, and choose to stay at home, you will become a target to many people, including politicians. That doesn't mean they are right. It certainly doesn't mean they've thought through an ideological stance. grin

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 15:53:47

But what is the ideological point of targeting single parents? They aren't going to become any less due to these policies.

There is definitely a belief (yet to be proven correct) that if people know that the state is not going to step in to support them, they might not put themselves in a potentially precarious situation in the first place.

wordfactory Fri 28-Feb-14 15:53:53

offred I'm no fan of this lot but looking at the situation dispassionately, the siuation for the working poor in the UK has been worsening for many years.

The Blair/Brown administration were able to stave off the worst of it by propping up the low paid via benefits. But they could only do that in the golden years of high tax take and the selling off of the gold reserves.

Now times is tight...

impty Fri 28-Feb-14 15:53:57

* i genuinely believe the increasing of school hours and workfare have a hand in hand relationship.*

I don't think Gov. Dept's are particularly able or equipped to join up in this way, even if they wanted to.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 15:56:38

The situation for the working poor (and now for the middle classes) has worsened because jobs were lost to lower cost economies and to technology. Governments are not entirely to blame for this (even though I think that the idea that the UK was going to funded almost by the City was slightly off the mark and that other sectors should have been developed with as much passion and support).

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 15:56:55

Times are only artificially and ideologically right though. There are problems in the economy yes but they are at the top not the bottom and these cuts are ideological - only a certain class of people are supposed to be able to have choice and they want to limit choice for everyone else.

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Fri 28-Feb-14 15:57:12

wordfactory - they don't need a Grand Plan. The systems that have perpetuated these issues for the elite's benefits has been going on for centuries. All they have to do is perpetuate it and use the systems already in place to convince the populace it is for the good, either their own or socially. They've done that quite well with all the scapegoating, pitting people against each other, and dehumanizing and pushing the shrinking pie mindset.

wordfactory Fri 28-Feb-14 15:57:26

I don't either.

In many ways ut falls squarely within left ideology that all women wish to work. People are only poor because they are given no choices.

If they're given free childcare they will work and thus lift themselves out of poverty.

The majority of left wing states have opperated along these lines...

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 15:58:32

It's true jobs in certain sectors were lost to abroad but the govt took no action over this. High unemployment drives wages down which is attractive under capitalism.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 15:59:33

Work doesn't lift people out of poverty. The majority of families in poverty are families with work.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 16:01:29

It would have been wrong to retain jobs that were no longer economically viable. But other higher VA sectors needed to be developed beyond the City. It's all very well having the best concentration of the best financiers/lawyers/etc and all the people who feed off them but it's not enough.

wordfactory Fri 28-Feb-14 16:01:31

Bonsoir quite so.

And the arrival of EU migrants who could be exploited to work for low wages on zero contact hours has compounded the problems for the working poor.

Our economy no longer has anything to offer those at the bottom of the pile. It can't even prop them up any more via benefits.

The times they have already changed.

wordfactory Fri 28-Feb-14 16:04:10

Of course it doesn't work offred that's why Blair/Brown had to prop everyone up.

But you can't do that until the end of time!

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 16:06:44


Is it really a left ideology that all women wish to work?
Wasn't the present tax credit system founded under labour.
Whilst it allowed both parents to work with subsidised childcare, it also allowed a sahp in some cases.
I thought it to be the fairest system we have had, giving the widest choice.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 16:07:55

I don't think blair/brown were propping up poor people as much as propping up profit makers with the tax credits system.

Surely jobs in the financial sector have proven themselves unsustainable but they have been propped up.

wordfactory Fri 28-Feb-14 16:11:02

Bonsoir I agree again.

The reliance on the city is just bloody daft. But it was a serious cash cow in the early Blair/Brown days so they thought it would continue.

Remeber Brown was never going allow another bust!!!! Not like those naughty nasty tories.

And where did they invest all that lovely mulah? State sector jobs!

Now who can tell me what went wrong there?

wordfactory Fri 28-Feb-14 16:15:29

morethan it was an unitended consequence of giving in work benefits that some SAHPs could utilize it too.

In much the same way that helping the working poor by providing in work benefits actually props up big buisness.

Things never happen in a vacuum.

When you try to run a hybrid system of using capitalism to support socialist aims you will never be trully in control of the outcomes of the market.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 16:17:19

In work benefits are a lousy idea.

A high threshold before income tax kicks in and extremely low rates of taxation in the lowest tranches is a better way of achieving similar outcomes.

maggiemight Fri 28-Feb-14 16:25:22

More flexible working is the answer imo, for both parents, then SAHM can keep one foot on the ladder, perhaps fathers reduce hours when DCs older, then both be reasonably available for work when the DCs leave home/ go to school/ go to secondary school. This should just be the norm. Society and workplaces should adapt to it.

We are still thinking of working life being 30 years, so, say 15 years off for childrearing, would be half of your working life, so really not possible to keep your career up but now working life is 40/50 years, and may rise. It is imperative then that people maintain existing or develop new skills.

I don't know anyone who was a 15 year SAHM, I know many who were SAHM then went back to work or studied when DCs started school but that was when uni was free. There was more opportunity.

So now there is less opportunity it is more important to keep up what you already have. Anyone who wants to be a permanent SAH person can be by all means if they can afford to but ime no one I know did so the norm is to want to work so that should be supported by the Gov.

If it was given proper support and backing and that taking time off for home care (elderly relatives/DCs) seen as normal (everyone has parents and unless disaster strikes they will age) for both sexes - and also acknowledge that this is just a period in the workers lives and will last limited time until they will again have no major demands outside work, we would all be happier.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 17:27:50


I think I understand now, here was me thinking Labour were great to us sahp's grin

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 19:38:42

Potato,I must comment on your illiberal and repressive opinion that you don't think any woman should be encouraged into work when she has had children. Supported if this is her decision but not considered as the norm.Where are the men,in that statement?are men allowed to work when they've had children?

I'm not defined by being a parent and no I wouldn't give up work,because I'd had children.in fact being a parent was an impetus to work harder

Well fortunately,you're wrong.the majority of parents work ONS 2013
And work has demonstrable benefits for mental and physical health and self esteem

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 19:47:15

While I agree these issues apply to parents not just mothers potato wasn't saying people should be forced out of work. In the context of the discussion, I think that the point was people shouldn't be forced into work. That people should be supported to make the personal decision that's right for them or even a series of personal decisions as things change.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 19:47:20


As we are talking about sahm's I didn't think it necessary to include fathers in this discussion.

I'm also not defined by being a parent, nor as a product of employment.
Having children gave me the impetus to give up work and care for my family and home.

Not working has had demonstrable benefits for my mental, physical health and self esteem. These don't diminish just because you don't work for a living.

How you can argue that somebodies opinion is wrong, I have no idea. But if it makes you feel better....

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 19:51:06

Sorry just seen Offred

Yes, that's exactly what I was saying. I do think women should be supported if they want to work, good grief we fought for the right for so long.
It's just that as long as wohm or sahm is considered the ideal/norm the chances for choice, recognition, validation of position is not going to happen.
As long as there is no norm, I believe there is hope for true equality and choice.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 19:52:35

It is purpose that has benefits for health and self-esteem. Some people find purpose in paid employment, some people find purpose in SAH parenting. Some in quite different things. But it is quite wrong to think that all people will find more purpose in paid employment than in any other activity they might engage in.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 19:53:53

Well you're prepared to argue childcare makes children institutionalised
You've made v definitive statements,v strident assertions
I'm including men as the op did in her wish list solution,and women need a waged partner usually male to fund the housewifery

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 19:56:40

Some people I think believe that no-one should be supported with anything and we should practice 'personal responsibility' no matter what the cost.

I think the playing field is not level to start which makes this objectively unreasonable but subjectively the consequences of every man for himself are intolerable for me personally. I do believe in the principle of support and I think this also has the effect of building a healthier and more efficient society.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 19:57:04

Crikey, scottishmummy. "Institutionalised childcare" is not synonymous with "childcare makes children institutionalised*. You need nightschool in use of English I think we had all realised as well as Economics wink

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 19:59:24

Has the op posted on her own thread?

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 20:02:05

Childcare institutions provided institutionalised childcare. This is just a fact scottishmummy. I'm not sure what your particular hang up is with this? It's a factual statement not a derogatory one. I agree you are making it look like you are the one with the problem with it. My kids attend preschool and school which is institutionalised childcare, at the ages they are and within the current framework institutionalised childcare is what I've chosen for the preschool age for my children because it is an institution and I want them prepared for life in institutionalised education...

With institutions the values of the institution are what determines the outcomes of the people within it and it's the values that people have different opinions on. I'm not sure how you can actually seriously argue that they aren't institutions.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 20:06:25

If you use institutional childcare you have, IMVHO, to work extremely hard outside the institutional context to add value to your child's experience of the world. Because it is an institution, and therefore your child's experience within it will be limited to the frontiers of that institution.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 20:06:26

Our kids went to nursery ft at 6months.i needed ft nursery to return to work
Nursery has been v advantageous for us

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 20:10:11

I'm sure it has but I'm also not sure what your point is? You seem to think any way which doesn't validate what you did is not objectively valuable.

janebblogger Fri 28-Feb-14 20:10:14

I was a SAHM by choice, well I had such bad morning sickness with no. 1 I had to give up my flower growing/florist business. But the next two were close together and I breastfed and they never slept. BUT I wouldn't have had it any other way and felt privileged to be home with them. However, the people who made me feel most guilty about my choice, were other mums. That really saddened me. How judgmental they were and superior for putting their kids in childcare and getting back to work. I did start a business from home when no.3 was about 9 weeks, in between the feeds, arts and crafts and grubby highchairs. I did it. But it was a bit manic. SAHMs should be revered not looked on as dropouts.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 20:12:17

I don't think SAHP should be revered. I do think they should be valued and considered of equal status to WOHP.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 20:15:15

Women shouldn't automatically be revered.the deification of women is repressive

LauraBridges Fri 28-Feb-14 20:16:22

It is very very necessary to include fathers. All the appalling sexism which ruins the life so many women comes from this assumption that women are the ones who care for children. We need to overturn that myth.

I don't think most full time working parents go around saying the are superior to fathers or mothers who don't work outside the home. I really never see that. In fact why would see those none working parents to speak to them? We just operate in different worlds and lives surely.

I certainly agree with this:
"scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 19:38:42
Potato,I must comment on your illiberal and repressive opinion that you don't think any woman should be encouraged into work when she has had children. Supported if this is her decision but not considered as the norm.Where are the men,in that statement?are men allowed to work when they've had children?
I'm not defined by being a parent and no I wouldn't give up work,because I'd had children.in fact being a parent was an impetus to work harder
Well fortunately,you're wrong.the majority of parents work ONS 2013
And work has demonstrable benefits for mental and physical health and self esteem".

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 20:17:00

Frankly there should not be a stigma attached to a woman's role whatever the choice is. If she is a SAHP she's dead weight if she's a WOHP she's a bad mother. The same judgement is not applied to men except for that the stigma against working in the home is greater than the stigma against being a mother so SAHDs are often met with a mix of shock, praise and suspicion (is he just lazy?). There shouldn't be a stigma attached to caring work of any kind but there is because society treats it as less valuable whether it is paid or unpaid. If we want equality we need to legislate to accommodate family commitments through the availability of high quality childcare for parents who work and flexible working.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 20:19:23

Of course this need to include men,op has in her wish list solution

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 20:21:21

And we need to value work of all kinds. I'm not sure it is ever acceptable for people to work for no pay. Caring for their own children included. If SAHP's had a salary from the state they could choose to use it to pay for childcare or to have it as their income.

I don't think it is unachievable, we already have SMP.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 20:24:31

Why would I work unpaid when I have in demand skills I am remunerated for
Food isn't free,the mortgage Needs paid,I want consumer durables.all fulfilled via paid employment

TeamWill Fri 28-Feb-14 20:26:26

I disagree, men who care for children are judged.

The main protagonists were SAHM who did the whole sneery " how do you trust him" " My DH wouldn't be able to care for my DC as well as me" shite." How weird your DH likes children" hmm
WOHM were mostly supportive and as they admitted quite jealous that I get a clean house and a nice dinner when I get home from work ( as does DH)grin

maggiemight Fri 28-Feb-14 20:26:38

I never use the word institution, I don't go to the healthcare institution (hospital) or my DCs use the educational institution (school), my elderly mother is not in a care institution so admit it or not it is a loaded word and usually designed to be derogatory.
Institution is more a word from the 50s to describe mental hospitals (I think it was).

So SAHMs who don't want their DCs institutionalized are being goady whether they put on fluttery emoticons or not smile wink

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 20:26:45

Watching your own kids isn't work.nor is doing your own laundry

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 20:30:12

I don't do my own laundry (or not all of it). I pay someone else to do some of that work for me, and some of it I do myself. It sure feels like work to me!

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 20:32:06

It isn't employment. It is work.

Teamwill - I meant the same judgement is not applied to men generally as it is to women. My point was exactly that the stigma against caring is so great that men ARE judged when they are SAHDs despite them being men and therefore not judged generally like women are.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 20:32:15


I agree, I think all housework is work, hence the word work.
I don't do much of it here either, we all sort of muck in together.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 20:32:46

Indeed - I live in a building which was not designed for inhabitants to do their own laundry. That sort of work was sent out to the local laundry (which still exists).

So - in 1929 all laundry was outsourced work.

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 20:34:03

Maggie - they are institutions and if it was relevant to the conversation e.g. If we were discussing care of the elderly, those things might be described as such. Institutionalised care is not necessarily bad or good. It's benefits and drawbacks are dependent on other things. I don't think anyone would argue against institutionalised healthcare for example.

LindseyLM Fri 28-Feb-14 20:34:20

Life is one long road of choices and decisions and the whole idea that you could "have it all" is just barking. Surely feminism is about making sure men and women face the same or similar choices and women aren't penalised i.e. fairness - not about having it all.

The heart of most decisions is financial. In the case of the sahm some people sacrifice the financial for the care/experience/sense of responsibility etc, but others can't because they value the financial more highly - maybe they judge themselves or feel that others will judge them by the financial.

If anything needs to change it's how much importance people place on the financial over everything else. Unfortunately women's quest for the financial has shifted the balance to a less healthy place than it was before - that's not their fault because why shouldn't they have careers if they choose to do so, but it is a reality. Either way a shift in priorities by society as a whole would help

TeamWill Fri 28-Feb-14 20:35:15

Ah Ok Offred smile

Offred Fri 28-Feb-14 20:38:04

I think it's offensive to imply that SAHPs don't have skills to offer in paid employment Scottish. Things aren't that simple. I've got absolutely bags to offer to paid employment but all I can do which utilises my skills is unpaid work - childcare and volunteering with CAB and the NHS. The economic value of the work I provide for free is huge, not just in terms of childcare which people disagree about the economic value of but in terms of the volunteer work.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 20:40:29

Maggie and Scottish

Please look up the word institution, and remove your chip about the word.
You have decided to that because the word has been used it is to goad, this says a lot about your insecurities.
Why on earth would anybody want to goad you.
You have made your choices, that you seem very happy about. Others have made their choices they are happy with, nobody needs to goad anybody in that case.
I don't want my children institutionalised for many reasons that have nothing to do with this thread nor being a sahm. But in order for this to happen I have to be a sahm.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 20:40:41

I have lots of SAHM friends and they are all, to the woman, extremely highly skilled, experienced and have masses to offer. Many of them, like me, have all sorts of PT roles and put their skills to good use beyond their families, to the extent that prioritising their children allows.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 20:42:02

Society cannot function without institutions. They are a force for the good. However, we have every right to question whether institutional life should be the major part of our existence as humans.

TeamWill Fri 28-Feb-14 20:42:09

" Have it all " seems to only apply to women as in "how dare you bloody think you can have children and an interesting career"
Well fuck off Im having it all and so are lots of women who have supportive partners who don't put their careers before those of their DW/DP and pull their fingers out regarding housework and childcare.

merrymouse Fri 28-Feb-14 20:44:46

Watching your own kids isn't work.nor is doing your own laundry

I think you get reported to social services for not organising some kind of childcare before you get reported for not doing laundry.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 20:48:00

Have it all,Helen gurley brown.she apparently felt misrepresented.no one has it all
Gurley brown dud do some fab quips though
“Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.”

“Beauty can't amuse you, but brainwork—reading, writing, thinking—can.”

“My success was not based so much on any great intelligence but on great common sense.”

“Never fail to know that if you are doing all the talking, you are boring somebody.”

“Nearly every glamorous, wealthy, successful career woman you might envy now started out as some kind of schlepp.”

“What you have to do is work with the raw material you have, namely you, and never let up.”

“If you’re not a sex object, you’re in trouble.”

“A man likes to sleep with a brainy girl. She’s a challenge. If he makes good with her, he figures he must be good himself.”

“Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort.”

“How could any woman not be a feminist? The girl I’m editing for wants to be known for herself. If that’s not a feminist message, I don’t know what is.”

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 20:50:53

Potato,I actually more took issue with your wee illiberal gem that you don't think any woman should be encouraged into work when she has had children. Supported if this is her decision but not considered as the norm

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 20:50:56


"Have it all" seems to only apply to women who want to work/ have a career.

I think having it all is being happy with what you have and not needing/wanting more. In that sense I have it all.

I don't need a career/job and I have a dp who is supportive of mine and the families needs, who shares domestic responsibilities and raising our children. We do it between us because that's what we want to do, out sourcing our dc for an amount of time whilst we both worked was what we didn't want.
We work when we want to, come and go as we please, because that's what we want to do. I call that having it all.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 20:51:03

When did HGB write that, scottishmummy? Thirty years ago - or forty?

Move with the times grin

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 20:53:06

people are using the word 'women' on this thread whilst clearly talking about 'wives'. which is sad really when they're representing themselves as feminists and equality motivated. the words woman and wife are not synonymous.

am i seriously the only lone parent on this thread? are there really no lesbians on this thread? do women really believe the cutting edge of feminism is whether to be financially dependent on a husband or not?

feminism is looking a lot like mainstream politics and mainstream media at present ie. massively out of touch with reality and the demographics that most need representing.

if you want better rights 'in' heteronormative set ups you have to have better rights outside of it - for as long as the 'outside of it' scenario is being made less and less viable the less wiggle room and rights within it there'll be. what incentive is there for men to step up to an equal share of parenting responsibility in a context where outside of marriage they're not even legally accountable for financially supporting their own children and where women can't even access financial or legal support when being abused within it?

whatever illusion of choice you feel you have 'within' heteronormative living they are tenuous beyond belief when you envision falling outside of that lifestyle.

but that's ok because single mothers are 'other' and well, there's mothering and mothering, of course it's only worthy or good if it's done within marriage confused of course having a parent at home matters if you're married but if not well tough titties kids and of course fathers who are married should step up and take career breaks but father's who aren't? ah well you can't expect them to contribute in any way because....?

people are so conditioined they don't see the walls of the cage.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 20:54:30

No,I'm not a wife. I don't equate term woman with wife
You're wrong

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 20:55:33


Would you like it if your choice to work had been vilified, like it used to be. When mothers were bad if they worked and their kids assumed to be latch key kids?
Of course not.
By encouraging women to work who don't want to and making working mothers the default, it is doing exactly the same thing but to sahm's.
Of course women should be supported in whatever they want to do.
When you start talking about encouraging and that becoming compulsory, then that's when I object, for e.g present gov policies.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 20:55:50

I'm not a wife either. I don't equate women with wives. I have loads of friends who mothers but who are not wives.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 20:57:04

and not just wives actually but middle class wives.

sad about where mn has ended up. sure it was predominantly middle class but it did tend to encompass a lot more intelligence and awareness at one point. the middle class mumminess at least was self conscious of it's demographic and tried to think outside of it. now it seems to actually belief that white upper middle class women with 'choices galore' and 'high flying careers' they may or may not wish to continue are somehow the norm.

someone slap me for having my 'mn used to be so different' moment please. i've only been around 7 years - surely it's too soon for my 'good old days' phase?

BeaHive Fri 28-Feb-14 20:57:13

Well done, OP, you've got women insulting each others' choices. Where has she gone, I wonder confused

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 20:58:10

scottish - i mean 'wife' in the with or without the piece of paper sense. you can be entirely heteronormative without a certificate.

TeamWill Fri 28-Feb-14 20:58:24

Fair enough morethan
I didn't outsource childcare either- but I also have a really satisfying career which I love smile in addition to being a parent.

Being happy with" what you have" is a bit of a kick in the teeth to women who have careers they love only to be forced to give it up because they happen to be mothers and their husbands feel their careers are more important and aren't willing to take on the childcare etc themselves.

TeamWill Fri 28-Feb-14 20:59:54

I used the term woman because that is my primary identity .

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 21:00:12

It would be interesting discuss wth the author,seeing it's her mc angst

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 21:01:06

also a kick in the teeth to women who'd love to stay at home with their 5 year olds but are being sent on workfare i should imagine teamwill.

this farce of choice applies to such a teeny (but very vocal) demographic.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 21:01:24

TheHoneyBadger - being married is not the same state as living together. Thinking that the two is one heteronormative state is mere prejudice.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 21:01:55

her mc married, high earning partner angst at that scottish. poor pet.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 21:02:20


I'm not sure I understand your post tbh. I am married and have been for 22 years, but I'm not defined as a wife. I love my dh and I love my dc they are all my family.
Our decision to have a sahp had nothing to do with us being married. Of course it would have been different if I was a sp, but I'm sure my views would be the same.
I believe that sp's should have the same choices available to them, I'm sure there are cases where there aren't and I sympathise.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 21:03:03

I simply couldn't be with a man who thought his career more important than mine
No idea why any woman would indulge such sentiments

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 21:03:11

I'm not sure my views wouldn't be the same.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 21:04:04

no bonsoir talking about motherhood and choices as though it only existed in a man and woman living together and sharing financial responsibility is prejudiced. one in four families don't have a man in the household. one in four is quite significant don't you think?

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 21:05:59

morethan you miss the point. single parents is where the rights are being battered away (with knock on effects to those not single and obviously massive effects to those who will find themselves single ((50% divorce rate))) ). to talk about this as if it was a 'wife' centred issue misses the point.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 21:06:34

The blog is indulgent me-me mc angst about dispensing the buttery toast to the children
And it quickly slid into conspiracy theory that The government's answer is to institutionalise childcare

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 21:08:11

scottish i would imagine some women indulge such sentiments because they are terrified of ending up on the other side of the fence as a single parent with less of their choicy choices. the more you castigate this side of the fence and eradicate it's rights the more women WILL put up, shut up and stay put in on the other side even when it's abusive outright or just plain day to day degrading.

that's rather the point imo but i seem to be entirely unclear.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 21:09:21

(incidentally it's fine over this side - if you're putting up with shite and abuse or just plain misery and humiliation on the safe side please do jump over - no one dies and there are worse things than being a bit less financially stable in life)

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 21:09:22

TheHoneyBadger - if 3/4 families do have a man in the household, that doesn't mean all those households are the same - anymore than the 1/4 households where there is no man are all the same.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Feb-14 21:11:29

I simply couldn't be with a man who thought his career more important than mine.

If your career is the most important facet of your identity, perhaps. But many people have richer personalities than just jobs.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 21:11:59

You're all over the shop with accusatory posts
I have not singled handedly eradicated anyone's rights
Happy to discuss,but your tone is somewhat histrionic

TeamWill Fri 28-Feb-14 21:12:00

honeybadger Im not some rich, high flying bitch ( hate that word) who " has it all" ,employs minions and is smugly looking down on others.

Im a grafter who works in healthcare, the person who is there for your family at weekends, nights, the early hours if you have an accident or need care.
I am there for your family if you need me because my DH is there for me .

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 21:12:49

absolutely it doesn't bonsoir. ergo even within the 3/4 the choicy choicy navel gazing sah v woh is a teeny minority. some of that 3/4 will be women being abused, miserable and desperate to get out but aware they count for shit as they are 'just' a mum or don't know how they'd manage on one salary etc. hence my point that the key of women's rights is to ensure women and children are ok 'even' where there is not a man present.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 21:13:23

I a not a lesser partner to a man,he's not more important. We are equally significant

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 21:13:31


I see what you mean now.
I wasn't missing the point, just didn't know what you meant.
My friend is going through all this work fare stuff atm. Her dds bio dad doesn't pay a penny towards her and she has always been a sahp and has an illness that prevents work.
She is so worried about losing her benefits and some idiots claiming she is able to work, when she clearly isn't.
She really is up against it atm and it is heart breaking to see.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 21:14:09

and if your dh is no longer there for you teamwill what impact do you see that having?

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 21:15:03


Halleluiah - that I can agree with.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 21:15:59

Please,no creepy ingratiation

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 21:17:05

exactly morethan - this is my point really - that quibbling about women's rights and respect levels 'within' heteronormative set ups and thinking it's all about them misses the actual reality that these changes are set up to target the likes of your friend and any impact on the status of other women is incidental.

it is also my point that any woman on here could find herself in the position of your friend.

it's also my point that the scarier the position of the likes of your friend the less real power women will have within any set up because they will have no way out. stay with the abusive husband or go into your friends situation? it impacts on all women how single women are treated.

georgesdino Fri 28-Feb-14 21:18:17

Fine if people want to do it, but its not a life I would wish for me or my dds. I want thrm to achieve, and still be a person not just 'mum'.

When we had to write about our role model in year 10 I wrote about my mum and one of my friends could not think of who to write about. I said why not write about your mum and she said 'she doesnt do anything she just stays at home and cooks my dad dinner and cleans' It always stuck with me and its one of the reasons I am always striving to achieve new things

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 21:19:27

christ george i fear for your imagination if the only realm of 'achieving' you can think of is paid labour.

TeamWill Fri 28-Feb-14 21:22:02

I think we are saying the same thing honeybadger - I can work because I have a supportive partner - many women do not.

I agree that women should be supported in bringing up children if they are without support themselves - Im not sure you get what I am saying.

I want fathers to be held to account,to support their children whether they are in a relationship with the childs mother or not .
It is a bloody disgrace that women and children are suffering because men are not held accountable.

georgesdino Fri 28-Feb-14 21:23:51

Depends what you choose as your career honeybadger. All my roles and my mothers have helped to improve 100s of peoples lives. I have big ambitions like my own mum, who is massively respected in my community. I wouldnt be who I am if my mum hadnt always worked and been such an inspiration, and I can only hope to be the same to my own children.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 21:24:48

George is spot on,a woman existing to service male needs isn't to be emulated

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 21:26:10


What makes you think that a sahm isn't striving to achieve new things, this isn't synonymous to woh.
Surely, if you are not working you have more time to do things you want to do, broaden horizons and live life to the full.
I know that's what my dd would say about me if asked.
Maybe your friends mother gave the impression that was all she did, her dd couldn't see what she was doing if she was at school.
I also think things are different now. Long term sahm's don't just do housework, caring for dc, etc. We have fulfilling lives too.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 21:26:30

We live in a first world capitalist economy.paid labour fulfils needs eg food,shelter

Sillylass79 Fri 28-Feb-14 21:26:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 21:28:40

I have no angst,I'm happy and not guilty as op suggests
It's op who's in a flux
I on other hand,knew how it would go when I had kids.and it's on plan

Sillylass79 Fri 28-Feb-14 21:34:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

maggiemight Fri 28-Feb-14 21:37:07

I don't want my children institutionalised for many reasons that have nothing to do with this thread nor being a sahm

Apparently NHS is institutionalized, according to Offred, no doubt universities are too, ballet schools etc etc so unless your DCs don't use these things they are institutionalized too. So really using that term is confusing as we are all therefore institutionalized so are our DCs.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 21:37:18

Again,no.thats your erroneous paraphrase
I post same reason as you,chewin the fat,bit riposte

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 21:39:07

a life 'on plan' grin interesting concept. what's the plan stan? i find kids and life actually don't fit with plans too readily. i'm ok with that.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 21:41:13

maggie yes we are institutionalised all of us. we live in a society with highly invested institutions who take major roles in our secondary socialisation and beyond. YES the nhs is an institution, yes school is, yes university is and yes so too is the family.

is this news?

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 21:43:49

Plan?continue work ft,be good enough parents,have love,laughter be a team

TeamWill Fri 28-Feb-14 21:43:53

I don't think its fair to blast sm because she had a plan - so did I .
I planned my DC and how my working life would be.

So what if she/he had a plan ? it doesn't always go that way and you adapt/change.

Sillylass79 Fri 28-Feb-14 21:44:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 21:45:44

shall we stop and look up the words institutional and institution in the dictionary? pretty much every way you turn is instituionalised in a society as far down the 'civilisation' path as ours. christ institutionalised and civilised are probably pretty much synonyms if you really look at it.

going to work institutionalises you - you get used to and conform to the expectations, demands and values of that institution and come to see them as the norm. likewise school, the health service and even the media. non news.

maggiemight Fri 28-Feb-14 21:45:46

It's news to posters who are SAHMs who say they don't want their DCs institutionalized, I was pointing out that we are all institutionalized so they need to come up with a new term for children who are looked after at home by someone.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 21:45:58

Yes I had plan,we have a plan.and we get by

georgesdino Fri 28-Feb-14 21:47:57

I also had a plan. I had my life my life planned out to the letter at age 18 of what I wanted by age 30.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 21:50:46

is that a confession of control freakery and naivety or a brag of how sorted you were? see it really depends on how you see it

Sillylass79 Fri 28-Feb-14 21:52:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

georgesdino Fri 28-Feb-14 21:52:42

More like I find it good to have goals and to make them happen really. I think thats what sm means to. If you dont plan you will never go anywhere in whatever you do whoever you are.

maggiemight Fri 28-Feb-14 21:53:25

Oops should be - a name for children who are not brought up at home by someone (other than institutionalized)

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 21:54:22

What we planned has happened.for us its factual

Sillylass79 Fri 28-Feb-14 21:58:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 22:00:54

Now you're simply guessing and supposing,you have no idea what obstacles we've encountered

Sillylass79 Fri 28-Feb-14 22:11:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 28-Feb-14 22:11:45

my sister had wonderful concrete, self assured plans and a conviction that only people who didn't have plans or who weren't 'good girls' had life blow up on them. then reality hit and the biggest, longest temper tantrum ensued.

if your husband fucked off tomorrow your plans would need rethinking. if your child developed a massively debilitating disease tomorrow - again big rethink.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 22:14:02

Yet again silly,you've erroneously paraphrased me.you seem a bit stuck

Sillylass79 Fri 28-Feb-14 22:23:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 22:25:38

Feel free,remember to include bile.you like that one

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 22:26:08

I don't think plans always work.
I know if we ever plan things they don't always go as expected.
We therefore decided not to make huge plans and things run smoothly. Maybe its taking the expectancy and time frame away.
Even the best made plans will need revising and assessing when new variables enter the equation.
I agree with TheHoneyBadger

Sillylass79 Fri 28-Feb-14 22:30:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 22:31:14

And conversely a plan can add order and can work.we learn who we are under adversity

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 22:31:46


I had forgotten about the NHS, but as dd is thankfully not staying in hospital atm , my dc isn't institutionalised.
sorry to wait so long before responding, went away for a while.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 22:32:40

Silly,I have no contention with you. If you want to tell me how it is,pile in

maggiemight Fri 28-Feb-14 22:35:04

ballet, brownies, guides, etc all institutions.

TeamWill Fri 28-Feb-14 22:35:24

My DH has a life limiting illness.
We had plans in place should something like this happen as we both work with people who are experiencing massive changes (through illness or accident) in their lives.
It is helpful to have plans in this type of circumstance and actually is quite freeing to know we will not have to worry financially should the worst happen.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 28-Feb-14 22:37:24


Yes, none of those atm.
I'm not saying never though, just not for now.

scottishmummy Fri 28-Feb-14 22:37:33

How's dh now team?best wishes at a hard time
I agree plans can add an order and that structure is a support

TeamWill Fri 28-Feb-14 22:40:22

Hes fine thanks sm still working grin

LumpySofa Fri 28-Feb-14 23:52:48

Because our society as it now stands sets no store, no intrinsic value whatsoever by such things as the family and motherhood - various kinds of supposedly progressive (and in fact empty and meaningless) efforts have led us to the point where any old day job, and frankly any person who has sex with dad once in a while, is equated with mummy and/or mothering as if the relationship and the love are just... nothing special at all.

Personally, I preferred it when we venerated motherhood as particular, and special, and natural, and an order of relationship to which no other was equal.

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 00:44:03

I'm not opposed to institutions confused

Did you actually read any of my posts?

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 00:46:50

And I don't think it is just about motherhood.

Women are criticised for having children, for not having children, for 'putting' children in childcare, for not 'putting' children in childcare. Men are regarded with suspicion for doing 'women's work'...

It is about women's roles and much as scottishmummy would like to think she is independent on her own terms she is, like the rest of us, only able to achieve independence because the father of her children has allowed it.

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 00:50:05

I'm a lone parent too btw. I'm not equating women with wives. I'm saying mothers have children with a father and whether the father remains in the household or not is less important to equality than the concessions the father makes to allow the mother to work. In the place of the father the state can step in but neither the father not the state is expected to believe in equality for women, in the current society.

WidowWadman Sat 01-Mar-14 08:37:43

Offred "It is about women's roles and much as scottishmummy would like to think she is independent on her own terms she is, like the rest of us, only able to achieve independence because the father of her children has allowed it."

What a silly thing to say - as long as you regard the father as someone who can "allow" the mother to do whatever the fuck she likes rater than an equalpartner with who you make joint decisions about thing that affect everyone, you'll never get away from the 1950s mindset.

TheHoneyBadger Sat 01-Mar-14 08:43:22

i have to agree that's codswallop actually. the 'father of my child' isn't in the picture at all - does that mean i'm doomed to have no independence?

RonaldMcDonald Sat 01-Mar-14 09:05:58

Can I also throw in that my children were better cared for in their nursery setting.
They had more fun, did many more activities, had little friends and were treated uniformly with kindness and patience

It was not like this when I was forced to be at home with them for any prolonged period

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 09:10:55

No, it doesn't. That's where the state steps in with lone parents. The state doesn't help a lot of parents who are still together. That's partly why I split with my h. I didn't understand how much men were the gatekeepers until I was married.

You misunderstand my meaning.

It isn't that I have a 1950s attitude, it is that whilst a woman is producing a child and incapacitated the father of that child determines for himself how involved he is going to be. If you happen to be with a man who lives and breathes equality then you are going to be able to achieve independence and equality. If you happen to be with one who doesn't it is very easy for him to run away back to work, to refuse to make concessions that allow you to maintain a career etc. That's why it's the father and his attitude to equality that determines things in reality. Still.

When this happened to me I had to leave him to be able to determine my own career.

It's not an acceptable way to run a society but because women bear the child and men are not required to be involved with that at any level except by choice and perhaps societal pressure, their gender has the ultimate say in the family that results even where an individual man who believes in respect and equality has had equal discussions.


Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 09:14:36

The state steps in to provide very limited support anyway. As a lone parent and student I've found I'm entitled to some money which helps with my fees but I'm not entitled to help with childcare and this worries me because I'll still be dependent on whether my xh feels like caring for the children if I have to do work experience etc.

TheHoneyBadger Sat 01-Mar-14 10:12:23

that's being a student.

the state doesn't step in with me anymore than it would a woman with a partner who was earning the same as me - re: their household will have the exact same entitlement to me for tax credits and CB as me despite the fact there are two potential earners in there.

the state actually does support sahms in that sense who are married because it doesn't say no you can't have tax credits, tell your wife to get a job.

if i become unemployed and her husband becomes unemployed we will again have the same access to benefits. however if i don't find a job in a year the condems want to have my entitlement to housing benefit cut by 10% as a single parent but won't cut the married couples even though there are two of them who could find a job and two of them to manage childcare.

if i choose to go to college instead of working then clearly no, the state won't be liable to help me in anyway. the conclusion being i couldn't afford to go to college unless i saved up all the funds for it in advance.

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 10:17:47

Yes, I get it but you're wrong that the state doesn't say you can't have tax credits, the thresholds have been drastically reduced and no tax credits mean no help with childcare costs. If it is the man, and it usually is, who has gone out to work and left you at home you have to negotiate with him over your return.

I know they are particularly and harshly targeting single parents (usually mothers). The ones who are worst off are always the ones where the father has fucked completely off but can you see why I'm saying that makes them the gatekeepers in a way. If your x had not fucked off and was around making concessions to share the childcare burden you'd be in a better position.

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 10:18:23

Makes men the gatekeepers I mean.

LauraBridges Sat 01-Mar-14 10:19:12

There are a lot of very happy full time working mothers and fathers out there including me who feel no guilt, no angst and have lovely happy lives and their children are happy. I am sure plenty of stay at home mothers and father whether they have servants to help with domestic chores or not are happy too so there is no need for anyone to get annoyed that others take different choices. However we are all free to talk about the implications of particular choices.

As for plans some of us are planners and some not. I was on Radio 4 this week talking about some of these issues. I mentioned when I was a teenager I planned a very large family and very lucrative career and by 14 or 15 I was certainly a feminist. Those plans, those goals and feminism and the important feminist works I read when I was in my mid teams have in large part made my life such a lovely and happy one, balanced as I have work, children and hobbies. Given how well having such plans worked for me it would be very strange if i were not to suggest others make similar plans. There is a pattern you can follow to make life easier (that does not just include the stuff I did like getting the best A levels in the school, university prizes, picking a good career, having babies in your 20s (as if you want a lot of them it's best to get on with it) bu it also includes the other planned things I do to ensure I am healthy and happy like lots of sleep, eating good foods, no alcohol, not getting fat etc. They are plans and they often lead to good results.

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 10:32:57

I broadly agree about the planning but for me, a product of an abusive home who had unstable housing in my teens and ended up in a relationship with an abuser who has now been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, who sexually abused and raped me and then fucked off leaving me with his debts and two children, who brought an expensive and (magistrate said) unfounded court case against me which lasted 3 years, that kind of planning would always have been irrelevant to my life.

I then married my husband thinking because he was a good man and supportive that he believed in equality, only to find out that he didn't and that he ran away to work after our twins were born leaving me too bamboozled to do pretty much anything. I fought to start studying as a way out but had to manage that around the children (4 under 5) and house.

When I was ready to start working he insisted he could not make concessions to allow it and I believed him. I began suspecting this was not true, eventually left and lo and behold his work promotes flexible working and working around the voluntary work (career relevant) I now do is apparently easy as pie for him.

My choices have been irrelevant most of my life for one reason or another. It is only just now I'm able to get some control and independence.

TheHoneyBadger Sat 01-Mar-14 10:46:46

i'm sorry you've been through all that.

it seems obvious to me that there is no childcare support if you don't receive wtc because you're not working. i don't see how the state could pay for childcare of a non working parent. going to uni realistically is a luxury that very few people can afford these days even if they don't have children to support.

my son's father has not been the gateway to anything in my case. i chose to go ahead and have my son knowing that i would be single as i didn't want to be with the father and he then chose that if he couldnt' have me he wasn't having anything to do with the future child. the gateway was the usual one i guess - male expects to be fucked and have his socks washed in order to owe a contribution to family life and responsibilities. where the state should step in is to make sure that that male is by law enforced to financially provide for his children. you can't cut benefits and support to single parents from the state AND make it more difficult for them to get child maintenance from father's at the same time. well obviously you can and that's exactly what the state is doing currently grin

if there are two people they have choices of who works, if one works or both, if they outsource childcare or share it between them etc. the govt doesn't care which they do imo as i've said. the changes and target of attack is those women who live without a male in the household. they.must.work and their lives must.be.hard otherwise chaos will ensue and who will fuck us and wash our socks????

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 10:58:13

With respect I think I have a broader perspective on it because I've moved in and out different family types while I've had children. Equal discussions, no matter how much the mother wants them, are only able to happen if the father is minded to allow them I think. If the father chooses to fuck off or not what the father feels about equality and fatherhood unfortunately is the single biggest determining factor in women's choice. Even if you do get wtc and childcare help - someone still has to top it up. If the mother wants to go back to work at any point either 3 days or 13 years after the birth and the father won't contribute resources (emotional or financial) to that unless the woman has independent resources to draw on that limits her choices in a way that men's are not.

There are always two parents. If your ex had not fucked off and refused to be involved completely then it would have given you choices. Being vulnerable to abuse by the state, not being able to study, finding it hard to work are therefore ways him fucking off has limited choices available to you. His choices aren't limited because he's fucked off. He chose to prioritise himself over you and the dc. There are different levels of selfish choices though whether it is something small like not taking paternity leave or something big like fucking off completely. Men's choices are still, unacceptably, limiting of women's when there are children born.

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 11:30:49

The government are trying to fuck over women which is why they are harshly targeting single parents I think. I agree that they are but they're also targeting women with partners too.

I don't think it is about single parents as much as it is about women. They are Tories after all. They don't want women to be independent or equal. Leaving a partner is often a way to try and achieve that. They don't want to allow women equality which is why they crack down on single parents and on tax credits and child benefit.

Bonsoir Sat 01-Mar-14 11:38:43

Offred - I don't think the government are setting out to fuck women over (even if I agree that the outcome of their policies will achieve that). The government advised by consultancies is looking for any sort of revenue it can. Consultancies It has identified qualified women not currently employed or not currently employed to their full potential as a massive source of income-generation. This is not an unreasonable point of view. What is unreasonable is that the onus of the reorganisation of domestic lives, childcare support and costs that returning to the workplace entails for women also lies with women.

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 11:45:50

If that were true then their policies would have financial benefits to the state, which they don't. Many of them are costly. There are not enough jobs and many of their policies involve forcing certain groups of women out of the workplace.

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 11:49:05

And working for a multi-national tax avoider in a job that itself contributes little income tax is hardly a benefit to a state which has to often fund the cost of the childcare. My childcare for example would be £400 per day in the school holidays. The govt would need to contribute 70% of that if I were to work. I would not pay enough tax to cover that cost. It is ideological rather than economic like bailing out the banks and cutting welfare based on 'worklessness' despite there being no jobs and 54% of welfare being spent on pensioners.

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 11:51:38

My ex husband, my ex p and I combined would not even cover that cost and they currently get the tax from my exes whether or not I work. Makes no economic sense for a state who doesn't see the profits. Makes sense for profit makers who benefit from low wages and high unemployment and who have a relatively small tax burden (yes I know the amounts contributed can be large but relative to the tax burden of PAYE employees).

Bonsoir Sat 01-Mar-14 11:53:28

In the short-term and at the individual level there are always anecdotes to illustrate that policies are doing the opposite of their intended consequences.

But in the long-term and at the macro level it is not nonsensical for governments, in the current world, to want all qualified able bodied adults to work and pay tax to the best of their ability.

Families might not want to do this, however.

TheHoneyBadger Sat 01-Mar-14 12:02:56

no, i'm afraid i stand by being the expert on my own life. i would have less choices if my child's father was around, less freedom, more interference etc. i don't see myself as a victim of his not being around. it's sad for ds that he hasn't got a decent and involved father but for me it has been extremely liberating in many ways especially when i compare my lot (and our wellbeing and homelife) with that of women with shitty ex's who use being a father to harass and create problems for them.

i chose to have my son, i wanted him. i chose not to have any more children and i've chosen to stay single for the most part. for me it just is not the case that a man is the gateway to anything and no that doesn't mean the state has stepped in because i take no more from the state than a married couple with one sahp does.

what would make a huge difference for me personally would be far more sustainable ways to work from home. i want rid of the public/private sphere chasm and to be able to generate my income from my home and with my child still in my care. i think that is where we should focus tbh if we want to make parents and women's lives better - getting rid of the whole either/or dichotomy. in this day and age there are so many jobs that just don't require you to go to the office. i'd happily do quite a menial job that i'm overqualified for and that pays virtually minimum wage if i could do it here in my home on the laptop and phone.

TheHoneyBadger Sat 01-Mar-14 12:03:52

and please stop calling him my ex - it attributes some status in my life to him that he doesn't merit. he's ds' bio father. he's nothing to me other than that.

TheHoneyBadger Sat 01-Mar-14 12:13:04

to come back to point a bit what i'm saying is that the question, 'why is society so ambivalent about sahms?' is answered by the existence of single mothers. if society says sahms are really, really important and wonderful and society should support and praise them then it will have to say hang on a minute, we've just said that single mothers must be in work by the time their child is five or we will sanction them and send them on workfare AND we're saying that men don't really owe financial support to their children and the state will no longer support women in trying to secure financial support but will charge them for doing so.

THAT to me is the simple crux of the ambivalence.

if all women were wives they'd be singing sahms praises from the rooftops as they used to. given they're not they're having to muddy the waters and change their tune.

manaboutthehouse1967 Sat 01-Mar-14 12:23:06

If you think society is confused about Mums who stay at home spare a thought for the Dads who do the same. I have done this for the last 16 months and nobody seams to know how to deal with it.

I`ve been asked why I retired so young? (46)
Treated as a sideshow at the baby clinic.
Asked if I`m unemployed and why couldn`t I get a job?
Funnily enough the most aggressive people are some of the women, who seam to feel threatened or that I am depriving my wife of the experience.
Colleagues at work ( I`m lucky to work part time (some evenings weekends and holidays) at a racing circuit ) just can`t see why I would want to do it especially having recently seen what a version of our routine is like when I had to take our lad into work for a day how busy and demanding an inquisitive toddler can be .
Former colleagues from my FT career shun me and assume I had some form of breakdown but cover it by staying at home . It will be interesting to see how my time at home will effect my future employment in years to come.
I see (and have always seen ) real value in parents being at home but feel that society as a whole needs to rethink its approach to parenting and how it is valued. Every time there is a report on child crime or behaviour in schools there is a blame the parents response , perhaps its bigger than that perhaps it is necessary for the whole of society to play a part in supporting stay at home parents of either sex.

Bonsoir Sat 01-Mar-14 13:00:57

There are some SAHDs at DD's school. Some are trailing spouses who have followed their DWs' careers to Paris and cannot themselves get jobs here because of visa and language issues. Some are retired. And some are... men of leisure. Those ones often have homes full of staff and little responsibility.

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 13:03:18

I'm not saying you don't know about your life. I'm saying you can't extrapolate your life to everyone else's. Yes, things are really tough for single parents, yes they are being deliberately targeted but that doesn't mean things are not tough for women in other family set ups.

Bonsoir Sat 01-Mar-14 13:04:41

"that doesn't mean things are not tough for women in other family set ups"

Yes, I agree very much with this.

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 13:04:56

Bonsoir - that assumes that the tax they pay outweighs the cost of the childcare. It doesn't.

Bonsoir Sat 01-Mar-14 13:05:59

Offred - over a lifetime it might. All adults contribute/take from the tax pool differently over a life time.

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 13:12:50

Parents can return to the workplace when they don't need childcare though so you can't count that tax only the increase in tax from career progression and even that is not likely to even be cost neutral since you need to average above the 6th decile in order to pay in more than you pay out (wages are very low).

Bonsoir Sat 01-Mar-14 13:19:00

It's not that simple, Offred.

Is it better to have a low wage earner being a net beneficiary of taxpayer income to the tune of 10% of their income over a lifetime or to have someone on benefits for a lifetime?

Offred Sat 01-Mar-14 13:29:31

But lots of these women can't claim benefits, which is the point, whether they are married, living with a partner or single parents and they haven't been for years and there is no reason why when they didn't need childcare and if there were jobs these women would be 'on benefits for a lifetime'. There's also the fact that in work or not, many families will need top up benefits for the period of child rearing and old age.

WidowWadman Sat 01-Mar-14 13:32:50

"what would make a huge difference for me personally would be far more sustainable ways to work from home. i want rid of the public/private sphere chasm and to be able to generate my income from my home and with my child still in my care. i think that is where we should focus tbh if we want to make parents and women's lives better - getting rid of the whole either/or dichotomy. in this day and age there are so many jobs that just don't require you to go to the office. i'd happily do quite a menial job that i'm overqualified for and that pays virtually minimum wage if i could do it here in my home on the laptop and phone."

You can't work from home without having childcare in place in the long term - I occasionally do it when one of the kids is ill, but it really means that child is left in care of the electronic babysitter, whilst I get on - it's neither ideal for the child nor for my job, and nothing I could reasonably do with a child which is actually healthy and bouncy instead of zonked out on the sofa. Working from home really doesn't mean that you don't need to concentrate properly on the job but just can do it in the background whilst baking cupcakes with the children.