New research says more people believe family suffers if women work full-time - what do you think?

(165 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 06-Aug-08 14:34:22

The research is reported here. Do your experiences back up the findings, or contradict them?

Twiglett Wed 06-Aug-08 14:37:58

I read that this morning

wasn't it just a percentage drop from around 50% to 46% over 15 years or so

I thought at the time that it's hardly a robust scientific study .. you are asking groups for value judgements there is no control feature

and even if it were robust a 4 or 5% margin of error over 15 years is hardly OTT

one is not allowed to profess the belief today that you believe 'family' suffers without a full time parenting figure in the early years so I won't comment on what I believe is best for our family

Sunshinetoast Wed 06-Aug-08 16:15:44

I agreed with the comments from the Fawcett Society. Equality needs a bigger transformation than just enabling women to work the way men have traditionally worked (which assumes someone else is looking after children) without any change in the culture of work, or much change in what men do.

And why are we still stuck asking about whether women should work full time, rather than how both parents can balance work and caring?

poppy34 Wed 06-Aug-08 16:20:18

agree sunshinetoast... predicatably more balanced article than the daily mail take on it link

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Wed 06-Aug-08 16:21:57

Er yes I think they do - by which I mean my experience is that full time work when trying to care for a pre-schooler a primary aged child and a severely disabled child is pretty bloody difficult- and I have a very flexible job. It's too much though ( when I finish the thing I'm doing in 2 years time I won't work full time again for a while although I will work part time).

Although agree with sunshine- it's about parents both working full time - or trying to balance the childcare- rather than just the mother.

And it will depend on individual circumstances.

Sunshinetoast Wed 06-Aug-08 16:43:44

Daily Mail is never good for my blood pressure. I love the way it moves from a survey about attitudes to women working full time to women working at all! Interesting comments afterwards though - particularly about poverty being the thing that really damages family life

cornsilk Wed 06-Aug-08 16:44:36

I found full time work more stressful and was more stressed at home as a result. However if money is an issue then it is going to be stressful to be a SAHM. Swings and roundabouts I think.

WilfSell Wed 06-Aug-08 16:45:51

Sorry GeraldineMN but your question is problematic. As Twiglett says, the study is reporting a 5% change in 'beliefs'... Hardly earth-shattering nor particularly interesting. And perhaps bearing no relation to what families actually do: beliefs change for all sorts of reasons unrelated to the things the belief is about.

If you're asking whether MNers have changed their beliefs on this issue over the last few years, then the answers make sense.

But if you are asking whether people's experience is that families suffer if women work part-time, I'm afraid that is not backing up the findings: it is being misleading on the findings (a category error).

Sorry to be a pedant on this, but the misreporting of research is a big problem.

twinsetandpearls Wed 06-Aug-08 16:51:58

I think families suffer is both parents or the main carer have to work full time. Unfortunately that sufferance is becoming a necessary norm. In the case of our family we have made the choice for dp to work at home and reduce his hours. But that will mean going without some things especially as we have just moved to a more expensive area. But I recognise that is not a choice open to everyone. Agree that it is not down to mothers but parents.

nkf Wed 06-Aug-08 16:52:10

It was measuring a slight shift in attitudes wasn't it? And so not particularly illuminating. What is interesting is that it is still assumed that long hours worked by men are fine for families. I'm amazed that more men aren't enraged by that assumption. Perhaps many of them prefer the office to their home.

ScottishMummy Wed 06-Aug-08 16:56:19

i laugh when MsHorlick is referred to as "superwoman".i would be too if i had staff and a nanny

in fact amazing with little recogmition is parents who work, students who study without a posse of staff and city size salary to boot

that is Super

Gizmo Wed 06-Aug-08 17:09:27

When it comes to attitudes I have certainly become more aware of critical attitudes about working mothers in the past 3 years. These are not from my immediate friends and family, but from the cross section of the media that I am exposed to.

Of course, attitudes bear no relation to the objective realities of why women work, but there is a danger that they become self-reinforcing,and at some point cross the bridge into a common cultural belief, which is going to undo several decades of hard work sad.

motherinferior Wed 06-Aug-08 17:18:15

From my reading of the research - and I've not read the research, just the Guardian coverage - the problem seems to me to be that women are still expected to do a disproportionate amount of all household-associated tasks, including but not solely limited to parenting.

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Wed 06-Aug-08 17:21:10

Yes I think that's important MI. Part of the problem with me working full time(ish) now is the everything else I'm doing. DH works very long hours (commonly until 11pm). He does quite a bit of cooking and shopping, but I do all the kids food, all the washing, all the clothes washing, all the coming home early to meet ds1's bus (which means I have to work in the evenings too), all the paperwork associated with ds1, all the organising workmen etc and I'm teaching non-verbal ds1 to read and write.

If we had a more balanced household me working full time would be less detrimental.

Sunshinetoast Wed 06-Aug-08 17:23:52

It's interesting that a survey showing a fairly small shift in attitudes should generate so much attention. And also interesting how easily the Daily Mail and others translate that change in attitudes into further 'evidence' that women working after they have children damages families.

motherinferior Wed 06-Aug-08 17:26:28

'Among young people there remained an expectation that women should perform more of the household chores.'

I'm always taken aback by how much that expectation is perpetuated on MN - and no, it's not just because of parenting, because a lot of male partners appear never to have done much housework.

motherinferior Wed 06-Aug-08 17:30:15

I'm not saying, btw, that I think in all families both parents should work full-time. (FWIW I've taken a conscious decision to work fairly school-friendly hours - but then I can do that, you see, because of the kind of job I do.) But I do think that we are not going to get any kind of sensible discussion of parenting while women are simply expected to do all the other stuff. And, as I say, not just because they may be at home more hours but because their partners 'don't notice the house' or 'have always left clothes on the floor' or a million and one other subjects of complaint currently running on MN, albeit in a 'ah, boys will be boys' way angry

nkf Wed 06-Aug-08 17:31:35

Most men just won't do significant amounts of housework. There is a book by Barbara Einreich (not sure that's the spelling) which looks at the way feminists used to argue for the equal division of domestic chores and have largely abandoned the argument and instead either do it themselves or, if they can, they employ another woman to do some of it.

motherinferior Wed 06-Aug-08 17:33:15

I think a lot of women enable that 'not doing', though.

Swedes Wed 06-Aug-08 17:35:42

Motherinferior - What's your own personal experience? Do you do more than your DP/DH (if you have one)?

nkf Wed 06-Aug-08 17:35:55

Absolutely MI. Some men are just so stubborn about not doing it that women give up the fight.

sarah293 Wed 06-Aug-08 17:36:09

I think one parent should be at home for the under 5's and one parent should be there when they get in from school. But thats just me.

Gumbo Wed 06-Aug-08 17:38:00

I feel that this report is fixated on women (and their partners) working full time, but not looking at the option of women who work full time, but who's partners are SAHDs. Does that also cause the 'family to suffer'? Because it seems to work extremely well in my household! Is it something specific about being a certain gender and working that causes the 'suffering'?

I honestly feel that my family has flourished since my DH gave up a good job to be a SAHD and I went back to work full time, rather than it being detrimental to my family.

LittleMyDancingForJoy Wed 06-Aug-08 17:40:56

For my part I think it's fair to say that I think family life suffers if both parents work full time - but except for the first year, I don't think it matters which parent works part time or not at all, as long as one of them does.

The ideal would be two parents working part time and complementary hours so no childcare required, but who has the luxury of that?

(Except those smug people you see in Red mangazine telling us about how they relocated to the Bahamas because all their work is done online and because they're freelance (or sell cakes and bunting) they can arrange their hours how they please and how wonderful it is for the children to grow up on the beach etc etc etc barf)

Sunshinetoast Wed 06-Aug-08 17:45:16

I agree with MI about a lot of women enabling men not to do much at home. I work part-time and so do more at home than my partner but when he's here he does as much as I do. And that did require some shouting reasoned discussion at the beginning and the odd reminder but I'd rather have that than years of resentment and frustration.

jellybeans Wed 06-Aug-08 17:46:30

I don't think both parents working full time is a step forward. I think it is possibly better that one does the care and one does the paid work OR that both share care and work part time. I don't think long days in childcare is the best for young babies in general, of course there are exceptions and I still believe everyone should have the choice. I have worked f/t, p/t and SAH, all were right for me at the time an when they weren't, I changed. I agree that slotting women into mens work patterns is not working, there is still the childcare and domestic work which often still falls on women. But whether unpaid work can ever be valued in a capitalist system I am uncertain.

Quattrocento Wed 06-Aug-08 17:51:22

The crux of the issue seems to be:

"In 1994, 51% of women in Britain and 52% of men said they believed family life would not suffer if a woman went to work. By 2002 those proportions had fallen to 46% of women and 42% of men. There was also a decline in the number of people thinking the best way for a woman to be independent is to have a job."

A lot of sound and fury signifying not very much, IMO.

My experience is that family life has not suffered and I gain a lot from working.

Agree with Twig, not much of a shift, given the time period.

Chez LGJ....

We both work,I do 35 hours a week,there is no impact on our DS.

DH and I share everything around the house more or less 50/50.

We buy in any help we need.



Dog Walker

Every so often a gardener.

I am there when DS goes to school, I am there when he comes home.

So how in the name of all that is good and Holy do my family suffer ??hmm

FioFio Wed 06-Aug-08 18:02:51

not many mums/dads work full time and also manage to do the school run
not all of mums/dads who work full time can afford extra help either

i am glad it works for you bree as it sounds idea;smile but ideal and work dont tend to go hand in hand in this country

bottersnike Wed 06-Aug-08 18:16:44

I would agree that there is an increased feeling among our peers ( 30s-ish ) that both partners working full-time outside the home is no longer the default, but I certainly wouldn't extrapolate that to mean that more women should be at home.
That's just going backwards!

twinsetandpearls Wed 06-Aug-08 18:33:10

Bree as others have said I don't think there are many jobs that do not have an impact. I teach which is traditionally seen as a child friendly job. My job means that during term time dp has to run the house as well as working full time. dd was in after school club until half five, meaning that the evening routine was very stressful. We have come to the decision that only one of us should be career focussed which is me and dp reduces his hours and works at home.

Swedes Wed 06-Aug-08 18:34:06

I feel my DP does his fair share.

When people knock men's contribution - are they talking about their own personal circumstances or are they speaking for others?

Sunshinetoast Wed 06-Aug-08 18:38:13

The problem with reports like this one, and the articles that it generates is that they obscure the real question of how can we organise ourselves as a society so that people can give their children the time and attention they need and support themselves financially?

I don't think both parents working full time long hours is great for family life, but neither is poverty. From what I remember about all the research into the impact of parents working hours on children they always have to control for income because that has the biggest impact of all.

One partner staying at home full time while the other works full time works for a lot of people, but it does make the at home partner very vulnerable to poverty in old age or if the relationship breaks up, and makes it hard to get back into work later on. Plus the person working full time can feel excluded from family life.

Both partners working part-time would be my ideal, but in practice part time work is often insecure and badly paid - two part time salaries rarely add up to one full time salary.

A proper discussion about how to make all this work would be much more helpful than a lot of sound and fury about a tiny change in social attitudes

Swedes Wed 06-Aug-08 18:46:04

I suspect the miniscule 5% shift is down to the prevalent economic feelgood factor experienced by couples in the last few years. I suspect the next few years will see the shift run the other way as the economic crisis worsens and couples feel they must both work to bridge the gap.

expatinscotland Wed 06-Aug-08 18:47:17

My family suffered when I worked full-time.

ScottishMummy Wed 06-Aug-08 18:48:50

my family will suffer if i dont work FT

Swedes Wed 06-Aug-08 18:56:10

My family suffered when I worked part-time. grin

<do we see a bit of trend?>

ScottishMummy Wed 06-Aug-08 18:58:48

but research or other's parents experience/ preference doesn't pay my mortgage.FT working does

expatinscotland Wed 06-Aug-08 18:59:57

i did it to pay rent myself, SM.

i see where you are coming from.

it's not a choice for most people.

I would like to point out that we are not minted by any stretch of the imagination, we just choose to use the money we earn to make our weekends family time.

ScottishMummy Wed 06-Aug-08 19:04:34

my parents both worked FT.mum instilled a positive work ethos into all of us.we all do what we have to

for the best for our families

one size does not fit all

i wouldn't dream of transposing my situation/preference onto any one else

maybe we need to take a step back and deep breath about the stuff we get right

less introspection about stuff we could do better

foofi Wed 06-Aug-08 19:05:48

My family definitely suffers when I work, as does the house, the garden, my sanity - BUT the money I earn benefits the family, allows us to stay in the house, do more things etc.

cthea Wed 06-Aug-08 19:08:07

"It found that women and men in west Germany are bucking the Anglo-American trend. Until the 1990s a large majority of west Germans believed that men should be the family breadwinners while women stayed at home. In 1994, only 24% thought family life would not suffer if a woman worked. This proportion rose to 37% in the 2002 survey.

Scott suggested the three countries may be at different stages in "a cycle of sympathy for gender equality". Germans had been slower to abandon traditional gender roles and may not yet have encountered the reaction against working mothers."

So it goes in cycles. Ask us again in 15 years.

In our family there's been no sufferring.

cthea Wed 06-Aug-08 19:13:23

I'd like to see the questions they used. For example how did they get to this? "Only 55 per cent of women and 54 per cent of men now think having a job is the best way for a woman to be independent." What do they mean by independent if not financially independent and how can you be financially independent without a job? Huh?

MissChief Wed 06-Aug-08 19:23:16

bree - just intrigued that you can fit a 35 hr week into school hrs! Must take some time mgmt and juggling, do you work from home?

I guess lots of us have a long commute which exacerbates the stretch so many families seem to feel. I only work half-time but for me, for us, it's hard. Couldn't imagine how ft would work for us and can understand how it may be that more people find it difficult now compared to 10 or so yrs ago and that family life would suffer. But yes, the terminology is vague, what does "suffer" mean exactly? Worklife balance, effect on children of inadequate/too much childcare etc etc

I don't know about family life suffering because I'm working. But I know I suffer because I'm working.

DS is only one. Ask me the same question when he's 18 and I'll tell you if I think we've fucked him up.

beanieb Wed 06-Aug-08 19:31:15

Only as much as it suffers when a man works full time.


DS goes on the school bus, at his request. I did not increase my hours until I was sure he was happy and content on the bus. He goes with the three children from across the road.

The bus picks up at 8.30 and worse case scenario I am my desk by 8.50.

I then leave work at 3.50 and pick at 4.05.

This works for us because the timings are more or less the same as me doing the school run and scrabbling around for parking.

I could earn twice what I am earning, if I worked in London, but at the moment I feel the balance is spot on and the reduction in salary is worth it.

cthea Wed 06-Aug-08 19:54:39

LGJ - that sounds like the perfect combination for you for the time being.

Thank you CT.

DH and I work full time. He can do about 60hrs a week, I do 35.
I do the housework when DD is in bed. I also study when she is in bed.
Week day evenings can sometimes be me and DD in the evenings, we pack it full of cooking together, playing games, reading etc. Weekends we visit family, go to the park, play football, run around, go for long walks, go swimming, every minute is packed of us being a family.

Its catch 22. I can work full time to keep the roof over our head that we would frankly struggle to keep if I didn't, and DD suffers, or I could stay at home, potentially lose my home, and see how DD suffers then.

Nobody is happy as a parent unless they have something to beat themselves up about.

I dont ask anybody to walk my path, its my path, my choices, my daughter. I take my cues from her. She's a well adjusted, clever cloggy nearly three year old. Shes happy. I dont need to be made to feel guilty by articles that tell you no matter what you do, you're screwing up your kids.

oi Wed 06-Aug-08 20:15:35

these surveys are bollocks aren't they. And I've never been asked. On all my years on this planet, I've not been asked, nor has dh and nor has anyone else I know at work (was talking about this today) so goodness knows who they are surveying wink.

I don't know what you define as 'suffers' for a start.

As others have pointed out, there is a suffering involved in having to move house and change school because without both parents working full time, you can't make ends meet. And there is a suffering in terms of not spending enough time with each other. But then again, how do you define 'enough'.

girlsallaround Wed 06-Aug-08 20:18:22

since you are asking specifically how does our own experience compare -

balancing a full time job, 2 children and a third on the way, is a lot of work, especially if you want to be fully dedicated to all. however, i do not feel that that is what helps or hinders family life. that is up to too many other factors from each couples personality, to their relationship, their financial capabilities etc.

i can think of some fabulous mothers who work full time and have large families 3+ children. i can think of some mothers who stay at home and their relationships are falling apart. a lot of it comes down to your personal attitude and your partners

in my case it works fabulously, plus my dear h is the biggest child requiring the most attention in the family

WilfSell Wed 06-Aug-08 20:48:20

OK just to defend surveys a leeetle bit, even though I think the headlines from this research are being misconstrued...

Just wanna point out that the research originates from Cambridge University. That makes it pretty credible TBH.

And looking at the report in the Grauniad (haven't read original research but I'm not a bad judge of these things and reading between the lines...) the surveys used are national govt ones, such as probably in the UK case, the British Social Attitudes survey and European Social Survey.

These surveys are definitely not bollocks: just because any one individual has never been asked doesn't mean that they are crap. On the whole, govt surveys are carefully sampled so that they fully represent as much as possible the UK population.

British social attitudes asks lots of controversial questions that are often supposed to be interpreted together (eg they construct attitudinal scores by adding up answers to individual responses). So reading out percentages for any single answer is not necessarily the best way to go.

Like many attitudinal surveys they also ask contradictory questions: when you ask something in one way you get a different response to asking it in another way...

I imagine there has been a LOT of translation of the findings: from the original research, to the University's press office, to the Guardian Journalist, to the editor who wants it sexed up a bit...

oi Wed 06-Aug-08 20:57:10

I don't know anyone who works who has been asked. No-one in my office, no-one in my old office, no-one in dh's office. In fact, we had a discussion about this at one of my very old places of work where there was a global employee base of over 1000 people and in our specific office of nearly 400 people, no-one had ever participated in a survey. I guess they have to get hold of people by phone? or rely on them signing up to do surveys? All I'm saying is that I don't ever think surveys are properly representative of all types of people so say working vs unemployed vs stay at home vs retired (for example) - and that sort of survey, if you ask a disproportionate number of a certain group, you're going to get a certain answer.

You may be able to claim they are statistically represntative based on the number of people they ask but that's it.

Oliveoil Wed 06-Aug-08 20:57:54

I would hate to work full time and I don't particularly like working part time tbh, would love to be at home

dh doesn't do long hours so chores are split quite equally in this house

I personally think that if both parents work full time, something has to give, whether it is the job/child/house/relationship

we are not machines to take on all this stress and work without a break imo

TheOldestCat Wed 06-Aug-08 21:05:54

Agree with Oliveoil - something has to give.

In my case (we both work full-time, although I'm able to be flexible, with two days a week working at home while leaving the office early and working after DD is in bed, and DH works 7am-3pm), that something is the house. We live in glorious slatterny.

I'd love to be at home too, but it's just not possible. DD is happy and that's what matters to me - like someone said earlier, it's me that misses out. And I can handle that (most of the time).

I'm glad this thread has mainly concentrated on what people think and how it relates to their circumstances, rather than generalising wildly. I guess that's why we have surveys...

WilfSell Wed 06-Aug-08 21:06:44

no oi, I'm afraid you're wrong - about the representativeness bit, not what people you worked with said, obv!

They actually control very carefully in order to be representative of all types of people. They endeavour to fully represent all classes, ages, working statuses, ethnicities etc

What this means is they spend an awful lot of money and time trying and trying to get hold of people who are hard to get to participate (for example, rich middle class people, isolated older people and the homeless and unemployed are particularly hard to find or unwilling to participate...)

And in cases where they simply cannot gain a fully representative subgroup, what they do is then 'weight' the scores so a better match for the national population is reached.

This is for the main government funded surveys - can't speak for smaller scale individual ones. But any research project worth its salt will try to use such an approach or have a sound set of reasons why it doesn't.

Your ad hoc 'survey' of 400 employees at your work is likely to have been much more biased and less representative of the general population than any govt survey which is perhaps why you didn't find anyone who had been surveyed.

I've been asked twice FWIW!

oi Wed 06-Aug-08 21:12:51

lol so they fix the results when they can't make them representative wink!

my friend works as a statitician for the government and I think has started to dread having a pint with me in case I bring this up! I fail to be convinced. It's my conspiracy theory and I'm sticking to it!

I imagine the government polls ARE a lot more representative than others though, I do agree with you. I have spoken with people commissioning polls (mainly for newspapers) - it's amazing how you can 'rig' the questions to get the sort of answers you're looking for!

oi Wed 06-Aug-08 21:13:42

in fact, maybe it's you and you're now running to the door screaming NO SHE'S FOUND ME

hatwoman Wed 06-Aug-08 21:27:03

I nearly burst a blood vessel in the supermarket today when I peered into the DM and saw this (don;t ask why I peered into the DM...) The Guardian coverage was better but still depressing. Like most people here I just do not understand why this research fixates on women working ft (thus facilitating the dm to, essentially, tell us to get back in the kitchen)instead of looking at the dynamics and economics of a whole household/family (including non "traditional" families).

To me, if you start to think about the whole househole picture there's something bloody obvious: If you have a situation (in the 1950s, say) where women do 99 per cent of family and household work you cannot move to a situation where they become equal participants in the work place unless someone else picks up the slack. You can;t have equality in the work place unless you have equality at home. It's not rocket science it's obvious. And, tbh, I'm pretty hmm about the Fawcett society and that family org response - which seems to be saying lets make it easier for women to do all their parenting and housework. no, let's make it easier for people who want to

hatwoman Wed 06-Aug-08 21:28:38

that'll be a household. although looking at mine at the moment a househole is probably more appropriate

WilfSell Wed 06-Aug-08 21:31:06

ha ha oi: I wouldn't believe a single word of a newspaper poll... wink

No am not a statistician but do use govt surveys a lot and do related research...

oi Wed 06-Aug-08 21:31:30

lol yes it's silly isn't it but makes a great DM headline

I wish they'd do more surveys about fathers working (if they have to do surveys) - I don't know if my workplace is representative but I've certainly noticed fathers being more 'out' about their family committments than the last time I was working full time, almost 6 years ago.

TheOldestCat Wed 06-Aug-08 21:33:05

<<takes her hat off to hatwoman>>

Well said!

I don't think looking at the DM piece will be good for my blood pressure.

oi Wed 06-Aug-08 21:33:12

ah yes Wilf. Didn't mean to personally slag off your work purpose like wink. I am, as you can see, strangely fascinated by the whole strange business. Like think tanks. They are another thing that get me.

Gizmo Wed 06-Aug-08 21:34:25

Oh God

Have just heard the trailer for Radio 4's 10'o'clock news programme: 'and we'll also be asking if a family inevitably suffers if the mother works outside the home.'

FGS angry. This is exactly how it begins... people's attitudes are somehow being reported as facts. I am seriously pissed off with R4 for giving fuel to this fire.


stealthsquiggle Wed 06-Aug-08 21:35:06

if I were to work FT (currently 4 days/week) I believe my family would suffer (more). I base this on what DS(5) says - he would hate it if I couldn't pick him up from school at least once a week (with juggling I usually manage 2 or 3) and the fact that if DD (21mths) doesn't get her day at home with Mummy for any reason she becomes a clingy monster instead of bouncing happily into nursery.

I suffer from lack of income this way but I can't really see it changing until the DC are at sceondary school.

hatwoman Wed 06-Aug-08 21:40:05

hatwoman wonders if she dare even watch the will be bad for my health. I'll get over excited and dh (who works 2 days a week and does more than his fair share of housework and parenting) will try to calm me down and/or counter what I say and say something that will result in me laying all the world's ills at his feet. it will be terrible.

oi Wed 06-Aug-08 21:40:25

I still don't know how you'd define 'suffers' though.

And I also don't know whether you have to look at full time versus not working or full time versus just errr what exactly?

I work full time now, so does dh. I only see the kids after work. Some weeks it's really bad and busy and I hardly see them at all. That I find hard and I imagine they do too. Some weeks I get a good hour/90 mins with them every night which is great and lovely.

What is key is the help you have I think.

mrsruffallo Wed 06-Aug-08 21:47:30

I have always felt that it is very important to stay at home with my children, especially in their pre school years.
I feel very in tune with them, very attached and in tune with them.
I have never had any doubt that this was better than sending them to nursery as it sets them up with a security and closeness that can't be bought.
I don't know if if families suffer from both parents working full time, and sadly it is becoming a neccessity for many families, but I know I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity.

rookiemater Wed 06-Aug-08 21:48:00

I can only talk for myself. I work 4 days a week with slightly reduced hours and I don't think our family could cope with me working f/t.

I already feel guilty that I am tired when I pick up DS from the CMs although he loves going there btw and I think he gets more from going there than he would if he were at home with me going slightly loopy 24/7. I enjoy my one day a week with him and wouldn't want to lose it.

I think the person who gains most from my working is DH. It means that we have enough money to go on holidays and buy luxuries, but at the end of the day it seems to be me that does the laundry, unstacks the dishwasher, does the shopping and cooking,sorts out complicated childcare arrangements and generally takes on the lions share of the parenting, just because I work 9 hours a week less than he does. And yes we have had discussions too numerous to mention and to be fair he picks up more of the paperwork

So I don't know what the answer is. I don't think both parents working f/t is ideal for families, but then like Bree they may have a flexible arrangement which means they can be there for the important stuff. I'd go mad if I were at home all the time, but equally I'm finding my current position tiring and stressful. I'm glad women have opportunities for working and rights during and after pregnancy but somehow they seem to have changed into expectations and that doesn't to my mind appear to be something that was really worth striving for.

sfxmum Wed 06-Aug-08 21:48:51

personalty I think both parents whether together or not, should be the main carers for the first few years and I would rather live in a society which facilitated that and made that important.
I would also like to see proper quality childcare widely available
it is good for women to have a career/ work/ interest besides motherhood/ family obviously as it is good for men to play a full role in the upbringing of children/ home life.

I don't think these days in Britain this is possible, mainly from a financial point of view.

these headlines help no one

hatwoman Wed 06-Aug-08 21:48:51

it's also the case that "suffering" - in this context is being measured against something. ie mother and father both working ft is being compared with mother working pt/not at all and father working ft. in which case an awful lot of people are going to say - possibly not unreasonably - that the former situation is tougher than the latter.

My own experience (to answer the op) is that the hat house has done all of the following:
both working ft (10 days total/week)
father working ft; mother pt (8 days total pw)
both working pt both in offices with childcare (7 days total pw)
both working pt at home, flexible hours without childcare (6-7 days total pw)
and without a shadow of a doubt the most stressful is the laat one. looks great on paper but it's fecking awful.

rookiemater Wed 06-Aug-08 21:50:40

hatwoman which was the best option for you ?

hatwoman Wed 06-Aug-08 21:56:28

rookiemater: both working pt in offices with childcare. dh probably wouldn;t agree - but only because he doesn't really like his job

VeniVidiVickiQV Wed 06-Aug-08 21:57:29

Mine would suffer if I worked full time.

It suffers already with my working part time.

The pressure of various drop offs, managing childcare because it's just not feasible for DH to do various stuff with the job he currently does. He cant be flexible and he works too far away to do all the various hospital trips that are required for DD atm, and myself.

DH does his fair share of housework and cooking when he does manage to get home.

It boils down to financial pressures really. I'd not work in these early years if I had the choice.

33k Wed 06-Aug-08 22:14:22

if you could see my six foot lile of ironing, you'd know for sure that home life why am i on mn????

33k Wed 06-Aug-08 22:15:19

pile not lile - although it's kind of horizontal anyway becasue it's toppled over.

Where's xenia? thought she'd have posted on this one.

VeniVidiVickiQV Wed 06-Aug-08 22:23:18

Oh ive given up with ironing now. My piles would become piles on piles on piles.

Everything is washed then put away. We iron things as and when we need it, if it needs it. I just dont have the time and life is too short.

And it's too painful to stand for a long time.

hatwoman Wed 06-Aug-08 22:23:20

33k, vvv, and rm - you're making the two-way comparison I mentioned above - both parents ft compared with father ft and mother pt. Unfortunately those are the only options available to most people and of those two options probably family life often/sometimes does "suffer" (whatever that means) in the former situation. but it's not the woman working f-t that's to blame. it's the whole package (ie both parents working ft). and that is such an important difference - if we don;t acknowledge that difference, as I said above, we end up with the Daily Mail telling women to get back in the kitchen.

IAMJIGSAW Wed 06-Aug-08 22:27:49

i think families and children do suffer if both parents work fulltime

but it does piss me off the way its always aimed at women.

in an ideal world, the baby would be with someone who loves it for at least the first 3 years
either mum or dad.
mum for the first year for bf etc.

it makes me really really sad to think of babies in nurseries from 8am till 6pm everyday,from as young as 6 weeks old, i think nurseries are far too institusonalised for babies.

then when the childs at school, in an ideal world either mum or dad should be there to pick them up frokm school and be with them with them in the holidays
although i realise its not an iedal world always.

i do think the goverment should tackle the long hours culture, and give more importance to sustaining the nuclear family and marraige.

TheOldestCat Wed 06-Aug-08 22:35:19

So IAMJIGSAW, how do you think my family has suffered?

I went back to work FT when DD was 6 months - she's in nursery for four days a week.

Is she suffering? Or is it just me - because I have to work long into the night so I can spend as much time as possible with her?

I can cope with the latter, but not the former.

What does 'family life' suffering mean? It's so vague.

VeniVidiVickiQV Wed 06-Aug-08 22:35:43

Yes, I'm aware of the distinguishing of roles, as opposed to saying "family suffers if both parents work full-time".

It would definitely suffer with both of us working full time.

Currently, DH earns more p/h than I do so it makes sense for him to work more hours. Before we had children, I was earning more p/h and used to work more hours than him.

I think that there is less pressure on the partner that does the full time hours. If both work full time, then the pressure is more equal.

The fact remains, in our particular household, because my job is situated closer to all the schools and hospitals, it makes sense for me to take on responsibility for dealing with drop offs and hospital appointments.

Personally, I'd prefer not to have to juggle these things at all. I'd like to just be able to deal with the childcare, appointments etc and not have to try and work at the same time.

When the DC are older it will, of course, be easier.

Jigsaw, the trouble with the 'nuclear family' is that it depends on women's slavery. The basic structure of it is set up for one money earner to be supported in every way other than financially (and picked up after and pandered to) by one domestic dependent who is doing all this in return for food and shelter and maybe a little pocket money. And 'sustaining' marriage means forcing women back into economic dependence on men (who might be abusive/non-monogamous despite the woman's wish for monogamy/financially reckless).

But the ong hours/low pay culture is not good for anyone. People who are not parents of young children have other things they want or need to do with their time: caring for elderly relatives, working for charities, educating themselves or even just enjoying their lives a little more. And so much of 'work' time is actually wasted time: endless meetings, fannying around in offices bored to death because you've done the actual work but you can't go home.

But obviosly, unless enough smart people kick up enough of a fuss, this is going to turn into 'women are not full human beings, they are just appliances that exist for the benefit of men and it's time they shut up and did as they were told'.

TheOldestCat Wed 06-Aug-08 22:36:17

Oh and I carried on breastfeeding for well over a year (you say mums should be with their babies for the first year for BF). does that mitigate the suffering?

TheOldestCat Wed 06-Aug-08 22:38:26

Agree with solidgoldbrass about the long hours culture. I think a lot of companies make a song and dance about having a great work/life balance, but actually making it work for employees is tricky.

Anna8888 Wed 06-Aug-08 22:42:00

Our family's quality of life/standard of living would drop very significantly if I were to work full-time.

But I don't think that is true of every family, far from it. It really depends on whether one half of a couple is earning enough to support the whole family in comfort or not.

IAMJIGSAW Wed 06-Aug-08 22:44:55

i totally agree it should not be all about women, in an ideal world both parents could work pt, then there is always a parent for the children.
however alot of jobs you can't really do on pt hours esp the higher paid jobs.

i don't agree supporting the nuclear family is based on women being slaves, just think it should be the ideal people aim for
me and dh both do our fair share in the home and im a sahm.

oldestcat, i hope i haven't upset you, im just talking about ideal world, i realise this is what i class as ideal world not whatevery one else does.

VeniVidiVickiQV Wed 06-Aug-08 22:46:02

Yes, we do need a definition of "family life" and "suffer".

In many countries around the world, both parents work, but, often the children work with them, or, are carried on the backs of their mother whilst working etc.

In lots of countries, full time hours amount to a great deal less than full time hours in this country, and there is more annual leave or public holidays.

I sometimes think that people have got the wrong end of the stick as far as feminism is concerned. Women should be valued equally for their contribution to the family - whether it is financial or 'traditional'. It's not about being able to be like men, its being rewarded and recompensed equally. Being able to do any job they wish to do, and not suffer a detriment. Feminism isnt about women wanting to be men.

Feminism isnt about women doing the same job as a man, or to be earning the same, yet still having the burden of family on top of that. Feminism isnt about being "superwomen". It's about being respected and acknowledged equally and having the right to choose what they want to do - whatever women choose to do.

cthea Wed 06-Aug-08 22:46:52

"just think it should be the ideal people aim for" Why? Ideally men would love to stay at home with their babies too, wouldn't they? So have both parents at home. That would be even more of an ideal. Only it starts sounding silly.

TheOldestCat Wed 06-Aug-08 22:50:45

Jigsaw - sorry I sounded so defensive, I suppose it's because I don't choose to work full-time and I can't bear the thought I'm harming DD.

IAMJIGSAW Wed 06-Aug-08 22:52:00

nuclear family, not sahms

IAMJIGSAW Wed 06-Aug-08 23:02:28

oldest cat no problem, it must be really hard if you don't want to go to work you do to provide for your family.
you area strong woman who will make your dd very proud.

im lucky that dh has a fairly good job but who knows if he lost it, which is quite likely in this current climate, and i needed to work to provide i wouldn't think twice.
i would do it no problem.
but i would be sad to miss my dd, but providing for them comes 1st.

why can't they do an article a dads for a change ffs

Twinklemegan Wed 06-Aug-08 23:09:56

I can't speak for other families, but I believe our family would suffer if we both worked full time (we have a 2 year old). We find it hard enough juggling my full time work and DH's part time work, living as we do in a rural area with only one car and very limited childcare. I also don't personally think it would be good for DS to be in full time childcare. However I don't think it matters which parent is in which role.

mrsruffallo Wed 06-Aug-08 23:12:49

I don't know, I think that men and women are very different parents.

IAMJIGSAW Wed 06-Aug-08 23:18:46

"Feminism isnt about women doing the same job as a man, or to be earning the same, yet still having the burden of family on top of that. Feminism isnt about being "superwomen". It's about being respected and acknowledged equally and having the right to choose what they want to do - whatever women choose to do."

excellent post.

i hate the term "superwoman" ive never heard of a father being called superman.
i think it comes from the fact even if women do work they are often expected to do most of the caring roles and cooking and cleaning.
thats why they are refered to as superwoman.

Twinklemegan Wed 06-Aug-08 23:22:39

I think in some ways my DS will do better having DH as the stay at home parent than he would with me. Men and women are certainly different parents, but I don't think a family is going to "suffer" if it happens to be the man at home - in fact that would be quite insulting to all the SAHDs out there.

Personally I think the question is pretty antiquated in its outlook. I'd have thought we should have moved on from this particular argument long ago.

Twinklemegan Wed 06-Aug-08 23:23:54

Although having said that, if DH was to be responsible for all the cooking then our family would certainly suffer with me working full time - from starvation. grin

Well one gets the impression that the whole study was badly framed: did they control at all for families where the SAHP is the father? Or lone parents? Or same-sex couples, or unusual family set-ups (ie residential GPs doing childcare, a tribe-family with several adults working various part-time or self-employed jobs etc).

The thing about housework is that not only is it still so much thought of as women's work, but so much of it is ACTUALLY TOTALLY FUCKING UNNECESSARY and yet wielded as a weapon to make women feel guilty. No one (severe asthmatics aside but then your family dynamics are going to be different anyway) ever died from a house being a bit dusty. Not that many clothes really need ironing. And it's not that difficult to minimize cooking yet still be healthy - a lot of the important-housework stuff is all this frillywilly bunting cupcake shit anyway.

expatinscotland Thu 07-Aug-08 00:43:06

Maybe for you, solidgold.

But for me, not having a clean house is a huge source of anxiety.

I have struggled with PND and AND and it's one of the things that affects it.

And no, I can't afford a cleaner or have family to help.

I have little control over many aspects of my life, all my own fault, but that's one thing within my power.

Nothing bunting about wanting some order in your life.

BeHereNow Thu 07-Aug-08 00:48:16

Message withdrawn

expatinscotland Thu 07-Aug-08 00:51:30

i used to hate ironing.

i still don't iron anythign of mine because i'm lazy.

but i find it sort of therapeutic blush.

Expat: Ok, I take on board that a clean house matters to some people. But there are lots of people who only bother knocking themselves out with housework because they feel they will be judged if there's a coffee cup or two lying around, or a cobweb in the corner. I think if having a spotless house matters to someone very much then it's up to that person to clean it (ie got no patience with the men people who think that lots of housework must be done by their partners thought they don't do much themselves).

expatinscotland Thu 07-Aug-08 00:54:16

well, i agree with you there, solid.

SheSellsSeashellsByTheSeashore Thu 07-Aug-08 01:14:39

havent read ll the post so sorry if am rehashing what had already been said but.......

oh ffs!! i couldnt even get past the paragraph of that article without getting annoyed!!

the home and children will suffer if the 'woman' works f/t? why cant the man work p/t and look after the house and children and the woman work f/t?

i am a sahm and am thoroughly annoyed by it! dh works f/t and would like to spend more time with the dc's. we have decided that i will either go back to my old job whilst studying to become a child therapist or will train to be a fitness intructor whilst studying to be a child therapist. either way will see him a sahd and me a wohm which is what we both want. no one is suffering.

are men somewhat less capable of caring for children than women? are they not parents too?

Freckle Thu 07-Aug-08 07:29:13

I haven't read all the posts so don't know if I'm repeating others' views here. I do believe that children need at least one full-time parent in the early years, but do not believe that this has to be the mother. Fathers can fulfill this role equally well.

What we need is genuine equality of pay and equality of opportunity in the workplace so that it isn't almost always the father who is earning the most money and therefore the one most likely to continue working once babies start to appear. If both parents could earn equally, the choice would be less traditional.

Bluebutterfly Thu 07-Aug-08 07:58:04

But there is still a propensity for more women to work in more "caring" professions compared to men - teaching, social work, nursing etc, which are often underpaid (probably because "caring" roles are deemed to be less valuable or more of a vocation ergo less deserving of high salaries because the reward is "in doing the job" - a shocking attitude, really) Men are still disproportionately represented in more money focused fields - business, law, engineering.

So, in many families, despite the fact that both partners have worked equally hard in their "chosen" field, often men are the still the higher earners, when it comes to choosing a "primary" carer for small children.

oi Thu 07-Aug-08 08:01:41

I just think the whole thing reeks of not having children unless one of you can be at home with them which is just ridiculous. Some people have to or need to work full time and some people want to work full time. Or the old chestnut 'why have children if you are going to farm them out into childcare all the time' which is a favourite of the DM.

I think lots and lots of people (I don't mean posters on this thread) who comment on parents who work full time actually have no idea what it is like but sit there and think 'omg I could never do that, those poor children'.

tigermoth Thu 07-Aug-08 08:10:53

Just reading OP, and a small point to add.

I think expectations on how to parent well have increased in the last few years, making it more difficult to balance work and family life. For instance, young children at school IME get more homework so schools can meet their targets, parents are urged to read with their child daily, there is more pressure on the parents to ensure their child passes exams (SATS, GCSES etc) and gets to a good secondary school (as the bad schools can be viewed with great fear by parents).

Apart from all the educational pressure, there's pressure on parents to ensure their child eats healthily (home cooked food) and is fit and is fit and well (cue lots of parent organised activities to compensate for not playing out).

All these expectations eat into precious time at evenings and weekends, adding stress to an already stressful life. So I am not surprised more people say a family suffers if a mother works full time while trying to meet the expectations of Jamie Oliver, the nanny state, target driven teachers, and middle class parents.

TheOldestCat - please dont feel guilty about your working.
I went back to work when DD was 6 months, I managed to breastfeed until she was 18 months old, I work 35hrs a week in a very supportive, flexible company where they do take into consideration the fact I have a child.
I think a lot of parents beat themselves up over their choices, or their routes in life given their restrictions. So many parents think about the choices they have made in a negative way, because the media tells them they are damaging. Didn't breastfeed your child? Hell, there goes their IQ. Put your little boy in a nursery? He's destined for anti-social behavour. Didn't do... I could go on, but I wont!
FWIW, there are so many things that parents chose to beat themselves up on, and it annoys me that the papers are quite happy to twist the knife in. The bottom line I take is am I doing the best for my child. All children are different. My daugther is happy, which is what I strive for.
If I can keep three people in this world (me, DH and DD) happy, safe, secure and loved, then I know I'm doing alright.

Bluebutterfly Thu 07-Aug-08 08:20:58

I agree that pressure (not from working, but from external sources that make us feel that less than perfect is not good enough) is probably a huge component in family life suffering (if, indeed, it is?).

It leads to parents second guessing their choices, their commitments and living with guilt that they haven't done better - because there is no such thing as good enough anymore. Everything has to be perfect. Which is stupid because our children are not living in a perfect world and neither are we. What makes children most "happy" or at least "content" is having parents whose interactions are not driven by guilt, but rather by a desire to make life with the children (whether working or otherwise) fun and positive.

Bluebutterfly Thu 07-Aug-08 08:29:00

So articles such as the DM ones serve no-one, but they foster those guilty feelings or feelings that we have justify ourselves because our choices are "damaging" our children.

I am a sahm and I do not feel that this article even reflects the way I feel about my own choice. I do not feel smug because the DM suggests my family is better because I am at home. Instead, I feel like it hugely misrepresents family life and places undue pressure on me to create the perfect family environment. I feel guilty because it makes me feel that the fact that I am at home should mean that my children are totally well-adjusted and are constantly happy, engaged and problem-free - a ridiculous notion, because life is just not like that.

I hate the Daily Misogynist.

popsycal Thu 07-Aug-08 08:58:57

havent read the whole thread, BUT

in my family's experience (different for everytone) we suffered when both parents worked full time. Financially, most of one wage went on childcare so we were not really benefitting in that way. Both out health suffered.

I reduced my hours - everyone was less stressed, the house was less of a mess, the kids were more settled as they didnt have 2 very grumpy, exhausted and stressed parents. I didnt have to work every might at home and for part of the weekend.

I think for us, the balance was one of us to qwork part - time - it just happened to be me but could equally be the man imo

RubyRioja Thu 07-Aug-08 09:05:20

A friend of mine has recently started a FT job which is demanding with erratic hours, after being a SAHM all the time she had children.

As an intimate observer, I woud say that some things have suffered; her involvement in school has been reduced and the quality of the children's homework has diminished a bit, along with time keeping. They also wistfully mention the days when she looked after them and have had to give up some activities.

However, they have a far better relationship with their father now (who actually has to do some things for them), she is much happier and more confident and financially they are more secure. As a family, things seem much more equitable too.

So there!

IAMJIGSAW Thu 07-Aug-08 09:05:46

maybe we should downright refuse to engage in these particular disscussions, as i can't really see why they has to be such disscussion about the woman or mother.

maybe when they move the debate over to parents not just mothers its worth even bothering to talk about it.

sgb, totally agree about unnessary housework, everyweek i clean the bathroom all the tils everything evn the tiles that dont get wet and dont get dirty, im wasting time cleanng something thats already clean ffs!
would like to add though whislt im cleaning bathroom dh is cleaning kitchenwink as we do out chores in the evening

cthea Thu 07-Aug-08 09:23:10

Comment in the Telegraph

rookiemater Thu 07-Aug-08 09:45:35

Good link cthea, I like that article it is a nice balanced response.

motherinferior Thu 07-Aug-08 09:46:24

Re housework, in response to Swedes: my comment was based on (a) the survey (b) the huge number of posts on MN about men and housework.

In my own house, it's fairly evenly balanced. And yes, we pay a cleaner. During the periods when we don't have a cleaner we row about it, but split it. I'm tidier than my partner, which does drive me insane. We share the cooking.

And from reading MN we are, infuriatingly, not completely typical.

Oliveoil Thu 07-Aug-08 09:52:46

when we moved in together we decided what chores we like doing

being a weirdo, I like cleaning so most of that falls down to me

dh loves cooking, buying food etc so the kichen is his domain

he is responsible for the bathroom, needs a kick reminder now and then

generally it works ok

there is no way on this earth I would do it all unless I was a SAHM f/t and then I would consider it part of my remit, alongside childcare and generall running about

IAMJIGSAW Thu 07-Aug-08 09:59:15

much more balanced in the telegraph.

maybe its a good thing though that the idea of supermum is dead.

wasabipeanut Thu 07-Aug-08 10:47:02

God this makes me so angry. Apologies if I am repeating what has already been said but the fact that this whole debate is framed around a womans role rather than parents role makes me furious.

Yes family life might well suffer if both parents work full time but not as much as it will suffer if a family is poor.

Both my grandmothers worked in cleaning jobs, not out of feminist leanings but because they were so poor they couldn't afford not to.

I nearly lost my temper with my MIL at the weekend when I was saying how much I enjoy working in London part time - my 11mo DS is in nursery 3 days a week. She said to me "well you have children now so it has to change". I pointed out that she didn't say this to her son and got told "well, you like the money he earns". I could earn as much if not more than my DH if given the opportunity to get my freelancing off the ground but have sacrificed this for the time being to spend more time with my son. To imply that I should actually be sacrifcing even more than I already am made me furious.

When you combine this "women really shouldn't worry their pretty little heads about work" attitude with the "pornification"
of popular culture and other misogynist trends you get a horrible regression back to pre 1960's feminism.

This depresses and angers me no end.

Where is Germaine Greer when you need her????

KazzaL Thu 07-Aug-08 10:47:05

When I went back to work ft after DS1, we made the decision to pay for the ironing (DH's shirts only) to be done and I also pay one of my rangers (older than guides or brownies) to come in once a week and hoover & mop the floors; everything else DH and I share (with some prompting)when it gets unbearable!!

In some respects I'm lucky as my additional salary more than covers this and nursery fees - I was so glad to get back to work for the adult non-baby related banter which I;d really missed after a year off. But I do feel guilty as he's the only one of his age in nursery ft and all bar one of my mommy friends either don't work or have only gone back part time. Should we have had him if someone else is going to look after him for longer than we do? But in nursery he gets to do all the play and activites that I wouldn't have time to do if I was at home with him as I would be trying to do the housework etc.

DC2 is now due in Feb 09 and while we intend for me to have the full year off again, what we do after that we haven't decided yet as 2 lots of nursery fees will be a struggle and DS1 won't get his 15hrs of paid nursery ed for 7 mths after i'm due back at work........ I know I'll be ready to go back to work by then but will we be able to afford for me to? Similarly we would like to keep DS1 in nursery as mcuh as we can while i'm off as he loves it there, but it all comes down to the numbers.

anniemac Thu 07-Aug-08 10:58:31

Message withdrawn

cthea Thu 07-Aug-08 11:16:35

And the usual Daily Mail hysteria

IAMJIGSAW Thu 07-Aug-08 12:10:31

wasabigpeanut, how dare your mil talk to you like that, what a cow.
was your dh about when she said this?
if so i hope he put her straight

IAMJIGSAW Thu 07-Aug-08 12:14:47

im getting more andmore anoyyed at this being aimed at women not parents

anniemac Thu 07-Aug-08 12:16:00

Message withdrawn

hatwoman Thu 07-Aug-08 12:50:14

it's not that often I like something in the Telegraph but that piece is great.

squiffy Thu 07-Aug-08 12:52:36

I was pretty annoyed about all this coverage until I read this on the DM website, which cheered me up no end...

"I am so glad that the media has finally focust attention on the folley of the "liberated woman". It is a lucky woman who can raise her own children. What a materialistic and snobish idea it is that raising one's children and running a home is worthless thing to do! In my view, it is simply greed for money, personal ego and man hating in general that makes most modern women prefer some job to her OWN FAMILY. Some have simply been suckered. Poor women have always had to work but 40 years ago, an attempt twas made to conn all women into thinking they should raise their families the same way poor women have always had to. More money, man hating and "respect" was the bait. What a bunch of suckers. It's children who have paid the price.

- Lisa, Concord, NC USA, 06/8/2008 12:43"

grin grin grin grin grin

God bless America. And let's hope she keeps taking the pills.

motherinferior Thu 07-Aug-08 14:02:07

Oh yes, and:
'My Mum said to me recently that before a woman has children she is the picture and after children she is the frame around the picture. I would argue that career women are fighting the frame and still desperate to be the picture'...

Yes, heaven forefend that women want to go on being people after they've done their reproductive duty!

There was a hilarious Sunday Times trailer on the radio for a similar piece of garbage in that paper:

Imagine this in a doomy, concerned voice:

"they drink skinny lattes, they hold down full time jobs and manage childcare, they do all the laundry and most of the cooking....Are we driving our men into the ground?"

I mean ffs. We expect men to have jobs, care for their children and do some housework. Oh and drink coffee. The poor darlings must be desperate.

wasabipeanut Thu 07-Aug-08 14:11:23

No Iamjigsaw - my dh wasn't around. He would have just got upset if I'd started a row anyway. I just seethe silently.

I liked the Telegraph article too - v well written. Have avoided the DM link for fear my blood pressure will not take it.

As for Lisa from Concorde. Well God help us quite frankly.

hatwoman Thu 07-Aug-08 15:15:25

no. God help her...grin


I fell into the trap of trying to be the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect employee, the perfect daughter, the perfect sister... you end up forgetting yourself

DH is currently doing the ironing upstairs (I haven't ironed for months, so its nearly every piece in the house) while I sit with my feet up!

VeniVidiVickiQV Thu 07-Aug-08 18:46:02

Actually, Lisa from Concord kinda has a point, dont you think?

"In my view, it is simply greed for money, personal ego and man hating in general that makes most modern women prefer some job to her OWN FAMILY"

Hmmm. I dont prefer my job to my family. I'm very family orientated. I dont work to be equal to men. I'm not a man hater. I work to keep the roof over my daughters head.

Though I agree, it is a lucky woman (or man!) who can stay at home with their child - some of us are not in that position financially.

tigermoth Thu 07-Aug-08 19:16:18

I like my job on the whole. It is part of who I am. I do not feel huge guilt any more about working now my children are 9 and 14. I felt more guilt when they were little - then I felt my main role was as a parent and my job was a burdensome interruption.

However, by working when they were little, I was able to build up experience and add to my CV. I am sure that helped me get my present, flexible job. I was able to make the move from an inflexible, not very family friendly job into a much more family friendly one.

If I had stopped work when my children were little, I think it would have limited my working options, making it more difficult to land a job that would fit in around my family and still pay a decent salary.

So in a way, my children are now reaping the rewards of me working when they were younger.

expatinscotland Thu 07-Aug-08 20:20:22

A lot of people have very outdated notions as to why women work, as if most of them do it to afford flash holidays, fancy cars adn huge houses.

What planet are you living on?

Because I want to ditch one and go and live there!

Quattrocento Thu 07-Aug-08 20:28:20

The expectation for me and my circle is that women would work. In fact I don't personally know anyone who is a sahm.

Where are they? They didn't go to my school. They're not in my office (obviously, but they might have been before they took up sahming). Where are they hanging out?

<starts to recollect someone who gave up work years and years ago>

I know a SAHM. But she has never worked, so it isn't like she gave up a job for child rearing.

nickytwotimes Thu 07-Aug-08 20:40:14

Don't know if it's been mentioned, but this research is 5 years old, so hardly knew.

I'm a SAHM because that works for us - I never had a decent job, we can manage on dh's salary and I hated my job anyway. Had I been in employment that gave me some kind of fulfillment, or had we needed the money then I'd have gone back.

The notion of a SAHM is realatively new.
My Grandmothers both WOH as did their contemporaries. All working class women did it to make ends meet. SAHMs are a modern middle class luxury.

nickytwotimes Thu 07-Aug-08 20:40:33

new, not knew!

Jux Thu 07-Aug-08 20:43:27

This reminds me of Bowlby who did research with made up data, as the gov wanted to encourage women out of the workplace (where they had been having a pretty good time since the war) and back into the kitchen, in order to free up jobs for the men back from the war.

im a sahm, and i love it.

buts it MY choice and i don't like being told thats what expected of me or anyone.

I do think its best for kids to have a PARENT around and yes i mean PARENT not just the MOTHER.
if possible and its better to be in work than poor.

the one good thing about this is, sahm and wohm are united in our refusal to be drawn back into the 1950.

my job is looking after dd in the day, and a damn fine job i do of that too. dh goes to work.

when he gets home we split what needs doing 50/50 like tonight after tea, we both cleared up, he loaded the dishwasher and i tidied around.
then he hoover and i dusted
so the downstairs of the house is spick and span and it doesnt take long when too are doing it,took about 10 mins each.
we work together.

my mum worked fulltime, which is a very big part of the reason i wanted to SAH , and did everything in the house, cooking cleaning, washing, ironing, making packed lunches.
feel quite sorry for her really.
it wasnt a good life and she didn't have an amazing job, she worked in an office, she did it to provide for us.
and she got no help from dad at all.
yes dad did the "manly" jobs like diy etc but i dont think that equals all the stuff i listed that my mum dad in hours put in no way.

really people of my mums age where the "conned generation" in my book

jux i think your right.

VeniVidiVickiQV Thu 07-Aug-08 21:10:43

Oh I dont agree with the man-hating bit, but, there was a very prevalent attitude at one point whereby if you chose to be a SAHM, or, you didn't go back to work after having children you were somehow inferior.

ja9 Thu 07-Aug-08 21:18:32

haven't read whole thread..


i work part time (2 and half days - teacher so have the hols too)... and i feel like i am stretched to my absolute limit.

Jacblue Thu 07-Aug-08 21:29:15

Haven't read all of this, but imo as long as the mum is doing what makes her happy, be it work or staying at home with children, then she will be happier when she is at home and it will rub off on the rest of the family. It is when they are pressured into doing what they are not comfortable/happy with that the children will suffer.

I became a childminder so that I could stay at home with my kids as that is what I felt was right. For me. I also have friends who would go stir crazy if they had to spend all their time with their children. They don't love them any less, just need their own space and adult time.

Jacblue Thu 07-Aug-08 21:38:03

Anyway, what does a woman with a great career, expected to give it all up to raise the children, do when they are grown up? Start again from the bottom?

Why can't we just decide for ourselves without the judgement? My mum stayed at home with my sis and me, but had to go back to work full time when my bro (a happy accident!) was 3 mths old. He's not a screw-up for it. Well, no more than we are!!grin

However, fed up of people saying that my decision to be a sahm was because I'm lazy/don't like 'real' work. Mostly said by people who haven't taken more than a weeks hols at a time with their kids!

The thing that's really wrong with all this crap is the idea that just because you have a vagina your thoughts, feelings and opinions are totally irrelevant to your function as domestic appliance and breeding machine ( a lot of 'mental health professionals' a couple of generations back spent most of their time either drugging or bullying women into compliance with the happy-housewife myth). If domestic service and childcare really were all women were naturally capable of then there wouldn't be so many women so good at other things, so frantic to do other things - nor so much ruthless propaganda about women's 'natural' submissiveness and servility.

Thisismynewname Fri 08-Aug-08 09:59:00

Often on these kind of threads I read comments that being at home with children until they are 3/5/even 15 sometimes is "best".

It may well be, but I'd really like to see some definition of why it is best/what is better about it.

Best in what way? Emotional security/academic outcomes/social skills/later career prospects.

Does being a SAHM cover all of those angles and more, really? When I read these comments I'm left thinking, is it just the children of working mothers that end up in therapy/never go to University/can't maintain relationships and end up divorced/ roam the streets committing anti-social behaviour. Is being a SAHM really the vaccine for all of these social issues?

Poverty and it's impact on child outcomes is so often overlooked in these debates, and yet it's proven to have the biggest influence on child outcomes, not whether or not a mother works.

TinySocks Fri 08-Aug-08 10:41:26

I think it's all about having the right balance.

Two real life examples:
a) My sister's best friend (now in her 40s) had a full time working mum. This lady worked really hard, gave them loads of lovely nice goodies. Now in her old age, the mum is desperate to be involved in her daughter's life, but my sister's friend told her: Sorry mum, but I don't need you.

b) When I was working, one of the directors of the company was a woman with a teenage son. She was constantly travelling everywhere, working long hours. I felt sorry for that boy, what made her think that because he was now a teenager he no longer needed her?

I don't want that for my family. I am a SAHM at the moment. I had a wonderful career for 11 years before having children, earned plenty of money, travelled, worked hard.
I don't want to be SAHM for ever, at some point I will go back to work, but I wouldn't mind a job with less responsiblity, flexible hours, earning less so that I can spend time with my boys, they are my priority now.

Being a WOHP doesn't mean the children grow up assuming they were not wanted or not having a good relationship with their parents.
Both my parents worked, but I'm really close with my family. We go up every Saturday night or Sunday afternoon, mum and dad have their house full with me, DH, DD, my sister & BIL, my other sister and her boyfriend. We're a very close family.
My DH OTHO rarely sees his SAHM.
I dont think being a WOHP or SAHP defines whether you have a good relationship with your children as they get older.

I think DH & I have a much better relationship with our DD (we both work) than one of the SAHM's I know who tells her children to get out of her sight / feck off upstairs / cant wait til you're 16 and you can move out...

TinySocks Fri 08-Aug-08 17:44:23

Elf, I agree with you, but I think it's about having the right balance.

Yes, there has to be balance, but IME mothers who are classed as "working full time" are doing 30-35hrs ish, not the 14hr shifts for 6days a week as people expect - thats rare where I am.
In my department, one woman has an 8 year old and she does 25hrs over five days, one woman has three under three and does 35hrs over four days, a couple of us have one child under 3 and we do 35hr.
We're on flexible hours too, and I can work from home if necessary/wanted.

fizzbuzz Fri 08-Aug-08 18:25:50

But Tinysocks, my mum worked full time (she had no choice, my dad was very ill and later died)from when I was 3.

I never felt like that about her. I was close to her and involved with her all her life, and did lots of caring for her at the end. In fact I admired her for coping as she did.

Sounds like the problem is more with the daughter than the mother.........

ShyBaby Fri 08-Aug-08 19:20:41

Sorry, I dont think any comment I could make would be valid, being a lone parent and not a "family". As a lone parent I am encouraged to work full time to instil a sense of self worth and a work ethos into my children. It will also make me feel better, give me oodles of confidence and enable me to feel independant.

(Repeats, robot like).

Having no other source of income, my second choice would be to rely on benefit. (handouts). But my house would be cleaner im sure.

I guess the rules are different for one parent families grin

seekinginspiration Sat 09-Aug-08 16:43:40

No doubt in my mind, when two parents work full time there will be bad consequences; the only exception being those rich enough to employ fully trained nannies who generally know how to parent better than parents. Much as I can't believe I'm going to agree with Eton schooled Mr Cameron I think there should be an allowance for one parent staying at home, when two parents make a commitment (marriage or civil partnership) to bring up children together. When the married man's allowance was available couples sometimes stayed together through the tough first two years just because of the allowance, and then found they still loved even liked each other, after the sleep deprivation and toddler years passed.

LadyG Sat 09-Aug-08 17:36:55

I think the fact that attitudes have changed from 15 years ago to become less supportive of working mothers has a lot to do with the long hours work culture which has really taken hold since the early 90s and means that essentially many women are single parents during the week as well as working full time - in many cases it is mum who does the 5 O Clock dash home to do nursery pick up or take over from the nanny while dad doesn't get home until after bedtime.Speaking personally I found this very hard going and found it wasn't good for me on a work or home perspective and therefore by extension for the family.

TishTashToys Sat 09-Aug-08 22:40:05

I read this bit of the article....Kat Banyard, the campaigns officer, said: "Women still shoulder the bulk of caring and housework at home" and that to me is where a lot of the problems come down to. How can a woman work full-time AND then do all the housework? And I'm not saying this is the man's fault, if anything it is the woman's because I don't think enough women demand equality IN the home. When all tasks and work roles are shared then we might be able to move towards real equality.

TinksMama Sun 10-Aug-08 08:45:29

Not meaning to gloat or claim that my husband is a gift from above, BUT..... Whilst my husband goes out to work FT so do I. But whilst I cook every night, he washes up. While I bath the children, he puts them to bed. I do the clothes washing and iron the childrens clothes, he irons shirts and jeans. Don't be fooled, he didn't iron or wash up when I met him! We both realise that if we are going to be happy we need to contribute, at home and financially. wink

If I didn't work, we would suffer, either the mortgage would go unpaid or we would literally starve!! sad

I do think there is a massive presumption with the above mentioned studies on women haven professional full time jobs, what about women who just do a standard full time job? Take me for example, earning a modest wage, working FT doing admin, hardly the professional power jobs so commonly associated with working mums who go to work early and get home late.

blackrock Sun 10-Aug-08 20:02:19

It is not actual, but only what people perceive.

I know that if my husband and i both worked FT family life in our house would suffer.

We are lucky that we are both PT and juggle childcare between us and 1.5 days of nursery.

Our lives are happy and relaxed. This is what suits us and would not suit all. Friends of ours work longer and seem to cope well.

homepride Mon 29-Sep-08 17:11:15

I think mums and dads need to take a more practical approach to childcare - me and my husband sat down, looked at what needed doing in our lives and divided it up. I stayed at home because my husband earned more money and we thought it would be unfair for both of us to be over an hour away from our children and put them in nursery 10 hours a day, I do the cooking all week, the cleaning, ironing etc because I'm at home. He works really long hours so it would be totally impractical for him to do it. He does all the shopping and cooks at weekends, gets the kids breakfast & dresses them before he goes to work in the morning. It's not ideal, he would like to see more of the kids and I would like some time to myself but by and large it works for us.I know alot of people have absolutely no choice but to go back to work and obviously someone has to but I don't think it matters who. Whoever is best placed to do it. I'd be interested to know what people mean when they say 'I had to go back to work full-time because we couldn't afford for me not to'.If that means you couldn't afford to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head, fair enough, if it means you can't afford to live in the big house you would like, have 2 holidays a year and drive 2 cars, maybe you should re-think your priorities. We bought a smaller house than we could have if I'd gone back to work, drive a 12 year old hand-me-down car and go on holiday once every 2 years but I truly believe my kids are better off for having one of us with them. After all kids don't ask to be born, we choose to have them and they need their parents.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now