What do we think of this?

(46 Posts)
dashoflime Mon 15-Apr-13 13:18:33


I'm really conflicted about stuff like this

On the one hand, I think this woman has quite a right wing agenda. It seems like she has quite a prescriptive view of a woman's role in the family.

On the other hand: It's quite illustrative of how far views on stay at home mums have shifted, isn't it?

At one time: The "family wage" was a key demand of the trade union movement. The idea was that one person's wage should be sufficient to raise a family.

At the same time, of course, women were hardly satisfied being stuck in the house with few opportunities in life. A lot of feminist activism was around changing that.

These days though:

Its seems like we're supposed to just accept that 2 wages should be necessary to bring up a family. In strictly material terms, this is a step backwards.

The woman in this article is right, I think, that the government is trying to discourage SAHM and sees a two income household as the ideal.

Even on Mumsnet, I've noticed a lot of people view being a stay at home mum as an enviable luxury. (so much of a luxury that women fought to be free of it! hmm) Either that, or a mark of poverty. Something that happens only if your DP is rich or if you are so poor you are unable to command enough to pay for childcare.

In a way the present situation is worse than in the past. At least then motherhood was seen as an occupation and had some status. Nowadays its like children are a private encumbrance that you are somehow meant to deal with, without help and stay in the workforce.

And where are men in all this? Noone seems to suggest that men should sacrifice their own earning potential to care for their children or support their partner to achieve her own career goals.

Its such a messed up situation all round. sad

Full disclosure: I'm currently on maternity leave, living the life of a SAHM. When I go back, it will be full time and DS will divide his time almost equally between myself (at the weekends and evenings), my PT worker husband and a childminder.

Pootles2010 Mon 15-Apr-13 13:25:38

The thing that first caught my eye is the assumption that the main care giver will always be the mother hmm.

Otherwise I totally disagree with the idea that the government should be paying people not to work, whether they've got children or not.

The fact of the matter is, choosing to stay at home and not work is a luxury, and has always been so. Do you really think poor people have ever had the choice?

The situation where women can't afford to work is awful, I agree with you there, it should always be worth going to work imo.

mumsneedwine Mon 15-Apr-13 13:35:08

What annoys me is the lack of value placed on bringing up kids. I have been a working mum and a stay at home one and both are equally valuable. I never expected to get paid to be at home but I also didn't expect to be penalised (or my husband penalised because I get child benefit). A friend of mine worked out that if I became nanny to her kids and she to mine & we paid each other the same amount, we would be able to claim lots of tax credits and off set our tax against expenses. We would both be better off !! This seems bonkers. Being a SAHM is hard work (that's why childcare is so expensive !).

dashoflime Mon 15-Apr-13 13:45:50

Pootles: I agree poor women have always had to work, but in the past there was at least the sense that they shouldn't have to. Like I said: the "family wage" was a central trade union demand.

I also think you'll also find that in the 1970's when trade union power was greater it was possible to support a family in many occupations that certainly don't allow for that now. Workers in car factories for example.

dashoflime Mon 15-Apr-13 13:46:58

Aggh!: I think you'll also find* horrid sentence construction- sorry!

dashoflime Mon 15-Apr-13 13:53:06

mumsneedwine Yes, that's exactly the kind of irony I was thinking of. I remember someone on another thread- a childminder- asking why she should be better off looking after someone else's kids than her own. It really stuck with me. Why indeed?

I went to see Selma James speak just a few months after DS was born. She's famous for the "Wages for Housework" campaign which, before I had a child I must admit I always thought was loopy.

But, listening to her speak, with the perspective of a mother, it actually made a lot of sense. Why isn't what we do valued?

archilles Mon 15-Apr-13 14:29:41

Surely a childminder is paid more for looking after someone else's children purely because they are someone else's? As opposed to her own. Who should pay for her to look after her own?

But, listening to her speak, with the perspective of a mother, it actually made a lot of sense. Why isn't what we do valued?

It is valued, just not paid for. Who would pay?

mumsneedwine Mon 15-Apr-13 14:57:16

It's the theory that you can be better off looking after someone's else's kids and not your own. I never expected to be paid for being at home but being penalised by tax laws does seem a bit odd. Why can't my tax allowance go to my husband if I'm not using it - his salary is now counting towards my child benefit. I've been back at work for years and I feel very sorry for mums who want to be at home with their kids. The stigma is not nice and most of us worked for many years before we had kids so paid our taxes. The 'all in this together' rubbish doesn't seem to include mums.

archilles Mon 15-Apr-13 15:01:43

Is there a stigma attached to being a sahm? Or a percieved stigma because sahm are not paid?

Pootles2010 Mon 15-Apr-13 15:08:58

I think some people look down at sahms, as they do to working mums - people seem to like judging women generally I think angry

racmun Mon 15-Apr-13 16:07:30

I'm a SAHM through choice and I used to be a lawyer so gave up a well paid albeit stressful career to look after my son.

I can only be a SAHM because my DH earns enough to support us all. I would say we are comfortable we don't have loads of lavish holidays but we do ok.

My annoyance is exactly what a previous poster said, total family income is considered relevant for most benefits including child benefit, which we no longer get, but my personal tax allowance gets Wasted every year. We worked out that if we both went to work and each earnt 1/2 my DH's current salary we would be £700 a month better off through tax efficiencies. That has surely got to be unfair. I certainly don't expect to be paid for looking after DS1 but I certainly don't expect for my family to be deliberately penalised. For example with inheritance tax you can use your spouses tax allowance so why not income tax? I suspect it's because it's middle England that suffers and we're an easy target.

Before anyone says well both go to work - my DH's job involves travelling and couldn't be done part time nor do I believe I could do my old job that well part time so not actually a possibility.

MiniTheMinx Mon 15-Apr-13 16:16:18

The only hostility and antagonism seems to come from the not so "middle-middle" class. The aspiring working class, uni educated, I want more brigade, who having gone through H.E and then building a career, judge success in terms of things, be they cars, houses, clothes or holidays. The bitterness seems to stem from the fact that they can't have all they aspire to have unless they work full time.

dashoflime Mon 15-Apr-13 18:46:12

"It is valued, just not paid for"

Ha. I think the relative level of remuneration is actually quite a good guide to what a society values

"Who would pay?"

Everyone. Through taxes. OK maybe not literal wages but other stuff: subsidised childcare would be a good start.

Some things already exist. Tax Credits for example can make child friendly hours economically viable. That's all getting cut of course.

About the article: The stuff the woman is talking about doesn't really bother me. I think it effects higher earners more. BUT I think it does show the governments attitude to children, child welfare and childcare.

The attitude is that children are an individual burden, not a social investment. Which is in line with their generally right wing individualist politics of course. I suppose having children is one point at which you really feel the consequences of an individualist versus a collectivist society. Because bringing up kids is tough.

dashoflime Mon 15-Apr-13 18:50:53

MiniTheMinx That's an interesting observation. Do you think its just jealousy?

janey68 Mon 15-Apr-13 19:13:05

I think some Sahm perceive that they are not valued. I don't think that makes it true though. I think it's absolutely fine to be a SAHM (or SAHD!) if its affordable and fulfilling to you. No one is ever going to pay people to be at home though. Many people also think taxation as an individual rather than as an appendage to ones partner is a very important principle. There have been lots of threads on this subject. If it were possible to tax a singe earner as if both parents were earning that income between them (which is what some people are suggesting) then the logical follow on would be to tax dual earning families as if 4 people were earning the combined income....

archilles Mon 15-Apr-13 19:31:58

Wouldn't paying sahm or giving tax incentives to sahm penalise single working parents. They have no choice but to work.

Why would sahm need child are?

dashoflime Mon 15-Apr-13 19:56:30

archilles I'm talking about support for parents in general. I don't think either SAHM or WOHM get enough support.

dashoflime Mon 15-Apr-13 19:57:10

But yes, its a good point you make about single working mothers. I'm trying to get all this straight in my head.

dashoflime Mon 15-Apr-13 20:12:32

I think my problem with the current situation. Your damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Want to stay home and look after your kids? Fine, but this is a "luxury". You better have a high earning DP

Want to go to work? OK, but get used to paying the majority of your salary on childcare.

Not happy about either situation? Whats your problem? This was your choice!

I think I'd feel happier about perks to SAHM being removed if support for WOHM were being put in place. Because at least that would be consistent and would indicate that children had at least been considered. (I'd prefer it if families were supported in whatever choices they make)

But that's not the case is it?

pointythings Mon 15-Apr-13 20:16:46

I think the withdrawal of child benefit on a single rather than a household income is madness, and very very unfair. SAHPs have every right to feel aggrieved about it.

But I'm also bothered by the way the new childcare subsidy is being implemented - two people earning up to £300k will get it, but in a partnership where neither party earns below £10k they won't get it. That's insane - the lowest paid should get the most help with childcare costs. Families where one parent can afford to stay at home should not receive subsidies.

The whole situation is just typical of politicians in general and of this government in particular.

MiniTheMinx Mon 15-Apr-13 21:11:51

It seems that you either need to be fairly wealthy or in a situation where you can not justify childcare costs to consider staying home. I have a couple of friends who's DHs earn a great deal over the average, they have no niggles about having given up work. It seems that they are confident in their decision and both had mothers who stayed home. My mother stayed home, no desire or need to work. I stayed home for several years and again had no feeling of inadequacy partly I think because to have gone back to work would have been sort of counter-cultural! I would have been the first in several generations.

But then I see lots of posts on MN about women who have good educations, a fairly decent career having to work because they can not afford not to. Many posts recently about "benefits scum" having an easy ride, never having to work too.

The squeezed middle look down on those below in fear "might I end up there if I give up work and hubbie makes a run for it?" and aspire to be wealthy enough to have the choice to stay home whilst still maintaining some semblance of middle class lifestyle.

What I also find interesting from an economic and historical perspective is that the LMC are generally the women who aspired to work. Are the same people that capitalism cobbled up very heartily in its wish to devalue wages, (around the 70s) More women entering the workforce through choice and whim (working class women have always worked) ensured that we had more workers available than work, which devalues wages. Not that women should have stayed home, who could conceive that 30 years on women would still be paid less than men or that two average wages could barely stretch to buying a budgie cage2013.

MoominmammasHandbag Mon 15-Apr-13 21:24:40

I disagree that it has always been necessary for two people to work to run a household. I am working class, born in 1964, the vast majority of my friends had SAHMs. The ones whose Mums worked were markedly better off; foreign holidays etc.
We have been sold a real lie regarding women working out of the home. Families now have to work twice as hard and family life suffers.

claig Mon 15-Apr-13 21:35:30

They do not want people to have large families. They say that more people will use up the resources of the "planet". They created green movements to spread the word about population control and the need to have fewer children. Now they are beginning to discuss the possible future of child benefit for children in families with more than 2 children.

They want to encourage both parents to work in order to get by so that they will not be comfortable or rich enough to have more children. They do not build more homes (with planning restrictions etc) so that house prices rise and they make green laws so that energy prices and fuel prices and water prices rise so that living standards fall in order to reduce the comfort of families and reduce the possibility that they will feel prosperous enough to have more children.

They want smaller families.

claig Mon 15-Apr-13 21:41:40

'I am working class, born in 1964, the vast majority of my friends had SAHMs.'

Those were the days of the baby boom and that generation is the 'baby boomers' whom they now tell us have had it too good for too long.

MiniTheMinx Mon 15-Apr-13 22:01:09


my comment about working class women always working.........just an abstraction. Historically working class women have worked.

There was a period when less working class women had to work......50s -70s.

So I agree with you when you say many didn't hav to work during the 60s

But then labour/unions had attained better pay and conditions, those gains are being eroded.

I don't think the answer is for the government to reward mothering. The answer is to force employers to pay a living wage to ALL workers irrespective of whether they are bottle washers or women, or even road sweeping women. Narrowing the gap between CEO and the tea lady will suffice to sort out the problem and give women a choice.

MiniTheMinx Mon 15-Apr-13 22:01:52

didn't *have to work. I have a keyboard with hiccups!

MiniTheMinx Mon 15-Apr-13 22:03:20

MoominmammasHandbag, should have added, I agree with you smile

pointythings Mon 15-Apr-13 22:16:00

I don't actually have a problem with population control - it's one of the reasons why I only had two children, one to replace each of us and no more. There are too many people on this planet. However, I'm not sure that this government's measures are anything to do with a green agenda, I think it's ore about a complete mismatch between their experience of what the world is and the average (non-millionaire) person's.

MoominmammasHandbag Mon 15-Apr-13 22:16:12

Yes, 20 years ago DP and I bought a house in the south of England for three times one of our wages (We were earning about £17000 each, our house was £51000). This gave us the option of me being a SAHM). Ok money was tight and we didn't leave many luxuries but it was doable.
These days a young couple like we were would both need to be working.

Happymonkeyboys Mon 15-Apr-13 22:18:08

Agree too MoominmammasHandbag. Both parents now having to work to cover property costs inflated out of all proportion with wages.

claig Mon 15-Apr-13 22:27:38

It is interesting that the only support for SAHMs over these issues seem to come from some MPs on the right. There seems to be little support from the left and possibly very little from greens. Does the Guardian run articles on this or is it just teh right wing press?

"Last month’s Budget confirmed the Government’s plans to slash child benefit from families with a single earner on £50,000 and axe it altogether for those with one on £60,000.

Those plans discriminate against couples where the mother stays at home with the children – since two earner couples who each earn a little under those thresholds keep on claiming.

Family groups are also angry that the Government is offering childcare subsidies to parents who both work but no equivalent allowance to households with a stay-at-home mother or father."


claig Mon 15-Apr-13 22:32:39

Families with only one parent working are in general more likely to have less money coming into the household than those with two parents working. So these policies do not seem to be helping the family unit and children in families with the smallest joint income. They seem to be more about encouraging work.

claig Mon 15-Apr-13 22:46:56

Typed in Laura Perrins and Guardian into google to see what if anything the Guardian says about it. The top article I found was this one, titled At-home mothers should stay out of childcare debate
Fascinating how different the slant of this article is.

At-home mothers should stay out of childcare debate

claig Mon 15-Apr-13 22:51:26

The Guardian article has a term I have never come across before, but which sounds a bit like NIMBY. It is the term SAHMBY.

"You don't have to be against the minority of SAHMBY (stay-at-home mothers by choice) to consider their involvement in this debate a complete, and sometimes mischievous, distraction."

claig Mon 15-Apr-13 22:55:27

stay-at-home mothers by choice would be SAHMBC , but that wouldn't achieve the possible purpose of trying to link it to nimbyism and NIMBY, so SAHMBY does the job better.

Startail Mon 15-Apr-13 23:06:01

Why should it be worth going out to work if you have pre school age DCs?

Why should I farm my DCs out to someone else earning peanuts instead of looking after them myself.

Actually I did one day a week because the nursery were great and I'm shit at small DCs 24/7, but why should I have to?

Startail Mon 15-Apr-13 23:14:33

Also why is it actually harder to work with school age DCs than tinies.

Because in a rural area with very limited after school and holiday provision it is.

MiniTheMinx Mon 15-Apr-13 23:35:22

To try and address Claig's point about the "faux left wing press" is that it is a liberal elite press, which appears to give voice to the concerns of those not on the right. It is a purely constructed corporate alternative.

What came out of the civil rights movement in the 60s seems to have been a move towards identity politics and single issue activism. You have feminism, the greens, the gay lobby, race activists etc, all fighting the same oppression but fighting amongst themselves.

One of the up shots of this is that the liberal press (not left) have taken up all of these causes, including feminism.

I am a feminist and it grieves me to say it, but liberalism is a construct of the right, feminism fell into that trap. Capitalists want cheap labour and women entering the workforce devalued all labour at a time when capitalists were suffering from what is called the falling rate of profit. Ultimately women, working women and women who rely on one male wage so they can stay home have suffered.

MoominmammasHandbag Tue 16-Apr-13 00:00:23

That is very interesting Mini. Basically then it is to the advantage of the "bosses" to have two people working for the same sort of lifestyle that used to be funded by one person working. It's probably not accidental that things have drifted this way is it? It's manipulation of lots of factors including the erosion of Union power and the property price boom.
Bloody hell, I've never really thought about it. It's quite scary.

MoominmammasHandbag Tue 16-Apr-13 00:03:08

I knew there was a reason why I hung out with the Socialist Worker boys at Uni -- apart from the fact that they were all quite cute--

mumsneedwine Tue 16-Apr-13 14:59:34

Just caught us with the thread as I have been at work ! I find it so sad that child rearing is so under valued by society. I don't think money should be paid to one set of parents and not another - everyone is just trying to do their best. So give childcare tax breaks as well as letting SAHMs give their tax code to their partner. And ALL parents get child benefit (or none). I was trying to explain the system to my 19 year old and she looked at me like I was barking mad.

fromparistoberlin Tue 16-Apr-13 15:10:53

that woman really REALLY annoys me

the whole point was to make childcare costs lower. UK pre school costs way more than the rest of the EU, and even the US for that matter

why oh why oh WHY is it now about SAHMs????

if she has low self esteem and feels so undervalued she should go back to work, and stop twisting in politics to suit her personal agenda

mumsneedwine Tue 16-Apr-13 18:59:36

I work and I still think its wrong. If it was an isolated tax change then it might not have been seen as so unfair. But one income families get no tax breaks and I think this is unfair. And child rearing IS under valued and people make snide comments to SAHMs about how lucky they are. It's hard work and a choice to have kids and I don't think we should judge anyone, or penalise anyone, who decides to stay home or work. I hate the assumption that everyone should work - our mums fought so we had choice.

janey68 Tue 16-Apr-13 19:01:31

I agree that it's unfortunate that she's hijacked the debate, because while I think there's a genuine debate about childcare costs to be had, it's ridiculous that a well heeled middle class SAHM is the one banging the drum... she doesn't need childcare and has chosen to give up work. There are plenty more deserving cases who would make a good front person for the cause

It also grates a little that Laura Perrins was a well off lawyer prior to choosing to give up work, and I'd bet a lot of money that she was all for individual taxation back then!! I'm sure she wouldn't have wanted to be lumped in with her husband for tax on her pre-baby earnings... she just comes across as a classic case of entitled person who wants the rules to change to suit whichever phase they happen to be in.

Overall I think this is an interesting debate, and there aren't simple answers. It's no good harking back to the golden yesteryear because I doubt many people really would want the reality of it. OK, my parents could afford to buy a house and live on one income. BUT people's horizons were generally a lot shorter and expectations lower. I don't just mean in material terms. For my mum, being a SAHM meant being pretty much limited to our local town (no second car for many families) and lives were generally a lot more frugal... it wasn't a round of lattes in coffee shops and going to the gym. When women did return to work, it was often in relatively menial jobs and many of them were under employed, ie capable of far more. I don't see that as something to aspire to.

I think what some people are saying is that they want to be able to live life on one income, but life as we have it now, not like back then. Fair enough, but I would prefer to see it as a future where mums and dads could each work half the time, rather than this being a 'womens' issue and assuming mum doesn't work and dad does. I still don't see how it would be sustainable though, because ok, you'd get some families who were happy living on the equivalent of one income, but many others would still choose to have both parents working, certainly more than just half the week each, and those families would earn higher incomes and people on the equivalent of one income would still feel relatively badly off. I think that's the crux of the matter. People often don't like to admit it, but how well off people feel is relative, not absolute. If we're talking in absolute terms, people are massively better off than was the case 50 years ago. But they don't feel it, because they look around and compare themselves with others now. You can't get away from the fact that when we're judging like with like (ie people in similar level jobs) dual earner families are going to be better off than single earners. (Except for those few years when childcare costs hurt your pocket massively). That's obvious really. It's not a judgement on SAHM, not at all, it's just plain facts really.

Portofino Tue 16-Apr-13 19:38:17

Totally agree Janey.

mumsneedwine Tue 16-Apr-13 20:52:44

I sort of agree but as with all of us m personal circumstances skew our perception. I have 5 kids, 2 mine and 3 my sisters. When she and her husband were killed we adopted them and I went back to work to pay for us all. We have never received one penny from the state as my husband earns a 'middle' income. We pay thousands every year in tax and have never begrudged anyone in need and we have loved our family. But recently we are struggling - no pay rises, no child benefit and cost of living through the roof and mine are too old to benefit from any childcare relief. Our child benefit for my sisters two youngest has stopped (why my husband is penalised for this is odd). We manage on a lot less than £53 a week each after housing !

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