akaemmafrosts's SAHM thread. AIBU?

(122 Posts)
garlicbaubles Sun 16-Dec-12 20:57:55

Here it is. I have had to hide it. I keep blurting un-sisterly remarks at the posts - or, more accurately, at posters' general reluctance to observe what I consider to be blatant facts of life and an unwise sense of entitlement.

I agree with the OP.

AIBU?

McBalls Sun 16-Dec-12 21:00:24

You've had to hide it...yet start another thread about it?

And this isnt aibu.

garlicbaubles Sun 16-Dec-12 21:19:52

No, it's somewhere to discuss issues relating to feminism and women's rights.

But, OK, if this issue's unwelcome here I'll fuck off. Cheers.

garlicbaubles Sun 16-Dec-12 21:46:19

Oh. Just found out this is your first post, McBalls. In that case, I'll ignore you and see whether other feminists might have things to say about economic independence, being a SAHM and the whole messy subject smile

TheJoyfulChristmasJumper Sun 16-Dec-12 22:01:05

I'm a SAHM. Not through choice, although I do mostly enjoy it, but because of health issues. I'm planning to go back to working in a couple of years when my youngest qualifies for free preschool hours, but there aren't any jobs in my area where my expertise would be relevant so I imagine it'll be a low-paid, low-skilled job. Assuming I can even find a job. It terrifies me.

tougholdbird Sun 16-Dec-12 22:24:38

I used to hate seeing my mother asking my father every time she needed something, for her or for us kids, and decided that wasn't for me. If the role was recognised and valued by society and if I would have received an automatic part of dh's income as an inalienable right, I would have definitely considered it.

SomersetONeil Sun 16-Dec-12 23:37:08

My mother was a SAHM and never had to ask my father for money. The finances were pooled in recognition of every family member's contribution to the running of the household. It never even occurred to me to consider a SAHM as having some sort of lowly status. Probably until I came onto Mumsnet, ironically enough...

I have been a SAHM and the sole breadwinner. DH and I earn similar salaries. I don't find being 'financially dependent' on my spouse in any way wrong, since a). he has also been 'financially dependent' on me; we are a team and both of our contributions are equally valid, and b). I don't see working in the home as being any more or less valid than working for an employer and being 'dependent' on them for a wage/salary.

I think the whole idea of 'dependence' is irrational - it is a fair exchange of labour/work/contribution for financial reward, whichever avenue you take.

I do recognise what the OP is saying in the other thread, but that obviously has more to do with the way individual families are set up, the ability of individual people to be amicable and decent in the event of a relationship breakdown, and the general lack of recognition of the contribution of the main caregiver in society.

garlicbaubles Mon 17-Dec-12 15:46:11

Yes, I think the ideal for most people is interdependence - which your parents seem to have modelled, Somerset, and you share with your DH. I really don't think it's achieved by the majority, though, sadly.

The thread shocked me. I wrote that I don't know any women of my generation who were SAHMs. I'm sure that's got plenty to do with the type of school and career I had, but also with the extremely strong messages on financial independence given out to young women in the 70s. A huge proportion of our mothers were shafted by socially-imposed dependence. We were acutely aware of our privilege (and duty) in being able to earn and control money for ourselves. Yet, going by the fervour of SAHM Mumsnetters, the very next generation seems to have lost that message and takes pride in relying on a man for their living confused

My lot were somewhat misled by the "have it all" myth - I'm not claiming we got everything right, not by miles - but we thought we were in the vanguard of change, which would lead to more equal distribution of assets and responsibilities. Liberation was expected to liberate men, equally, from the grindstone. To me, the fact that this hasn't happened yet demonstrates resistance from the male-dominated system; this resistance must mean men reckon they've got the better deal as things are. Yet here are women, attacking those who would urge them to get their own money and saying how the poor men suffer.

I am sad and confused. I want to be shown I'm wrong ... but am I? sad

rosabud Mon 17-Dec-12 19:23:38

I sympathise with the OP as my situation is similar (though not quite as bleak, thankfully, as I was not SAHM for so long, do not have a child with SN and I am now working.) I have always supported the right of parents to be SAHMs or SAHDs because I think that the kind of experience it provides for children is a very good one (I know not everyone agrees with that, and can I just say that other ways of bringing up children - using childcare/granparents/nurseries etc is equally OK and I do not think anything terrible is happening to those children who experience that, but I do think being at home with a SAHP can be a good thing for a child). I do not think that SAHPs are "braind-dead" or "lazy" or any of the other things I used to be called while performing this role.

However, I agreed with the poster upthread who points out that this role is not valued by society. Also. I was quite shocked to discover that if your husband leaves you, then your years of providing this role to the family (thus saving money on childcare etc) will not necessarily be recognised in any money you will be entitled to, particularly if you don't have money to pursue the matter through the courts, or if your husband was not mega-rich in the first place. So, although I think being a SAHP is a great role, I agree with the OP that, sadly, because of future financial insecurity, women should be advised not to give up their incomes and become SAHMs.

Also, I think it's wrong that there is a feeling amongst feminists at the moment that SAHMs are to be discouraged or looked down on. SAHPs have been discouraged by the government because it's better for the eocnomy to have 1 childminder looking after a group of children rather than 1 adult per child but feminists should be looking beyond that and supporting ALL choices which benefit parents and children.

rosabud Mon 17-Dec-12 19:25:44

Rather ironic that I failed to spell brain-dead correctly in that particular sentence, but there we go blush

bigkidsdidit Mon 17-Dec-12 19:29:53

I read that thread with great interest until people came on to say of you didn't stay at home when your children were at school then you didn't care about their education. I've left it now too.

This is an enormously important issue for western feminists I think. My mother was at home for 10 years, my father had an affair and left, she ha no pension. I will never, never leave myself in the position of being poor on retirement because of that and it saddens me hugely that this happens to so many women. Especially now pensions are getting smaller and smaller.

IMO we need to change the idea that women do all the childcare and encourage the idea of eg both parents going less than full time for a while. That's what DH and I have done and it works well ( but probably because we started out with very similar salaries).

I don't know how to make that happn though. Shared parental leave?

garlicbaubles Mon 17-Dec-12 20:01:55

I think it would be a start. The leave would probably have to be compulsory for it to make any difference. (Can't see that happening here in the near future, if ever!) I'm a strong advocate of legislation to support flexible working - and of boardroom quotas - but what else would help parents being able to choose parenting without losing self-reliance? Could the only working parent be made to give over a percentage of income to the SAHP? Is that even desirable?

I hit a mental/values block when trying to think this through. We live in a world that runs on money. Imagining a commerce-free existence can be fun, but in all practicality it would be dreadful for children to bring them up completely 'outside' society. I appreciate the arguments in favour of SAHP - and the desire - but am unconvinced it's really best for all children to be raised almost exclusively by one parent, especially when that parent is usually the mother and unhelpful values are then perpetuated. And, as seen, the usual arrangement leaves mothers exposed.

This is a dreadfully difficult topic to discuss because of the serious conflicts between emotional and pragmatically feminist considerations. The strength of (retrograde) feeling on that threads and others like it, though, makes me think it needs to be faced and worked through with greater rigour than anyone's managed yet!

bigkidsdidit Mon 17-Dec-12 20:03:38

Yes

As with so many parenting issues, simply discussing the issues sounds like criticism to people doing things in different ways

carpetsw33per Mon 17-Dec-12 20:10:53

You know, what is awful is that I think the unfair situation occurs for 9 out of 10 women.

And it's put me off encouraging my dds to go to university. sad

I graduated with an arts degree and frankly it was useless.

If I had a 40k debt on top of my current lack of career and post-divorce finances, I would be destitute. I have worked SO HARD but parenthood and divorce have cost me dearly.

garlicbaubles Mon 17-Dec-12 20:22:53

Oh, Carpets, how awful that it makes you doubt whether your DDs should get higher education shock sad I suppose, at the least, they could commit to ten years' career before sprogging? Bit of a half-assed approach, I know, especially in such economically depressing times ...

What's their take on it?

carpetsw33per Mon 17-Dec-12 20:41:30

Well fortunately they are only just at secondary school, so ... Some time to go...

If they wanted to do a science or law degree - something vocational - I might feel differently. What's the point in starting your adult life 40k in debt with a second class degree in English these days?

The problem with not having a family for ten years means you are then in your thirties and might have missed the boat. I feel like they will lose either way. sad

catgirl1976geesealaying Mon 17-Dec-12 20:54:41

I haven't read the thread as I get to annoyed by the bunfights they turn into and I have got entwined before

But for me, becoming a SAHM is just too much of a gamble.

I couldn't give up my financial independence.

I chew my fist when women say "Yes ,but DHs income is my income too" or "I earn the money too because I enable DH to work by staying at home". It's just precarious and could be taken away on a whim.

I get that I could lose my job on a whim or have an accident and be unable to work and that nothing in life is certain, but I just couldn't hand over my financial security to someone else.

That's just for me personally. I don't think being a SAHM is a bad thing, but sometimes, some people just seem a little blase about giving up their financial independence and it's something that would scare me.

I also get it's not always a choice. And my DH is a SAHD and I feel the money I earn is "ours", not mine so I do see where people are coming from, but if we split up (which I very much hope never happens) where would he be?

With years out of work he would struggle to get a job. At my work we bin the CVs of SAHMS looking to return to work sad Awful, but it's the reality.

HoleyGhost Mon 17-Dec-12 21:03:01

The issues highlighted in that thread were not things DH and I discussed, or even thought about before I drifted into being a SAHM.

Not only does it make the family less resilient (to allsorts including the SAHM becoming ill) what you do gradually changes who you are - so even if employers made it easy to get back in, it would not be.

The 'mummy businesses' my friends have taken to starting now their dc are at school could make me cry. They have lost all business sense. And they do need the money.

WidowWadman Mon 17-Dec-12 21:08:32

Potentially slightly relevant

What carpets says makes me sad.

garlicbaubles Mon 17-Dec-12 21:10:49

At my work we bin the CVs of SAHMS looking to return to work

sad Yes - there is some incredible naivety about the ease of getting back to work; it pretty well shows how out of touch most some SAHMs are! When experienced & qualified managers are taking entry-level jobs after redundancy, the inexperienced part-timer's outclassed. (Not even touching on the availability of a vast, free workforce under current govt schemes.)

bigkidsdidit Mon 17-Dec-12 21:12:52

Me too

Carpets - if they don't have a degree chances are they will almost certainly have children with someone who earns more than they do, meaning it is far more likely they give up work entirely, compounding the problem

bigkidsdidit Mon 17-Dec-12 21:13:34

I had no idea about those attitudes in Germany

HoleyGhost Mon 17-Dec-12 21:13:56

Even retraining is not an easy answer. The twenty-something interviewing you for a graduate scheme might not see you as a good fit with a long-hours play-hard culture.

garlicbaubles Mon 17-Dec-12 21:14:14

Widow, that's fascinating! I wondered if this was why the German birthrate had fallen so low but haven't seen it discussed. We seem to be facing similar pressures here; are British women likely to respond differently?

<considers brushing up on schoolgirl German><

garlicbaubles Mon 17-Dec-12 21:15:33

I have seen German-based Mumsnetters saying childcare's far better there ...

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