Justifying long term SAHM to DDs?

(968 Posts)
whenwilltherebegoodnews Mon 19-May-14 13:35:36

I have a few friends who, because their DHs are high (6 figure) earners, are able to be SAHMs, and have no intention of ever returning to work. These women are all at least degree educated and previously had successful careers.

I just wonder, in such a situation, how a long term SAHM encourages her DD to realise her academic/career potential, if the example she sets is that her education is only a short term requirement until she meets a high earning man?

I'm not trying to start a bun fight, I'm genuinely interested. My own mother is university educated, and has always worked in some capacity, successfully managing her own businesses with being the main carer, and encouraged me to be financially independent.

Personally, I feel I have invested too many years, and too much money, in my education and career to give it up forever after only 10-15 years. I like to think I am setting a good example to my DD that career and family are not mutually exclusive.

So how does a long term SAHM reconcile this? Am I thinking too simplistically?

I don't have kids, but I think there's a lot to be said for making sure children know that work that looks as if it's economically valueless has a value. The old line that people come out with on AIBU when someone's DP thinks they're not earning so don't get a say: add up how much childcare, a cook, cleaner etc. to cover what a SAHM would cost, and value yourself accordingly.

Obviously that's not a full answer, but I do think it's really important. A fair few people I know were brought up to think that any intelligent woman really should be financially independent and is a lazy slacker if she's not. It's really shitty. How easy it'd be for someone to express this I don't know - it'd depend on their partner. But I think it should be done.

I don't know, because I am not one.

I think part of the stigma (if you like) of being a long-term SAHP is to do with the fact that what is traditionally 'women's work' is assigned a very low value in our society.

If it wasn't, then perhaps this choice wouldn't need justification?

But other than that, I dunno.

Spottybra Mon 19-May-14 14:59:55

What is to say the dd's will meet a high earning man? Everyone should try and achieve their potential AND deal with the hand that life gives them. I believe in teaching children to be gracious whatever other people's circumstances are.

Why give the children of criminals an education as they are likely to end up offending themselves? Why educate women at all, they only marry and have children? Why educate the poor when they can be labourers? Bit of a backwards question. Education is a privilege and a right in this country, as it should be worldwide.

Yes, IMO your thinking is a little simplistic.

Atbeckandcall Mon 19-May-14 15:03:44

Dd get an education, you don't want to rely on a man to fund your lifestyle in case it goes tits up and you need to start working and stop laying about in arse being fed hand peeled grapes.

Simple.

Atbeckandcall Mon 19-May-14 15:04:20

Laying about on your arse, I don't think in arse was appropriate for this thread blush

Well, I happen to think that education is not exclusively for work and a career, and there are plenty of life achievements which I would place a very high value on even if they bring no financial gain.

JimmyCorkhill Mon 19-May-14 15:06:47

My mum was a SAHM until I left school. I went to uni and got a job. It never occurred to me that I shouldn't/couldn't just because mum was at home.

I worked for 13 years before becoming a SAHM. I know that my DDs have absolutely no concept of work/careers/SAHMs at the moment. When they are old enough to wonder why I don't go to work then I shall tell them that I CHOSE to stay at home.

I could be at work now but I don't want to be. I see feminism as having a choice and this is what I have chosen. They can choose it too or not, it's up to them.

My DH and I are probably going to share the working week once both DDs are at school. Doing a 3 day/2 day split of work and being at home.

Atbeckandcall Mon 19-May-14 15:09:31

Sorry I should state that my post was meant to be a sarcy, rightly or wrongly. But miffed that the OP was so black and white with the post.

CrimeaRiver Mon 19-May-14 15:14:40

You are equating being educated with being financially independent. That is wrong on nearly every level.

deXavia Mon 19-May-14 15:15:32

So I live in an expat bubble - I work FT as does DH but pretty much everyone else is a trailing spouse. So I struggle with this a lot.

Many of the woman had reasonably high powered or well paid jobs before (and I acknowledge there is a difference) but now don't work. two impacts I've seen - neither of which will be popular to admit
- they are ferocious on their own kids development - extra classes, judging by sets etc. It's very Tiger mother out there!
- I was chatting in a professional capacity to a bunch of 14 year old girls , they all wanted to be Interior designers, blog owners, etc - so sort of a job you could pick up anywhere. I have previously run sessions in London where it was a much wider range of aspirations.

I'll be honest - living in trailing spouse land, juggling childcare and homework and not being "present" like so many of the mothers of my kids peers, I am hugely tempted by not working. But I really struggle - and it genuinely keeps me going in bad weeks - about the precedent I set for my daughter

Mutley77 Mon 19-May-14 15:19:33

Are you serious? I am speechless! Do you not think children deserve to hear that they are so valuable that a parent has chosen to spend time focussing on their well being and happiness whatever the gender of the child or parent!

I must say that it has never crossed my mind as a sahm that I need to set a role model of achievement in the educational or economic sense to any of my 3 kids (2 dds and 1ds). They know I am highly intelligent and educated and had a successful career (although more in terms of personally and community fulfilling as opposed to financially rewarding). Quite likely I will go back to that career at some point but see more value now in supporting my children. I suppose that's because I am confident and secure in my achievementsand choices, as i hope all my dc will be.

As a University educated sahm lazy arse - I can answer this...

1) Education is for it's own sake - I did not do a degree in Politics for the prospect of a well paid job (just as well) - I did it because I loved the subject.

2) I use my education to in turn educate my children. They are doing well at school and I have a role to play in their education - (don't have to be a sahp to do this obv.)

3) I am volunteering - something which would be harder to do as a wage slave person in paid employment.

4) Sah parenthood is only one stage of my life, I have worked, I have been in education, as the children get older I will probably go back to some form of paid employment. One day I will be retired.

5) Education is lifelong - my interests in the world and learning did not end when I got a job or left my job.

6) Financial independence is a great thing but not the only model for living as a family - I am dependent financially but DH is dependent on me to arrange our finances/ mortgage/ all expenditure... we have a joint life and a joint account.

7) 'Giving it up forever' seems to be a dramatic way to describe staying at home with children - I have fantastic friends who work and fantastic friends who don't - they are all complicated people with ambitions and regrets - I don't like to pigeon hole people as we rarely fit comfortably in one hole... as it were grin

WorkingBling Mon 19-May-14 15:26:26

I think the problem with your question is that it assumes that being a sahp is counter to being educated and successful. I think children need to understand that in our society and in families we have different roles. That value ing those roles should not be based on financial value. That all people have the option to do multiple things in their lives. That an education has more value than just a starter for a career. That "career" and "work/job" are different and that not everyone needs or wants the former.

Atbeckandcall Mon 19-May-14 15:27:23

Actual I'm really cross the more I think about this. I don't have a degree or even A-levels (btw I don't think anyone needs a certificate or label to confirm how "clever" they are).

I know you didn't want to start a bun fight but I'm not so sure you'll have a choice.

BoomBoomsCousin Mon 19-May-14 15:27:25

I think the idea that education only has worth because of the financial returns you can get from it is a pretty awful lesson to try and teach children - boys or girls.

One of the things important with a long term sahm type of set up, from the perspective of teaching daughters (or sons) anything at all, is to make it clear the roles are equally valued and are dpendent on gender only to the extent society makes it so. That is, you make it clear to your children what aspects of our culture conflate to make it commonly the woman that stays at home and conversly show them that they can (but don't have to) choose other roads.

barrackobana Mon 19-May-14 15:28:23

It never seems to amaze where people get the idea that if a woman is a SAHM, then she will be unable to encourage her DD to reach her own full academic potential. You are clearly protracting your own views. I know lots of WOHM and SAHM, they all seem very capable of encouraging their DD to reach their full potential and there are many children of WOHM who decide later in their lives to become SAHM.

None of the women i know in very successful careers thought that because their mother was a SAHM then that's all they needed to aspire to. As far as meeting a rich man, what's makes you think that's why your friends married them? where they all earning 3 figs when they met?

Your very presumptions in also thinking your thread title! Justify to DDs indeed, more like justify to you ?

TinyTear Mon 19-May-14 15:31:13

I actually went to Uni, and work full time, even with a DD BECAUSE my mum was a SAHP...

Damnautocorrect Mon 19-May-14 15:33:02

Maybe the high earning man DD meets will give up work to be at home. Or maybe they'll get a nanny?

I think as pp says its about choice, enabling choice and deciding what's best for your family. Generally working hard and education gives you a bit more choice. I think you may be over thinking the DDs view.

Ilikethemoon Mon 19-May-14 15:35:10

I really disagree with your premise. It assumes that the main worth an individual has is through paid employment. Sahm's don't need to justify their choices as their choices are equally valid. Why is nurturing your family somehow of less value than working for a megacorp? I believe feminism is about choices, not dictating what lifestyle other women should have. I am not a sahm by the way.

susannahmoodie Mon 19-May-14 15:48:29

I although I am a wohm I have a lot of respect for most of my sahm friends, mainly because I know how rubbish I would be at it and I take my hat off to them.

However, I think here is some naivety amongst some sahms on this thread.

Firstly to say it is a choice is a little disingenuous. It is only a choice if you have a husband who earns enough to support you, surely? I am the main breadwinner therefore I cannot sah, and I'm not sure I'd want to.

Also, I agree in theory with the noble idea of education as an end in itself, but this take on education is strongest amongst people aged 30+ who benefitted from free or cheap higher education. Now with unemployment + higher and higher tuition fees, uni really has to pay. The idea of someone studying politics/classics/history etc just because they enjoy it are numbered sadly.

Nocomet Mon 19-May-14 15:57:38

No six figure salaries here, but I always tell the DDs I'm very lucky DH earns enough for me not to have to work and very unlucky at the lack of child care, healthy Grandparents to make working anything, but really difficult.

BoomBoomsCousin Mon 19-May-14 15:57:39

susannah if you marry a high earning partner you can afford the time and fees to study politics or whatever for it's own sake...

AmberTheCat Mon 19-May-14 15:59:20

I struggle a bit with the 'all choices are equally valid' argument. For most people, not doing paid work isn't a feasible option. Most of us, in a capitalist society, need to earn money in order to support ourselves and our families, and most families these days need two earners in order to make ends meet.

It's obviously not my place to pronounce about how any individual family organises itself - I think the important thing is that all children, of whatever sex, grow up expecting that they will need to support themselves, and that finding yourself in a position where you don't have to do that is pretty unlikely for the vast majority of people.

missinglalaland Mon 19-May-14 16:01:08

An education is more than mere vocational training. It makes you a better parent, a better citizen and a better member of society. Life is also richer and more enjoyable when you understand it on more levels. Everyone should be educated to their full potential. Not being economically active does not mean that potential is wasted. Every time a SAHM mum votes, volunteers, influences her children's development or participates the debates of the day her education is used.

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