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.


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


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 ...

HoleyGhost Mon 17-Dec-12 21:15:34

And no degree makes it much harder to get work that will cover the costs of childcare.

I hope my dc do get degrees.

HoleyGhost Mon 17-Dec-12 21:17:41

Much misery has been spread using pseudo science regarding the early years.

Adversecalendar Mon 17-Dec-12 21:43:46

Guessing I am a similar age to op. The other thing to consider is that obtaining a degree was not necessary for many jobs that do require this now. The young woman of 25 who has recently started in my work place and has exactly the same job description as me is educated to masters level, this is a mid level administration job.

It horrifies me that anyone would need to take on student loans for a job like mine.

catgirl1976geesealaying Mon 17-Dec-12 21:48:14

Not to keep banging on about my workplace but

We expect the receptionist and admin staff to have degrees.

No need for it, no one cares what it's in, but there is a perception they will be brighter.

They still have to have relevant, current work experience as well and we won't touch anyone with less than 2 years experience post graduation.

We don't count voluntary work as relevant.

We think women with children are not a good bet as they will need time off when they are ill etc.

Sadly, I don't actually think we are that unusual tbh.

carpetsw33per Mon 17-Dec-12 21:51:07

I suspect that as degrees become more of a thing for the rich, that equalities legislation will change to PREVENT employers requiring a degree.

I have a close friend with an IT company that has recently stopped requiring this. She said to me "why do I need a graduate with knowledge that is three years out of date when a sixteen year old could be trained to be an incredible programmer in a few months?"

So perhaps degrees will be LESS important, the more they become the preserve of the well off...?

Leafmould Mon 17-Dec-12 21:53:41

The school system in Germany is significantly different from the uk. I'm not totally clued up on it, but i gather that You start aged 7, and the timetable is 8-2. Totally incompatible with a working day. You have to pay for a significant number of hours child care on top of the school day right up to 2ndary school.

When we visited, there were soo few kids around. My kids had the play park to themselves at the weekend!

Anyway, I have found this thread really interesting. I have always trusted that my partner and I would always see each other right. But I can see how naive that is.

And I know older women with no pension, younger women who lost out on housing/ material goods at a breakup. I have too, if I remember back in the dim and distant past. My emotional well being was far more important to me than a mere credit card bill.

catgirl1976geesealaying Mon 17-Dec-12 21:53:47

That's interesting Carpets

Although I really hope degrees do not become the preserve of the rich

It saddens me that people may be put off going to university. I don't feel people should be. If you don't get a well paid job you don't pay back, if you do you do.

FabulousFreaks Mon 17-Dec-12 21:56:11

"Take pride in living off a man" , "bin cvs from sahm"

Wow and wow do you even begin to understand how deeply flawed this is. Shameful and plain wrong. For those complicit in such thoughts and behaviour SHAME on you!

Leafmould Mon 17-Dec-12 21:57:10

Cat girl, wow that's depressing. What sector do you work in?

Carpets I think, given what cat girl is telling us, that IT as a sector may be more forward-looking and the pace of change there means on the job training is more relevant. I doubt many other sectors are quite like this.

equalities legislation for the degree barrier? Wow!

WidowWadman Mon 17-Dec-12 21:57:46

garlic - childcare in Germany is cheaper/more heavily subsidised, but if you stick to the subsidised state childcare alone, there's no chance you can do a full time job at the same time. There's closing times for several weeks each year, just like schools do, it's hard to get a full time place, if there are any at all, plus it's pretty hard to get a place in the first place.

They have now an act which says that 2 year olds are guaranteed a childcare place (again, we're not talking full time) and at the same time the so called "Herdpraemie", paying parents for not sending their children into childcare, because there aren't enough spaces.

In some ways Germany seems more advanced, e.g. paternity rights, and the incentive to share maternity/paternity leave.

There are 3 years maternity leave (with up to two years maternity pay if you choose to split it), which puts pressure onto women to stay at home for these 3 years.

Also, a lot of mothers work only in so called €400 jobs which are free from tax or social insurance contributions (with all the disadvantages you can get from not paying social insurance).

Comparing German forums to UK based ones, the SAHM vs WOHM debate is more ferocious over there, I think and women returning to work after a year get loads of raised eyebrows and tutting.

catgirl1976geesealaying Mon 17-Dec-12 21:58:57

Of course I know it's flawed and wrong

But it's the reality

Unemployment is huge. Competition for jobs is fierce. Things are a bit shit in case you hadn't noticed.

TheSecondComing Mon 17-Dec-12 21:59:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

catgirl1976geesealaying Mon 17-Dec-12 21:59:53

Something around trading leaf

It's fairly male dominated and old school sadly.

WidowWadman Mon 17-Dec-12 22:00:08

catgirl - where on earth do you work and isn't your employer at least slightly nervous of being done for discrimination?

Leafmould Mon 17-Dec-12 22:01:09

Interesting post widow.

It sounds like the system there is really divisive.

catgirl1976geesealaying Mon 17-Dec-12 22:02:20

They are pretty blase widow

I guess they think it hasn't happened yet so they are safe

Ironically, we are also on a prestigious newspaper based awards list for how good the workplace is

Leafmould Mon 17-Dec-12 22:05:07

So, 2nd coming, do you feel fairly secure? You hav your own home, and feel that although your industry is pretty much dead, you will be able to pick up enough work to re-start a career when you want or need to.

It sounds like you are in a fairly optimistic position.

TheSecondComing Mon 17-Dec-12 22:12:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

catgirl1976geesealaying Mon 17-Dec-12 22:14:50

See, you've got some security with your house TSC which I think makes a big difference

Plus you sound like the sort of person who just makes life work

bigkidsdidit Mon 17-Dec-12 22:26:52

Yes the other thread was about the dangers of not having savings etc in your own name which you have done.

People couldn't possibly use equalities legislation to not be able to ask for degrees. They are achievements, you're not born with them. My job required a phd - that's not discriminatory (well, it does discriminate, but not unfairly)

I do think the idea of stepping off the job treadmill for ten years then hopping back on is a pre-recession concept. That's interesting what you say about it TSC - that the financial situation may open more doors for the brave.

drcrab Mon 17-Dec-12 22:39:57

I agree with what everyone's said here. But wanted to add something else. To be able to do something 'different' esp in this recession where no one is hiring etc requires capital or some sort of financial backing.

Eg dh and I both work ft. He got made redundant a year ago (professional, white collared etc) and decided to set up on his own. We couldn't claim any tax credits or whatever.

There's no way he could have pursued this option if I wasn't working and therefore supporting the family. We dropped drastically to one income. If I wasn't working, he would have had to take whatever job was going (good or bad!). His industry wasn't and still isn't hiring. He's doing v well but income is erratic.

rosabud Mon 17-Dec-12 22:56:38

Very interesting to read these posts - especially from those of you who are clearly in well established careers and are "in the know," so to speak, on current employment prospects. I did not realize that it was so difficult for SAHPs to get back into work these days, my friends have all managed it, but there could be a variety of reasons for that, including luck. Just out of interest, though, when I became a single parent I was more entitled to help with things like childcare costs etc which has helped with the going back to (or, indeed, would have helped with the satying in) work situation. However, when I first became a SAHM I was in a marriage and not entitled to that help so my childcare costs (especially when they were all pre-school age) made staying in work impossible - it would have been far too expensive. So what should I have done under those circumstances then?

TheSecondComing Mon 17-Dec-12 23:03:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BadRoly Mon 17-Dec-12 23:03:13

I too am following this thread with interest. I gave up work to be a SAHM over 11 years ago when dd1 was born. So pre-recession.

Dh and I have always pooled our money pre children so there has never been a his/hers split financially. I have worked for short periods in between pregnancies but know that a return to work now would be nigh on impossible. We relocated for dh's job so all my work contacts are 250miles away.

I have been book keeping for dh's company and I had been toying with the idea of training formally when ds2 starts school in September. But I confess that the comments on this thread make me question whether there is any point in doing such a thing.

Viviennemary Mon 17-Dec-12 23:05:09

I must say I was a bit shocked to read the CV's of SAHM's are binned. Surely it must depend upon the experience and qualifications of the individual. But personally I think it's OK to have a couple of years out. But staying at home for ten years is quite a risk in this day and age. I don't know anybody these days who stays at home. Apart from me that is. And others like me who have done their stint.

HoleyGhost Mon 17-Dec-12 23:10:07

Rosabud, it is a long game. If you have good career prospects, it is often worth working for net gain for a few years. I know a couple in that position who work flexible /compressed hours and have a part time nanny (cheaper with multiple children). If being a SAHP for a few years renders qualifications and experience useless, battling through at a loss can be worth it.

The attitude on the other thread was often anger at employers' attitudes to former SAHP. However, deskilling is real. Expertise dates fast in most sectors. And confidence in a professional capacity is hard to regain.

TheSecondComing Mon 17-Dec-12 23:12:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HoleyGhost Mon 17-Dec-12 23:17:12

Badroly - you never know your luck, the right oportunity might come up. You've got relevant recent experience and a particular role in mind, why not go for it?

I feel dismay when people say - so now I am doing a degree in x which will mean I can get a highly paid job.

In the current climate Russell group graduates are temping for buttons.

Snazzyfeelingfestive Mon 17-Dec-12 23:17:54

This is a long-running issue but is becoming particularly acute at the moment, I think, because the job market is so dire. While it's wrong, I can well imagine that CVs from people who haven't worked for 2 years or more are being binned. So it's making people aware of how precarious their position is/ has become as a SAHP.
The most shocking bit of the other thread for me was how easily men can hide their earnings and assets from the CSA and so on, and how willing they are to do so. A few posters wrote about how their exes had given up jobs, basically cutting off their noses to spite their face, in order to be able to evade the perfectly reasonable expectation that they support their kids and former partners. That continuing sense of entitlement from a lot of men is really worrying.

Leafmould Mon 17-Dec-12 23:20:02

Rosebud. . . Yes, the joint income versus single income issue for tax credits is hard to get your head around.

I think that in th uk, you can keep working at a loss for 4 years, because after that your kid is in school, and you just have to sort out school pickups. It kind of works out for 2 kids.

In Germany you have 10 years of child care to sort out, and it's much more difficult to resolve 10 years of working at a loss and not enjoying your family life. 4 years is bad enough!

BadRoly Mon 17-Dec-12 23:30:03

Thank you Second Coming and HolyGhost. Eventually I would look at accountancy proper. I am more than capable - I have an engineering degree and post grad qualifications. But these are now so out of date as to be worthless.

When I became a sahm, I don't think either of us thought we would go on to have 4dc, nevermind that a recession would hit and last as long as it has!

I feel that morally it is wrong to right off people who have become sahp as worthless. But it fits with the youth focused society that values energy and enthusiasm over experience. I am making a huge assumption that CVs from over 50s are also regularly binned?!

EweBrokeMyManger Mon 17-Dec-12 23:34:34

I have just recruited for an assistant. And i had a lot of cvs to go through, i didnt bin those from sahms but they were competing with other people who had kept going part time and that was a factor. In the end i am interviewing young uns ( all women) with postgrad qualifications and 3 languages. I would never get a job starting out now. And that is the competition.

By all means take some time out with a job to go back to ie medicine, teaching but stepping out of the business world is a massive risk.

rosabud Mon 17-Dec-12 23:38:24

I do understand what you are saying about working at a loss for 4 years and I do admire that mindset. I am not trying o be difficult, but wonder if you were all in rather well-paid careers? I think to people who are less well-paid, the concept of working "at a loss" is impossible. When I was married, our income was used up every month, (and we were a very frugal family, no abroad hols/ new clothes/ nights out etc) so to have then paid out on top of that for childcare would not have made sense. Also, we would probably have had to run 2 cars, extra expenses on things like more expensive food (as no SAHP with time to prepare economic stew etc! It all adds up!!) so to "pay" extra to work more would have been really silly and impossible. I am just saying that, really, the idea of battling through in order to preserve both careers is understandable if both careers are relatively well-paid but I would hazard a guess that for most households it makes more financial sense for one partner to become a SAHP. So do we need to find a wider range of solutions to this problem, such as free childcare, or SAHPs being guaranteed finacial security somehow?

Elegantlybasted Mon 17-Dec-12 23:41:47

badroly, I think it depends what sector you are in as to whose CV's get binned. I work in financial services, I certainly wouldn't bin an over 50's CV, in fact I employed someone over 50 a few months ago. Crucially though they had relevant bang up to date experience. My sector is fast paced, changes constantly and I wouldn't feel confident that if I took a couple of years off or more that I could get back in and do my job, I couldn't. It's not just a case of keeping knowledge up to date, you can do that relatively easily it's keeping up with how that knowledge is applied that is more of a challenge. There are plenty of people out there wanting jobs with current experience so why would I employ someone who has taken a career break?

EweBrokeMyManger Mon 17-Dec-12 23:43:10

I wasnt and am not well paid, when the dc werent in school I was pretty much running on neutral costwise but now they are in school I am earning again, am going back another day and have been promoted. So it counts, putting that time in, though i have been parttime for nearly ten years gulp.

If you can go back a couple of days a week, even if you arent earning anything once childcare has gone out then you eill be much better off when they start school. Oh and space them and dont have two in nursery at once. I couldnt have managed that.

HoleyGhost Mon 17-Dec-12 23:46:06

You plan your lifestyle around the income you have - I also know two families in one bed flats, no cars. It sucks but they do have short commutes.

A lot of people move to exurbia when they start a family. Two commutes means childcare often costs more and is harder to manage.

I know what you mean though - if you work on the checkout at tescos, it is probably not worth working at a loss. But at the same time, you can probably get back into that kind of job after a career break and/or fit it around family commitments.

garlicbaubles Mon 17-Dec-12 23:46:52

The truth is - and has always been - a lot of men will shaft you, Snazzy, even the ones you can't imagine doing it. They do it because they can and, overall, society doesn't condemn them harshly for it. As an adult, any woman has a responsibility to her own future; if she's got children that responsibility is greatly multiplied. It's really not sensible to invest all those futures in trust of one man.

Women who SAHM take all the risks: their reliance on one person's goodwill for survival; social expectations which make them more responsible than fathers for their children; the combined disadvantages of gender, inexperience and age when it comes to becoming self-supporting. (Plus a worryingly childlike approach to financial security.)

I'm not sure how the comparable situation plays out with SAHDs. They must be fairly few atm. Logic suggests couples who don't want to put their DC in childcare should be seeking to share work & family responsibilities ... But it's still hard to 'split' a well-paid job ... and the better-paid job is still likely to be the man's. Meaning he's still likely to be the mostly-absent parent, with all the financial control, and the least to lose if they split.


Roly, I agree you seem to be in a very good place to start hiring yourself out smile Good luck!

EweBrokeMyManger Mon 17-Dec-12 23:48:20

But if you carried on at tescos then you would be more likely to be promoted, like any job. You would also be building up more pension and holiday and sick pay.

HoleyGhost Mon 17-Dec-12 23:52:06

Sick pay is really important - if a SAHM becomes ill and cannot manage childcare the family is often in difficulty.

HoleyGhost Mon 17-Dec-12 23:53:15

And yes to the promotions too.

garlicbaubles Mon 17-Dec-12 23:54:25

SAHPs being guaranteed financial security somehow

I think that would be a wise objective, Rosabud. But how to ensure that realistically?

I have a little fantasy, in which every woman demands that her partner take on exactly 50% of the home/family work. No split, no relationship. In my dream, this forces employers to radically alter working practices to accommodate reduced hours - thus also forcing them to employ more women in the male-dominated roles - and everybody will be more balanced & secure smile

Back in the cold, hard, real world ...

TheSecondComing Mon 17-Dec-12 23:54:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

garlicbaubles Mon 17-Dec-12 23:56:30

Gosh, that's a really good point about sickness and SAHPs, Holey.

garlicbaubles Tue 18-Dec-12 00:00:53

fuck off somewhere hot for a few years until things get better - That has been my exact response to previous recessions, TSC grin Always worked well for me, and am supremely pissed off that circumstances made it impossible this time!

<wails> Take me with yoooou ... !

SrirachaGirl Tue 18-Dec-12 00:01:57

I feel sad for Emma and all the SAHPs like her but I still feel it's fundamentally right to have one parent at home where possible. Life decisions shouldn't have to be made based on fear and mistrust. I realize this may be perceived as ridiculously old-fashioned but there has to also be something said for choosing your partner very carefully indeed and also for setting yourselves up before you have children so that you're not left high-and-dry should the unthinkable happen. Looking after your children and home is a full-time occupation if you're doing it properly and should be recognized as such. It has great value to the family unit and to society. It's just not right that people should feel vulnerable if they choose to have a parent stay at home. Oh, I don't know what the answer is...does anyone?

I'm having a very large glass of wine (had to open a bottle for a recipe wink) on an empty stomach and starting to feel a bit fuzzy so will try to post more succinctly later. My children are in the playroom right now pretending to be groundhogs in their tent and they keep popping out and yelling "Alan! Alan! Alan!" grin.

Leafmould Tue 18-Dec-12 00:09:06

Rosebud....you talk a lot of sense, it's easier to manage if your job is >min wage. It will be interesting to see how the universal credit works out when it replaces tax credit though. Will there be the child care support for the 'strivers'? Like there has been.

I think the tax credit situation has been that 70% of your child are costs were paid if you had 1 partner working min wage full time, and the other working min wage 16 hpw.

More hours than that and your wages were too muchto get the full 70%.

I am quite lucky that although my wages are shite, I have zero prospects of promotion and I've been on a lengthy pay freeze, I am committed to my job for more than just the wages. And it's possible to do it part time, so I am keeping my skills up to date whilst still being able to Hoover the house and make the economical stew on my day off.

Leafmould Tue 18-Dec-12 00:18:08

Srircha girl

I wish I had had my head screwed on that well before I had kids!

I am extremely lucky that my dp is salt of the earth. Lucky. I could easily have ended up with someone totally flaky. And I had no idea about child care costs when I had 2 close together, about the importance of keeping myself employable, whilst looking after my family.

I don't think it's fundamentally right for one parent to stay at home . . It's right for both parents to stay home a bit and work a bit. Say both parents do a 20 hour week, or when one gets laid off the other increases their hours to make up for it in the time it takes for another job to be found.

Actually I don't like what I have just written, we shouldn't have to respond to an economic environment where we get laid off like worthless consumables.

SomersetONeil Tue 18-Dec-12 03:39:37

Well, nothing is fundamentally right; beyond what is right for you as an individual and you as a family unit.

I think this is the perennial problem. You can't make a pronouncement and expect it to work for everyone. One size doesn't fit all and never, ever will. And nowhere is this more glaringly apparent than in a capitalist, patriarchal society when it comes to raising happy children.

Something needs to be done though, to provide safeguards for SAHPs, and to make the occupation more esteemable in the eyes of society.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Tue 18-Dec-12 03:52:38

I think "the team is as strong as it's weakest member" is the crux of it. If everyone does what they are supposed to be doing for the common good then WOHP/SAHP teams work. It's actually far more efficient for every team member to play to their strengths than for both team members to split every single task equally. Therefore if one person earns £100k and one person earns the minimum wage and wants to be a SAHP, it really doesn't make sense to send the SAHP to work and pay a nanny or for both parents to work part time.

However, as I said, it depends on the team achieving the following

1. Sticking together and not splitting when things get tough
2. Genuinely seeing it as a team effort- pooled finances, equal time off etc
3. Having attributes that complement one another

That's why marriage partners should be assessed on the same criteria as business partners, but sadly, very few are

catgirl1976geesealaying Tue 18-Dec-12 06:22:37

Just to point out

We bin CVs from anyone who has been out of work for a while, not just SAHPs. Plus recent graduates (must have had 2+ years relevant experience post graduating)

It's still shitty though sad

rosabud Tue 18-Dec-12 07:38:50

I don't want to get into the childcare v SAHParenting debate about what is best for children and I don't think either one of those choices is bad for children so if parents want to choose the SAHP method then they should be able to do so without fear of being thought of as "inferior," just as parents with small children who work should not be made to feel any particular way. I agree with the posters who say that partners should be chosen very carefully - oh to have had a Phd in Hindsight.

However, the arguments for parents choosing not to become SAHPs are centred around economics and, as sirrachgirl says, fear and mistrust. So we are allowing parents to lose a choice over how their children are cared for because SAHPs are not valued economically or not looked after economically. We are also advising people not to be SAHPs because the system is flawed and, if divorce occurs, you will be penalised, rather than saying, we need to change things so that SAHPs are not penalised on divorce. Since when did feminism fall into the trap of arguing against something because it doesn't fit into the mould created by the patriarchy? Particularly since, as many have sadly noted here, due to the economic set up of our patriarchal scoiety, the vast majority of families will find SAHPing inevitable.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 18-Dec-12 07:39:44

Catgirl, I think your employers are on much shakier ground binning CVs from women with children but not from men with children; DH and I split time off when the kids are sick and I know a number of other professional women in financial services who do the same. Surely women with kids in your line of work tend to be more likely to have this kind of set up, given the salary levels?

catgirl1976geesealaying Tue 18-Dec-12 07:46:45

It's anyone who has been out of work for a while

DH is SAHD and they would bin his CV idiots

But they are pretty sexist about who will need time off for dependents, even though they can see from me that it isn't always the woman

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 18-Dec-12 07:57:35

It's that kind of thing that makes me worried about moving jobs sad

EweBrokeMyManger Tue 18-Dec-12 08:03:37

I just cant see how being a sahm with no financial independence is that feminist an option. And thats not because i dont value it, of course it is valuable.

HoleyGhost Tue 18-Dec-12 08:17:35

I don't think it is possible for being a SAHM to not be a risky option. Why should people on minimum wage have to subsidise that lifestyle choice in the event of divorce, death, redundancy, ill health....? For divorce, one income can rarely support two households in the way they have been used to living. These risks should be discussed at pre-marriage courses and antenatal courses so families are aware, and do what they can to protect themselves.

bigkidsdidit Tue 18-Dec-12 08:19:37


No-one is saying staying at home isn't a great thing to do. Just that it can, often, leave women in a very vulnerable position and set them up for an extremely impoverished retirement if something happens - not just divorce but death, illness of the man etc. we need to sort these issues out do that women can stay at home of they wish, without taking on all the risks while the man takes none

TheSecondComing Tue 18-Dec-12 09:46:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RillaBlythe Tue 18-Dec-12 12:26:31

really interesting thread. I haven't read the original thread, bar the OP which I totally agreed with.

I got pregnant with DD1 unplanned when I was 24, I was starting a masters & DP was starting a graduate medicine course. I finished my MA & have stayed at home ever since... which has left me in the pretty position of being 29 & basically in the position of a recent graduate, except with a 4 year gap on my CV. DP is now a doctor. I really, really regret making the choices I made then, but at the same time it was/is important to me to have been at home in the early years.

Being 29, I am now the age where my friends are considering having children & I sound like a maniac anti-SAHM when I go on at them about not giving up work. But I think it is a massive mistake.

garlicbaubles Tue 18-Dec-12 14:37:45

Rosabud - yes, everything you said at 07:38. I'm asking whether we can consider the problem(s) from a pragmatic, feminist point of view without stumbling at the first "It's not fair!" so to speak.

I've posted a few things I think might work, or help, admittedly in a fairly pessimistic frame of mind (!) Others have also posted theirs. My chief concern is retrograde thinking, which I feel is becoming more prevalent and which leaves women exposed. I would really love this forum to be able to move towards concrete, realistic proposals that could help parents protect their financial security in a variety of circumstances.

Sorry, posting in a rush and I could simply have asked "What are your ideas?"

Leafmould Tue 18-Dec-12 15:37:53

Garlic bauble, I admire your intention. I will try. But I have more questions!

widowWadman if maternity leave is for 3 years in Germany, does that mean that your job is open for you to return up til then?

That sounds like it might support those who have struggled to find child care or leave our very young families. Does it work like that in practice?

It doesn't solve the problems of the sahm who have not got any significant work experience before starting their families though.

GalaxyDisaStar Tue 18-Dec-12 16:27:33

I spent 10+ years working in employment law, but am currently (as of reasonably recently) a SAHM. My experience is that Catgirls description is very apt for her industry. City firms, particularly trading and banking, live in another century. It's not that representative of other employers though. They likely to be worried by long periods out of work, but more accepting of qualifications, temp jobs, volunteering as recent experience to get back into work.

I think one of the hardest things for women looking to get back into work is the lack of easily available wrap around care. I am thinking about returning to work after a couple of years at home and I just have no idea how you deal with getting back into a job with school age children. Babies were easy - I had a nanny. School covers such a small part of the day. And such a small part of the year.

Leafmould Tue 18-Dec-12 16:37:08

Galaxy. . .it is a challenge. Many people round here choose schools on the basis of the after school clubs available, or which school a local child minder does pick ups from. I have found a child minder worked for me for school pickups and Wes relatively inexpensive.

Further up thread we noticed how the German school day is from 8-2. And in Italy they have a summer holiday of nearly 3 months.

fraktion Tue 18-Dec-12 16:42:43

In France school starts at 3 and must have garderies. Plus there are options for school holiday.

Maternity leave is fairly terrible though (4 months) Andretti is an expectation in many social circles that you will give up work. Some women in my circle of friends don't have their own money at all. That scares me shitless, even more do since DS arrived. I need to know that I can provide for him if (heaven forbid) anything happened to DH or we split.

fraktion Tue 18-Dec-12 16:43:34

Sorry most rather than must re: garderie

WidowWadman Tue 18-Dec-12 18:49:51

Leafmould "widowWadman if maternity leave is for 3 years in Germany, does that mean that your job is open for you to return up til then?"

Yep, that's the case. If it's twins, up to 5 years. Plus you can (with your employer's agreement) work up to 30 hours a week for your employer or anybody else without losing that right. I'm not sure though how long you're protected from being sacked after your return.

Viviennemary Tue 18-Dec-12 19:12:13

The whole business has to be thought through. A woman has a husband who has a very good job. Or the other way round. Or they both have very good jobs. They decide that one person stays at home. Then one partner wishes to split up. Why should the working person support the other adult.

Leafmould Tue 18-Dec-12 20:29:16

Widow, that sounds great.

I have been thinking this through, and I think that only a limited amount of progress can be made on securing the status of SAHP while such massive inequalities exist within society.

While there are haves and have nots, men and women will use the power of having over those who haven't. We can create a tax credit system which does allow low waged parents to maintain their financial independence. We can create a more generous package of maternity rights as in Germany, we can develop child care so that more parents have access to it, but there will still be families where the wage earner has power over the SAHP.

EweBrokeMyManger Tue 18-Dec-12 20:29:16

Galaxy it isnt just city firms. I find it hard to employ people returning to work just because there are so many young graduates desperate for jobs and completely overqualified. I work in the media.

Leafmould Tue 18-Dec-12 21:15:51


So these great maternity rules in Germany are coincidental with even greater levels of resentment between WOHM and SAHM?

GalaxyDisaStar Tue 18-Dec-12 21:34:20

Ewe - But that isn't quite the same. Catgirls was describing routine binning of the CVs of people returning to work. Isn't what you are describing more just a very competitive labour market - and of course a very youth orientated sector. I haven't done a lot with media companies, but I did now a lot of advertising ones and that was a similar set up.

I have heard bad things about the German maternity leave rules actually in terms of them discouraging female participation in the labour market. It means that employers are very loath to employ women of child bearing age. What business can easily cope with someone gone for five years? And they only get about three months of paid leave. Combined with the whole 'raven mother' thing, people I've known who worked in Germany found it very, very hard.

Is it Sweden which has very strong maternity and parental laws, but the vast majority of women work in the public sector? I think it is a difficult balancing act. Allowing very long periods out of the workplace can actually work against women. It can actually force them out of the private sector and mostly into the public, creating workplace segregation and further ingrained sexism. And, of course, in most of these jurisdictions, even if leave can be shared, it is mostly women who take it. Or at least who take the majority of it.

WidowWadman Tue 18-Dec-12 21:41:43

Galaxy paid leave is between 12 and a total 14 months at 2/3 of last pay (capped at a certain level) if leave is shared between parents. 12 months if only the mother takes it, 14 if the father takes at least 2 months, too. - They can be taken consecutively or at the same time.

I quite like this model which encourages sharing of paternity/maternity leave however in reality it's still the single earner daddy model that is held in higher regard.

I think the long leave (3 years is when traditionally nursery education starts, and nursery hours are not designed to enable normal working hours) is counterproductive, and having this right to 3 years leave long increases the pressure to take it.

All in all I'm glad to be raising my children in the UK rather than over there.

GalaxyDisaStar Tue 18-Dec-12 21:50:50

Ah yes, sorry, it's four months at full pay isn't it. I'm getting my jurisdictions in a muddle. Which one is four months. Netherlands? Spain?

<heads off to Google>

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Thu 20-Dec-12 01:02:19

Pretty much the entire economic system we have now (of most people being in paid employment not just outside the home but some distance from the home) is dependent on the unpaid labour of a designated class of servants who do all the domestic work and care for all those unable to care for themselves. This class has historically been known as 'women'. And the economic model only works properly when the servant class knows its place and expects nothing but its keep.

kickassangel Thu 20-Dec-12 02:16:26

I think the answer lies in people somehow stepping up to their responsibilities when becoming a parent.

It is just way too easy for one parent (and it is usually the man, though not always) to walk away. The courts may catch up with them eventually, but there are ways around the system.

I wish it was possible to force people to be responsible for 50% of EVERYTHING that a child needs. Whatever the relationship between the parents, once a child is born, EACH of the adults should have to provided 50%. Married couples may reach an agreement that they will trade, ie, if you work x number of hours outside the house, I will look after the child in return for the financial equivalent.

Then if something happens, both parents know their responsibilities and their rights.

Sadly, illness/unemployment/death/special needs children etc are far more 'normal' than most people believe. The number of families who just assume that they will have healthy kids, never become unemployed or too ill to work etc. I know how hard it is, but every adult really should be thinking ahead - putting money into savings, pensions etc. I do think that having welfare has made people a little blase about the possible long term effects of some of their decisions. Look at how angry people are at the idea of working beyond the age of 60. People see it as a right to retire and have a pension, when really it's not.

Having children is expensive, living is expensive, and every adult should be prepared for that.

autumnlights12 Thu 20-Dec-12 19:15:35

I thought I'd found the feminist chat forum and then read comments about sahm's having a 'childlike attitude to money' being 'naive' and that it's 'not feminist' to be a sahm.
I'll go and have another look for the feminist forum. Because it isn't here.
Unless the word 'feminism' is being very loosely interpreted here.
(but thanks to Scircha and thanks to Rosabud for the most sensible paragraph in the discussion:

However, the arguments for parents choosing not to become SAHPs are centred around economics and, as sirrachgirl says, fear and mistrust. So we are allowing parents to lose a choice over how their children are cared for because SAHPs are not valued economically or not looked after economically. We are also advising people not to be SAHPs because the system is flawed and, if divorce occurs, you will be penalised, rather than saying, we need to change things so that SAHPs are not penalised on divorce. Since when did feminism fall into the trap of arguing against something because it doesn't fit into the mould created by the patriarchy? Particularly since, as many have sadly noted here, due to the economic set up of our patriarchal scoiety, the vast majority of families will find SAHPing inevitable

Leafmould Thu 20-Dec-12 19:53:06

autumn lights I am also a little disappointed in this thread. I think I have identified a major brick wall we are hitting in the debate when I talked earlier about wider inequalities. Nobody has made any further comment on it. I think I need to step away from mums net, as too often I try to respond intelligently to issues arising, and there is no response. I am not finding this forum very engaging. Does anyone know of a better one?

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 20:04:33

I think there are huge brick walls all over this particular subject. That is the reason I chose to start a thread on this board instead of plugging away on the other one and getting into basic rows about a woman's role.

we need to change things so that SAHPs are not penalised on divorce
due to the economic set up of our patriarchal scoiety, the vast majority of families will find SAHPing inevitable

Yes and yes.

Some people have posted ideas; some are chewing around the issues. Why not post yours?

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 20:09:13

If you're looking for something meatier, Leafmould, you could try
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/feminist_activism or
Or another of the threads on this board, or start one!

HoleyGhost Thu 20-Dec-12 20:13:06

^ retty much the entire economic system we have now (of most people being in paid employment not just outside the home but some distance from the home) is dependent on the unpaid labour of a designated class of servants who do all the domestic work and care for all those unable to care for themselves.^

Some of that is choice. Most people I know moved to commuterville shortly before or after the birth of their first child. That choice makes it v. hard not to have a SAHP.

Viviennemary Thu 20-Dec-12 20:17:32

The problem is this I think. Agree with me or not. Years ago when it was a lot more usual to be a SAHM divorce and separation was much less common. I think the rise in divorce rates has made the SAHM's position far less financially secure.

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 20:30:45

Vivienne, divorce and separation were close to economically impossible for women! Divorce rates have risen (almost certainly) because women can initiate divorce and stand a chance of economic survival. Rather than wanting to lock them back into financial dependence, I'd like to see further changes that gave both parents equal opportunities for financial security - and for family involvement.

Suggestions that have been made include enforced payment of the SAHP by the WOHP, and enforced parental leave for both sexes. There have been others.

My own feeling is that, until employers are compelled to embrace properly flexible working - that is, to value the family responsibilities of both women and men - the patriarchal economy will continue to leave women in a precarious position. If this couldn't be done with legislation, it could be achieved by armies of couples demanding it. My question now would be: What would incentivise that demand?

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 20:33:12

Yep, Holey - was it you who referred to friends who've stayed in 1-bed flats in town, rather than move out?

So many value judgements to be made when having children ... !

EweBrokeMyManger Thu 20-Dec-12 20:35:30

I wont apologise for thinking that it is not feminist to rely financially on a man. You need to be an equal partner in all ways. By all means care for your children yourself if you have a secure job to go back to eventually that you can pick up where you left off or if you have independent means. Ie you have been working in a very well paid job before hand and have built up equity. But being financially dependant on a man for years and years was never going to be the most feminist option.

And yes it is a personal opinion but its something I couldnt stomach.

pourmeanotherglass Thu 20-Dec-12 20:36:02

I never wanted to be a a SAHM (Not that it was ever an option, as I'm the main wage earner).
My mum was a stay at home mum. Financial independence was never an issue (they share a bank account, and are still very much in love), but I felt she was too emotionally dependent on us 3 children, especially when we were teenagers and wanting to break away a little. I didn't want to feel I was dependent on my children for company.
She left work after her first child, had 2 close together, then just when she might have thought about going back (we were 10 and 8) she got pregnant again. So she ended up not working at all, after she left work in her early twenties. This is not something I would have wanted for myself, so would not have risked leaving work.
DH and I decided to both work part time instead. However, I've noticed a difference in attitude about this in the workplace. DH is in a male envirinment and is the only part timer, and it seems that he is not taken seriously for development opportunities etc. I'm in an environment (the NHS) where they are more used to part time workers, and I don't feel that going part time has held me back from taking on gradually more responsibility. I have also gradually been able to increase my hours, while DH has been told there is no opportunity for this.
I think what is needed is:-
a change of attitude towards men who choose to either go part time or spend some time at home
Support in divorce settlements for parents who have given up work to support their partner and children
The workplace not to have this attitude of 'binning CVs from SAHMs' - seems a bit short sighted, as most mums/dads only take a small number of years out, and still have a lot of years of working life left after the children have started school.
But until this happens, giving up work is a little bit of a risk. However we all take all kinds of calculated risks in life, and many of them pay off.

autumnlights12 Thu 20-Dec-12 21:17:49

but what makes one person happy might not make another person happy. You say your Mum and Dad are still in love and share finances, so presumably it all worked out fine in the end? Just as you might not want to be a sahm, there are women who don't want to work and leave their baby/child/ older dc with a nursery/childminder/holiday club. And that will forever be the case until the end of time. Despite governments trying to entice Mothers out to work, there will always be women who prefer to stay at home with their children. It's as valid a choice as working. It's absolutely anti feminist to suggest otherwise.

autumnlights12 Thu 20-Dec-12 21:26:06

also, your Mum's experience mirrored my own. I had 2 dc's close together then a large 9 year gap and the arrival of our wonderful dd3 conceived whilst correctly using a very reliable method of contraception. I know two women who terminated unexpected third pregnancies because they'd returned to work. Life can't always be planned like a military operation. To suggest that wanting to be or becoming a sahm is somehow childish or irresponsible is an affront to women and Mothers.

pourmeanotherglass Thu 20-Dec-12 21:52:17

I never said staying at home was childish or irresponsible - just that there is a little bit of a risk - but we all take calculated risks all the time. Sometimes we feel that the benefits out-weigh the risks.
I didn't want to take that risk because I had seen what can happen. Other people may feel the opposite - maybe my daughters will decide they didn't have enough time at home with me and they would rather not work when they have their own children.

pourmeanotherglass Thu 20-Dec-12 21:56:09

If anything, I think we as a society should make it easier for both men and women to take a little bit of time out, or a little bit of time working part time, without it affecting their future prospects. I thought I had said that in my first post.
I don't know if I'm a feminist or not - I've never really known what the word means. I believe in equal opportunities for all.

kickassangel Thu 20-Dec-12 22:20:45

The problem is that this is absolutely where the economic demands of a capitalist society clash with the emotional and time demands of the individual. There is no way that everyone can earn enough money to work and pay for childcare. There will always be a significant number of people who earn too little to cover the cost.

Also, there will always be a number of people who need extra support due to ill health unemployment or caring for others (children with extra needs, elderly, just having the kids on school holidays).
A truly capitalist society would do nothing for those people but would just leave them to work out a way to work or starve. Capitalism also benefits from a large number of dispensable workers, those who can step in when demand rises but can be cut off when demand drops. Think of all the people who do Christmas or summer jobs.

The way that capitalism works just does not take into account what family groups need to function effectively.

We can't just do away with capitalism nor can we ignore the needs if families, so at best any policies are an attempt to bridge the gap between the two needs. Sahp can be immensely useful to be capitalism and families BUT they are an extremely vulnerable part is society as the capitalist economy has very little incentive to reward them, so the pressure is on the family to support them. The moment that the family hits a problem, the SAHP is in trouble. Fortunately we have just enough socialism within our society to provide a safety net. However, the working partner, ie the bigger contributor to capitalism, is still the one with the least risks and greatest financial rewards with the lesser financial responsibility.

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Thu 20-Dec-12 23:05:16

The whole concept and structure of 'employment' depends on having a separate class of people to do all the rest of the 'work' that is unwaged but necessary. It's not just about parenthood: the elderly need care and there are always going to be some adults who are unable to care for themselves (SN, MH issues, chronic health conditions etc). While there were many, many problems with the farm/village social models, one thing that did sort of work was people living and working in the same place; the DC just joining in with the family business as soon as they got big enough, and the parents being therewhether it was everyone tending the plants in the field or the DC of the blacksmith/baker/woo-peddler/basket-weaver being in the family premises.

Now we have an employment culture, but the one thing that would make it work without having to designate a domestic slave class and trap its members in poverty and dependency would be affordable childcare that's available 24/7. So a parent could take an evening job and yet be around for the DC in the daytime, for instance.

autumnlights12 Thu 20-Dec-12 23:13:41

But I don't want to work in the evenings in what would undoubtedly be a minimum wage job, after a full day looking after my dc's. I want to rest in the evening. And strangely, I don't consider looking after my children 'domestic slavery'. How depressing. How medieval.

autumnlights12 Thu 20-Dec-12 23:20:06

and why the hell should 24/7 childcare offer the best solution? It still needs to be paid for. Someone has to look after the kids whether Mum, Dad or both do it, or if the childcare is subcontracted out elsewhere.

FamilyGuy22 Thu 20-Dec-12 23:42:19

For us my wife wanted nothing more than to stay at home and be the major carer but continued to work PT. I am the breadwinner by a long chalk but we pool our finances. She has equal (and unquestioned) control over everything and we share as much of the housework as is practicable.

IMHO the imbalance in finance is an irrelevance as 'we' decided to start a family. However, we have done everything possible to ensure the financial stability of my family, should I pass unexpectedly or we ever part company (in terms of savings/trusts/property etc).

As I have girls it is imperative that they see equality in the home so that they grow up with that as a norm. I am only one of two dads that have this attitude although my mate does not pool finances.

Otherwise the outlook is pretty bleak and I am openly critical of my other mates, at least 5 of which, who treat their wives like s#it. Many still give their wives a pittiful allowance, do no houswork, cooking and have never fed kids or changed a nappy. In this respect I despair for my own girls, who I hope will find the right man that doesn't take the complete pi$$.

I don't know what can be done TBH other than change male attitudes (I never thought I'd say such an obvious thing on a feminist board lol). Some men 'squirrel' money away secretly in fear of giving it all up, should the s#it hit the fan (a lot of men are genuinely scared of being taken to the cleaners upon divorce). Perhaps a mandatory split (in a similar way that I run my finances) would ensure that both parties save and accumulate wealth equally throughout the relationship.

I'm not sure about the work thing. I thought the gov were moving toward more flexibility for both but this remains to be seen.

Although my wife is working I have mentioned additional training if she wants to pursue an alternative career when she decides to go back to FT. Perhaps offering SAHP greater training opportunities/refresher courses etc. would enable parents to go back to work more easily.

Sadly there is always going to be a risk, unless both parents work but IMHO it is necessary to have a major carer, whether father or mother. Personally i think the benefits of having one parent at home outweighs the risks of splitting up but that's my opinion.

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 12:40:05

Very interesting, FG2! Thanks. Are you saying you run your family finances in such a way the both DW and you have your 'own' money as well as investments, etc? It seems wise.

I lived for a while in one of the poorer states of Brazil. The social setup was different from Britain in too many ways to describe here, but one aspect of it seems relevant to the thread. Marriages were pretty unstable on the whole; men often went around creating families irresponsibly. The parents of girls made it an extremely high priority to buy their daughters a house. This was to ensure that they, and their children, would have a roof over their heads when the father inevitably abandoned them or died (also a high risk.) There was some disapproval of this policy, in that women's greater competence independence might encourage the men to be feckless. I've seen similar debates in Jamaica.

FamilyGuy22 Fri 21-Dec-12 13:39:18


Not exactly. I ensure we both have identical ISAs in which an even amount goes in every year. I'm possibly anal about it but neither saves more than the other.

Otherwise we just have a joint bank account. All of our money goes in and she can do what she likes with it. Marriage is about trust/mutual respect and so neither of us takes the mick. I never question unless we're looking a bit tight and I need to ensure there's enough for an impending purchase. I think I earn about 15x what she does (not boasting btw) so it is imperative that she does not feel inferior for her contribution. It's important for me that she doesn't 'feel' but 'knows' she is an equal in terms of finance/chores/childcare. There may be better ways but it's the best we know at present.

kickassangel Fri 21-Dec-12 20:07:55

That sounds very reasonable but I suspect that it is rare. It also sounds like you both respect the boundaries and each other.

I know one couple where she works two jobs and he still earns quite a bit more than her. He laughs cos she takes her own lunch to work and he buys his own every day. It is her that refuses to merge finances cos he spends more than he earns and is at least $10k in debt on credit card.

It's a good thing that they don't want kids as I can see that being a disaster waiting to happen.

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