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To find this very uncomfortable?

(173 Posts)
CathyandHeathcliff Sun 19-Jan-20 09:24:52

Did anyone else see the BBC coverage about being a ‘tradwife’?

Basically it includes submitting to your husband and being the homemaker, with no other role. The traditional housewife and spoiling your husband like it’s 1959.

I was very uncomfortable watching it, partly because I realised it’s my 60 year old mother.
She never went back to work when she had me 30 years ago, then went on to have my brother.
She has a small amount of savings, but zero income. She relies on my dad entirely. They have the traditional role and always have done, my father worked 9-5 all week (and longer) and my mother stayed at home and looked after the home and us. Even when we went to school she continued to stay at home.
She now has no friends she’s in contact with, does basically everything with my dad or brother (who still lives at home) and continues to ‘look after them’. My dad and brother do none of their own washing or ironing. She makes all the meals and does all the cleaning and always has done.
She doesn’t drive so she relies completely on my dad. It really worries me, as she has no concept of paying bills or online banking, she’s never paid a bill in her life or had to deal with anything financial. She has only just learnt how to use a cash point.
I’m really worried if something happens to my dad.
She also has zero skill set, except for some office work 30 years ago...she hasn’t even done any volunteering or anything in the meantime, although I keep mentioning it.
Even when they were financially struggling when we were kids (they’re very comfortable now) my mum didn’t go out and get a job and my dad ended up working two jobs.

Anyway, just wondered your thoughts and I guess I feel really uncomfortable about it, as it’s essentially my childhood and my ‘
parent’s life beyond that.

Bluntness100 Sun 19-Jan-20 09:27:51

This is nothing to do with age. Both my grandmothers worked in the family businesses and did the financial stuff. My friends parents, older than your mother also worked, and one is even a pilot.

It's about who they are. Plenty of younger women like it still. This is what your mother has chosen to do. Is she happy enough? Not knowing stuff now doesn't mean she is t capable of learning if it came to it.

Doggodogington Sun 19-Jan-20 09:29:28

Yeah that’s my mother too, except that she did have jobs but they obviously weren’t as important as my fathers (the breadwinner). So she had to do all the cleaning and cooking and “wife work” whilst also working 3 jobs, cleaning houses, working as a school kitchen assistant and behind the bar on the weekend. Obviously those jobs weren’t proper jobs hmm

TestingTestingWonTooFree Sun 19-Jan-20 09:29:56

I think it’s risky to be so dependent for both of them. How would either of them cope without the other?

FudgeBrownie2019 Sun 19-Jan-20 09:31:52

YANBU to watch and realise that it's not the life you'd accept or tolerate. YANBU to want more for yourself. Unfortunately you can't change the dynamic between your parents, nor how your Mum chooses to spend her life.

I know a woman my age (mid thirties) who lives a similar life and it's not the life I'd choose but it's the one she's chosen, awful as it sounds.

andyjusthangingaround Sun 19-Jan-20 09:31:54

OP, it might be their choice. Alena, the lady from the program, seemed absolutely happy with this choice.
I am not saying it is for everyone (certainly not my choice!), however it seems to work for some.

Fairenuff Sun 19-Jan-20 09:32:29

MIL was like this. Now that FIL is no longer with us she can't do anything for herself. She can make a telephone call, and send an email but that's it.

FreedomfromPE Sun 19-Jan-20 09:32:42

It's of concern as there is no safety net. If you raise the children you don't count as unemployed, you're not paying towards national insurance and you stop being eligible for things. If your partner dies with only a small pot you've got nothing. There's no recognition for time spent raising children as being of any input to society so no access to benefits etc until you've had a job.

deadliestlampshade Sun 19-Jan-20 09:35:04

Definitely not an age thing. My mum is over 70 and worked since I was 5 eventually becoming a company MD.

Your mum’s life seems a pretty small existence but the only thing that matters is if she’s happy or not

Retroflex Sun 19-Jan-20 09:40:36

I've not watched the show you're referencing, but I think it really comes down to the people involved.

My mum gave up her career when she had me (I'm the eldest), and it was expected that she would become the dutiful housewife. However when our situation changed and we were no longer living with my father, she went back to work, returned to education as a mature student, etc.

I don't think I'd be worried for your mum, if she is happy with her life the way it is, then that's great, and she doesn't need to volunteer, even if you think it's a good idea. You'll be surprised at how well people cope and adapt when they have no choice too...

ColdTattyWaitingForSummer Sun 19-Jan-20 09:40:49

I think it’s a little unusual for your parents generation, but would be true of my grandparents (so those born around a century ago). I guess though, although my mum is quite capable with a wide circle of friends, and my dad was always very hands on with me and the house, my mum never returned to full time work after I was born (in the early 80’s).

HollysBush Sun 19-Jan-20 09:47:07

What’s your AIBU? To be uncomfortable about you parents lifestyle or the BBC video?

SimonJT Sun 19-Jan-20 09:54:59

I saw it online, they’re happy, so fine in that sense.

But I do worry about what it teaches children who are brought up in homes like this, will daughters in these households have reduced career opportunities due to not having a positive influence from their mums, will they copy mums behaviours in their own relationship. Will sons expect their own partners to do anything because his mum did etc. That’s the part that really concerns me.

Nanny0gg Sun 19-Jan-20 10:01:24

But I do worry about what it teaches children who are brought up in homes like this, will daughters in these households have reduced career opportunities due to not having a positive influence from their mums, will they copy mums behaviours in their own relationship. Will sons expect their own partners to do anything because his mum did etc. That’s the part that really concerns me.

I'm late 60s. That was my mother's life (except she did have friends). She didn't have access to a bank account. In the end, my father, who only used cash, made sure there was some available should he drop dead suddenly. He never kept her short of 'housekerping' though and she could spend what she liked.

Didn't affect my attitude to life though. I loved work and was ambitious. My DH has always been a hands on father and equal as far as household duties.

WanderingMilly Sun 19-Jan-20 10:18:55

Oh dear, this raises all sorts of issues with me. The 'tradwife' was my mother, that's exactly what she was. Married my father, never went to work again. Relied on him all her life, never learned to drive, did everything in the home.
She adored her husband until the day he died (and beyond). It was a happy marriage because my father loved her in return and never abused his position. However, it left my mother empty and sad in the end....her children grew up and left home, my father died, she had very few friends and her 'reason for being' was no longer there.

When I first married I had no other role model really except my family and started off doing the same. My husband (now ex!) didn't like the fact that I worked when we were first married and once I had children I never returned, despite being educated to degree level.
But as I grew older I saw what it had done to my mother, and I began to change. I felt trapped at home and had to start at the beginning, by firstly learning to drive, then going back to re-educate myself (the working world had moved on while my children were growing up) and then getting jobs. All the while my husband wasn't happy....and still never did anything around the house.

Eventually it destroyed our marriage. I was proud of what I had done...I had moved on from being rather naïve, innocent and boringly-stay-at-home to being an independent working woman, paying my way and having views and opinions of my own, based on reality of being in the world outside of the home.
My husband said I "wasn't the woman he'd married" and we divorced eventually. I once said to him that he'd never ever supported me and he looked surprised and said "But I let you do what you wanted, even though I didn't agree with it"....he thought that was support!

I have never looked back....

Bluntness100 Sun 19-Jan-20 10:27:58

I think it's a valid point about how your dad would cope?

In my experience men who have been taken care of all their lives struggle to adapt to living independently. Cooking, eating, laundry, etc and although they do it, often they don't do it well and can resort to a fairly miserable life. Age is big part of this, so it's particularly more with elderly men.

For your mother it really isn't a big deal if she has money. Everything set up via direct debit, it's not hard. If she has little pension though there could be issues there.

You just have to stay on here for awhile and you realise that there are many women who are stay at home mums, who jack it all in, often without the protection of marriage, or not married to particularly affluent men, and not paying into pensions, some don't even get involved in the finances. So the same as your mother, but going to struggle when older if something happened to the man.

Sugarplumfairy65 Sun 19-Jan-20 10:32:32

When I had my first child 38 years ago, 10 months after getting married, I was under enormous pressure from my exh and family to give up my career a become a housewife. I lived in a mining community in Yorkshire where once children came along, it was the wife's place to stay at home with them whilst the husband worked and provided for them. A little part time job was acceptable once the children were at school. This all changed during the miners strike. The only way that families could survive was if the wife went out to work. A lot of women found their voice during that time and once the men were back at work decided that they wanted more from life than they had before. Some men were not happy with the changes, my ex included.

AJPTaylor Sun 19-Jan-20 10:34:17

I can't get judgy about that.
Your Dad has provided financially, your Mum in the house.It has worked for them. It's not a life you want, nor I.
In practice when one goes the other will find a way of coping. It's not rocket science to either work a mop nor pay a gas bill.

4amWitchingHour Sun 19-Jan-20 10:36:46

I don't agree that it'll be less of a big deal for your mum OP if your dad goes first - in practical terms a lot of the money stuff can be set up automatically (although she'll need the help to do it), but more difficult is that she'll lose the central focus in her life, which is looking after others. Can you encourage her now to get out and meet people? Join a choir, or do some volunteering? She needs a focus that's not your father.

You could share your concerns with your parents about what will happen when one of them is alone - they may or may not have been having those conversations, but it might be good to get them thinking about it. I'm worried about mine - although they don't have the division of roles that yours have, they are massively codependent and do everything together.

Oh, and tell your brother to pull his socks up and learn how to look after himself. Maybe there are more younger women who will want to be a 'tradwife' for him, but I doubt it's many...

Shinyletsbebadguys Sun 19-Jan-20 10:43:47

I agree with PP I think it is about the people not necessarily a societal overview. I do think in my dm generation there was less understood about the risks for women who were financially dependant . I do believe now we consider the risk of the marriage breakup far more.

My dm did work but the jobs were always second to df. They have a traditional role from the outside but we are Welsh and in our particular parts of Wales often the women call the shots far more on the home and this at least has led to dm having a voice.

More concerningly for my particular dm she does seem to have developed an odd learned helplessness as she has got older, 5 years ago he woman emailed and messaged left right and centre, helped procure electronic systems for her company and yesterday told me she didn't trust that you tube " thingy" but frankly I do think that's about her not her generation (she has some issues about attention seeking !)

I do think that women are at risk for being financially depndant due to traditional roles but outside of that if people are happy for those roles then its nothing to do with others. It's not for me , I would hate dependence on anyone .

My dm is well provided for if df goes financially (I mean dies....those two would not consider ever leaving...ever frankly noone else would have them) and I guarantee in her case the learned helplessness would disappear.

I also think we underestimate what people are capable of dp's mother was very much brought up as a professional house wife and whilst it hit her hard when her husband left she actually did cope and raised 4 boys , made loads of mistakes and haven't we all, and now is independent in her own way.

I do think we see the worst in my generation (I'm 40) as I've grown up in a world where it's normal to work and be independent it's easy for me to assume anything different is dangerous but there are upsides and downsides to everything and unless you consider the actual person it's not easy to make a valid generalisation

Sadiee88 Sun 19-Jan-20 10:43:59

My mum and dad did this. House was paid for when my dad hit 50. He retired at 55 so they could enjoy themselves. Sadly he passed away aged 69.
I loved having my mum home when I was little. Wish I could do it for my little girl, but I’d go mad! lol I like working, went to University etc It hasn’t held me back one bit! I think you see less of this now, seems a generation thing.

Mum is now 77 and she is fine (always was) has 2 sisters and goes out with them - and of course me, and my mother in law.

karencantobe Sun 19-Jan-20 10:44:39

It sounds like our neighbours except the woman is probably about 50. I work from home a lot and never see her going outside during the day or anyone going in, unless she goes out to empty the bins. I think being a traditional housewife is a waste. And yes it leaves you very vulnerable.

PhilSwagielka Sun 19-Jan-20 10:45:21

Is it some kind of fetish?

SerendipityJane Sun 19-Jan-20 10:46:09

It's just part of the pushback against the strides of the past 50 years. Tradwife, trans-whatevering, plus really shitty social policies are all combining to push women back into the home and back into their places.

Just wait till they take the vote away, and remove our rights to own property.

But, enough women support them (or are told to by their menfolk) to make it possible.

I just thank God my DM passed away before having to witness it.

EBearhug Sun 19-Jan-20 10:49:37

This is nothing to do with age. Both my grandmothers worked in the family businesses and did the financial stuff.

It is partly to do with age. Many professions either didn't let women in, or had marriage bars (the last one to go was a part of the civil service in 1973.) In many more jobs, while they didn't have a formal marriage bar, there were certainly expectations that women would leave, if not on marriage, then on motherhood. Having the option to carry on in a family business was a privilege not open to many women.

Of course, women always have worked, out of economic necessity, so it's also a class difference. My grandmother went back to teaching when her own children were older, which I suspect was more about intellectual stimulation; she had been to Cambridge (though before they granted women degrees.)

I know women my own age who were desperate to go back to work after having children, for their own satisfaction, or because they were on a higher salary than their husbands; others who weren't keen, but needed to for the money; and yet others who weren't keen, and whose husbands' income meant they didn't need to go back.

Turns out we're all different - but also, that it's rarely an entirely free choice. Pre-maternity salaries, costs of childcare, one career taking off and the other having to take second place, or even be an overseas trailing spouse and so on all put constraints on the decision. Being a trad wife might seem more attractive if you're in a lower paying job with little autonomy. It depends what you get out of work - money is part of it, but intellectual stimulation, human company and other factors play a part too, and whether you become a SAHM or not would depend on what you feel you would lose and gain in your own circumstances. I wouldn't be happy with being entirely financially dependent on another person, though.

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