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What do we think of this?

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

I'm really conflicted about stuff like this

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

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

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

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

These days though:

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

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

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

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

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

Its such a messed up situation all round. sad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It is valued, just not paid for"

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

"Who would pay?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why would sahm need child are?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But that's not the case is it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They want smaller families.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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