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Do you think dc need you more/less/the same now they're secondary age?

(32 Posts)
CeliaFate Thu 13-Oct-11 11:28:28

The consensus amongst friends/family/media seems to be that if you're a sahm, you go back to work once the children are in secondary and are more independent.

I think this age is when they need you the most - not so much for practical support (although obviously that too) but for emotional guidance.

Dd has come home with friendship issues and the stakes are much higher now - her friends have gone late to classes and lied about the reason so they won't get into trouble, another friend's parents have split up acrimoniously, some start smoking etc.

I feel more needed now to talk about issues that could affect her. Also supporting homework, I've been shocked at some of the things she's being expected to do in year 7. I would have done these at a much later stage iirc!
What do you think?

mumblechum1 Thu 13-Oct-11 11:34:21

I would personally expect SAHMs to start working when their kids go to primary, not secondary tbh.

But I do know what you mean, when ds started yr7 he found it tough for the first couple of terms and it was good to be able to talk to him when he got in form school (have always worked pt so around from 3.30).

Having said that, I don't think it necessary for the mum to not go to work simply because the child needs to debrief for half an hour after scholl. There is plenty of other time to chat, while making dinner together, washing up together, in the evening and at weekends.

CeliaFate Thu 13-Oct-11 11:43:14

Don't get me wrong, I'm not having a go at parents who work - God knows, we need the money and I'm looking for work now.
The sahm bit was from my perspective - I'm needed for my (supposed) wisdom and experience now dd's in comp, in primary it was more for a cuddle and a snack! Whether you work or not is irrelevant to the question of whether you think they need you more.

mumblechum1 Thu 13-Oct-11 11:46:24

I think the answer , certainly in my experience, is that they do need you more for the first term or two while they're settling in, but then they spread their wings, they go to afterschool clubs, they're out with their friends round town at the weekend etc and they need you much less.

42day Thu 13-Oct-11 11:48:30

I think some view sahm families as being a luxury there are so many ways that a sahm makes a difference to the whole family well-being but I'm not going to debate it. It depends what is going on in life but on the whole I think a sahm/sahd is just as valuable at secondary school age and from what I have heard from friends then right up to leaving school and then going out into work/uni if they are in the same area.

snailoon Thu 13-Oct-11 11:53:28

I am a sahm also, with 2 teenagers and one younger child. I agree that older children's problems are much bigger and harder to help them with, and they also need lots of practical help with their activities. However, I think (this is what I am struggling with at the moment) they need parents with rich and interesting lives of their own, whether that means paid employment or not. The danger for me is that I could focus too much attention on my children and that puts pressure on them to somehow provide me with a life. This is just my personal experience.
I feel that young children thrive with a lot of parental attention, and my older ones need a bit more of an example of a happy, self-sufficient, fulfilled mother, who is interested in everything they do, but doesn't always have time to give them rides and help with their homework. I also feel that my children's teen years are the time when my personal struggles, (whether with depression, lack of direction, or anything else), run the risk of harming my children. As a result, the pressure is on me to deal with any problems of my own in the best possible way, because I will affect them as well as myself.

For me, the question is: am I happy and fulfilled ?(Of course, nothing's perfect.) I think I would be better off right now if I had more of a life outside my family, and that would be better for my children. You may already have your own life and not need paid employment, in which case don't worry about anyone else's opinion.

CeliaFate Thu 13-Oct-11 12:00:03

Excellent post, snailoon! I'm in danger of becoming a helicopter parent and could scupper my hobbies and interests because I'm too busy monitoring theirs.

wordfactory Thu 13-Oct-11 12:19:43

Well once DC reach this stage they are certainly more independent, their day is longer and they are able to wait for things wihtout spontaneously combusting.

Many DC are also getting themselves to and from school independently, and if that were possible for my DC, that would be somehting I would be very much advocating.

I work from home so though I do work, I am able to do everthing that SAHPs can do too. My observation is that though I like to do this, and my DC like to do this, I really don't think it absolutely necessary.

I think what would be problematic for many people returning to work, is childcare. DC are not going to want to have a CM or nanny at this age...yet can they really be left every evening and all the school holidays. This may be the issue that needs resolving through friends, family and clubs etc.

SoupDragon Thu 13-Oct-11 12:22:48

I think they need me differently.

mumblechum1 Thu 13-Oct-11 12:22:58

I absolutely agree with Snailoon, too.

Even though I have a lot of hobbies, I see my friends, I have a job and run my own business and do voluntary work as well but even so I also tend towards obsessing sometimes over the minutiae of DS's school work etc (until dh tells me to back off and leave him to it!)

I absolutely agree that children need toknow that you're there when they need you, but that you have your own interesting and fulfilling life, otherwise they'll feel too much pressure.

snailoon Thu 13-Oct-11 12:23:16

Thanks for responding. I really appreciate it!

For me, it's hard to get interested in my own life because my kids are just so much more fascinating and wonderful than I am.

gramercy Thu 13-Oct-11 13:18:34

Snailoon... you have articulated my thoughts and worries.

I have no family and no friends and have poured everything into my dcs. Now they are older I know I must give them space or else I'll turn into Timothy Lumsden's mother in "Sorry!"

However, "Get a job, you lazy-arsed middle-aged SAHM" is not that easy to do. If you have been out of the workforce for some years you are hardly going to walk into a fulfilling job straightaway. And, to return to the OP's question, a job is going to have to really pay big bucks to get me to put my dcs in childcare all summer, Easter, half terms etc etc.

Hullygully Thu 13-Oct-11 13:20:10

Less (time wise), and differently when they do.

mumblechum1 Thu 13-Oct-11 13:30:40

Gramercy, if you do some voluntary work while your children are in school it will really help to pad out your CV and show that you are willing and able to make a contribution outside your immediate family

As for childcare, I haven't paid for any since ds was 12, it's just not such an issue when they're at secondary.

cory Thu 13-Oct-11 20:27:20

They need me as much but not necessarily at the same time of day. With a 15yo you can have those really important conversations at 9 o'clock at night, can't really do that with a 5yo. Which leaves plenty of time for me to get my work done.

coffeepot Thu 13-Oct-11 20:40:09

Agree they need you differently - but just as much.
They still need support, but they also need independence, and to be treated (a little bit more) like adults. Then sometimes they need to be children again.
I think it does help for Mums to have their own life...for starters it gives a good role model, and also it helps to make the relationship a bit more mature. That's not anti SAHM - I work during school hours - my Mum was a SAHM but was a great role model during my teenage years because she was very busy helping others all the time.

twinklytroll Thu 13-Oct-11 22:17:50

Our dd has needed us as much as she has got older - in a different way.

I hope dp can be at home for her when she is at secondary. Mumble although dp does work it is reduced hours, but our decisions do not affect anyone else financially ( unless you count the fact that he pays less tax.) We don't claim any benefits - it is a self funded decision.

Kez100 Fri 14-Oct-11 04:39:03

I have been extremely fortunate in having a business (in partnership) whereby I can work the school hours. My partner always expected me ti say I wanted to go full time when they went to secondary but, no way, when I am needed now, it is pretty important! However, my DD is in year 11 and will next year travel to college. She will be working longer hours than I do, and the same as my husband. So, quite possibly, once my Ds gets there in two more years time, things might become different.

However, before more work, I have other things to fit back inti my life. Like swimming/running again.

wordfactory Fri 14-Oct-11 08:42:33

coffe you make a good point.

I know some SAHPs who are extremely active io their community, are in further education etc...but I also know quite a few who shop, go the gym, shop some more and I do sometimes think they shouldn't be wholly surprised when their DC don't want to knuckle down to anything.

Theas18 Fri 14-Oct-11 09:03:17

They need you as much but differently.

ITA with coffeepot re role models etc too. I work part time around school hours and chose my career path for this reason, but have always worked.

There is no reason a secondary child need mum home in the day- remember, even if you are not home when they get in the door they will cope and actually they are up longer in the evening too so there is plenty of time to chat.

Love that child care isn't a worry now though!

NotMostPeople Fri 14-Oct-11 09:15:26

Snailoon is right I believe. I'm a SAHM my youngest is 8 and the oldest is 12. They don't need me in the same way as they did when they were little and probably could go to an after school club. DD1 is in year 8, so the settling into secondary school phase has passed and we are all motoring along quite happily.

I am starting to feel a bit unfulfilled, I do feel that I enable everyone else to have their lives but don't actually have a purpose that is mine. Clearly I need to tackle it, but I don't think the answer lies in taking any old job (assuming I'd get one). We are fortunate in that its not essential for me to earn money, but I would like to go back to earning again. I had my own little business for a couple of years that fitted rather nicely around school hours and I loved how it gave me confidence and purpose again. Unfortunately we moved and its not something I can do any longer.

I have to admit I like being here at the end of the school day, even though there are many days where they don't particularly 'need' me other than to drive them about and cook. I have two dd's and whilst I can tell them that I once had a great career I'm not convinced that I'm the role model that I want them to have. My 25 year old self would be disgusted at me now at 40 - odd.

CeliaFate Fri 14-Oct-11 09:20:28

NMP are you sure you're not me? smile

Maryz Fri 14-Oct-11 09:25:16

Personally I think that if things are going well for them, they need you less as they get older. On the other hand if life is difficult for them, or if they have SN, or if they are just constantly in trouble at school, then they need you at home more.

For example I had expected to go back to work when ds1 hit secondary. But he started getting into a lot of trouble and I had constant meetings at the school, he was suspended on numerous occasions, he started hanging around with very questionable (and much older) kids, and eventually got involved with drugs and was expelled.

So I pretty much can't work, at least not if I want my house to stay in one piece, my younger kids to be safe and ds1 to do anything constructive in his life.

I've become a general gofer - just doing things for other people all the time, and getting all the shitty jobs no-one else wants to do, but I'm pretty much stuck with it.

I do a fair amount of voluntary work though, which helps me a lot.

HauntyMython Fri 14-Oct-11 09:26:20

Different type of need IME. Just a slightly different POV here, as I'm a stepmum. DH's DDs are 13, and I think they need us more now in some ways - homework being one of them. One DSD (they're twins) is round here a lot more, I think she's finding puberty pretty difficult, and it seems like she needs me more - perhaps because I'm closer to her age than her parents I'm more approachable, so I'm usually the one she talks to about arguments at school etc. The other DSD though is quite self-sufficient ATM and just gets on with it.

How that fits into the SAHM debate I'm not sure, though my personal view is that you should work if possible when DCs are in secondary school, but I'm not really basing that on anything other than my own plans for the future (my DCs are little).

A big YES to volunteer work - I've done lots and it definitely helped me find a job - if nothing else it certainly increased my confidence smile

NotMostPeople Fri 14-Oct-11 09:31:07

Celia - I nearly wrote that to you! I'm sure there are loads of us all hidden up and down the country, we could band together but that'd be alarmingly similar to the WI and I'm far too cool wink.

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