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Could we have a talk about perceptions of SAHP?

(317 Posts)
ISaySteadyOn Tue 20-Oct-15 17:59:43

I am a SAHM and I am growing a little tired of what I perceive to be a large amount of negativity towards SAHP in general. Now, I learned from this board that SAHMing and feminism are not mutually exclusive which is why I am posting here. Ironically, given this board's reputation, I feel less likely to be flamed if I post here.

It seems, and please tell me I am wrong, that SAHP especially SAHM are often perceived to be braindead dependent freeloaders. The oft repeated quote' Oh, I could never be a SAHP, I have to use my brain' really hurts my feelings. This is because it suggests that the things a SAHM does don't require brain power and maybe for some it doesn't.

I am someone who is struggling with learning basic housekeeping as my parents thought that sort of thing was beneath them and juggling 3 small children as well. Maybe this sort of learning uses my brain differently than my failed attempts at academia did (and that really hurt as that is what counted in my family growing up), but does that mean it has inherently less value?

I suppose I'm wondering whether SAHPing has a negative reputation because women do it or is it primarily women who do it because it has a negative reputation?

Anyway, those are my thoughts, would love to hear some others.

Thurlow Tue 20-Oct-15 18:11:11

I think you're right on both suggestions - that it both has a negative perception because mainly women do it, and the flip side of that is that less men are prepared to be the SAHP.

To talk honestly as a mother who works f/t, I can admit that sometimes when I think (not say now, MN has opened my eyes dramatically over the past few years) negative things about SAHPs, especially SAHPs of school aged children, part of it is nothing more than jealousy - in the sense that I don't have any time that is not either work, commuting or being with a preschooler. I am jealous of people who have time alone without one of those three things, even if they still have a house to run (we never have enough time for housework!)

So jealousy, I imagine, can contribute heavily to negative comments.

Also I have been guilty in the past of the "I have to use my brain" comments are regards returning to work. But that mainly stems from knowing that I am not a natural parent, I wouldn't be happy being at home all day with a preschooler. And that in turn leads to the "I need to work" comments as a sort of defence against the feeling that admitting to not being at one with being with DC 24/7 is somehow unmotherly, or even unwomanly.

To me, reading a lot of threads on SAHP v WOHP, it feels like a defensive thing from many people, somehow criticising what other people are doing as a way of making them feel better for the choices they have made.

What causes it though? I don't know. I feel like there is an ideal held up for mothers, that they should both be wonderful mothers at home who bake and cook and love doing crafts, but also should maintain a career. The whole Supermum/Having It All idea. Which I can't see is ever achievable, realistically. But something about that press/online theory of Having It All makes women defensive about their choices, maybe?

ISaySteadyOn Tue 20-Oct-15 18:47:07

Interesting what you say about having time. When DS is having his morning snooze, I always feel guilty if I do anything for myself during that time because then I am fulfilling that negative view. I think most women whether ft, pt, or sahp always feel guilty for ever putting their needs first though so yes, agree with you about the bizarre ideal that no one can live up to. What's the saying? A woman's place is in the wrong?

Mintyy Tue 20-Oct-15 18:48:11

I think the idea that any sahp positively enjoys being at home with small children all day all the time and that they are somehow "different" is a pernicious myth that needs to be excorsised. Most people who stay at home with young children have careers before they have them and will return to work at some point in their childhood.

People stay at home with their babies and toddlers for all sorts of reasons. It very often isn't a choice. When I was at hme I refused to be seen as somehow different to a woman who worked and commuted 60 hours per week just because I didn't do that at that time. The things we have in common with people are our values, beliefs, interests, politics, sense of humour, shared history, faith, outlook, etc. Having a career or temporarily not having a career surely comes very low down on that list. Therefore, you could be friends with a sahp and not suffer brain death in the process!

Elendon Tue 20-Oct-15 19:03:59

The question is why did you want to be a SAHP. We couldn't afford the nursery fees, because I would be in negative salary payment - this was over 20 years ago, and it seems that nothing much has changed.

Also, I wasn't happy with the childcare that was available to me at that time. I have to say, I dunked the eldest in the nursery and left. Again, 20 years ago. Although, I wasn't happy at that time that it was up to me to determine all of the childcare. But I had no choice. Thankfully, that little (great sex!) shit is out of my life.

You can read to your children, do crosswords, put names on furniture - table, chair, etc, meet up and socialise. A nanny might do this but it would cost you her salary starting from 25 grand per annum plus extra room/bedsit/kitchen/ensuite.

You have every economic and intellectual right to stay at home and look after your children. It's just that society doesn't recognise the input. I would say, keep your foot in the job market. Always update the CV. Never think, that being in the home means you have retired from society. Far from it!

AnnaMarlowe Tue 20-Oct-15 19:08:47

I was a SAHM for 5 years and I worked bloody hard. I also used my brain. Perhaps to a different purpose than I do now I work full time but I was far from 'brain dead'.

In my experience often people criticise others choices in order to feel validated in their own decisions.

slugseatlettuce Tue 20-Oct-15 20:42:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NeverEverAnythingEver Tue 20-Oct-15 21:37:37

I work part-time, so I'm both looked down upon by my f-t colleagues and my SAHP friends. grin

It's intellectually very fulfilling at work, but bloody hell, it's coping with DC that really drains me! But I've had a couple of wine and will come back to this when I'm coherent...

Mintyy Tue 20-Oct-15 21:38:55

But there are millions of sahms who are shit at housework! For heaven's sake. How can you bear to be so cliched?

slugseatlettuce Tue 20-Oct-15 21:46:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Shaffron Tue 20-Oct-15 21:50:56

I've been a sahm for 5 years now. I must say I love it. I ignore negative comments and I absolutely consider myself a feminist. I get tired of judgements and criticism which are usually born from insecurity and doubt (towards working or non-working mums). Probably in part stemming from sexist and patriarchal attitudes that women have internalised.

JasperDamerel Tue 20-Oct-15 21:54:07

I'm a SAHM and am shit at housework. That was fine until
the children started school because I was busy doing child stuff during the day so rarely did any then.

futureme Tue 20-Oct-15 22:01:27

I'm mostly sahm. I'm pretty rubbish at housework. I didn't sah to do housework!!!!! I sah to spend time with my kids/ doing the care with them a nursery would otherwise do.

futureme Tue 20-Oct-15 22:02:05

I'm mostly sahm. I'm pretty rubbish at housework. I didn't sah to do housework!!!!! I sah to spend time with my kids/ doing the care with them a nursery would otherwise do.

slugseatlettuce Tue 20-Oct-15 22:14:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

futureme Tue 20-Oct-15 22:19:50

That's really bizarre slug!

I think "high -performing" would be to do with nurture and care and development of the child.... I can't remember the book but there was a good book dealing with how perfectionists/ high-performers cope when faced in a role that no longer has targets/ external proof of achievement etc. It was a big leap for me. Possibly why love matters but I can't remember!

CookieDoughKid Tue 20-Oct-15 22:23:01

I'm a SAHM. Previous to that I was a senior executive in Software having worked in Silicon Valley and London for 18 years. Met Bill Gates and a few big guns over there. I am now a SAHM and have been for two years. I currently pass my time by swotting for my grade 7 piano exam, doing PIYO classes x3 a week and I make some decent pocket money doing online sports trading and arbitraging (I'm pretty good with the Maths). I'm also tuturing my two dc's to get into a super selective grammar school. Ive now delegated my property investments as it was just getting too much. I get a bit of housework done too.

I don't advertise any of that. Anyone looking at me from outside probably think I sponge off my dh watching morning TV .

I love being a SAHM as I can focus on the things that matter to me and enjoy it.

Who says

CookieDoughKid Tue 20-Oct-15 22:26:47

Being a SAHM has no value have absolutely no idea the truth. But i dont make judgements. And who cares anyway. People just jealous on both sides.

PatrickPolarBear Tue 20-Oct-15 22:29:22

I was very much in that 'SAHM = Not-A-Feminist' camp until I had children myself and moved abroad for DH's career. Due to visa issues I became a reluctant SAHM and have really really struggled with the role from a feminist POV.

On the other hand it has changed my perspective on child-rearing and how society views it. It really is a tough job that is undervalued, especially the 0-3 years.

The problem for me is with the stereotype that SAHMs are at home because they 'love kids' or just find it easy compared to men who just 'don't get' young children. Many women don't get young children either but somebody has to take care of them! I think it is insidious but there still is an expectation in society that childcare comes naturally to women abd so SAHM work is not really 'work' because women want to do it. Well, plenty of men and women like programming and some even do it as a hobby but it doesn't mean it's not real work...

Finallyonboard Tue 20-Oct-15 23:25:09

I share child care with my husband - I don't feel it should be women who have to take a back step career wise. 50-50 split was the minimum I was prepared to consider and yes, I do feel that women who do it full time are foolish. My DM gave up her career to raise children, my (D)F left her for OW. We grew up in poverty, she was sad and always felt she had been cheated and we'd visited DF in his posh house with posh cars! Then my DM died young whist my twat of a DF is onto his millionth marriage, still living the high life! I vowed, not wait, my DM made me vow that I would never ever put myself in a position where I was subordinate/ dependent on a man. I'm sorry if this view offends you - it has been the most eye opening, character defining lesson of my life.

AnnaMarlowe Tue 20-Oct-15 23:57:01

Finally I'm very sorry that you lost your Mum young.

I also tend to agree that it's not a good long term plan to be financially dependant on another person.

However it is possible to do both. I was a SAHM while my children were little and picked my career back up once they started school. Making the decision to be a SAHM doesn't have to be forever.

By the way - I work full time and I'm fantastic at housework. smile

TheDowagerCuntess Wed 21-Oct-15 05:27:34

SAHPing is a risky little game in this day and age, when relationships (thankfully) don't have to be forever.

It was more secure to be a SAH (let's face it) M a generation or so ago, when divorce was frowned upon. You could put all your eggs in one basket, and feel reasonably certain that that one person would support you financially for life (assuming they didn't get sick and/or die; so still fairly risky).

These days, it is just too risky, even putting the perceptions of it aside. I think many mothers - myself included - spend at least some time at home looking after children, and opting out of career advancement, an income, pension, etc, but it's usually just temporary.

Opting out altogether, long-term, is not something I would ever advise or encourage either of my DC to do, and it's really not so much to do with the perception of it, but the actual reality of it.

TheDowagerCuntess Wed 21-Oct-15 05:35:15

As an aside, I (naturally) don't expect DH and I to split up, but neither do I want to find myself out of the work place for a decade or more, him sick (or worse), and me trying to scabble together an income to support a family on.

CookieDoughKid Wed 21-Oct-15 07:26:41

It's not a career or nothing. You can mix SAHM and make a regular income stream at home. Just use your skills, think outside the box.

Duckdeamon Wed 21-Oct-15 07:38:07

I would try to ignore people's rude comments.

I find domestic work and childcare quite intellectually demanding - to the point that doing and thinking about it affects my paid work! -and it makes me anxious because it's Neverending!

I do have issues so few men SAH or working part time and with the fact that men with wives or partners at home have a huge advantage over other working parents of either sex. Some of the SAHMs I know talk with pride about their husband's career success (these are men who do very little in the home and spend relatively little time with their DC). I find that hard to take.

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