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Welfare Moms - Should we be supporting moms so they can stay at home with their children?

post #1 of 792
Thread Starter 

welfare_warriors.jpgBack in 2001 Mothering published the article Welfare Warriors: Honoring the Value of Motherwork about mothers who made the decision to stay at home with their children and live on welfare and other government assistance. Ten years later the financial situation for many parents is no better and perhaps even worse.


Surely we can all agree that having a parent at home during infancy, toddlerhood, and the early years of childhood is much better for the child. Yet we also know that staying at home is an extremely difficult if not impossible option for many families and particularly single moms. Should we support moms through welfare or some sort of government subsidy to ensure that all mothers - or even fathers - who wish to stay home with their children are able to do so without discrimination or financial worry?



post #2 of 792

This is a tough one for me. I ou have to attempt to answer it unbiased. Here was my situation. Backin 2006 my husband left me for another woman. I had three young boys, no car, no job andanother baby on the way. Throughour marriage t had been agreed I would be a SAHM. I was ill equipped for this unexpected turn of events. I felt very strongly about continuing to stay home with my boys. (they were 6,4,and 2) and I was home schooling as well. It took a year to get child support so i was flat broke. There also was NO government assistance where I lived besides food stamps and Medicaid. (both of which I recieved and was VERY grateful for) I started within a couple of weeks to povide home day care. I cared for two children full time. Plus occassional after school careor a few older kids. At night when my kids slept I wrote articles for a website. I had to think creativly and work aroundd the clock to make ends meet. I was back to full time child care providing 5 days after my son was born.

My opinion is, if a woman desires to be home with her child, welfare shuld bean option for the first year of the childs life. BUT during that year programs shouldbe made available for the mother to receive job training, GED prep, college prep, etc.....whatever is her idividual need so she can stand on her own two feet and provde for her children.

In 2006 my ex husband looked in my face and told me I would never be able to make it on my own when I told him I planned to continue to stay home with them. His words to me were "You will flat on your facewithin a month. Then I will take these kids from you." That lit a fire of determination within me as mother. Five years later I still have100 percent sole custody of them. This is my pride and accomplishment. But in looking back, I really wish more oppurtunities had been made available to me to make this journey a litle easier.

post #3 of 792
I would love a program like Canada's where parents have 1 year of paid maternity leave. I think something like that would be wonderful.

I also think jobs should be required to pay a livable wage to workers so that it IS possible to survive on only one income. And accordingly, that families should alter their lifestyles to make one income feasible (if they choose to live on one income). Housing needs to be affordable, and financial education needs to be a core part of school curricula so graduating students (who later become parents) can in fact survive in the real world.

Jobs that mesh well with motherhood (work-at-home positions, jobs that allow you to bring your child(ren) to work) need to be made more available and less stigmatized.

I don't believe welfare should be used in these kind of situations though... IMO 'welfare' should serve as a temporary stop-gap and involve efforts to assist in job training & acquisition, help with managing finances, etc., not as a lifestyle choice.
post #4 of 792

I've written several papers on this very topic.  It's near and dear to my heart.  love.gif


The US is one of 4 countries without paid parental leave.  It's disturbing.  We're supposedly so "progressive," but we fall so far behind in this aspect.  It tells our women that motherhood isn't worth anything when it is absolutely one of the most remarkable things we will do in life.  We are raising the future of our country!


I would love to see the US with a paid parental leave similar to Sweden's.  It's simply amazing.  Fathers are more active in their child's lives because they have the ability to spend time with them when they are young.  Mothers are able to close the wage gap and are not living dependent on their spouses. Imagine the US when women are finally worth as much as men.  It would be a remarkable place to live and raise our children.

post #5 of 792


It's really too bad that this is cast as "welfare", with all the negatives that dredges up. I get that using provocative language to inflame a polarized debate is more fun than using more rational wording to inspire a thoughtful discussion about publicly supported parental leave. It's too bad because there is a lot to talk about - how to fund it, how to organize and administer it, how long parents can access it, etc. 


I thought that there were only 2 OECD countries that did not offer a publicly funded parental leave program - the U.S.A. and Australia - until last year when Australia announced it was implementing a maternal leave program. It's pretty paltry compared to other countries, but it's a start. It leaves the U.S.A. out in the hinterland on this subject. 


A decent, well-funded parental leave program, accessible by either parent, is essential to a nation that wants to nurture a civilized society. Almost every other nation in the developed world understands that. 


Edited by ollyoxenfree - 5/25/11 at 12:24pm
post #6 of 792

I think "welfare" is such a loaded term in the U.S.  It has such negative connotations.  I do think that we should offer paid parental leave with a job return guarantee, etc.  I also thin a stipend as is done in France or other countries for mothers of young children makes sense.  But I don't expect any of these things to happen in my lifetime.  We don't have a culture of caring for the vulnerable and truly caring about children.  We see that not only in situations like WIC and maternity leave--but in how we treat children in schools and day care.  Motherhood and parenting are not valued.  Spending time with your child, nurturing that child, is not valued.  The GOP wants to reduce WIC and child insurance programs.  If they have issues with providing supplemental food to pregnant and nursing Moms and young kids--then I don't have much hope for any improvement.  WIC money isn't like food stamps--the food is chosen for its healthfulness--low fat/fat free milk, whole grain bread, fresh fruits and veggies, low-sugar cereals, etc.  It's not like WIC Mamas are buying Coca-cola on the government's dime to feed their infants.

post #7 of 792

Yes, we should give mothers enough money to be able to afford staying home with their babies through age 3 years, which correlates to the social messaging we receive that says the first 3 years are the most important. 



post #8 of 792

Considering that many jobs do not pay a living wage, and could not even cover childcare, I think that someone (not necessarily the mother) staying home with a child until school age ought to be a right.  There should also be help for job-reentry and education to help parents get better jobs, when they do return to work.


I don't see how staying home to nurture, breastfeed, educate, and generally raise your child is somehow 'lazy', but making $7.25 at McDonalds, while your kid is eating formula and stuck in gov subsidized childcare is 'right'.

post #9 of 792
I have a family member who is an economist who says that the purpose of the economy is to create jobs and opportunities for people to earn money to support themselves, and that it's the job of the government to create an environment where that happens. IMO either the government can create an environment where people can afford to feed their families and pay rent, or the government can feed people's families and pay rent. Right now, many many people don't have a lot of options. SAHM or welfare? Is it really that often a clear choice? How many people faced with that choice have the earning potential to find safe and reliable daycare plus bring home enough money to make a difference anyway?
post #10 of 792

May I ask what is the purpose of this thread?  It's been started by some person or entity called just "Mothering," as an administrator.  Is this one of those threads that's being posted on Facebook or Twitter or whatever, to drive more traffic to MDC?

post #11 of 792

I really like the author's term, "motherwork."  thumb.gif


I also thought this was very powerful...


"The experience of being regarded as a social pariah led me to become an activist. I was appalled that our society punished mothers and children for the sins of the fathers. When fathers do not support their children, it is the mothers who are labeled irresponsible and dependent! Because we care for dependent minors, we are called dependent. Because our "missing male role models" take most of the community with them, our families are labeled "broken," and our kids are called delinquent or even illegitimate. When we work for no pay, we are called lazy."


However... I think a lot has happened to encourage that fathers, even absent fathers, support their kids since the article was written.  Seems to be States

are much more active in going after deadbeat Dads, garnishing wages, etc.

post #12 of 792
The United States Government spends over $22,000 a year per inmate that we hold in incarceration. We spend 44.1 BILLION dollars paying for the War on Drugs enforcement, and over 200,000,000 rebuilding roads each year.

I hope no one begrudges me my measly six grand a year in food stamps so that I can SAH and be with my baby.
post #13 of 792

Currently, recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) must work. Single mothers must work at least 30 hours a week to receive benefits--20 hours if they have children under six. If you go to the TANF website, you'll see that one of the reasons for the program was to enable families to stay together, but the work requirements are still there.


Furthermore, the current policy with TANF is to get people into jobs first. States are limited in the number of TANF recipients who are allowed to seek education instead of working at whatever job they can get, and recipients who are allowed to seek education aren't supposed to do it for more than 12 months. See this fact sheet from the National Council of Churches: http://www.ncccusa.org/publicwitness/training.html


There is no "welfare as a lifestyle choice," because the 1996 welfare reform under Clinton limited the number of months any family can receive TANF. In the current job crisis, some families with parents who don't have good job skills have used up their TANF eligibility--this article describes people using food stamp dollars for other things, like children's shoes:



I do not see a huge danger of families going on welfare in order to subsidize moms staying at home. I think families use TANF because when you have children, you can't be proud and couch surf when you're in trouble. I think welfare reform was a huge mistake, and we're going to be seeing a lot of suffering in the current economic climate. No, I don't think we should be subsidizing moms staying at home to care for their children. We should be subsidizing their education and training to be self-supporting and providing high-quality childcare that they can trust while they are in school. We should stop limiting the number of months a family can receive subsidies, so that we won't have people who are this poor in the richest country in the world. 

post #14 of 792

I'm a SAHM at present, and am blessed to have a husband who earns a somewhat reasonable salary and really lucky housing circumstances (we live in a paid-for home rent-free).  BUT.  I have worked my butt off and have paid lots of taxes and I can say this - with those tax dollars, I'd much rather a mom receive assistance for staying home and raising her baby versus requiring that same mom to jump through hopes to earn a measly salary while her baby is in some random daycare (that probably receives tax dollars too).

post #15 of 792
Originally Posted by Petronella View Post

May I ask what is the purpose of this thread?  It's been started by some person or entity called just "Mothering," as an administrator.  Is this one of those threads that's being posted on Facebook or Twitter or whatever, to drive more traffic to MDC?

I assume that is the purpose of every thread started by "Mothering."
post #16 of 792
Originally Posted by Adaline'sMama View Post

The United States Government spends over $22,000 a year per inmate that we hold in incarceration. We spend 44.1 BILLION dollars paying for the War on Drugs enforcement, and over 200,000,000 rebuilding roads each year.

I hope no one begrudges me my measly six grand a year in food stamps so that I can SAH and be with my baby.


For a nation so hell bent on "family values" ( read: patriarchal, christain ones only) we are extremely family unfriendly. No paid maternity leave, forget about leave for the dad, next to nothing as far as a social net goes, no universal healthcare, and on and on. We CAN afford to end poverty, strengthen education and preserve families, we CHOOSE not too.

I have NO PROBLEM AT ALL with welfare, or assistance of any kind to families, not that it even exists anymore. People get all up in arms over how illegals get healthcare (CHIP only, in TX), how mamas have more babies to make more welfare (ridiculous and racist), and how all these people "work the system". COME ON, what nonsense.

The system is broken, you have to learn to work it just to make it to e bottom rung of poverty! And most people dont even know how to do that, its a full time job you know. seriously, do these people that complain even have a clue how little you get in assistance? While the US govt is bailing out banks, paying for a drug war, not to mention the war in the middle east, the citizens are suffering. Imagine what could be done with even part of that money?

I don't know why Americans are so afraid to ask these things of their government. Independence is nice, but we are all in this together. what good is being rich if the city crumbles around you, KWIM? after all, it is OUR government, and we DO pay taxes. I wouldn't mind paying more (and I paid over 40k in taxes JUST LAST YEAR) if it meant an end to poverty, and end to sending single moms off to minimum wage jobs while their kids went to govt paid daycare. Why not cut out the middle man and just give the Mom that money, and keep families intact?

There is a strong current of "I don't want anyone to get anything they didn't bust their ass for, if you are in a bad situation it's because you are a lazy POS, Because I got MINE Jack" in this country, and it's both sick and sad.It does nothing to advance our society, our build community. I encounter this attitude all the time- people think teachers shouldn't get pensions, that minimum wage shouldn't exist, that food stamps are for leeches, that they have no obligation to anyone else. It needs to change. We are the wealthiest nation on earth, we CAN afford it, we CAN do better.

Sorry for the rant, this is near and dear to me.
post #17 of 792

I plan to do this. I am 38 years old and six months pregnant... and single (the pregnancy was planned, the single part not-so-much). My mother is moving in to help with childcare while I'm in class, but I am midway through my Economics degree after a 14 year career in finance flat-lined following a layoff two years ago. I will live on a combination of school loans, federal grants, and whatever assistance the US government sees fit to dole out to me (WIC, Medicare, TANF) and because I'm more than halfway finished with my degree, I stand to qualify for quite a bit, including housing assistance (that is, if the waiting list for Section 8 housing wasn't closed and already 3 years long). In any case, this will likely last for at least the first year of my child's life, if not the first two, after which I hope to gain better employment than I had before I was laid off.


Is this a "stop-gap" measure? Welfare? Cheating the system? (Oh, you mean the one I paid into for 14 years that left me flat on my face in one swift motion?) I have no idea. All I know is that it's the very best option I have as a single mother to do what I think is right for my child. I get the education I need, the benefits I need, the income and support I need to make a better life for my child than the one I had, and I get to do it in a way that is consistent with my values and the values I want to pass along to my kid.


I don't care what anyone else calls it... I call it survival.



post #18 of 792
Originally Posted by Mommel View Post

I stand to qualify for quite a bit

Oh... and by "quite a bit", I mean less than six grand a year in assistance... I guess it didn't occur to me that my "quite a bit" is far less than it used to be when I was making $65,000/year.


post #19 of 792

I'm divided on this.  I know many mothers who have no interest in parenting, but they also have no intention of working.  So, they use the system.  I think we as a country give too much money to too many people and many of them are taking advantage.  


However, there are so many families who DO deserve it.  There are many moms who would happily work, if they could make enough money to support their family AND pay childcare, but our system doesn't make it easy for those who would work.   


I guess I just wish there were a better way to check on those who don't deserve help from the government, but are taking it anyway. 

post #20 of 792

i have no problem what so ever in a mama being home with her kids even if she needs to use assistance to do it. there is such a stigma, and such hate for people who use assistance, it is heart breaking. so much talk of "family values" but no real action here in the USA. god forbid we actually help families. i guess there is no real valuing of families, no valuing of mothering and fathering, no valuing of children or the elderly. what matters most is how much crap you have and how much money you make. you mean nothing otherwise.

we cut and cut the help that struggling families need and pass it along to banks and CEO's. there is always a big long list of stuff you have to do to get assistance as a family, but a bank run into the ground... the CEO's get bonuses from our money. so while i struggled to make ends meet (4 jobs between dh and I) and we stilled needed WIC and state run healthcare the CEO is a hero and i am a loser lazy jerk. GRRRR. 



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