Wow, I just read through all 12 pages of this thread and now I have a headache (though really I should have stopped after page 4 or 5 because after that it degenerated into a lot of childish back and forth).
I read through the whole thread because this is a topic that is extremely relevant to me. I am a single mother of one child. And I'm also a libertarian. And I believe with all my heart that children deserve the freedom of having a stable caregiver (preferably their mother or father, if those parties want to). All these beliefs come together with tumultuous results.
I come from an upper middle class family, but it was a make-your-own way sort of family. I started working at 16, I worked through college. I got pregnant right as I was graduating from college. I stayed at my job and went full time during the pregnancy. I had every intention of returning to work after having the baby. My son was a clingy baby. He would cry and scream hysterically any time anyone else held him. I lived with my parents at the time, so I was very lucky in that regard. I had paid maternity leave for 6 weeks, and I had planned to take four months unpaid family leave. I had planned to put my son in daycare, as I could not afford a nanny. Crunching the numbers, daycare would have taken most of what I made, while leaving me with very little time with my son. I made the decision (while living in the safety of my parents' home) to not go back to work.
Instead I got a paper route, I would take my son with me every morning from 3-6am, longer on weekends. It paid pretty well, though it was extremely stressful, and hard on my car (and body). I paid a small rent to my parents and for food and stuff. Then my parents started pressuring me to move out when my son was about a year old. After a brief stay at my brother's, I got a non-paying job as a live-in nanny (I got paid some to watch a neighbor girl as well), when that ended due to them losing their house, I moved back in with my parents, and looked for nanny jobs. It took me about 6 months to find another one, and around that time I started making toys. Christmas of that year, the toy thing really took off, and as I only had a very part time nanny job then, after Christmas, I decided to have a go at the toy thing, with possible babysitting jobs as well and whatever other ways I could make money. My parents really wanted me out at this point. And I decided to rather than kill myself trying to work however many jobs I needed to survive, I would sell my car, buy a van, and live in it.
LOL, it sounds crazy, but I was determined to do whatever it took to stay with my son. Anyway, we travelled around, sold the toys that I had made, were very, very broke most of the time, worked at an organic farm for a while (not a permanent job though). But the toy selling was picking back up, and I decided I needed a place to live. I headed out to West Virginia, the cheapest place in the country, and eventually I found an old house for $4,000. I borrowed $4,000 from my parents' and another $5,000 from a friend to make the bare minimal repairs and pay moving expenses (and pay off a delinquent credit card). Oh yeah, my van also became too expensive to repair, so after living in a vehicle, we now take the bus (yay for town bus services!).
Many times I have considered getting government assistance, but I haven't due to many beliefs that I hold. I have been fortunate enough, however, to receive support from my parents, mostly in terms of a place to live and also in the money borrowed for the house and other small monetary ways (like money for bus tickets to visit and occasional phone cards, etc.), and to receive support from my friend also by the loan. I am fortunate to be well-educated and well-loved.
I'm not telling my story to say that if I can do it, anyone can, because I don't believe that. I told my story, because it shows how mothers could be helped: by loans, by unconventional jobs, by living with family. But we have to demand these things! We also have to give generously. If you believe in helping mothers stay home with their children, how are you supporting this?
I have never applied for government money, because so much of it is just a trap. It keeps you down. How many heart-wrenching stories do we have to hear about mothers who are working and working and paying for daycare and having nothing to show for their hard work or their sacrifice?! My solution was just to opt out. I'm a hard worker. I never wanted to not work, but I had no interest in working myself to the bone with nothing to show for it. Plus it wasn't fair to my son, just because I got myself knocked up that he should have to live most of his childhood in an institutional setting.
The whole system just bothers me too much to take part in it. Read through some of these absurd stories on here! Fundamentally the system doesn't make sense. I know this an old argument, but if the state/federal will pay someone else to take care of my child while I work, why won't they pay me? There is an entire convoluted system set up that makes no sense. Our government wants people to have "jobs." If they create "jobs," then they are stimulating the economy. So we have jobs for all the government workers and everyone pays their salaries. Then we try to get Mother into a job, which then creates another job for someone else to watch her kid. I can't even bring myself to file for child support from my son's father, because the amount of money I MIGHT get from him would probably be less than the amount of money the government would spend to force him to give that money. (I know I'm going to get flack for that one.)
This is way too long, and I need to end it, even though I could go on all day. But I just want to end with the statement that I DO think we should be supporting moms so they can stay at home with their children. But by we, I mean WE, not the government. The government always does things in the most wasteful, convoluted way possible. However, as this is the system we have at the moment, if a mother can collect welfare that will enable her to stay home with her kids (if that's even possible--since the whole point of welfare is to get you out of your home), I have no problem with her doing it.
I just wanted to repeat what I said earlier: If you believe in helping mothers stay home with their children, how are you supporting this?