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I am working because I have to. - Page 2

post #21 of 44

My family lives on one income, and that's MY INCOME.  We live in a diverse, liberal area where I don't encounter a whole lot of prejudice, but at least once a year I talk to someone who assumes--sometimes very persistently--that because I have a male partner, he must be earning at least as much as I do.  There was a time in our parenting lives when he did, but now he's trying to freelance and learning new skills and has earned next to nothing for more than 2 years.  Even at his peak earning, he was working for a small startup that did not offer health insurance, so my job was important to supporting the whole family.

 

Jolly GG wrote:

Quote:
 To me living in poverty when I have the means to prevent it is not something I'm okay with.

Exactly.  I have a friend whose husband's income is low enough to allow them to receive SNAP (food stamps) while she is a SAHM to one preschooler.  I respect their right to make that decision based on their values and personal needs (and the way they use their SNAP for quality food makes me proud as a taxpayer) but I would have a hard time living that way myself; it just wouldn't feel right to me.

 

As for WOHMs living in "luxury"--the one routine luxury in my lifestyle is that I go out to lunch at least once a week and my family goes out to dinner at least once a week, at restaurants in the $6-12 a meal range.  Other than that, I feel that working plus parenting leaves me little TIME for luxuries!  It often takes me months to get around to clothes shopping even when I need something.  We have trouble getting around to home improvements that are functional; forget about decorating, except for the kid hanging up his drawings.  We have only basic cable because we don't have time to watch much TV.  We have one museum membership (partly to get a discount on the kid's summer program there) and rarely do other day trips because our weekends fill up with grocery shopping and household chores.  We don't take lavish vacations because I get only so many days off and need them for visiting relatives and for illnesses.

post #22 of 44

Another important thing to think about, are the financial repercussions of not working. 

 

I wonder if SAHMs ever think of what they will do if their marriage fails.  Given the fact that 50% of marriages end in divorce, there is a very good likelihood that your marriage is not going to last and then what will you do?

 

If a person's marriage fails, you might get alimony, but most likely it will only be for a few years and then you're on your own.  Lifetime alimony is very rarely awarded nowadays.  If you have children and you're awarded custody, yeah, you'll get child support, but most often that's not enough to live off of. 

And sometimes you might not even get that.  We've all heard stories of men that work underneath the table to avoid paying CS and alimony.

 

And what about retirement?  If you're divorced, you can only received your ex's social security benefits if your marriage lasted 10 years or more and if he remarries you get nothing.  And every year that you're not working is less money you're contributing to your own social security benefits.

Nothing in life is guaranteed, and depending on someone else to provide financially for you for the rest of your life to me is very risky.

 

I can understand a woman staying home when her kids are younger, to save money on child care costs, but once they're in school, I don't understand what reason there would be for staying home.  Even if you're volunteering in their school every day, that's only a small portion of the day that you're spending with them.  To me it doesn't justify the risks you take by not working. 

 

 

 

post #23 of 44

Good point, Amber.  A former boyfriend of mine had a mother who had never worked or gone to college because she got pregnant in her last year of high school and was a SAHM until her kids were 11-17 years old and her husband was killed in a car accident.  Suddenly she needed to support the family and had no idea how to go about it!  They were very lucky in that he'd been in the military so there were substantial survivor benefits; this allowed her to go to college (where she was embarrassed to find she needed remedial math) and eventually get a good job at the post office, but that took 5 years, during which she had to scramble to keep the family going with about half as much income as they'd been used to--smaller house, cheaper food and clothes, and a hurried total renegotiation of the financial aid package for her son about to start college!  Yikes.

 

Lauren wrote:

Quote:
 Next year when college starts for our firstborn, I have no idea. It's another topic but middle class people are currently screwed by our financial aid system, which calculates that we can all afford 25% of our income to go toward tuition. No sweat, right?

People with thrifty lifestyles and savings are even more punished by the system.  My parents made the "mistake" of paying off the mortgage when I was in high school.  The year my brother and I were in college simultaneously, our combined tuitions=77% of their income, yet we received no need-based aid, only small merit scholarships.  It's like the people who live paycheck-to-paycheck and rack up credit card debt get rewarded by the system!  But I felt less grumpy about it after graduation, when I realized that most of the aid my peers had gotten was LOANS that they had to pay back, whereas my brother and I started our adult lives debt-free.  I hope we can give that same gift to our kids.  My employment definitely will help with that.

post #24 of 44
Another thing, I don't know why SAHMs would feel guilty for staying home.

If they are doing all the things they say they are doing, there is no reason to justify staying home.

Same as I don't have to justify working. Someone can say I'm only working to buy a new car or pay for $400 shoes, but I know that's not the case so I don't feel bad.

Maybe the reason what someone says bothers them is because deep down inside they know some of what's said is true.
post #25 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by amber3902 View Post
 

Nothing in life is guaranteed, and depending on someone else to provide financially for you for the rest of your life to me is very risky.

 

I can understand a woman staying home when her kids are younger, to save money on child care costs, but once they're in school, I don't understand what reason there would be for staying home.  Even if you're volunteering in their school every day, that's only a small portion of the day that you're spending with them.  To me it doesn't justify the risks you take by not working. 

I get why someone would want to stay home. I see the value in staying home when kids are in school. Heck, for my family, having a parent home when the kids are school age is more important to us than having a parent home when they are little. We would prefer my husband was still working from home so our kids could come home to a parent. I value this year I'm taking off of work to spend with my kids. I see lots of good reasons to be a stay at home parent when you have school age kids. I also understand taking the risks inherent in making yourself somewhat dependent on your husband and his income. These just aren't the right decisions for my family long term.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by amber3902 View Post

Maybe the reason what someone says bothers them is because deep down inside they know some of what's said is true.

I think we are taught very young to be sensitive to criticism and the opinions of others. So it does hurt when we are criticized if the criticism is deserved or not.

 

Each of us does our own cost/benefit analysis and decides what is important to us. Some have decided that having a parent home is a priority. Others prioritize independence, or security, or whatever. Some really have ended up in a situation where life has pushed them into a situation that they wouldn't ideally choose (either staying home or working). But I think it's important to remember that we each are individuals and our decisions shouldn't all be the same.


Edited by JollyGG - 10/31/13 at 1:37pm
post #26 of 44

I'm pretty comfortable in my own decisions and don't really give a hoot about what other people think.  So, I'm not defensive about why I work and I feel no need to explain it to others.  Most men I know don't explain why they work.

 

I would rather set fire to my own hair than be a SAHM.  I love my kids, but I'm not cut out for that life.  I would be miserable and the kids would be miserable. I have a career that gives me a great deal of satisfaction.  I feel that in some small way, I make the world a better place with what I do.  We had a great day care and my kids thrived.  They are teens now and they still ask to go visit their caregiver every so often, as she was like part of the family.

 

We could survive on what my husband makes as a public school teacher, but it would be grim.  There are certain things I want out of life and we can do them now.  They aren't glamorous or extravagant things.  We have a decent house in a fabulous school district.  We are on track with retirement savings.  We have enough money to pay for private music and dance lessons for the kids, and for a bunch of other extra-curriculars that are very important to the kids.  We will have enough money saved to pay for public universities for them.  Money isn't everything, but it does provide some wonderful opportunities.  We have two reliable, although not luxurious cars that provide safe transportation.  None of that would be true if I didn't work.

 

If people want to stay home, good for them.  For me it would be a personal and financial disaster, and it would be horrible for my kids.

post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by amber3902 View Post
 

I can understand a woman staying home when her kids are younger, to save money on child care costs, but once they're in school, I don't understand what reason there would be for staying home.  Even if you're volunteering in their school every day, that's only a small portion of the day that you're spending with them.  To me it doesn't justify the risks you take by not working.

 

Maybe they're okay with those risks though. Or maybe they would rather be there when their kids get home at 3 rather than not seeing them until 5 or 6. If it's not your choice that's fine, but I think it's important to give others the benefit of the doubt about their choices... they understand their situation and what works for them better than another person does. 

post #28 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by erigeron View Post
 

Maybe they're okay with those risks though. Or maybe they would rather be there when their kids get home at 3 rather than not seeing them until 5 or 6. If it's not your choice that's fine, but I think it's important to give others the benefit of the doubt about their choices... they understand their situation and what works for them better than another person does.

I'm sure they are OK with it.  That doesn't mean that I understand it, though. I've seen too many women whose husbands have walked out or dropped dead suddenly or mismanaged the family finances to ever think this is a good idea.  I've also seen too many women who have no real idea what financial damage they are doing by making themselves very much less competitive and valued in the workplace when they do try to go back to work.  But people are free to make whatever choices they want, obviously, and I don't offer them my opinions on the subject.

post #29 of 44

Yeah. I just don't want this thread to turn into a place to criticize the choices of SAHMs. The other thread is getting kind of hostile towards WOHMs. 

 

As for the job market thing, it seems to me that a decent number of SAHMs didn't have particularly snazzy jobs before quitting to stay home, and could probably get a job at a similar level no matter how long they stayed out, but may not find it worth it for the pay, cost of day care, time away from their family, etc.. I have a friend who is a speech-language pathologist. Spouse has a degree but didn't have much of a career; at the time their son was born, they decided for spouse to quit *his* job what with the cost of daycare being what it was and his career not being particularly advanced. They have 3 kids at home now and she is still doing well in her career. If he goes back to work at some point the time out of the work force isn't going to work for him, but since he wasn't particularly advanced in his career it's not really going to work against him either. I do, however, know another couple where one spouse gave up their career to stay home & follow the other spouse's job, and while the working spouse is doing well, the spouse who stayed home is basically nowhere and is going to have a hard time getting back to the previous level... and in this family, too, the stay-at-home spouse is the husband. So it cuts both ways. I do think these are real considerations, but they function differently for different people. 

 

Or we could start another thread discussing the pros and cons of deliberately choosing to not have a career (I think my mom more or less made this choice at some point). 

post #30 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by erigeron View Post
 

Yeah. I just don't want this thread to turn into a place to criticize the choices of SAHMs. The other thread is getting kind of hostile towards WOHMs.

I agree. I want to be supportive of all mom's doing whatever makes the most sense to them for their own family.

 

I don't appreciate being criticized for my decision to WOHM and I don't think it's fair to be negative about someone elses decision to do the opposite. I'm going to assume that they are intelligent people who did their own analysis of the risks and benefits then made the decision that was right for them.

post #31 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by JollyGG View Post
 

I agree. I want to be supportive of all mom's doing whatever makes the most sense to them for their own family.

 

I don't appreciate being criticized for my decision to WOHM and I don't think it's fair to be negative about someone elses decision to do the opposite. I'm going to assume that they are intelligent people who did their own analysis of the risks and benefits then made the decision that was right for them.

 

:yeah

 

I think that internet communication really reinforces the dynamic of "by describing my experience, I am implicitly criticizing other choices" and that's really too bad.

 

Despite what we might see here or anywhere else on-line, I think it's entirely possible for a woman to know what she is well suited for...and what she isn't...and to feel confident in that knowledge and choose accordingly, while still maintaining curiosity and appreciation for other paths.

 

For example, when I watch my youngest sister parenting her three young children (a son and twin girls, all under the age of 3!), I see her at her happiest and most fulfilled. Quitting her job to become a parent has fulfilled every dream she's ever had for her life. I marvel at her. I would never be able to be happy in her situation, and if she were in my situation (just one kid, working full-time outside the home), she'd feel disappointed with her life. But I'm not trying to live her life, and she's not trying to live mine! We can support and appreciate each other as we thrive in our respective situations.

post #32 of 44

CI Mama, I have a cousin that I marvel at the way I do your sister.  She got married right out of high school and had 3 kids by age 25, was a SAHM and could say that's still her primary role, but she loves it.  I wouldn't.  And although she was proud of me for going to a tough college and doing well, she didn't want to do that herself, nor did she want to work in an office and have a kid in childcare.  Related to the discussion above about SAHMs not being prepared for the possibility of being left on their own, though, my cousin has always shared the financial management with her husband and made sure they have savings and insurance, does occasional freelance work in the career she learned in high school, and has been taking college classes a few at a time--so she'd be prepared to support the family if she had to do so.

post #33 of 44

My sister helps her husband run a business and she is also a fitness instructor who takes clients in their home, so she does her own marketing, etc. She's one of the most well organized people I know. If she needed to work again at a conventional job, I believe she could.

 

We all have to consider the possibility that our current situation may not last us forever. Having a job currently is certainly no guarantee that things won't change in the future. The financial crisis of 2008 left many people who had secure careers suddenly without work. Some had to completely transform their career trajectory in order to find work again, and not everyone got back to the same level of affluence as previously. I have a very specialized skill set in my particular field, and if I left or lost my current job, it would be difficult to find a similar job. I'm a theater manager, and though I could certainly take those skills in another direction if I had to, I would be significantly less happy about working if I weren't closely connected to the arts. So I do sometimes think about how our family would or could adapt if I lost my job, including the possibility that I wouldn't work outside the home for awhile.

 

I guess my point is that it's easy to over-generalize about the security or risk of a particular situation. I think we're living in a world where the rules are rapidly changing, and there is no guarantee of long-term security for anyone. We're all doing out best with what we know, and we're probably all served well by being flexible, able to learn, able to economize when necessary, and not taking anything for granted.

post #34 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

 

I guess my point is that it's easy to over-generalize about the security or risk of a particular situation. I think we're living in a world where the rules are rapidly changing, and there is no guarantee of long-term security for anyone. We're all doing out best with what we know, and we're probably all served well by being flexible, able to learn, able to economize when necessary, and not taking anything for granted.

I really resonate with this. My work situation has changed several times over the course of the last 18 years since haivng children. And at any moment, due to budget cuts on the federal level, our jobs could be eliminated. I have always felt the need to keep my options open, and to stay current in my field. I currently work full time, but I keep an eye on what else I could do at a moment's notice. I am not sure how that would work for the few moms I know that currently have the option of staying at home in this rural state. 

post #35 of 44
Quote:
I think that internet communication really reinforces the dynamic of "by describing my experience, I am implicitly criticizing other choices" and that's really too bad.

 

I agree.  I certainly am not trying to criticize a woman's choice to be a SAHMs.  I just want to be honest about the risks and trade offs.  Same as I can be honest about what I can and can not do since I do work 40 hours outside the home.  Admitting that I am not able to spend 5 hours a day cooking pasta from scratch does not mean someone is criticizing me for being a WOHM.  It's a fact that I just don't have that much time in a day. 

 

A SAHMs takes a pretty big risk when she is financially dependent on someone else.  I honestly don't see that criticizing her choice but stating facts. 

 

I seriously doubt most SAHMs realize what risks they take when agreeing to stay home.  All you have to do is read on a divorce forum and see how many SAHMs post on there when the rug is pulled out from under their feet because their husband wants a divorce.  It's a known fact that a woman does worse financially after a divorce than the man does.  http://claudiabroome.com/divorce-fact-women-are-the-losers/ 

 

If a SAHM makes the decision to be one, understanding how that choice affects her financial future, that's fine.  I've just known of too many SAHMs that did not realize what being a SAHMs could mean for their financial future, so I feel it's an important point to make. 


Edited by amber3902 - 11/4/13 at 4:16pm
post #36 of 44

I always feel semi-offended by this too, someone asking me "do you wish you could stay home?" or "have you thought about staying home?"  I have my undergrad and my doctorate and 100K in student loans and my DH makes about 40K a year and we live in a very high COL area.  I couldn't stay home even if I wanted to!  but there's no nice way to point out I make over twice what my husband does and owe a ton of money from school.  so do I sound like I don't want to stay home, ever (not the case, I wish I could especially when they are little bitty) or do I explain the situation and sound like I am bragging about my great career?  it's a lose lose situation.  and I always think no one would ever ask my husband that.  and I really, really hate it when people imply that if everyone just was frugal and budgeted properly, they could have one parent SAH.  it's just not always true.  we are very frugal and our budget is still often maxed out and no matter the circumstances it almost never will make sense for me to stay at home.  my husband, maybe...but he has a lot of career potential and is still in school so in that regard it doesn't make much sense for us to take him out of his current job either.  I'm not really going anywhere with this, just commiserating with you :)  hugs to everyone.

post #37 of 44
Quote:
 I always feel semi-offended by this too, someone asking me "do you wish you could stay home?" or "have you thought about staying home?"

Me too, and even more so when people TELL me smugly, "You have lots of choices: You can work full-time, work part-time, stay home, or go back to school!"  While it's true that there would be some way I could swing each of those choices if I were very motivated and my partner cooperated, my working full-time is the only financially feasible option without making big changes, and I don't want to make big changes because I LIKE THIS JOB.

 

Quote:
 I always think no one would ever ask my husband that.

Yes!  Yes!  That drives me so crazy!!  A few years ago I finally spoke up to my father when he again used the phrase "full-time mother" to refer to a mother who does not have a paying job.  I told him I am always my child's mother even when I am not with my child.  I told him that although he worked 40-60 hours a week outside the home throughout my childhood, I never EVER would describe him as a "part-time father", for I knew he was always my father, he would drop everything at work if I got sick at school when my mom wasn't available (I got sick a lot, and it seemed to always happen when my mom was traveling for her part-time job), he would bend his schedule around every recital and parent-teacher conference, and when he worked overtime he'd do it late at night or on weekends so we could have dinner as a family and he could read my bedtime story.  I haven't heard him say "full-time mother" since. :thumb

 

Honestly, though, it makes me just as mad when someone asks me, "Do you work?"  I know what they mean, but I also know that supervising children is work and housework is work!

post #38 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by amber3902 View Post

 

I seriously doubt most SAHMs realize what risks they take when agreeing to stay home.  All you have to do is read on a divorce forum and see how many SAHMs post on there when the rug is pulled out from under their feet because their husband wants a divorce.  It's a known fact that a woman does worse financially after a divorce than the man does.  http://claudiabroome.com/divorce-fact-women-are-the-losers/ 

 

 

 

 

This scenario happened to a female relative of mine. She used to be married to a 'strong Christian' husband, who began having affairs. When their marriage broke up, she had nothing to rely on. It made everything that much more traumatic for her, as she was supporting 4 young children and was a SAHM and homeschooling mom. 

post #39 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by whiskeyandwater View Post
 

I always feel semi-offended by this too, someone asking me "do you wish you could stay home?" or "have you thought about staying home?"  I have my undergrad and my doctorate and 100K in student loans and my DH makes about 40K a year and we live in a very high COL area.  I couldn't stay home even if I wanted to!  but there's no nice way to point out I make over twice what my husband does and owe a ton of money from school.  so do I sound like I don't want to stay home, ever (not the case, I wish I could especially when they are little bitty) or do I explain the situation and sound like I am bragging about my great career?  it's a lose lose situation.  and I always think no one would ever ask my husband that.  and I really, really hate it when people imply that if everyone just was frugal and budgeted properly, they could have one parent SAH.  it's just not always true.  we are very frugal and our budget is still often maxed out and no matter the circumstances it almost never will make sense for me to stay at home.  my husband, maybe...but he has a lot of career potential and is still in school so in that regard it doesn't make much sense for us to take him out of his current job either.  I'm not really going anywhere with this, just commiserating with you :)  hugs to everyone.

:yeah Pretty much my situation. I only work part-time where my husband works full time, and I still make more than he does. I'm not too shy about pointing this out to people, though. I figure if they know what we both do for a living, and by this point in the conversation they probably do, they could probably figure it out on their own without too much trouble. Plus, if they're getting nosy about my finances, then maybe it'll embarrass them to be brought up short. It doesn't embarrass me to tell somebody. It bugs me when people assume I could stay home and it would be no big deal. And you are so right that they would never say this to our husbands. 

post #40 of 44

I'm still reading the first page of this thread but can I just say THANK YOU, folks?  I got to the SAHP section from the front page and I feel like I need a big hug and some recovery time.  I'm a working mom and I raise my kids.  Other people help raise them.  I'm OK with that.  If I could create the "ideal" situation for myself at this instant...well I would wave my magic wand and do it.  For me that would be part time work, part time SAHP.   If I could have created that ideal beforehand so that I could be "ready" for kids then I would have done that.  There are lots of options for me personally and I'm currently living one.

 

JollyGG's posts about having a standard of living (and that being OK) and the time we spend with our kids when we're all home together were just what I needed to read today.  Thank you!  Now I'll check out the rest of the thread. 

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