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Why do you work?

post #1 of 134
Thread Starter 
It seems there are a lot of assumptions about why WOHMs work, and why they "should" work. I feel like on this board, as well as in real life, the only reason we are "allowed" to work is if we make the case that it's because we need the money. And your needs better be pretty bare-bones, because if you give that reason someone is bound to tell you that they got by on half your family income with the same number of kids, and you just need to make SAHMing a priority. And we just wind up feeling defensive, even though I suspect that a good chunk of us work for reasons besides merely paying the electric bill. Why isn't it OK for us to say that?

I thought about making this a poll, but realized our answers are probably too freeform for that.

So why do you work/plan to work? Is it strictly for financial necessity, however you define it? To provide "extras" for the family as a whole, yourself or the kids? Is it philosophical? Is it for a sense of security or independence? Because you enjoy it? Do you have a career?

Would you prefer to be a SAHM? Do you wish your partner could stay home with the children? What would be the conditions in which you would be a SAHP?
post #2 of 134
If we're talking about the particular job I have right now, I do it exclusively for the money. Because of what I do, I should theoretically feel like I'm "making a difference", but lots of factors conspire to make me feel otherwise.

If we are talking about work in general, I think there is a wide range of why parents (especially mothers) choose to work and that I find the great majority of those reasons valid in my own mind. Working at a career you've spent many years developing and which provides financial security to your family certainly makes sense. Working to provide your children with "extras", especially if you are doing it because it's important to you/your child (vs. a keeping up with the Joneses attitude) shouldn't be dismissed. Women work for such varying reasons that I hate the judgmental attitude that WOHM have to deal with so often.

That said, I would personally prefer to be a SAHM. A lot of that reasoning has to do with having a child with SN, which is obviously not the norm for most parents. If we had even a minimal level of financial security, I would leave this job ASAP. I don't have a career, and can't imagine developing one at this point. I find the struggle to balance the demands of work with the greater-than-average demands of our youngest dd (not to mention the other two children!) to be overwhelming.
post #3 of 134
I like the mental stimulation. I also like how what I learn might be applied to a future busines of my own. I like my friends at work. I like having a bit of a schedule. I would have made more noise about quitting if my work had not been so great about giving me lots of flexibility...soon, though, I want to work one less day a week.

Most of my mother friends work so I don't get too many judgments from them. A relative of mine said she doesn't see why people have kids if they are not going to stay home with them. I hope I misunderstood her. She has loads of money so staying home for her is no problem, and I am astonished she can't see how that $$ helps her stay home (if I did understand what she was saying).

I've heard on this board about kids who wanted their mothers to stay home...then when the mothers stayed home, the same kids said they wanted more money to do fun stuff and could she go back to work...so as far as kids go, I think it's a big guess as to what they want or think would be best.

In my perfect world, I'd work PT.
post #4 of 134
Thread Starter 
I am a FTM due in November. I plan to return to work after my paid three months maternity leave is up. It has never really occured to me not to work, for a variety of reasons:

*Money, in the short term. It pays for me to work, even after day care, taxes, commuting costs, etc. I know this isn't the case for all mamas. But I delayed having a child until my finances were such that I knew I could afford to support a child decently even on my own. This meant waiting about five years after I felt ready in other ways, but I'm OK with that. Beyond that, though, I don't weigh the cost of supporting my daughter soley against my income. It's partly mine, partly her father's. Same as all our other household expenses.

*Money, in the long term. The day care expenses will drop over the years. My pay likely will not. If I took the next 5 years off, I would return to less than half my current pay, assuming I could get a job at all. My field is very competitive. My paycheck is not the whole of my compensation, either. While I am working, I am also stashing more than 10 percent of my salary into my 401(k) each year. I am earning credits toward a pension. I am able to regularly save money for the college funds of my nephews and niece.

*Economic independence and security. I consider it my responsibility to support myself. I consider it my responsibility to support my child financially. Working allows me to safeguard myself from a variety of economic risks. Working means I have my own health, life and disability insurance. It means that should things go south with her dad, I have my own money to pay for a very good lawyer. I saw what happened to my mother, who was a SAHM when we were young, when my father left. We went from getting by to hardcore poverty. I see other mama friends of mine in the same boat now. I just can't stomach the risk of doing that to myself or my child. That scar is just too deep for me.

*Parenting philosophy. I am partnered to a great guy, who makes a good living that could easily support our little family but I'm not interested in a division of labor in our household that has him out in the world with me bearing all the responsibility of caring for our little one. My income could also similarly support us, yet no one expects him to quit work and stay home since we "can afford it." I want my daughter to see me working in the world at a job I love. I want her to see that daddies can change diapers and go to swim meets and dance recitals, too. I think quality day care is good for children, and aids their social and intellectual development. My partner shares this philosophy.

*My own sanity. I know myself well enough to know that being a SAHM would not suit me. I enjoy working, and get an immense amount of satisfaction from my job. My career is almost to the level of a calling for me. I'm good at it. It is a core part of my identity.

*Feminism. I am lucky that I work at a place that is very accommodating to mothers. We have great benefits, good maternity leave, a very nice pumping station, flexibility in working from home, etc. I also know that the reason we have these things is because lots of women before me used the leverage that came with their skill levels and positions to demand them. I hope to contribute to that.
post #5 of 134
Keeps the gas in my Hummer.



(Sorry . . still feeling a little jumpy from that "other thread" .. and OP, I know you know what I'm talking about, as you were a thoughtful contributor throughout.)

I'll keep an eye on this thread and post in a less tongue-in-cheek fashion later.
post #6 of 134
I feel I had/have the best of both. I was able to stay home when my ds1 was born in May 2001. Our ds2 was born in Feb 2004. I stayed home with both until Jan 2006 when we moved to a different state. I became the F/T WOH parent and dh now stays home with the boys.

I was ready to go back to work! I enjoyed the time I spent being a FTM but I am equally loving being back at work and having the chance to get back into using my education and experience! (Plus the stimulation of "working" again)

It worked out well because dh and I were adament that one of us would be home with the boys, so the move allowed us to re-evaluate and decide that we would switch roles. (DH also works from home p/t as being a Graphic Designer leads to being self employed very well)


So while I work for the money, it was also by choice and works great for us!
post #7 of 134
My husband's income alone could not pay the bills. It's survival. And to be honest, I need the adult contact and mental stimulation too. If we could afford for me to stay home, I probably would, but that's not in the cards.
post #8 of 134
Thread Starter 
Ha. Well, it's not just that thread that has me thinking about this issue. It seems like a broad social issue, so I wanted to see what the other WOHMs had to say about it.

And I should add that I definitely *don't* work so I can have a nice car. My car is a '92, with 236K miles on it. But you know something? I don't care if a mama *does* work so she can have a nice car of her very own. Maybe that's a form of security for her, maybe that's her sign that she's made it in the world. Material things are rarely just about money or impressing other people. My house sure isn't just a roof over my head.
post #9 of 134
I have maintained a full time job for the last 8yrs ( I'm 25) My DH is still at home with DD and I didn't stay home because my income exceeds his income by about 4x. We are getting by on one income but I'm ready to be a two income family again. Also I agree with the PP who said she feels that her DC gets good social interaction from daycare. I'm actually wishing I'd put DD into daycare about 6months ago. She is having a lot of trouble adjusting to being around other children and I think it's definately time for her to learn these skills. I think I would probably work PT even if it wasn't financially necessary just because I get stir crazy having to be "at home".
post #10 of 134
I work because it makes me a better person, a better wife, and a better mother when I do so. I need mental challenges and stimulation, and am a bit of a control freak. At work, I manage projects, so my obsessive desire to have everything "just so" makes me extremely effective.

It also gets it out of my system so that I can be more laid back at home with my family. If I did not work, I know I would have a very difficult time being patient with my toddler when she tantrums, and sticking to GD.

TBH, if someone were to stay home with our children, it would be DH. He's very patient and laid back. He also doesn't love his job with the passion I have for mine, and that's a major factor.

Money is a factor, but only in that I really need to have savings lined up. For instance, we could live on just my income no problem. But then our retirement savings and college savings (and just plain savings savings) would suffer. DH isn't willing to stop working until I make enough to cover the loss of money to put towards the future.
post #11 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by Herausgeber
Ha. Well, it's not just that thread that has me thinking about this issue. It seems like a broad social issue, so I wanted to see what the other WOHMs had to say about it.

And I should add that I definitely *don't* work so I can have a nice car. My car is a '92, with 236K miles on it. But you know something? I don't care if a mama *does* work so she can have a nice car of her very own. Maybe that's a form of security for her, maybe that's her sign that she's made it in the world. Material things are rarely just about money or impressing other people. My house sure isn't just a roof over my head.
nak, so i will post later but i really like what you said here. as someone who grew up with a sahm and scarcity i can so relate to posessions representing security.

shay
post #12 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by Herausgeber
It seems there are a lot of assumptions about why WOHMs work, and why they "should" work. I feel like on this board, as well as in real life, the only reason we are "allowed" to work is if we make the case that it's because we need the money.
Really? I'm genuinely sorry to hear you say that because MDC has been an oasis for me in general. And I find the women on the working mothers board to be exceptionally articulate and thought-provoking .... and I want everyone to lurve MDC as much as I do. But I've been "dark" for a week on vacation, so perhaps I've missed some bad vibes.

Here are some of my favorites from this board, some of which touch on why we work

Why do you work:
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=300304

Anyone here NOT need to work for financial reasons?
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=480150

Anyone a better mom......because you WOH, or go to school?
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=426199

Dealing with Guilt:
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=440864

"I suspect that a good chunk of us work for reasons besides merely paying the electric bill. Why isn't it OK for us to say that?"

I'm very interested in exploring this issue. Sometimes I think it's very difficult for women to OWN the decision to work. So I see a lot of people couching it in financial terms, which seems to be an "acceptable" reason to work, but the fact remains that no one asks men, even rich men, why they work.
post #13 of 134
1. I love my job. I'd go crazy without it.

2. I make much more money than dh.

3. I am less domestic than he is. We've both stayed home at different times the first couple of years after ds' birth. He does it better.

We are now currently both working (and downsizing our budget) to save money so he can quit in a year. He will be the stay at home parent, homeschool and work on his art.
post #14 of 134
Thread Starter 
Ellien C, thank you for those links! I figured there had to be something along those lines around here, but I was getting frustrated because I just kept seeing WOHMs having to constantly defend their choice to work in a way that SAHMs don't seem to have to do around here. Personally, I think we should all cut each other some slack.
post #15 of 134
1. I bring home $2000 a month, that's net, after taxes, after paying for childcare. In addition my employer puts 9% of my salary towards retirement. That's a lot of money to give up.
2. We do actually need my salary to be homeowners in this part of the country.
3. I like the fact the entire burden of breadwinning is not on my spouse, I feel it's better for him and for our relationship to not give him that stress.
4. I work for a university. DS will be eligible for free tuition.
5. My employer has been extremely flexible, I work from home 2 days a week. When the time comes I know they will let me work during school hours only, so I will be able to be with him after school. I think it would be hard to find another job that would let me do so.
6. I like being an equal contributer, it means my relationship with DH is more equal in other ways--he cooks, cleans, does diapers, all without me asking.
7. I think due to some psychological issues I am more comfortable knowing I am not totally dependent on DH, ie if he left me (which he shows no signs of doing!)
8. I work 35 hours a week, have 20 vacation days, 14 holidays, 2 personal days... no overtime, no weekends... why not keep this cushy job?
9. I do think daycare is good for DS in that DH and I are extremely introverted and don't really know people with kids in the area. DS also seems to truly love ihs daycare providers (a woman and her sister who run an in-home daycare). He's never once cried when I dropped him off, runs to hug them when he sees them. I am glad he has more adults in his life that he can trust and love!

I don't know if I would stay at home if I could. I do like earning my own money. And I feel if DH was the sole provider we would see less of him--he would feel obligated to put in the long hours so many dads seem to, insteatd of coming home right at 5 each day.
post #16 of 134
I work because when DH was in grad school for his PhD, I got a good job with a consulting company that values my contribution. They have supported me through 2 pregnancies, 2 maternity leaves, and 2 transfers. Now they support me working from home. I make significantly more money than if DH worked, and I'm at home. Because DH is a SAHD, we're both home with the kids, even if my office door is closed more than its open. DH and I have talked about changing roles, but I make more money that he could, he would most likely be gone from the house all day, whereas now we're both home, and he's really good with the kids, possibly better than I would be.
post #17 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by Herausgeber
I am a FTM due in November. I plan to return to work after my paid three months maternity leave is up. It has never really occured to me not to work, for a variety of reasons:

*Money, in the short term. It pays for me to work, even after day care, taxes, commuting costs, etc. I know this isn't the case for all mamas. But I delayed having a child until my finances were such that I knew I could afford to support a child decently even on my own. This meant waiting about five years after I felt ready in other ways, but I'm OK with that. Beyond that, though, I don't weigh the cost of supporting my daughter soley against my income. It's partly mine, partly her father's. Same as all our other household expenses.

*Money, in the long term. The day care expenses will drop over the years. My pay likely will not. If I took the next 5 years off, I would return to less than half my current pay, assuming I could get a job at all. My field is very competitive. My paycheck is not the whole of my compensation, either. While I am working, I am also stashing more than 10 percent of my salary into my 401(k) each year. I am earning credits toward a pension. I am able to regularly save money for the college funds of my nephews and niece.

*Economic independence and security. I consider it my responsibility to support myself. I consider it my responsibility to support my child financially. Working allows me to safeguard myself from a variety of economic risks. Working means I have my own health, life and disability insurance. It means that should things go south with her dad, I have my own money to pay for a very good lawyer. I saw what happened to my mother, who was a SAHM when we were young, when my father left. We went from getting by to hardcore poverty. I see other mama friends of mine in the same boat now. I just can't stomach the risk of doing that to myself or my child. That scar is just too deep for me.

*Parenting philosophy. I am partnered to a great guy, who makes a good living that could easily support our little family but I'm not interested in a division of labor in our household that has him out in the world with me bearing all the responsibility of caring for our little one. My income could also similarly support us, yet no one expects him to quit work and stay home since we "can afford it." I want my daughter to see me working in the world at a job I love. I want her to see that daddies can change diapers and go to swim meets and dance recitals, too. I think quality day care is good for children, and aids their social and intellectual development. My partner shares this philosophy.

*My own sanity. I know myself well enough to know that being a SAHM would not suit me. I enjoy working, and get an immense amount of satisfaction from my job. My career is almost to the level of a calling for me. I'm good at it. It is a core part of my identity.

*Feminism. I am lucky that I work at a place that is very accommodating to mothers. We have great benefits, good maternity leave, a very nice pumping station, flexibility in working from home, etc. I also know that the reason we have these things is because lots of women before me used the leverage that came with their skill levels and positions to demand them. I hope to contribute to that.
I have no time now to formulate a proper reply as I'm on my way out to the park, but in short...most of what you just said and maybe a bit more
post #18 of 134
I'm the breadwinner, my DH is a mostly SAHP who does occasional out of home remodeling projects.


I wouldn't mind staying at home until my youngest was maybe 8 or so (I don't think I would home school after that age) but that's not on the table. My DH is an immigrant without a higher education and significantly less earning potential, plus I have a solid government job that is relatively low stress and pays well so it's a no brainer for us. He would have to either have a booming business he was dedicated to (not going to happen, he's not that motivated) or a regular job that paid well (even less likely to happen) for me to be at home.

I should say I don't think I would stay at home perpetually (although I think it's perfectly fine for those who choose to do so). I would feel worried about what would happen to me financially if something happened to my partner and also I think I personally would do better mentally and physically working in some capacity if my kids were in school. However, if I was married to someone doing very well financially I would consider volunteer work, or low paid non profit type of work half time, etc. rather than the sort of career I have now.
post #19 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by Herausgeber
*Money, in the long term. The day care expenses will drop over the years. My pay likely will not. If I took the next 5 years off, I would return to less than half my current pay, assuming I could get a job at all. My field is very competitive. My paycheck is not the whole of my compensation, either. While I am working, I am also stashing more than 10 percent of my salary into my 401(k) each year. I am earning credits toward a pension. I am able to regularly save money for the college funds of my nephews and niece.

*Feminism. I am lucky that I work at a place that is very accommodating to mothers. We have great benefits, good maternity leave, a very nice pumping station, flexibility in working from home, etc. I also know that the reason we have these things is because lots of women before me used the leverage that came with their skill levels and positions to demand them. I hope to contribute to that.


I also think about how I have money saved for myself for retirement. I've also heard scary stories about women who've stayed home 10-14 years to rear their children and then have no money to show for it and the husband takes up with a younger woman. I don't think my DH would do that, yet I still like having my own savings and my own money.
post #20 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by henhao
I also think about how I have money saved for myself for retirement. I've also heard scary stories about women who've stayed home 10-14 years to rear their children and then have no money to show for it and the husband takes up with a younger woman. I don't think my DH would do that, yet I still like having my own savings and my own money.
I think this has a lot to do with it... My mom was a SAHM. She was "with" my father from the time they were in 8th/10th grade and married for over 30 years. She stayed home & raised four daughters. When the youngest one left home, he disappeared from our lives. My mother was left with no income, no health insurance (with LOTS of medical problems), no home, no retirement savings, no education beyond high school, and no out of the home work experience for 30 years. No one - and I mean NO ONE at all, ever - would have guessed this would happen to my parents. NO ONE. Not even close friends/relatives. Everyone was shocked. 10+ years later, my mother is still barely scraping by. I think that as a very young grad student, that experience really shaped me.

I also spent a long time in school so I could get the job I have now. I love it.

I also don't have the temperment to SAH. I just don't. I spent the 2.5 years of DS's life coming to grips with that fact. He is better off in daycare. It suits his personality. It just does.

Finally, I do need the money - now. I have lots of student loans that I just can't expect my DH to pick up. They were all taken out before I met him, and IMO, it's not fair to make him pay for choices I made without him. We also have some shocking debt that we took on before I got pregnant (a HUGE surprise, actually).

There's more, I'm sure. But, I'm (finally) so done justifying my choices. I just don't care anymore what other people think.
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