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SAHMing as default huring society's work/life balance? - Page 6

post #101 of 185
I know there was a lot less leisure time in the old days, and also that parents weren't as child-centered, getting on the floor to play with their children -- but when we talk about the additional labor hours, I think we're missing one point.

When I read Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books, I see detailed accounts of exactly how Ma made cheese and dried apples, how Pa built houses and made a fish-trap, and so on. Work days were drastically longer, but children were often right there watching the work and then helping as soon as they were old enough.

Of course, then there's the ugliness of child-labor, and some children wanting more education but being expected to labor on the farm instead -- so I'm not saying I'd want a complete return to "the good old days."
post #102 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
But ya know -- I think a pioneer mom might see it as "leisure time" to be able to work on a baby book!


:

Our generation's delineation of chores and leisure is very different from previous generations.
post #103 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Flower View Post


:

Our generation's delineation of chores and leisure is very different from previous generations.
Absolutely. To me, I counted it as leisure to be able to can lots of tomatoes this year. It didn't have to be done for my family to eat--we could have bought them at the store. But, I liked it, nad I had time. Back in the day, that would have been a chore of just putting up food for the winte.r
post #104 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by BetsyS View Post
Absolutely. To me, I counted it as leisure to be able to can lots of tomatoes this year. It didn't have to be done for my family to eat--we could have bought them at the store. But, I liked it, nad I had time. Back in the day, that would have been a chore of just putting up food for the winte.r
Wow, interesting! So, in some ways, the change is 180 degrees! Very interesting to think that we've flipped what used to be considered a chore into leisurely activities...the same would be true for baking home made bread, making ice cream, making butter, etc.

Hmmm...interesting the way industrialization has changed us. And yet in some ways we want some of that simplicity back.
post #105 of 185
I have plenty of leisure time and we're a two WOHP family.

We deliberately live in a very small house, which really helps as far as leisure time goes.
post #106 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellien C View Post
I'm SO down with the idea of 2-30 hour weeks. Totally my ideal.
I am home right now (not counting a lot of unpaid volunteer work) and two 30 hour work weeks is my ideal as well. My husband and I frequently discuss how awesome it would be to each have a 30 hour work week, instead of the current with me home and him working 40-50 hours. But his job expectations are not lessening and adding a thirty hour work week of my own onto it (assuming I could even find one) would change our family dynamic and stress level in ways we do not want.

Additionally, almost every single at home mom I know would love a set up like that as well. I think more people are dissatisfied with the current system of all or nothing than we realize.
post #107 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowMom View Post
I think currently when men do these things (and thank goodness, there are men that do, and please let me know where I can find one) it is seen as exceptional, or above and beyond, or really cool. Not ordinary... KWIM?
Not around here. It is the norm. Husbands/fathers are clearly expected to contribute. I do not know any families like the one you describe husband working long hours and wife doing everything. I live in Europe and really, here, no matter how many hours husband works, it will be difficult to get by with just one salary. Many couples, wife works part time.
As for leisure/work, I think it is true what was said earlier in thread, i.e. that it is difficult to compare because:
- the children often worked with their parents, so they were not waiting leisurely at home while their parents worked. This of course had both positive and negative implications;
- the blur between leisure and work, examplified by the use of blackberries and also the home production of food that could be bought ready made but that someone decides to homemake for fun. What is work nowadays and what is leisure? I am often at the park with my dds (so no, Betsys you are not alone there) and I am not sure how you would classify that. Childcare or leisure? As someone was saying, childcare did not use to be an activity and now it is.
post #108 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by gaialice View Post
Not around here. It is the norm. Husbands/fathers are clearly expected to contribute. I do not know any families like the one you describe husband working long hours and wife doing everything. I live in Europe and really, here, no matter how many hours husband works, it will be difficult to get by with just one salary. Many couples, wife works part time.
Ditto. Almost every family I know has both parents working, either part time or full time. I don't know anyone who regulary works over 40 hours a week. It is actually frowned up. You are supposed to have a life outside of work, and that life revolves around your family. It shows in our 5 week vacations. It shows in our one year maternity leave - which the fathers also qualify for. It shows in the amount of flexibility companys give to employees. And it shows at home, where the fathers are expected to do as much cooking, cleaning, childcare.... as the mothers.

And to say that other countries economys would go to pot if they did the same is incorrect. We have one of the most stable economies in the world. By no means am I saying Denmark, or Europe, is utopia. We have very few poor, but also very few rich. IMO, the lack of responsibilty by employees in some fields, particularly medicine, is appauling. We are NO WHERE near perfect. But we do have a better, more effective, distribution of labor, and happier citizens because of it.

When I worked in the USA, I was on the road 20 days a month, expected to change plans at the drop of a hat, and expected to work 45-55 hours/week. If I had said "I have to pick up my kids from day care at 4:00 every day, I am leaving," I would have been seen as a lazy-a**, and never gotten a promotion. I have the same job here, at the same company. I leave at 3:45 every day. Business trips are now only 2 or 3 per month, less while my babies are small. If both my husband and I are supposed to travel, we explain to the company, and they rearrange schedules for us. In absolutly no way are we considered a pain for doing this. It is just normal. My boss, and my bosses boss.... they all have families too. They "get it."
post #109 of 185
Can I move to Denmark?
post #110 of 185

Back to the original post

Quote:
Originally Posted by bczmama View Post
One of my friends was recently asserting the following --

That SAHM-ing is still the default expectation for the wives of professionals (doctor, lawyer, etc.) and the "executive" worker.
I've been thinking about this topic a lot and I'm having a lot of problems with this statement. Not all "professionals" are equal. I think two-career couples are very common for one thing and I don't think you can compare a doctor in family practice FE to a CEO of a major corporation. Or even a vice-president

All the university presidents I've ever worked for have had working wives for example but I would call them professionals.

I agree that there are certain highly paid professions where SAH wives are common but I don't think it's by any means the default.

I think the question of work/life balance for families is much more complicated that that.
post #111 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by leewd View Post
Can I move to Denmark?
Me too! I just spent the last twenty minutes looking at rental flats and relocation tips. I've gotta get out of the US.
post #112 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicole77 View Post
. My husband and I frequently discuss how awesome it would be to each have a 30 hour work week, instead of the current with me home and him working 40-50 hours.

snip
Additionally, almost every single at home mom I know would love a set up like that as well. I think more people are dissatisfied with the current system of all or nothing than we realize.
That would be ideal for us too.
post #113 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by gaialice View Post
Not around here. It is the norm. Husbands/fathers are clearly expected to contribute. I do not know any families like the one you describe husband working long hours and wife doing everything.
What's interesting is that where I live (urban US) I see a lot of couples deliberately rejecting this traditional model. My husband grew up with that, and he has rejected it, and I see a lot of his peer fathers also rejecting it after they grew up with that model. They don't want to be the absent earner like their fathers were. Instead, both members of the couple take lower-stress, family-friendly jobs. WOH responsibilities and at-home responsibilities are shared. We're very happy with this model for ourselves, and I find it interesting how many people I know who are actively choosing to do this as well.
post #114 of 185
Quote:
I do not know any families like the one you describe husband working long hours and wife doing everything.
Maybe it is an area thing, or by industry -- but i know a number of families where teh Dh works 60+ hours a week and travles a lot... and the mom does all the child care and house work and shopping and so on .....

My sis and BIL are like that ...

I think it is inherently unfair to talk in balck and white tersm -- most of life is a share of gray -- but i do think that in some areas, some fields it is more or less common and there are families where the division is that real and strict.

AImee
post #115 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by marybethorama View Post
I've been thinking about this topic a lot and I'm having a lot of problems with this statement. Not all "professionals" are equal. I think two-career couples are very common for one thing and I don't think you can compare a doctor in family practice FE to a CEO of a major corporation. Or even a vice-president

All the university presidents I've ever worked for have had working wives for example but I would call them professionals.

I agree that there are certain highly paid professions where SAH wives are common but I don't think it's by any means the default.

I think the question of work/life balance for families is much more complicated that that.
I think in a lot of those situations, those, women are STILL doing all of the housework, looking after the kids when they're home, cooking the meals or whatever running that particular house involves.

I took a sociology class a few years ago and I remember them talking about this - the "second shift". Women work all day at their jobs, then they go home and still have to do all of the things that women were expected to do when they didn't work.

I think the idea is that our American idea of jobs and work and work hours is sort of built around the paradigm of a man who works, loves his job and spends a whole lot of time at it, and a woman who takes care of the home stuff and does little else. And that paradigm obviously no longer works for us any longer but everybody still has the paradigm, KWIM? I don't think the employers and the work force have really recognized how things have changed.

And it is also very mixed up with our cultural values - the American ethic of working hard and how not wanting to work as much = laziness.

And I have to say, in my neck of the woods, the division or housework and stuff is still VERY much in effect, and the way people view their jobs (basically, the company owns them and dictates what they do and when) doesn't seem to have changed much. The only major change that seems to be around is that people are less loyal to companies, having found out that companies are not particularly loyal to them.

I think what the OP's friend said was probably a vast oversimplification of a very complex issue, but there is a LOT of truth to it IMO.
post #116 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azuralea View Post
Instead, both members of the couple take lower-stress, family-friendly jobs. WOH responsibilities and at-home responsibilities are shared. We're very happy with this model for ourselves, and I find it interesting how many people I know who are actively choosing to do this as well.
I agree that people are seeking that balance.

It's interesting to see how it works or doesn't. I took one of the lower-stress, part-time jobs which on paper was totally perfect for our family... and felt stuck within a year. I have been really, really surprised to learn that about myself - that a job was not really enough and I want a career with all the progressive experience and responsibility that that implies. And to get the career I had to get back on the FT wagon, in my field.

That's ok, but it still was a surprise to me - how quickly the "mommy track" pushed me out of the loop for the higher-level work I enjoy, and where the security and benefits ultimately lie.

What's blown me away is the amount of push-back I've gotten for my choice, which my husband never faced, but that's another thread, I think. :-)

In both my and DH's jobs we find that defending the boundary between work and home is a lot of work! I get asked to get things turned around on the weekend and his field... is just nuts. But I don't think the assumption is exactly that there's a SAHP - I think it's just that we will "make things work" around the demands of the job. In both jobs there are often artificial emergencies.

And that's the piece that makes me nuts 'cause I don't think that results in really productive workers /or/ healthy families.
post #117 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowMom View Post
I think in a lot of those situations, those, women are STILL doing all of the housework, looking after the kids when they're home, cooking the meals or whatever running that particular house involves.

I took a sociology class a few years ago and I remember them talking about this - the "second shift". Women work all day at their jobs, then they go home and still have to do all of the things that women were expected to do when they didn't work.
Oh yes The Second Shift by Arlie Hochschild She also wrote The Tme Bind which is also an excellent book.
post #118 of 185
Any doctor's wife I've ever known was always directly involved in the husband's practice. A leader in my old LLL group was the secretary at her OB husband's office. My chiropractor's wife handles all of the finances for his business too. So I guess I haven't had any experience with wives of professionals being expected to SAH all the time. Of course I'm not denying that the phenomenon exists, and I think that yes it is damaging to society and to women.
post #119 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowMom
I think the idea is that our American idea of jobs and work and work hours is sort of built around the paradigm of a man who works, loves his job and spends a whole lot of time at it, and a woman who takes care of the home stuff and does little else. And that paradigm obviously no longer works for us any longer but everybody still has the paradigm, KWIM? I don't think the employers and the work force have really recognized how things have changed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn
I think it's just that we will "make things work" around the demands of the job.
Yes! The way I see it, the jobs/careers were set up for the men as ShadowMom describes. But then when women entered the workforce en masse in all the different areas, they (or should I see we) were simply expected to be exactly like the men - work all those same crazy hours etc. And as a PP said (I don't remember who or on what page), the employers didn't care how the work got done (or whether or not there was someone at home caring for the children or whether or not you had children), they just wanted the work done.

This has not changed in 40+ years and this is where the problem lies (IMHO)!

On another note, I find myself very resentful of men with SAHW's (I'm not resentful of the women, just the men) because it seems as thought they are the problem. If their wives WOH, they (the men) would have to demand a realistic work/life balance. But since they don't have to, they don't. And since they don't, the paradigm continues . . .
post #120 of 185
There are a lot of things at play here.

There is the fact that in American culture, the definition of "successful male" doesn't really include child rearing (though it does increasingly include "good relationship with children"). The definition of masculine success does include, however, professional and monetary success. It is very hard for men to forge an identity for themselves that doesn't include some element of economic breadwinning - if they do forego economic success, they experience a tremendous amount of discrimination.

The definition of female success does not always include economic success. Many female students/recent grads don't choose their careers based on what they will likely earn/need to support a family, but rather based on what they are interested in or good at or feel a passion for.

The definition of female success is more linked to having a happy and healthy family, being attractive, being well liked, giving back to the community. Earning money is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself, like it is for the male definition of success.

Similarly to men who prioritize other aspects over economic success, women who do prioritize professional success are often demonized for being cold, selfish, or materialistic.

This has very strong impacts on the career choices men and women make, how they divide their time, decisions about who will "sacrifice" careers (i.e. go part time or stay home, leave early, not travel, not take a stressful position). It also impacts roles at home - if a man is told that his job is to pay the rent, once he has paid the rent, his job is done. Everything else is bonus, and not a core responsibility.

This is changing - slowly. There is still the expectation that the way men care for their families is by prioritizing their careers over other tasks - and that their partners will support them by taking care of the other tasks to allow the men to succeed professionally. But there are changes; there are many examples of such families on MDC and elsewhere.

And this is not to say that the model of male=primary breadwinner female=primary caregiver is inherently wrong or bad. It just cannot be universal.
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