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SAHMing as default huring society's work/life balance? - Page 4

post #61 of 185
Especially when you consider that our economy used to be primarily based on small family farms and small family-operated businesses. People didn't think, "I've put in enough hours this week: tomorrow I'll take a day off. If they were ahead, they still kept working to set something aside for the future. They were never too sure that the profits would continue.

The main difference is, putting in long hours didn't mean you never got to see your family, since you were all working together. And of course for farmers, they knew they had the winter months to sit around the stove and tell stories. Families got a lot of togetherness then; I wonder how our modern families would handle it.
post #62 of 185
I'm dealing w/this right now, since both of my children are now in school full day, and I want to go back to work. I've applied for several positions, most of them part time office positions at Penn State. Some have been for housekeeping, others warehouse. I have not got ANY phone calls back for interviews. Absolutely nothing! I even signed up for CNA classes at a nursing home, but as usual no one at the nursing home knows when the classes will actually begin. It sucks now, and I know another sahm of 5+ years who is going through the same thing. I even tried calling back a few places and asking HR if anyone had reviewed my applications, but AGAIN, I get put through to voice mail, and no one answers my phone calls. I'd love to have a work at home position, but am finding that impossible as well. Most places either want me to be a salesperson, or need money(HA! for me to work for them). I can't get a job w/daycare because all of the places around here need 2 years experience in another daycare facility. It's like, how do you even get a job in that field, if no one hires you because you don't have the experience.

It's not like we absolutely need the money. DP has been supporting the family on just his income for almost 6 years, but there's a lot I could do w/the extra income coming in. I'd also like to help contribute to our hf, or *just maybe-get my hair done weekly, and buy a new wardrobe*-haven't done that since hs graduation. Any extra money I get from the ct goes to extra-curricular activities for the girls, their clothes, family outings to different cities, etc. I just wanted the extra money coming in so that I could finally spend some money on myself, and save for other potentially rainy days. It's been almost 2 months, and I know others who have got jobs in just a week. The temp agencies have been no help either, rather just a bunch of liars.

We'll see what happens. For our family, it would be really benefit us for me to start working. I would have worked sooner, but the cost of childcare would have ate away any money I made from working.
post #63 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by lapoema View Post
I think that my husband is where he is in his career because I stay home. And our family, as a result, is benefiting from it. It's a win-win situation.
I agree.

We juggled two demanding jobs for a while, and decided once ds was on his way that having me at home was the best option for us. Once I was at home, dh's career really took off - we are in a better place financially now than we were when we were both working and both juggling our careers with the demands of home/children. Dh has more job security now than he did when we were both working. I am less stressed, and we are both more "present" at home than we were when we were both working long hours and bringing work home with us. Now I can create a better, calmer, more balanced home for dh to come home to - and as a result, when he gets home, he is HERE, he is able to relax and enjoy connecting with me and with the kids rather than getting home in a harried state, juggling all the home responsibilities, both of us tired, everyone needy. I have several advanced degrees, and while I do hope to go back to meaningful work outside the home someday, and realize that it will be more difficult due to my career "gap", I take heart in the feeling that we are committed to doing what is right for our family now. Perhaps I am creating a career gap, and certainly I am not being paid to do what I do, but my dh is in a better position to provide for all of us with me at home. If the "what-if's" should strike I will have to be creative and determined, and hopefully I will still be grateful for having been able to be home with my kids when I was.
post #64 of 185
I think the person the OP was speaking with has a point. Change in the workplace only happens if there are people fighting to make it change. I think for many stressful jobs (lawyer, doctor, etc.) there is often an assumption that there is a SAHP who takes care of everything, freeing the worker to work at any time, all the time. If WOHMs force those jobs to accommodate family life, it's good for everybody, IMO. (Also, btw, I agree that this is a subject of general interest and does not belong in the SAHM forum.)

However, it's shouldn't just be on women to do that. Men who are interested in family balance have to fight that fight too.

In our family, my husband and I made the decision that we preferring having two working parents at family-friendly jobs over one SAHM (me) and my husband in a very un-family-friendly job. My husband grew up with the hard-career father/SAHM model, and he really does not want that for his own family for many reasons. I grew up with a different model (two mostly WOH parents, depending on circumstances, with caregiving, housework, and financial responsibility equitably shared), and we both think that's the preferable model for us. We tried the traditional model (me at home, him working a very hard job), and found we were both really unhappy and most importantly that it was not great for our DS. Our family is much happier now.

However, in making that decision, we've given up our chances of having truly lucrative and challenging careers. We're definitely fine with that, but it is frustrating at times to know that if we want a happy family, we have to restrict our career interests. However, hopefully when our DS is older we can fire the careers back up. In any case, we do feel that we are both chipping away little by little at the rigid gender roles in the workplace. Hopefully by the time DS has kids he will be able to have a challenging career and at the same time be as involved with his kids as his own father is.
post #65 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Flower View Post
A demanding career doesn't necessarily mean a career that is well paid!
...or even a career. I grew up in a blue collar home. My dad was a furniture mover. He was expected to take whatever job came along, no matter what day it was. Later on, my ex-husband had the same expectation. At month end, when most people are moving, it wasn't uncommon for them to put in back-to-back 14-15 hour days...sometimes for many days in a row. I can remember my dad working 25 days straight - no day off, and the shortest day he put in was 10 hours.

Nobody cared what the wife was doing. When I was about 10 or 11, my mom went back to school. She was a full-time student, worked a nearly full-time job during tax season and had responsibility for three kids and two invalid parents. During all those years that my ex was working the same job, I was working full-time, as well.

I find the idea in the OP interesting, but I'm not convinced that SAHMs are really a big factor. My immediate boss at my last job was a woman. She had two grown children...and she put in 10-11 hour days Monday-Friday and was expected to be available at all hours in the evenings and on weekends. When I started working there, her husband was retired, but he wasn't when she got the job.

The demands in the workplace keep creeping up, but I've never experienced a situation where an employer paid any attention to whether or not the employee had responsibilities at home, or whether they had a support person. Personally, I think cell phones and laptops have a lot to answer for...
post #66 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by lisalou View Post
There was actually a very good article recently in The Economist about aging populations and birthrates. Italy and Japan are actually having a lot problems with birthrates. While France was able to turn theirs around by giving women more options in the work place and having more family friendly policies. Italy sort of has family friendly policies but your career as a woman can't really go anywhere if you decide to have kids same with Japan where it's even worse women don't get high powered jobs to begin with. Basically it boiled down to the more options women have and the more support they get for those options, the more kids they have which I find interesting. You sort of go from an agrarian society where you have to have a lot of kids, to a more industrialized society where job opportunities make you need less kids to an enlightened industrial society that sees the importance in work/life balance and birth rates go up.

I don't think sahm'ing per se actually hurts women, everyone should have the choice. But when the patriarchy that sets the agenda feels it should be the default for women who have kids, that's where it hurts women. When I just become a lactating uterus, then I have problems with society.
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I would definitely like to see more 'family orientated' businesses. I'm not sure what the overall situation is like for the U.S, but it's definitely happening in the UK (slowly).

Any suggestion that women should be undertaking a certain role on the basis that she has a uterus makes me uncomfortable and a little defensive. I completely support 'choice', whether that be WOHM, SAHM, WAHM.. the individual family should be able to have the ability to choose whatever approach they wish.

Unfortunately, economics does not always allow for choice. The standard of living now is so high, especially in the US and the UK. I work in the Credit Card department of a Bank, and I'm talking to so many customers who cannot even afford to cover their basic living needs, electricity, gas, food, Council Tax, Rent/Mortgage, so am wondering how this is going to impact upon family life in the long term as more working families have to increase working hours to cover their living costs. I realise I've gone a little off course with this section, but I believe that it does have a serious impact upon the structure of the family.

For me personally, it never occured to me to stop working long term after my son was born. Financially, I am a single Mother, so my son relies upon me for his comfort and wellbeing economically. But even if I was married, I would still work.

I've seen mentioned in some of the previous posts also... the idea that if women didn't work, this would remove the economic competition that men now experience. I feel that this undermines women, and once again, suggests that women's roles should be limited and defined by their biology. If we suggested that men stop working so that the competition would be removed for women in the workplace, I imagine that this idea would be rejected as silly and SO not going to happen because of the traditional idea of men being the main/sole breadwinner.

Plus it ignores the fact that women have always worked throughout history. The fact that women have always worked undermines the ideal of the 'nuclear, man works, woman stay at home' family anyway. I've always interpreted that as an ideal that was formed according to class status anyway.




Peace
post #67 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
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The demands in the workplace keep creeping up, but I've never experienced a situation where an employer paid any attention to whether or not the employee had responsibilities at home, or whether they had a support person. Personally, I think cell phones and laptops have a lot to answer for...
I'm in a situation now where my male boss, who's maybe 39-42 is very sensitive to my needs as an employed mother. I attribute this to the fact that HIS wife is a VP (works out of their home) and herself has a demanding job, she travels sometimes, etc. So HE has to be the one to leave early for school pickup (he blocks it off on his calendar) or to take off work for a sick child. He's very understanding of what I need to do and always says family comes first. I've decided I'd like to work part time now ( 4 days/week - 32 hours instead of 40) and he's all for it. We agree that my job can work 4 days a week including upcoming new responsibilities that we'd both like me to take on.

I attribute his attitude to 2 factors - one his wife works and two - he's more than willing to set boundaries on how much he works and what is expected of him. Now - why is he willing to set those boundaries? Is it because he's not the sole wage earner, and not even the primary wage earner (wife makes more than him)? I'm not really sure.

Our work place is definitely the male-dominated, wife-at-home kind of place. But let me tell you, I work with a lot of these guys. I'm only speaking for what I see at my work place - There's an awful lot of "activity" at the expense of "productivity." My boss who sets boundaries is no less effective that people who insist *they* have to be there 12-15/hours a day and attend the golf outings on the weekend and happy hours after work. Honestly, a lot of the time I see unhappy people who have little respect for their wives and WANT to stay at the office. They manufacture crisis and insist the social functions are a huge part of their promotions. I just don't think they *have* to work the way they choose to. I'm not saying that's the case with anyone on this thread - I'm just telling you what I see at my office.

Like another PP, DH and I have chosen lesser careers (the "mommy-track" for both of us).
post #68 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imogen View Post
Any suggestion that women should be undertaking a certain role on the basis that she has a uterus makes me uncomfortable and a little defensive. I completely support 'choice', whether that be WOHM, SAHM, WAHM.. the individual family should be able to have the ability to choose whatever approach they wish.

Unfortunately, economics does not always allow for choice.
Good post!
post #69 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellien C View Post

Our work place is definitely the male-dominated, wife-at-home kind of place. But let me tell you, I work with a lot of these guys. I'm only speaking for what I see at my work place - There's an awful lot of "activity" at the expense of "productivity."
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I think this is so true! In a typical work week, how many of the 40 plus hours people work are "effective" and how many are just "activity" or maybe even busy work or socializing in the name of "networking"?

I find it ridiculous that there was no option to do my old career on a part time basis or from home, at least some of the time. I KNOW with 100% certainty that I could have been very effective and gotten a lot of work done on a reduced, part time schedule and if allowed to work from home occasionally.

This is what makes the workplace default anti-family...with all the modern technology to communicate in real time electronically, why oh why aren't there more opportunities for part time professional work, telecommuting, job sharing, etc.

It bugs me to no end. :

I have the same brain, same training, and same level of commitment to my career, my field, and my employer whether I work at their office or from my own home, and whether I am in the office for 40 hours or 20 hours.

In my field, I have heard time and time again, that woman was a great employee and brilliant with projects, but she had a baby and asked for part time work, they said no, and she quit. How stupid of that employer to lose a valuable employee.
post #70 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imogen View Post
I've seen mentioned in some of the previous posts also... the idea that if women didn't work, this would remove the economic competition that men now experience. I feel that this undermines women, and once again, suggests that women's roles should be limited and defined by their biology.
I'm the one who posted about that idea. I thought I'd made myself pretty clear -- but apparently some are still reading me as saying I really think women who want to work should stay home, to free up more jobs for men.

So, at the risk of sounding repetitive, I'll say again that I am not at all in favor of women being pressured to stay home if they want to work.

In my opinion, the OP's friend seemed to be saying that ALL women should keep working after having children, whether we wanted to or not, in order to change the social climate into one where employers no longer assume their male employees are free of home responsibilities (because the wives work, too, and aren't home to take care of everything).

I was saying this (women working when they want to stay home, in order to change the social climate) would be ridiculous -- just as ridiculous as it would be for me to say that ALL wives should stay home rather than competing with men for jobs. Saying something is ridiculous is not the same as saying I think it's a good idea.

I don't know how to make it any clearer than that -- so if anyone else still thinks I said what Imogen thinks I said, well, I guess there's no way you're going to understand me. I give up.
post #71 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
I'm the one who posted about that idea. I thought I'd made myself pretty clear -- but apparently some are still reading me as saying I really think women who want to work should stay home, to free up more jobs for men.

So, at the risk of sounding repetitive, I'll say again that I am not at all in favor of women being pressured to stay home if they want to work.

In my opinion, the OP's friend seemed to be saying that ALL women should keep working after having children, whether we wanted to or not, in order to change the social climate into one where employers no longer assume their male employees are free of home responsibilities (because the wives work, too, and aren't home to take care of everything).

I was saying this (women working when they want to stay home, in order to change the social climate) would be ridiculous -- just as ridiculous as it would be for me to say that ALL wives should stay home rather than competing with men for jobs. Saying something is ridiculous is not the same as saying I think it's a good idea.

I don't know how to make it any clearer than that -- so if anyone else still thinks I said what Imogen thinks I said, well, I guess there's no way you're going to understand me. I give up.
ah mammal.. My mistake, I should have been a lot clearer in my post. My post wasn't suggesting that you thought this, or supported this idea, but I have experienced this way of thinking many times in the real world. Your mentioning of it triggered my memory of experiencing this. And I should have specified this when I responded

And I absolutely agree with you in respect to the idea of it being ridiculous, just as the idea of all women working to change the social climate is etc etc.

Peace
post #72 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imogen View Post
ah mammal.. My mistake, I should have been a lot clearer in my post. My post wasn't suggesting that you thought this, or supported this idea,
Oh! I'm sorry I misunderstood you!

Quote:
but I have experienced this way of thinking many times in the real world.
Yes, I have, too! Which is why I thought it would make a good analogy.

Quote:
And I absolutely agree with you in respect to the idea of it being ridiculous, just as the idea of all women working to change the social climate is etc etc.

Peace
It sounds like we're totally on the same page!
post #73 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
Oh! I'm sorry I misunderstood you!



Yes, I have, too! Which is why I thought it would make a good analogy.



It sounds like we're totally on the same page!
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post #74 of 185
I come very late to the discussion, and I enjoyed reading the pps. I totally agree that the expectation that a person (single/married/with/without kids or plants or pets or interests or hobbies) should have no obligations that could conflict with his job - at least at times - is cruel and not realistic. A person can accomplish much, much more when he/she is personallly fulfilled. And fulfillement can come from yoga classes, from engagement in politics, from pursuing a literary career... not just having kids.

I totally agree there is a lot more activity than productivity - especially when the hours are really too long, for months at a time.

I agree that this can be changed, slowly but surely. Ellien C's example is very telling. Because her supervisor's wife works, her supervisor uses his time more effectively and supervises his staff in a more humane and ultimately more productive way. I know that Kofi Annan - as he worked in the World Health Organization - was for some time a single parent as his wife travelled extensively. And he would ensure meetings would close at 18:00 for everyone to be able to attend to their kids. And that did not hurt his career, apparently.

Granted, this was in the UN, and it was in Europe. But if gradually employees come to resist the viewpoint that they will get the client's call come what may (from the beach, while they are driving, while they're nursing, while they're making love to their partners... ) things will improve for everyone...
post #75 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by gaialice View Post
I come very late to the discussion, and I enjoyed reading the pps. I totally agree that the expectation that a person (single/married/with/without kids or plants or pets or interests or hobbies) should have no obligations that could conflict with his job - at least at times - is cruel and not realistic. A person can accomplish much, much more when he/she is personallly fulfilled. And fulfillement can come from yoga classes, from engagement in politics, from pursuing a literary career... not just having kids.

I totally agree there is a lot more activity than productivity - especially when the hours are really too long, for months at a time.

I agree that this can be changed, slowly but surely. Ellien C's example is very telling. Because her supervisor's wife works, her supervisor uses his time more effectively and supervises his staff in a more humane and ultimately more productive way. I know that Kofi Annan - as he worked in the World Health Organization - was for some time a single parent as his wife travelled extensively. And he would ensure meetings would close at 18:00 for everyone to be able to attend to their kids. And that did not hurt his career, apparently.

Granted, this was in the UN, and it was in Europe. But if gradually employees come to resist the viewpoint that they will get the client's call come what may (from the beach, while they are driving, while they're nursing, while they're making love to their partners... ) things will improve for everyone...

Good post. I agree.
post #76 of 185
A couple of points.

1. total jobs in the workforce is not a zero sum game. Women moving en masse into the working world in the 70s and 80s didn't take jobs from men - instead, more and more jobs were created - in new industries, new technologies. Other jobs were made obsolete. But the total number of jobs now available is greater now than in the past, despite more supply of labor. This explanation is actually a gross simplification of a very complex labor/productivity/workforce economic structure.

2. change only happens when forced. In fact, our lives now are in many ways more family friendly in the past, because we do have telecommuting, cell phones, etc.
post #77 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
A couple of points.

2. change only happens when forced. In fact, our lives now are in many ways more family friendly in the past, because we do have telecommuting, cell phones, etc.
I actually think that the technology has made some of it worse in a lot of ways. Yes, it does support more flexible work which is good. But at the same time it's raised the bar on whether people are expected to be accessible.

This was brought home to me over the weekend. My husband is in IT and works with large multi-national teams (meetings with India at 4 am or whatever). About 7 people were working over the weekend and on a bridge (conference) call and you could hear their kids in the background etc. An 8th person hadn't joined the call and there was a whole discussion about how that person hadn't answered his/her cell phone and should their home number be called.

I realized that calling someone's home phone number is a barrier to bugging them outside of working hours... one cell phones eliminate.

Anyways no answers here for the broader question, but I do think that work expectations are totally out of control in certain industries.
post #78 of 185
Here's a great quote from a powerful woman:

Susan Arnold - President, Global Business Units, Procter & Gamble

In 1999, Arnold became the first woman to head a global business unit at P&G. In an unexpected way, she gives some of the credit for that to her two children, now 11 and 14. "Having children made me set priorities," Arnold says. "Leaders who don't set priorities can burn out their organizations."

This was from the Fortune magazine website (which I stopped reading some time ago when they had some insulting article about women!).

But it proves my point about setting boundaries. When you do that - it puts you in a position of power rather than of weakness.
post #79 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by gaialice View Post
I agree that this can be changed, slowly but surely. Ellien C's example is very telling. Because her supervisor's wife works, her supervisor uses his time more effectively and supervises his staff in a more humane and ultimately more productive way. .
That could be true. Maybe it's men that will have to change because I've worked with former working mothers who were absolutely unsympathetic to issues of working moms. They were lucky enough to have flexible daycare AND I also think they were very driven, high-energy types who always work 20 hours/day or whatever.
post #80 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellien C View Post
This was from the Fortune magazine website (which I stopped reading some time ago when they had some insulting article about women!).

But it proves my point about setting boundaries. When you do that - it puts you in a position of power rather than of weakness.
Sometimes it does, sometimes it gets you fired, and sometimes it gets your department outsourced to India, or your client gets a new company that responds 24/7.

I definitely agree that we all need to work on this, but I think it's simplistic to say that every individual can just set limits.
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