need pro-SAHM advice - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 07-08-2003, 01:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm posting on behalf of a friend who just had a baby boy three weeks ago, please bear with me. My friend used to be my supervisor a few years ago before I quit working when I got pregnant. She always assumed that she'd want to go back to work a few months after the birth of the baby, but now that he's here she does not want to go back at all. The problem is that her husband is totally against her staying home with the baby. I promised her that I'd do what I could to help her find a way.

I asked my friend if her husband's attitude had anything to do with finances; she said that they could manage fine without her income. He's the major breadwinner; I know what her salary is and it's very small (she works in the public sector). She also admitted that in the past she's regularly blown a lot of her money on things she didn't need, so it's not like she was contributing all that much to begin with.

As for her husband's reasoning: She told me that her husband thinks that they should both have jobs in case one loses their job. His job is VERY secure (he's had several promotions in the past two years); her position is in danger of being done away with completely due to state budget cuts. He also believes that since she paid for four years of college, she should do more than be a SAHM. I told him (in a lighthearted manner, of course) that I was a perfect example of this, as I have a BSJ and have only worked six months during the five years I've been married. I told him that it's great she has a college education in case she needs to get a job someday, but that there are a lot of college-educated women who are SAHMs.

The situation isn't helped by the daycare issue. Both of their families live nearby and my friend's mother is going to take care of the baby during the day. I have a feeling that if her mother had to back out, the MIL or another relative would step in. So in a way it's almost too easy for her to go back to work, because finding childcare/cost of daycare isn't an issue for them.

I asked my friend if her husband had realized that her staying home with the baby, especially during his first few years, would probably be beneficial for all of them, but she said that he doesn't look at it from that perspective at all. I'm sure it's partially that he's overwhelmed with the responsibilities of being a new dad and is worried about taking care of a wife and child, but I don't think that's the entire basis of his attitude.

Does anyone have any advice? I was wondering if maybe there were articles/studies/etc. that have shown the benefits of moms being with their babies. I should also mention to her that her husband will be able to change the deductions on his taxes to bring home more of his paycheck (is that right?). I feel really badly for my friend . . . she's so in love with her child, she's breastfeeding and sometimes co-sleeping and she's loving the sling I gave her . . . I just hate for it all to be disrupted because of this situation.

Amy
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#2 of 13 Old 07-08-2003, 02:28 PM
 
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One thing I'm always struck by is the idea that once you've become a SAHM it's an irrevocable decision.

It doesn't have to be forever...she may want to go back to work once the kidlets are in school, etc.

Could she arrange for a leave at work? If she leaves on good terms she may be able to go back someday.

I know my dh is thrown by ideas that are radically different from what we're doing, and sometimes needs to be eased in. Also, he's more comfortable if there are options or contigency plans.

Jen
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#3 of 13 Old 07-08-2003, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't think a leave is an option for her, at least not for more than a month or so. . . her position is such that she either has to go back to work, or the library will need to hire someone else to do her job (Public Relations Manager---she's basically a one-woman PR dept.). I did suggest that maybe she use some of her FMLA leave to extend her maternity leave, thinking that maybe it would help show her husband that they'd be fine without her working.

Amy
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#4 of 13 Old 07-08-2003, 02:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't think a leave is an option for her, at least not for more than a month or so. . . her position is such that she either has to go back to work, or the library will need to hire someone else to do her job (Public Relations Manager---she's basically a one-woman PR dept.). I did suggest that maybe she use some of her FMLA leave to extend her maternity leave, thinking that maybe it would help show her husband that they'd be fine without her working.

Amy
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#5 of 13 Old 07-08-2003, 02:47 PM
 
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Geez! Some people. Sorry your friend has to deal with this.

I remember doing the calculations myself, when I was trying to decide whether to be a SAHM (it seems soooo long ago), and figuring out that quite aside from the cost of daycare, things like gas/ transportation, lunches, and clothes really add up. I have cut my clothes budget by probably 90% from when I was working. (I wear jeans. A lot.)

Alstrameria already made the main point I had in mind, though (glad I checked before posting), that not working for a while doesn't mean not working forever. Your friend will have ample opportunities to use that college education when the child is older. What is 2 or 3 or even 5 years out of your whole life? What are the benefits?

And that's not going into the fact that being a mother is a TOUGH job, that requires plenty of brainpower. Who's to say college didn't prepare your friend well for this job -- motherhood?
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#6 of 13 Old 07-08-2003, 02:53 PM
 
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Amy,
I'm sorry to say, that IMHO, if seeing his wife so in love with his child isnt enough to get him to think differently, all the research and studies in the world wont help. I am sure her feelings and devotion to their baby is obvious, and any man who would insist on her leaving their baby, needs to have his head examined.

Even if plans were made for her to return to work after the baby was born, and she changed her mind after having the baby (as so many women do!), she should have the right to sah, especially if finances arent an issue.
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#7 of 13 Old 07-08-2003, 03:11 PM
 
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I keep thinking about this one. I just can't imagine having had to deal with this when dd was a tiny baby. If my husband had done this, I'm afraid I would have said something like, "If you make me choose between you and my daughter, I'll choose my daughter."

Women who want to work is one thing. A mother being forced to, when she doesn't want to... [shudder]

I have been thinking about the daycare issue. Perhaps your friend can talk to the mother and mother-in-law? They would probably be sympathetic (I hope!), and perhaps the issue could then be approached from that angle. They could say that they would prefer to be grandparents rather than primary caretakers -- spoil and enjoy the grandchildren rather than having so much responsibility for them.

A last thought is that while nobody can really say that one is better than the other when it comes to SAHM vs. daycare -- there is tons of research which goes in one direction in the other, nothing completely conclusive -- there are things that balance each other out, and one of the positives often cited with daycare is socialization. Since your friend's baby would not even have that, presumably, as the mother/ MIL would be watching only the baby, that takes away a big benefit. If there is no socialization, and it's not economically crippling, why not have the MOTHER be the primary caretaker, rather than the grandmother?

Oh and one more thought -- if I were your friend, I'd be pushing for the FMLA leave rather than the whole shebang. It's limited, doesn't have any far-reaching consequences, and will give her more time to work on the larger issues. Plus, who knows, maybe she will change her mind and decide she wants to work, after all. Not likely, but it keeps more options open.
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#8 of 13 Old 07-08-2003, 03:19 PM
 
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There is a great book called Miserly Moms She could read this and show him how much money they WILL SAVE by her staying home..although you said $ is not really an issue.

I have no real advice to give(everyone has really covered all I would have said)
other than that she sit him down and tell him exactly how she feels...If a Momma wants to go back to work that is one thing, but to have to leave you baby behind when all you want is to be with them..is horrible.
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#9 of 13 Old 07-08-2003, 04:31 PM
 
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I would point out that most financial planners want to see 6 months or more of a salary in savings. THis is all your friend needs in case her DH loses his job.

It is true that one would expect to not be a SAHM forever....Why does her DH think that?

Anyway, I would continue to support her!
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#10 of 13 Old 07-08-2003, 04:44 PM
 
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Ok, I know this is going to sound radical, but he can't "force" her to work. She can quit without his approval. I'm not advocating this as a first option, of course, but if they can't reach a mutually agreeable decision, why not? Its no worse than him demanding that she do something against her will/better judgement, is it?
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#11 of 13 Old 07-08-2003, 04:56 PM
 
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I was just going to post a thread along similar lines. I cut back my hours to 25 a week after dd was born, but I would prefer to stay at home. It's true that things would be tighter without my income, but not as tight as dh seems to think. I won't go into details and highjack the thread, but I am eager to read all of the responses.

karen
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#12 of 13 Old 07-08-2003, 05:36 PM
 
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Honestly, this is between them and you might want to stay out of it. Feeling that she is making family decisions with people who are not IN the family might be just the thing to make him dig in his heels.

This is a decision for BOTH parents, NOT just mom. And not mom and dad's friends. Or mother-in-law or whomever.

I believe your intentions are good and I understand that your friend asked, but I would feel very hesitant to become that involved in another family's major decisions.
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#13 of 13 Old 07-08-2003, 07:57 PM
 
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NiteNicole, you make a valid point, but I didn't get the impression that Amy planned to arm herself with the latest studies and then go make the presentation to her friend's husband herself... just getting ideas to pass on to her friend, for her friend to use or not. Nothing wrong with that, especially if her friend specifically asked for that kind of support. (From the OP, "I promised her that I'd do what I could to help her find a way.")
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