What does your foreign spouse think about SAHM? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 04-19-2011, 04:51 PM - Thread Starter
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My mom stayed at home when we were little and I've always planned on staying home when I had kids.  We got a (wonderful) surprise pregnancy months before DH was about to start grad school so I have been working part time in a very flexible family-friendly job for the past 2 1/2 years since DD was born.


DH got a job offer in another city and if his salary is high enough, I would love to quit work and be a SAHM. 


DH isn't too thrilled with the idea...he is stressed about being the only wage earner  but he would be ok with it if he is able to make enough money.  We were talking about it the other day and realized that none of our educated, middle class friends from Nairobi, Kenya (where DH is from) are SAHPs.  I think it's a combination of the increasing cost of living in Nairobi that makes 2 salaries really appealing, along with the very low cost of having a live in "househelp" - a nanny, cook, and maid all in one.  Almost all middle class families have a househelp so most women feel like there is nothing for them to do at home, and many people sacrifice a lot to get an education so they want to work and put their education to good use.


We hope to move back to Kenya in another year and two and I've had several Kenyan friends ask me what I would do...when I say I would stay home with my dd at least for the first several months, I always get strange looks and comments, especially since I have a masters degree.


Anyway, I'm just curious if other cultures have similar views of SAHMs.  I know there are many parts of the US where being a SAHM is not really valued either, but it is still a pretty common lifestyle choice here. 

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#2 of 8 Old 04-19-2011, 08:23 PM
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I am the "foreign" one here in Hong Kong.


Here, full-time domestic help is very common among middle-class and above. Most working women return to work after their babies are born. If they do quit work, it's usually around the time the child enters primary school and they (the mothers) have to do more work to look after the children's homework and examination preparation.


The pressure for income, especially to contribute to paying a mortgage, school fees, tutorials, and extra-curricular activities is high. I have heard some western women married to HK guys say that their DH's did not want them to stay home to look after the children and household, but to work for money instead.


The only women here that I know who completely quit work when their first baby was born had very high earning husbands. They also had full-time domestic help too. :)





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#3 of 8 Old 04-20-2011, 05:41 AM
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Ooooh, that is an interesting question!


My dh is from Ethiopia, and from what I've gathered, somewhat unusual in really valuing having me as a sahm, even during times of financial hardship.


Much of what you describe about Kenya would apply to his culture.  With the added incentives to work that inflation there is *insane* and COL is very high, as well as a generation of women to whom education and work is more accessible than it was previously.


Fitting right in with that is his oddness in valuing a big family.  While the rest of the country is going "Ooooh!  Birth control!  Small family!  More money!  Easier life!" he's thinking that 9-15 kids would be a good number.  lol.gif  A lot of his countrymen find that almost as incomprehensible as Americans do, as that's supposedly a "backwards" and rural attitude, and dh is neither backwards nor rural.

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#4 of 8 Old 04-20-2011, 07:18 AM
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DH is from Jordan. My DH definitely preferred that I go back to work for the financial security, but would have been supportive if I had opted to stay home.


Among our friends and relatives there, it would be acceptable to choose to stay home, but most of the mothers I know there of our generation do work. Having your own "pocket money" and not having to ask your husband for money is a huge sense of security for the women I know. My biggest beef has been that they don't understand that my money plays a vital role in keeping our household afloat - it isn't just extra money that I can spend as I please. As with the other places that have been mentioned, domestic help isn't horribly expensive, and oftentimes grandmas are willing to offer free babysitting.


Also, in my MIL's generation many of the women in my husband's family were forced to give up their careers by their husbands when they had children. My MIL worked when my husband was young, but had to make huge concessions to her husband to get permission to work. I have to think that their experience also has played a role in the choice the women in our generation have made to work rather than stay home. It is a privledge/right their moms did not have.

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#5 of 8 Old 04-21-2011, 11:02 PM
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My husband's from South America and is all about me as a SAHM.  It's pretty common in his country but he also grew up with a nanny so I'm not sure I can entirely blame his culture. On the other hand, he has said that after the baby is a year old, I should go back.


So I guess it is valued in his eyes and would be acceptable in his culture, but it's not necessarily what he wants me to do forever/what I'll do forever. I'd love to because there are many things about SAHM that I enjoy but it might not always economically feasible. What a fascinating post :)

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#6 of 8 Old 05-01-2011, 11:25 PM
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Very interesting!  I believe there is really something to this!  My DH's family is Chinese and they  have not been supportive of the idea of me quitting my job.  I am a SAHM now and am considering not returning to work.  They seem to value the parents working outside of the home and expect that they (grandparents) should be taking care of the children while we work.  My DH has not always been entirely supportive of me wanting to quit my job but has changed a lot over the past couple of months because I have spoken with him so frankly about my feelings and desires.  I do not think that his family will be supportive of the idea of me quitting.  They value working outside of the home and the ability to bring in an income above all else.  I dread when we have to tell them that I have quit my job but I have pretty much decided that my children need a SAHM since their father works enough hours for both of us. 

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#7 of 8 Old 05-25-2011, 10:59 AM
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DH is Egyptian and is very supportive of me being a SAHM.  When we met, I had a Master's degree and made double his salary, but still quit when our DS1 was born.


I think it's a mixed view in Egypt.  His Mom and all of his Aunts are professional women (PhDs, MDs, etc.) who kept working.  He was raised by extended family--and the support of the family there is what makes working possible for so many women.  There are usually grandmothers, aunts, uncles around who can help with kids--plus the very reasonable cost for a maid/nanny.  If we were to live there, however, it would still be acceptable for me to stay at home.  (Partially because my Arabic is horrible...LOL...but I'm sure some would encourage me to go teach even though my background is not in education.)


Now...homeschooling...that's a whole different story.  The concept of homeschooling is completely foreign in Egypt--except among ex-pats.

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#8 of 8 Old 05-25-2011, 11:15 AM
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My husband is also from South America, where SAHMs are the norm, even with house help.

That said, he has made it abundantly clear that he does NOT want a SAHW, no way no how! His attitude is likely influenced not less by his cultural background but his childhood (his mom WOH), his personal experience (inconsistent first wife vs my professional drive), and goals for the future (kickin' retirement with lots of travel, etc.). While culture seems to influence the rest of his family differently in this issue, for DH? notsomuch! smile.gif

Mi vida loca: full-time WOHM, frugalista, foodie wannabe, 10+ years of TCOYF 


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