Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stay at Home vs. Working Parents; Can't We All Just Get Along??

I grew up in a dual-income family.  My mom and dad both worked an enormous amount of hours to provide us with the necessities of life.  During my childhood, I was left in the hands of very capable child care professionals between the hours of 9am-5pm.

I am now 34 years old, and my husband and I are both employed.  Our youngest attends full-time daycare, and our oldest spent his first 5 years in full-time daycare before entering elementary school.   Up until a year ago, being a dual-income family was NOT AN OPTION for us.  It was a necessity.  We are very fortunate to now be in a place where becoming a stay-at-home mom is an option, and I’ve been giving it very serious thought.

Today, Yahoo published this story written by Brian Reed, an author from investigatinganswers.com: 

A quote from the article: “How many people do you know who get to the end of their life and wish they had spent more time working and less time with their families? You can't pin a dollar sign on the value of spending time with your children.”

Whoa.  Hey Brian Reed, why don’t you just kick me in the stomach and call me a shitty, uncaring parent while you’re at it??!?

Let me reiterate- my husband and I have just gotten to a place where becoming a single-income family is possible.  For many people, this isn’t a choice.  It disturbs me that frowning upon the working parent’s “decision” to remain employed is so… well… ACCEPTED in today’s society.  Here is a comment left on the article referenced above:

”Money was NOT a concern for whether I stayed home. I did NOT want someone else raising my children. I learned how to budget, scrimp, and do without ... but I'll NEVER regret being home for my children. It's too bad more people don't feel that way.” –Debbie

Oh dear, judgmental Debbie.  It’s great that you were able to raise your children.  Too bad your husband didn’t raise your children (I’m assuming that you have a husband with a job because if you didn’t, staying home with your children WOULDN’T BE AN OPTION).  The fact that he is employed makes him part of the collective of uncaring parents who have other people raise their children, correct?  You can’t BOTH raise your children according to your definition of “raising” unless you are BOTH stay-at-home parents, right?!

While I’m SURE Debbie McJudgerson is a fine person, it’s tough as a working mom to see comments like this.

There are PLENTY of reasons to stay home, which is why I’m very seriously considering it.  Of COURSE I want to spend more time with my boys.  I’ve always been envious of people who had this option.  As I said before, up until last year staying home with my children wasn't an option.  Even if it HAD been an option, why judge people for having “other people raise their children”?  Some men and women are better mothers and fathers because they are employed outside of the house.  THAT IS OK.  It’s OK to want a career!!  And it most certainly doesn’t mean that daycare providers are raising their kids. 

So what IS raising a child?  To me, raising a child is instilling values, teaching them right from wrong, putting their needs ahead of your own. It means DOING WHAT IS RIGHT FOR THEM.  Sometimes doing what is right for them involves childcare. "Childcare" and "raising a child" are not interchangeable terms.  Raising children is so much more than that. 

Being a stay-at-home parent is the hardest, most demanding, most underpaid job that anyone could ever have.  But it is also extremely rewarding.  I am SO thankful that this is a possibility for me, because I know this isn’t the case for many people.  If I choose to take this path, it’ll be because it is the right thing to do for me and my family.  The thing that may be right for MY family may not be the right thing for YOUR family. 

I grew up in a dual-income family.  My mom and dad both worked an enormous amount of hours to provide us with the necessities of life.  During my childhood, I was left in the hands of very capable child care professionals between the hours of 9am-5pm.  And you know what?

My parents raised me. 

 I happen to think they did a pretty decent job.



  1. I don't have children, but as someone who came from a dual-employed parental background (heck, my mom hardly missed work thanks to me being born in the summer and her being a teacher), I wholeheartedly applaud your post! Sometimes being away from your children during the day makes you appreciate them that much more in the evening. At least that's how I feel about my cat, anyway.

  2. Oh man, Debbie needs to be bitch slapped. My mom WANTED to be a stay at home parent, and sometimes she could, but other times she HAD to work. Just like you, it wasn't a choice or a matter or saving. Fuck debbie. (I'm all for letting people do what they want non judgmentally. I understand wanting to stay home, HAVING to work, and wanting to work because you find it rewarding. It's all good).

  3. I actually saw this article and refused to read it. I knew someone's comment would annoy me. Women like Debbie make me angry. If I could be a stay at home, I would. But I need to work. I have to. And is it so bad to want to work? Does it make me less than a mother to want to work? Does it mean because I want to work, someone else is raising my kids? That's just a stupid point to make.

    1. The sad thing is, so many people applauded Debbie's comment. So bizarre to me that such a judgmental comment would get such praise.

  4. My mom, a highly intellectual woman, stayed at home with us and do you know what? She was BORED (I don't blame her.)And so were WE. I can honestly say that it would have been better for her to have gone back to work earlier.

    The best thing you can do for your kids is being the best person YOU can be. I, like my mom, think I am a better person when I have some sort of professional life outside of the home. As long as they're in a good environment and have their needs met, they'll be fine.

  5. Both my parents worked full time. My dh and I both work full time because we have to too. If I were to stay home, activities like the bouncy place, movies, museums, eating out (ever) would not be an option. So, I'd be stuck at home with three kids, bored to tears and not able to take them out b/c without the second income, we wouldnt have money for the things we do with our kids that we feel make fun childhood memories. Just saying.
    Plus, two of my three littles are very very very active and thrive in the school setting. They love all their little wee friends and crafts (and glitter! that I dont allow at my house b/c I hate it).
    Plus, if you ever watch Super Nanny....all the moms of the effed up kids stay at home. Again, just saying...

  6. I think your parents did an excellent job of raising you! Accept maybe they shouldn't have let you wear turtlenecks in the summer???

    1. You're right, I retract the last sentence of my post. Curse you, turtlenecks!

  7. Thank you for writing this post. I have struggled with the same issue many times. I have experienced both being a working mom and a SAHM and my perspective has changed completely. I don't know why we moms feel such a need to judge each other. It took me a long time after leaving the workforce to stay at home, to realized my self worth wasn't tied to my career. Now that I have dealt with some of the issues, I LOVE staying home with my kids, but, if you decide to stay at home, I hope the transition is easier for you. My best advice is don't stay home with your kids because you feel guilty about working. If you don't really want to do it, it won't be good for you or your kids. (I know this from experience) :-) Best of luck with whichever you choose!

  8. Thank you for saying this! The biggest part of this whole debacle in my mind is that the conversation is about a choice-- and this choice does not enter into the equation for most of us (whether it's working parents or stay at home parents).

  9. Nice post and well said. I am lucky that we have been able to be a one income family and I have stayed home with my children. I did work for a while after my first child was born, but we made the decision together to forgo a second income. It has not always been easy, but I have never taken it as an example of what to do or not to do. It is just the choice that we could make and did.

  10. I did both while the girl was small, and frankly? I got sick of each group trying to woo me into their corner. Raising kids is hard no matter what. Both my parents worked an asston of hours, too, and guess what? I'M FINE. Do I resent them not being there? No, I was pretty happy that we had food and clothing and a place to live.

    Plus, how much do I hate that it's a douchey guy writing that article? A LOT.

  11. FYI you think you want to be a stay-at-home mom now because you work....if you decide to quit said job and stay home, you will wish for the days you went to work. A double edged sword/grass is always greener on the other side scenerio! I have done both and enjoyed both immensely. With Tysen, I worked and was a better mom because of it I believe. Now things are just too stinking crazy with 3 kiddos that I wouldn't even know how to function if I had to go to work every day! That being said, I do take classes online full-time to finish my degree and keep my sanity! If you decide to take the plunge and stay home, it may or may not be for you, and that's not to be judged by anyone else except your self!

  12. Thank you! Every family needs to make the choice to do what works for them. It saddens me when the choice is not the one you want, but is taken for reasons of necessity.

    I work away from the home because I need to, not for income, but for my own mental health. I get irritated with those who suggest that I am a bad mom for doing it. You'd better believe I'd end up being a bad mom if I was stuck in a situation I am emotionally unsuited for.

    We all love our kids and want what's best for them and that includes seeing to our own well being, including the decision to stay home or not.

  13. I stayed at home for about 3 years with the kids. And I don't care who thinks I'm a shitty mother when I say that I couldn't hack it. I love my kids more than anything. And yet, staying home full time made me stressed, angry, depressed and bored. I worked full time on the midnight shift for over four years so that either myself or my husband was home with the kids. Now I work "real people" hours, and I am no longer a vampire. We could probably live on one income and be fine. But I LIKE my job, I LIKE the break from the kids and the time to talk to other adults who aren't related to me. I think I'm a better parent for working.

    So anyone who doesn't like that I work out of the house can suck it. I'm happy with what I do and my kids are beautiful, smart and loving, well adjusted little people.

  14. Pretty insightful post. Never believed that it was this simple after all. I had spent a great deal of my time looking for someone to explain this subject clearly and you're the only 1 that ever did that. Kudos to you! Keep it up
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