I’ve recently been in a few places where they have asked what my wife does for an occupation. Ever since we had our first child, she has stayed home and raised our family, and so my answer is, she works at home– and works harder than I do!
Society has tried to tell women two things over the past generation:
- You both have to work if you want to make ends meet
- You’re not a complete woman/mother if you work from home– anyone can do that.
A woman must work in order to “make ends meet”.
One of the interesting things in my area of the country is how many houses are either really cheaply priced or priced “out of this world.” We’re having a hard time finding what we are looking for in a decent price range, and the houses that we do want are just out of our reach. We wonder how anyone can afford a house like that, but then we realize that it is because of the two income families around us.
You see, we’ve become a culture that whines that we have to work because we spend too much on things to get us what we think we deserve. We’re not really needing the woman’s income to meet needs, we “need” the woman’s income to support our lifestyle choices:
We like our huge, expensive flat screen televisions. And we like having a television in just about every room in the house. And we like having our cable or satellite connected to it, [never mind] that we cough up seventy dollars a month for a zillion channels that we usually don’t watch. A generation ago there was one TV. With an antenna.
We like every person in the house who is old [enough] to drive to have their own cars. A generation ago there was one car, maybe two, per household. And when Johnny or Susie were fortunate enough to get their own car it was usually not just off the showroom floor. Not now. Look around. In front of most homes with driving age kids there are three, four cars. Take the bus? That’s social suicide these days, so we gotta get them a car.
We like our cell phones, too. Everybody in the house has to have one. How many phones do you have in your house? At least three, I’ll bet. A cell phone for you and your wife and the home phone and if you have kids, well, more.
We like our laptops and home computers, too. They’ve become a modern necessity. How many do you have in your house?
We like little Johnny and Susie to participate in everything from dance to baseball and it’s all expensive.
We like our riding lawnmowers and our Home Depot charge accounts. We like having a wallet full of credit cards that are [unbelievably] easy to get. These days the credit card companies will practically tackle you on the streets and make you take one. A generation ago you actually had to have good credit to get one.
We both have to work because we are the most spoiled generation in history. We literally live lifestyles that the kings and queens of old would be envious of. And we like it like that. I do, anyway.
You see, we don’t really need these things– we want them. We think that everything that our parents worked many years for we need to have today– right now. We believe that somehow we’re not giving our children the best if they don’t have lessons and games for just about everything.
From the cradle to when they leave the house (and sometimes after) we have begun to feel that we have to provide for them– and we teach our children that they can truly have anything they want– and then we wonder why they are spoiled, or why they have trouble managing finances. Sacrifice, saving, living within your means– these are all things that we no longer teach.
You’re not a true woman unless you’re an Alpha Mom.
In Britain, Lauren Booth talks about the growing backlash against Alpha Women. What is an Alpha Woman?
Held up as an aspirational role model for the rest of us, she never has a hair out of place and can be spotted tapping urgently into her Blackberry on the school run.
This sort of woman treats parenthood as a project to be managed down to the last second.
Fiercely organised, she’s likely to be highpowered and well-educated. Aren’t you feeling inferior already?
But there’s more to an Alpha mum than that.
She treats her home life as an extension of her corporate one: family time is merely another slot in the bulging diary.
Her children are seamlessly ferried between extra curricular activities with little to no time to spare for relaxation or, God forbid, just thinking.
Doing nothing is not an option for these youngsters.
For too long this pernicious style of over-parenting has been held up as a barometer of maternal success.
And I’m sure we all know these kinds of mothers– that seem to have their kids involved in everything. But what does this teach the children? That they have to have an organized activity in order to have a good time? That someone will always be there to schedule what they will do? These moms would have their children believe that they are nothing more than commodities to managed. Those of you that work probably know the blessing of a boss that lets you be creative and explore– but what if you did not have that chance? What if everything you did was always told to you by someone else? Where would you find the creativity?
You wonder why children are different today that they were in previous generations? Look at how this generation is being raised! They are either programmed to “not waste a minute” or they’re given no parental oversight at all. They are left to their own devices, or their choices are eliminated. Both of these are recipes for destruction.
Pity the Alpha mums, because there’s a serious question these women need to ask themselves.
Are those extra hours at work really essential to pay for the preprep school fees, tutors or all those extra curricular classes?
Is it really necessary to spend time meticulously planning the family’s diary a month in advance so not a moment is wasted?
Shouldn’t the Alpha mums admit that the life they have constructed is not for the children’s sake at all.
Isn’t it all really done because they actually rather dislike spending time with their family?
7 thoughts on “Should Moms Go to Work?”
Oh my. I really enjoyed that read, thanks so much, MIn. And I’m so glad there are still men in this world, like you and my husband, and like Doug, that want their wives at home and appreciate all their wives do in helping and raising the children. I hope there are some young men out there that have stay-at-home moms, or that want that lifestyle for their future families. Today’s young men are almost going to have to have phenomenal paychecks to support a one income lifestyle, not that God doesn’t still operate on grace! 🙂
In a world that sneers at us SAHMs, it’s vital that our husbands reaffirm our choice. It’s so common to see discouragement on the faces of young wives, as they wonder how to make ends meet yet another two weeks till payday. They can begin to see it as “their fault”, and really, how many 20-somethings are prepared to live frugally on one income? It’s something to be careful about as we raise our own children. Our society is an instant gratification one, a dangerous way to raise children if you want them to turn out at all decent.
Again, I really enjoyed this post!
It’s going to be difficult to counteract all of the things that the world wants children to think, that is for sure. They are constantly bombarded with the concept that mom and dad have to work, that you have to go into debt for a house, that you should have many credit cards, etc.
I’m not convinced that families have to have two incomes, but things continue to seem to want to push women that way. It’ll almost have to be a conviction in a little while.
Shouldn’t it be a conviction?
Seems to me the American Lifestyle in general, two incomes or not, is pretty darn affluent, and frivolous. Some days I think I would be happier with nothing, with a smaller house, with fewer clothes (ahh less laundry) with the husband job at home perhaps even agricultural in nature, even if he made less.
I seriously wonder how families can know one another, when we spend so little time together. Even our family is split up much of the time. Doug has to work regular hours, and that isn’t so bad. It’s the overtime that kills family time. Some days he has to be away from his family for 14 hours. Some days, he gets to come home, but cant enjoy his family because of being “on call”, and having persistent calls. I know it is this way for many families. I certainly don’t think my husband is a workaholic who drowns himself in his work, but he must be a good employee, and that often calls for less family time.
Then of course we are often separated on the weekends for church. The kids get separated, and we are separated from them. And our situation is mild! I can’t even imagine if I were to be an “Alpha Mom” trying to climb some corporate ladder and use my children as status symbols, by enrolling them in every extra under the sun. SHEESH. How do those women ever get to know their kids?
I’ve started to ask myself questions about how to do the Lord’s work better as a family. I have started wondering if being a “stay at home mom” is really the whole picture? Shouldn’t the family be engaged in some meaningful purpose together? How can we fulfill the Great Commission as a family? Isn’t that the greatest mission on earth? The greatest purpose?
Well I’ve rattled on and on… MIN this was a great post with an excellent point.
Mrs. Meg Logan
I think you’re on to something Meg. Together and serving, it’s not the way our modern culture is set up, is it?
And MIn, I do appreciate the post. One of my biggest challenges is the blank that comes over my mind when people ask what I do. What do I do that the world would understand or be interested in? I’m sure my extended family thinks I’m the most boring person in the world.
There’s a lot in there MinTheGap ;-). Great post! I’m always amazed how difficult a time today’s generation has in separating “needs” vs. “wants” and differentiating what they chose to do from what they “had to do”. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been talking with someone and they’ll say something to the effect of “My car broke down so I had to go buy a brand new car”.
Most times I’ll let these statements just pass by, but if its a close friend I’ll sometimes say “Did you really HAVE to buy a new car, couldn’t you have shared a car with your spouse, gotten your car fixed or bought a decent used car?” Usually some ill thought out excuse will pop out as to why it “had to be new”, and they “didn’t have a choice”. What I find odd is they typically REALLY believe that they didn’t have a choice, it is not just a mater of semantics.
I was always taught that everything in life is a choice. There is nothing I “need to do” and nothing that I “have to do”, only choices that I balance the outcomes of. E.G. I do not “need to eat”. I can choose not to eat and die, its just not a very wise choice. In the above example someone might state “We need too cars since my wife and I both have to be at work at 8:00am”. This is not true, there are at least 2 options. 1) Only one person could work 2) Someone could get to work early so they both could be there by 8:00am.
As a result it might be true to say, “We chose to have two vehicles because it is very inconvenient for us both to get to work by 8:00am with one car”, but not that they “needed two cars”. If you realize that you’re making a choice its much easier to look at the options of that choice, and see the full consequences and options.
E.G. If it costs you $400 a month to maintain a second vehicle, and one person would have to get to work 15 minutes early, and the other stay 15 minutes late to only only use one vehicle, thats about 11 hrs a month extra spent, or $18 per day to not be inconvenienced 15 minutes. This doesn’t even take into the account the added benefit of spending your commute time with your spouse.
If you just view having two vehicles as something you “have to do”, you’ll never look at the cost of this decision. Same thing could be said for cable TV, televisions, and all the rest of the junk people will tell you they “need to have”. With all the things people “need to have”, its no wonder they “can’t afford to live off of one income”. If they just looked at how they could make it possible to live off of one income they would realize its not that big of a deal.
And the other thing that’s interesting about the whole “I need two income thing” is that if you actually look at the cost of getting reliable day care for your kids and all the things you’ll have to spend to not have your children with you it just keeps adding up. And you may think that you’ll have it made when they go to school, but then you have to think about the cost of not being there to raise your kids when they get out of school at the end of the day.
Then there are the costs that are not financial…
It’s those “not financial” costs that really scare me! LOL