akaemmafrosts's SAHM thread. AIBU?

(122 Posts)
garlicbaubles Sun 16-Dec-12 20:57:55

Here it is. I have had to hide it. I keep blurting un-sisterly remarks at the posts - or, more accurately, at posters' general reluctance to observe what I consider to be blatant facts of life and an unwise sense of entitlement.

I agree with the OP.

AIBU?

kickassangel Fri 21-Dec-12 20:07:55

That sounds very reasonable but I suspect that it is rare. It also sounds like you both respect the boundaries and each other.

I know one couple where she works two jobs and he still earns quite a bit more than her. He laughs cos she takes her own lunch to work and he buys his own every day. It is her that refuses to merge finances cos he spends more than he earns and is at least $10k in debt on credit card.

It's a good thing that they don't want kids as I can see that being a disaster waiting to happen.

FamilyGuy22 Fri 21-Dec-12 13:39:18

Garlic

Not exactly. I ensure we both have identical ISAs in which an even amount goes in every year. I'm possibly anal about it but neither saves more than the other.

Otherwise we just have a joint bank account. All of our money goes in and she can do what she likes with it. Marriage is about trust/mutual respect and so neither of us takes the mick. I never question unless we're looking a bit tight and I need to ensure there's enough for an impending purchase. I think I earn about 15x what she does (not boasting btw) so it is imperative that she does not feel inferior for her contribution. It's important for me that she doesn't 'feel' but 'knows' she is an equal in terms of finance/chores/childcare. There may be better ways but it's the best we know at present.

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 12:40:05

Very interesting, FG2! Thanks. Are you saying you run your family finances in such a way the both DW and you have your 'own' money as well as investments, etc? It seems wise.

I lived for a while in one of the poorer states of Brazil. The social setup was different from Britain in too many ways to describe here, but one aspect of it seems relevant to the thread. Marriages were pretty unstable on the whole; men often went around creating families irresponsibly. The parents of girls made it an extremely high priority to buy their daughters a house. This was to ensure that they, and their children, would have a roof over their heads when the father inevitably abandoned them or died (also a high risk.) There was some disapproval of this policy, in that women's greater competence independence might encourage the men to be feckless. I've seen similar debates in Jamaica.

FamilyGuy22 Thu 20-Dec-12 23:42:19

For us my wife wanted nothing more than to stay at home and be the major carer but continued to work PT. I am the breadwinner by a long chalk but we pool our finances. She has equal (and unquestioned) control over everything and we share as much of the housework as is practicable.

IMHO the imbalance in finance is an irrelevance as 'we' decided to start a family. However, we have done everything possible to ensure the financial stability of my family, should I pass unexpectedly or we ever part company (in terms of savings/trusts/property etc).

As I have girls it is imperative that they see equality in the home so that they grow up with that as a norm. I am only one of two dads that have this attitude although my mate does not pool finances.

Otherwise the outlook is pretty bleak and I am openly critical of my other mates, at least 5 of which, who treat their wives like s#it. Many still give their wives a pittiful allowance, do no houswork, cooking and have never fed kids or changed a nappy. In this respect I despair for my own girls, who I hope will find the right man that doesn't take the complete pi$$.

I don't know what can be done TBH other than change male attitudes (I never thought I'd say such an obvious thing on a feminist board lol). Some men 'squirrel' money away secretly in fear of giving it all up, should the s#it hit the fan (a lot of men are genuinely scared of being taken to the cleaners upon divorce). Perhaps a mandatory split (in a similar way that I run my finances) would ensure that both parties save and accumulate wealth equally throughout the relationship.

I'm not sure about the work thing. I thought the gov were moving toward more flexibility for both but this remains to be seen.

Although my wife is working I have mentioned additional training if she wants to pursue an alternative career when she decides to go back to FT. Perhaps offering SAHP greater training opportunities/refresher courses etc. would enable parents to go back to work more easily.

Sadly there is always going to be a risk, unless both parents work but IMHO it is necessary to have a major carer, whether father or mother. Personally i think the benefits of having one parent at home outweighs the risks of splitting up but that's my opinion.

autumnlights12 Thu 20-Dec-12 23:20:06

and why the hell should 24/7 childcare offer the best solution? It still needs to be paid for. Someone has to look after the kids whether Mum, Dad or both do it, or if the childcare is subcontracted out elsewhere.

autumnlights12 Thu 20-Dec-12 23:13:41

But I don't want to work in the evenings in what would undoubtedly be a minimum wage job, after a full day looking after my dc's. I want to rest in the evening. And strangely, I don't consider looking after my children 'domestic slavery'. How depressing. How medieval.

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Thu 20-Dec-12 23:05:16

The whole concept and structure of 'employment' depends on having a separate class of people to do all the rest of the 'work' that is unwaged but necessary. It's not just about parenthood: the elderly need care and there are always going to be some adults who are unable to care for themselves (SN, MH issues, chronic health conditions etc). While there were many, many problems with the farm/village social models, one thing that did sort of work was people living and working in the same place; the DC just joining in with the family business as soon as they got big enough, and the parents being therewhether it was everyone tending the plants in the field or the DC of the blacksmith/baker/woo-peddler/basket-weaver being in the family premises.

Now we have an employment culture, but the one thing that would make it work without having to designate a domestic slave class and trap its members in poverty and dependency would be affordable childcare that's available 24/7. So a parent could take an evening job and yet be around for the DC in the daytime, for instance.

kickassangel Thu 20-Dec-12 22:20:45

The problem is that this is absolutely where the economic demands of a capitalist society clash with the emotional and time demands of the individual. There is no way that everyone can earn enough money to work and pay for childcare. There will always be a significant number of people who earn too little to cover the cost.

Also, there will always be a number of people who need extra support due to ill health unemployment or caring for others (children with extra needs, elderly, just having the kids on school holidays).
A truly capitalist society would do nothing for those people but would just leave them to work out a way to work or starve. Capitalism also benefits from a large number of dispensable workers, those who can step in when demand rises but can be cut off when demand drops. Think of all the people who do Christmas or summer jobs.

The way that capitalism works just does not take into account what family groups need to function effectively.

We can't just do away with capitalism nor can we ignore the needs if families, so at best any policies are an attempt to bridge the gap between the two needs. Sahp can be immensely useful to be capitalism and families BUT they are an extremely vulnerable part is society as the capitalist economy has very little incentive to reward them, so the pressure is on the family to support them. The moment that the family hits a problem, the SAHP is in trouble. Fortunately we have just enough socialism within our society to provide a safety net. However, the working partner, ie the bigger contributor to capitalism, is still the one with the least risks and greatest financial rewards with the lesser financial responsibility.

pourmeanotherglass Thu 20-Dec-12 21:56:09

If anything, I think we as a society should make it easier for both men and women to take a little bit of time out, or a little bit of time working part time, without it affecting their future prospects. I thought I had said that in my first post.
I don't know if I'm a feminist or not - I've never really known what the word means. I believe in equal opportunities for all.

pourmeanotherglass Thu 20-Dec-12 21:52:17

I never said staying at home was childish or irresponsible - just that there is a little bit of a risk - but we all take calculated risks all the time. Sometimes we feel that the benefits out-weigh the risks.
I didn't want to take that risk because I had seen what can happen. Other people may feel the opposite - maybe my daughters will decide they didn't have enough time at home with me and they would rather not work when they have their own children.

autumnlights12 Thu 20-Dec-12 21:26:06

also, your Mum's experience mirrored my own. I had 2 dc's close together then a large 9 year gap and the arrival of our wonderful dd3 conceived whilst correctly using a very reliable method of contraception. I know two women who terminated unexpected third pregnancies because they'd returned to work. Life can't always be planned like a military operation. To suggest that wanting to be or becoming a sahm is somehow childish or irresponsible is an affront to women and Mothers.

autumnlights12 Thu 20-Dec-12 21:17:49

but what makes one person happy might not make another person happy. You say your Mum and Dad are still in love and share finances, so presumably it all worked out fine in the end? Just as you might not want to be a sahm, there are women who don't want to work and leave their baby/child/ older dc with a nursery/childminder/holiday club. And that will forever be the case until the end of time. Despite governments trying to entice Mothers out to work, there will always be women who prefer to stay at home with their children. It's as valid a choice as working. It's absolutely anti feminist to suggest otherwise.

pourmeanotherglass Thu 20-Dec-12 20:36:02

I never wanted to be a a SAHM (Not that it was ever an option, as I'm the main wage earner).
My mum was a stay at home mum. Financial independence was never an issue (they share a bank account, and are still very much in love), but I felt she was too emotionally dependent on us 3 children, especially when we were teenagers and wanting to break away a little. I didn't want to feel I was dependent on my children for company.
She left work after her first child, had 2 close together, then just when she might have thought about going back (we were 10 and 8) she got pregnant again. So she ended up not working at all, after she left work in her early twenties. This is not something I would have wanted for myself, so would not have risked leaving work.
DH and I decided to both work part time instead. However, I've noticed a difference in attitude about this in the workplace. DH is in a male envirinment and is the only part timer, and it seems that he is not taken seriously for development opportunities etc. I'm in an environment (the NHS) where they are more used to part time workers, and I don't feel that going part time has held me back from taking on gradually more responsibility. I have also gradually been able to increase my hours, while DH has been told there is no opportunity for this.
I think what is needed is:-
a change of attitude towards men who choose to either go part time or spend some time at home
Support in divorce settlements for parents who have given up work to support their partner and children
The workplace not to have this attitude of 'binning CVs from SAHMs' - seems a bit short sighted, as most mums/dads only take a small number of years out, and still have a lot of years of working life left after the children have started school.
But until this happens, giving up work is a little bit of a risk. However we all take all kinds of calculated risks in life, and many of them pay off.

EweBrokeMyManger Thu 20-Dec-12 20:35:30

I wont apologise for thinking that it is not feminist to rely financially on a man. You need to be an equal partner in all ways. By all means care for your children yourself if you have a secure job to go back to eventually that you can pick up where you left off or if you have independent means. Ie you have been working in a very well paid job before hand and have built up equity. But being financially dependant on a man for years and years was never going to be the most feminist option.

And yes it is a personal opinion but its something I couldnt stomach.

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 20:33:12

Yep, Holey - was it you who referred to friends who've stayed in 1-bed flats in town, rather than move out?

So many value judgements to be made when having children ... !

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 20:30:45

Vivienne, divorce and separation were close to economically impossible for women! Divorce rates have risen (almost certainly) because women can initiate divorce and stand a chance of economic survival. Rather than wanting to lock them back into financial dependence, I'd like to see further changes that gave both parents equal opportunities for financial security - and for family involvement.

Suggestions that have been made include enforced payment of the SAHP by the WOHP, and enforced parental leave for both sexes. There have been others.

My own feeling is that, until employers are compelled to embrace properly flexible working - that is, to value the family responsibilities of both women and men - the patriarchal economy will continue to leave women in a precarious position. If this couldn't be done with legislation, it could be achieved by armies of couples demanding it. My question now would be: What would incentivise that demand?

Viviennemary Thu 20-Dec-12 20:17:32

The problem is this I think. Agree with me or not. Years ago when it was a lot more usual to be a SAHM divorce and separation was much less common. I think the rise in divorce rates has made the SAHM's position far less financially secure.

HoleyGhost Thu 20-Dec-12 20:13:06

^ retty much the entire economic system we have now (of most people being in paid employment not just outside the home but some distance from the home) is dependent on the unpaid labour of a designated class of servants who do all the domestic work and care for all those unable to care for themselves.^

Some of that is choice. Most people I know moved to commuterville shortly before or after the birth of their first child. That choice makes it v. hard not to have a SAHP.

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 20:09:13

If you're looking for something meatier, Leafmould, you could try
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/feminist_activism or
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/feminist_theory.
Or another of the threads on this board, or start one!

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 20:04:33

I think there are huge brick walls all over this particular subject. That is the reason I chose to start a thread on this board instead of plugging away on the other one and getting into basic rows about a woman's role.

we need to change things so that SAHPs are not penalised on divorce
due to the economic set up of our patriarchal scoiety, the vast majority of families will find SAHPing inevitable

Yes and yes.

Some people have posted ideas; some are chewing around the issues. Why not post yours?

Leafmould Thu 20-Dec-12 19:53:06

autumn lights I am also a little disappointed in this thread. I think I have identified a major brick wall we are hitting in the debate when I talked earlier about wider inequalities. Nobody has made any further comment on it. I think I need to step away from mums net, as too often I try to respond intelligently to issues arising, and there is no response. I am not finding this forum very engaging. Does anyone know of a better one?

autumnlights12 Thu 20-Dec-12 19:15:35

Wow!
I thought I'd found the feminist chat forum and then read comments about sahm's having a 'childlike attitude to money' being 'naive' and that it's 'not feminist' to be a sahm.
I'll go and have another look for the feminist forum. Because it isn't here.
Unless the word 'feminism' is being very loosely interpreted here.
(but thanks to Scircha and thanks to Rosabud for the most sensible paragraph in the discussion:

However, the arguments for parents choosing not to become SAHPs are centred around economics and, as sirrachgirl says, fear and mistrust. So we are allowing parents to lose a choice over how their children are cared for because SAHPs are not valued economically or not looked after economically. We are also advising people not to be SAHPs because the system is flawed and, if divorce occurs, you will be penalised, rather than saying, we need to change things so that SAHPs are not penalised on divorce. Since when did feminism fall into the trap of arguing against something because it doesn't fit into the mould created by the patriarchy? Particularly since, as many have sadly noted here, due to the economic set up of our patriarchal scoiety, the vast majority of families will find SAHPing inevitable

kickassangel Thu 20-Dec-12 02:16:26

I think the answer lies in people somehow stepping up to their responsibilities when becoming a parent.

It is just way too easy for one parent (and it is usually the man, though not always) to walk away. The courts may catch up with them eventually, but there are ways around the system.

I wish it was possible to force people to be responsible for 50% of EVERYTHING that a child needs. Whatever the relationship between the parents, once a child is born, EACH of the adults should have to provided 50%. Married couples may reach an agreement that they will trade, ie, if you work x number of hours outside the house, I will look after the child in return for the financial equivalent.

Then if something happens, both parents know their responsibilities and their rights.

Sadly, illness/unemployment/death/special needs children etc are far more 'normal' than most people believe. The number of families who just assume that they will have healthy kids, never become unemployed or too ill to work etc. I know how hard it is, but every adult really should be thinking ahead - putting money into savings, pensions etc. I do think that having welfare has made people a little blase about the possible long term effects of some of their decisions. Look at how angry people are at the idea of working beyond the age of 60. People see it as a right to retire and have a pension, when really it's not.

Having children is expensive, living is expensive, and every adult should be prepared for that.

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Thu 20-Dec-12 01:02:19

Pretty much the entire economic system we have now (of most people being in paid employment not just outside the home but some distance from the home) is dependent on the unpaid labour of a designated class of servants who do all the domestic work and care for all those unable to care for themselves. This class has historically been known as 'women'. And the economic model only works properly when the servant class knows its place and expects nothing but its keep.

GalaxyDisaStar Tue 18-Dec-12 21:50:50

Ah yes, sorry, it's four months at full pay isn't it. I'm getting my jurisdictions in a muddle. Which one is four months. Netherlands? Spain?

<heads off to Google>

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