This is an interesting article.
It also ties in nicely with one of my favorite new books, Leslie Bennets’ The Feminine Mistake. Basically, she is arguing that women should not sacrifice their careers for their children, because one never knows when the breadwinner could get cancer, get hit by a bus or just up and leave, and then what will you (and your children) do?
I suppose in one way this is pretty cynical, in not trusting one’s partner to always be there for the family. However, I’m sure we all know at least one person to whom this has happened (either the dying or the upping-and-leaving part) and to deny it is not facing reality, in my opinion. As the writer of the article states:
They are handicapping their future financial security and that of their children by being economically dependent on a man. Leaving the workforce, even for a relatively short period of years, can permanently affect a woman’s ability to support herself and her children in the event that something untoward happens to her marriage or to her husband’s job or health. Once you leave, it’s not so easy to get back in.
This should be so obvious it shouldn’t generate any controversy. Nevertheless, reading the comments to this article is instructive–and sad. Talk about protesting too much–which inadvertently proves the writer’s point. One commenter, Wendy, is refreshing:
I find it interesting that a reality check is considered mommy bashing. Paranoia, anyone? Ms. Blumner makes some excellent points. Even if you are lucky enough for them not to apply to you doesn’t mean that they don’t happen. Get over yourselves.
The basic thing to consider in all this is that PEOPLE DO CHANGE. The twenty-year-old who promises to love you forever becomes the forty-five-year-old who has to take his sportscar and “find himself,” leaving you penniless, jobless and up the creek. Personally, I would much rather be prepared than be broke.
Also, one must consider the fact that those children eventually grow up and leave home, and you as a mother are only responsible for them for the first eighteen years of their lives. Do mothers live only eighteen years? “What a stupid question,” you say. “Of course not.” Of course not indeed–I think the average lifespan of women (at least in this country) is coming up on eighty. That leaves sixty years wherein a woman needs to think about herself. Are those kids going to support you if you haven’t worked enough to provide for yourself in your old age (as an example, my own mother only gets $858.oo a month from Social Security–in plain terms, if she wasn’t living with me, she’d be S.O.L.)? Frankly, you shouldn’t count on that either. Most people do their best, but in the end the only one you can rely on is yourself.
Anyway, if you make it clear to the kids that you’re going to work, most of the time they’ll adjust. This is especially so when your partner steps up and takes on equal responsibility for the children–i.e., sharing in housework, picking up kids from daycare, paying for daycare, staying home with kids when sick, etc. This should be such a deal-breaker that if the husband doesn’t agree to do it, there won’t be any kids. If the two adults in the family work together, it is entirely possible for both partners to have fulfilling jobs, be fulfilled parents, and be prepared for whatever quirks life might throw at you. (I get irritated when women complain that we “can’t have it all.” Well, yeah, if you don’t have any help from your frakking husband, I suppose that’s true.)
The article ends thusly:
If what a stay-at-home mom does is truly worth more than $100, 000, then her husband should write her a check. Otherwise, she needs to protect her financial future and her footing in the larger world, and opt back in.