SAHMs and Moral Hazard

Just in case anyone is confused by this post… I don’t hate SAHMs. I’m just explaining some serious risks to the SAHM strategy that are typically glossed over with 50,000 odes to motherhood and won’t you think of the children. Importantly the risks are to both the husband and the wife with this strategy.
 
 
The most important rule about imagining yourself in the past, is that you don’t allow yourself to imagine being a member of the ruling class of the day. If you are imagining ancient Egypt, you’re not Cleopatra, instead you’re some poor sap being whipped to build the pyramids. If you are imagining the middle ages, you are not a lady handing out favors or a knight winning tournaments, you’re actually a very hungry serf who dies of dysentery. So when you imagine yourself being a married woman in any point in time up to around 1950, you’re frequently pregnant, surrounded by children and working your ass off from dusk until dawn. The phrase “Stay At Home Mother” doesn’t exist until midway through the 20th century. Women have always, always, always worked.
 
Back in the day, men worked outside the home in typically dangerous, physical jobs. Women stayed home and raised the children. Unless you were a super-alpha, having sex meant getting married and having children. It was a fair exchange of male physical labor for female reproductive labor.
 
Around 1950 the golden age of the world started. Thanks to fridges, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, vacuums and supermarkets, the household labor started getting easier and easier. Birth control came into vogue and was simple to use, so the pregnancy and kid overload eased off as well. Suddenly the job of ”housewife” got easier than it had ever been at any point in human history. Women had “choices”, to either work inside the home, or work outside the home.
 
And here we are sixty years later the end product of the most golden bubble of human history. So bear with me while I explain the rules and the strategy of the whole mess. At least as far as the whole SAHM vs Working Mother thing goes.
 
Loosely speaking, back in Marriage 1.0 times, men worked outside the home, women raised the kids and worked inside the home. The wife was economically dependant on the husband. Marriage ended by “fault”. If a marriage ended by her fault, she was totally screwed, so women tended not to be… “faulty”. If however the marriage ended by the man’s fault, there was a quite justifiable reason to take him to court and ensure that he held up his end of the economic bargain. Thus alimony is created.
 
In a Marriage 1.0 world, alimony is a good and meaningful thing. A genuinely bad husband, should be forced to support his wife and children if she isn’t the one at fault and he is.
 
But in a Marriage 2.0 world, there may be no fault whatsoever on the part of the husband, or even either party. But there may be fault on the part of the wife. Whereupon alimony – formerly a punishment for an at fault husband - turns into a reward for an at fault wife. Divorce is incentivized for women, and thus the divorce rate skyrockets.
 
The combination of an incentivized divorce plus the ease of a SAHM lifestyle creates a huge moral hazard for a husband. The wife may demand an easy SAHM life, or simply take him to the cleaners if he doesn’t provide it for her. This level of threat makes her the default head of household in many cases and thanks to female hypergamy, that increasingly kills her attraction to her husband, further increasing the divorce rate. 
 
To be sure, many SAHMs are diligent, productive and deeply intent on making their family happy. They really can work tirelessly and don’t consider the moral hazard as a good option for even a moment. But some clearly suck, and let’s be perfectly blunt that that threshold for failure as a SAHM is pathetically low. You’re only a failure as a mother if the state removes your children from your care. Otherwise you’re the holy Madonna.
 
The law does vary from state to state as well. In some states the alimony comes as a lifetime supply, and in other places it is very limited indeed. So depending where you are living, wives can be rewarded for divorce, or husbands can walk away from a marriage with minimal punishment. The stories of women who bewail having been SAHMs that are now divorced and have zero alimony, some minimal child support and no job skills in an economy with 10% unemployment rate are quite real, just as are the stories of husbands divorced without warning in an Eat Pray Love scenario.
 
The truth of the matter is… depending on your state’s laws… you can be royally ass-fucked as either a husband or wife if the couple chooses the SAHM route and divorce happens. Usually both of you get ass-fucked to some degree. Unless you are a member of the ruling class, once you try and split one income over two households, the money will always run out somewhere for someone. If you’re a $50 million dollar couple, divorce is annoying. If you’re a $50,000 couple, divorce is game over.
 
If you want to go the SAHM route, I will say that it can work. You really can have a wonderful lifestyle from having a SAHM if she works productively in the role. But do understand that it’s a luxury to be able to do it. The SAHM is a dependant and it is a very soft job because it doesn’t create a paycheck. Not only is the golden age of the world over, it still needs to be paid for and to be perfectly blunt, soft jobs are going to become few and far between.
 
I totally get the need and idea to have someone watch the kids while they are pre-school age, seriously I get it, it makes good economic sense to do so. But after that, the longer she stays out of the real job market, the less self-reliant she becomes. Which makes her more and more economically dependent on him. If there is no clear economic need driving the SAHM setup, (like medically complex children) you may discover to your horror down the road that the economics come back to haunt you.  (Either of you)
 
The whole thing of having an adult as a dependant is fraught with risk and moral hazard. 
 
 
Jennifer: Being a stay at home parent to a pre-schooler makes financial sense, daycare costs being what they are, and having the ability to stay home and raise a baby/preschooler is fabulous for family bonding.  Being a stay at home parent to children who are school-aged (and who aren’t being home schooled, there aren’t still little ones not in school, there aren’t any children with severe medical/behavioral/developmental impairments, etc.) just leaves something lacking. Are you also raising a huge garden that feeds the family?  Are you the one doing the home improvement construction projects?  Are you in some way making a contribution to how the family runs while the kids are at school?  I’d love to have a million bucks and be able to run errands and sit on the couch while the girls are at school…but really that would get boring after about a month lol.  Raising children is important, but so many families do it and have both partners at least have part time jobs.  I’m not abdicating the responsibility of raising my kids because I work.  (and kudos to the single parents out there…those are the parents who really have to do it all) /gets down off of soap box

Related posts:

  1. Don’t Cater Endlessly to a SAHM The back story to this one is that the SAHM is...

Comments

  1. MikeM. says:

    I'll point out that the household economy 100 years ago was based on women not only rearing the kids, but turning raw materials into goods for family consumption. Turning cloth into clothes. Flour into bread. A SAHM who did that today could still cut family spending to the bone, but few women have those domestic skills at the semi-pro level required. And can often go to work and be more efficient.

    I'd argue that the shift started about 100 years ago – the second fruits of the Industrial Revolution were domestic laborsaving devices (the first were weapons), but that's a minor point. Certainly the post-World War II domestic economy shifted dramatically.

  2. Athol Kay says:

    …the household economy 100 years ago was based on women not only rearing the kids, but turning raw materials into goods for family consumption. Turning cloth into clothes. Flour into bread.

    Damnit that's the point I was looking for lol. Excellent.

    It's value-added labor.

  3. rycamor says:

    I can understand how easily a moral hazard is created when staying at home involves little more than keeping the place clean in between time on TV, phone, and internet. Idle hands indeed… It's hard to stay invested when you don't need to contribute much.

    But in some ways, things are going full circle. There is a growing movement to get away from the machinery and go back to a simpler life, but in a 21st-century way. Lots of couples are choosing to homeschool their children, grow their own gardens, raise some chickens or goats (See the book "The Backyard Homestead" or http://urbanhomestead.org/), and interestingly, modern appliances make it possible to do all this efficiently, without having to work your fingers to the bone every day (Seal-a-Meal is great for freezing your freshly-butchered chickens).

    We left busy South Florida to move into a sprawled-out place on 2 acres in the country. We both are SAH, as I do computer programming online and spend part of every day tending to a garden and some animals, while she home-schools the kids, helps with the livestock, cooks, sews, and does other neat hand-crafty stuff. By staying focused on family and our homestead, a significant amount of moral hazard is removed for both of us. Highly recommended.

  4. Candice says:

    Good points Athol and thanks for sharing your "financial" experiences.

    In addition, I'd like to point out the importance of both parties contributing as much as they can – believe me incremental contribution and compounded interest on savings add up to a large amount and big difference to your life once you are at mid-life!

    There is moral hazard in either male or female partner staying at home – be it from choice to raise children or illness. Even with gainful home employment, one can fail to develop oneself and fall behind the rest of the population in many ways – and hence in attractiveness to one's partner.

    My advice based on experience is that if a partner is ill, encourage them to rehabilitate and re-enter the workforce ASAP. Be agressive in this – the risk is that they will remain ill longer and finally become anti-social, unemployable and not a viable partner (I know this from experience). Do you really want to become a one-person welfare system?

    MikeM – I lived this system as a child on a remote property. We made our clothing, tended garden and orchard, kept chickens and milking goats, grew grain and processed our grain and produce etc. Washing was without machine and we children often picked up wood for the stove to cook our dinner and heat our water for bathing. Quite a few skills were required and all the family worked to ensure a reasonable quality of life. No moral hazard for parents or kids! lol

  5. Grace says:

    I understand what you are saying with this post, and you make some good points. But I feel like you are not completely understanding the issue.

    1. SAHMs are not that common (especially if you exclude those who have preschools at home, as you seem to be doing). Over 75% of women with school-aged children are employed. This is a choice of a small minority.

    2. A lot of the reason for the SAHM has to with the husband's career, not with childcare. Having a SAHM means that the husband never has to take time off work for child-related reasons, can do very few chores at home, and has someone to assist him with his career (something that a working mother just won't have time for). It's a choice for increased specialization, which allows fathers (or mothers, in the case of SAHDs) to hold very intense, time-consuming careers. How else would Mitt Romney, for example, have accomplished all that he did with 5 children?

    3. You suggest that staying at home with preschoolers is different (being a good choice). However, taking 3-10 years off for this purpose (depending on the number of children you have) is still going to result in a huge career hit for the person who does it. The problem of economic dependence may not be that different.

    4. Working mothers still do the lion's share of childcare, house chores and general family organization, even if their working hours (and pay) are similar (or even greater) than their husbands. Being a working mother usually means that a woman ends up doing a unfairly large share of the total work, in other words. In that sense, it is a very bad deal for women (and also a frequent source of marital tension, perhaps one reason housewives generally report being happier in their marriages). (For example, the average married man employed full time has almost an hour more of leisure time than the average married woman employed full time.)

    5. Relating to point #2, a "SAHM" may not be doing childcare OR "spousecare", but something else entirely. For example, my mother cut her hours back to part time in order to care for her very ill (demented in one case) parents. This is not that uncommon with our aging population, and more than 75% of caregivers are female.

    I feel like your knowledge of women's issues is a little lacking: maybe some research is in order?

  6. Anonymous says:

    You'd have to go back more than 100 years in most parts of the UK. Well back into the 19th century. Those skills are long, long dead.

  7. Anonymous says:

    "However, taking 3-10 years off for this purpose (depending on the number of children you have) is still going to result in a huge career hit for the person who does it. "

    After 3-10 years, you don't HAVE a career any more. You're back in at the bottom.

  8. Grace says:

    Actually, the first fruit of the Industrial Revolution was clothes. Textile factories are where it all started for every major country (Britain, the US, Japan, China…). The other major driver was energy production (in the form of coal). Weapons are a non-starter.

    And no, making your own clothes is not cheaper (that's what people used to do, and it was so expensive that most had only one outfit to wear all year round).

  9. GC says:

    So why do you hate SAHMs…

    A strategy that combines the two approaches to work and home life can work well. A lot of benefits accrue when one parent has the time/flexibilty to focus on the kids' needs, even when they are school age. If both parents are working full time, school vacations, teacher inservice days, kids' illnesses, etc. create a lot of stress. Not to mention the stress that results when everyone arrives home between 5:30 and 6:00 pm every day. Throw a couple of soccer practices and dance lessons into the mix, and everybody is stressing out. We decided a long time ago that I would work part time/do freelance work and take the primary responsibility for the kids'schedules, homework, illnesses, extracurricular activities, etc. In this way I can contribute to the family budget and maintain my career skills, while maintaining a manageable family life. I think that a SAHM mom who gardens, freezes, cooks from scratch, shops for the best bargains, etc. while taking care of the home and the children's needs is making a similar contribution.

  10. Suz says:

    Yep. This is a choice you make when you have children. Modern society has told women we don't have to choose one or the other – we can have it all, all at once. The physical reality of that would be trying to maintain two careers and a marriage. NOT a recipe for success. Too many women (and men) don't think this through beforehand.

  11. Suz says:

    "So why do you hate SAHMs…"
    "Just in case anyone is confused by this post… I don't hate SAHMs."

  12. Married Again says:

    It is very, very unwise for nearly all men (98%+) to allow a wife to be a SAHM for the reasons Athol has elaborated. I am in the USA and in my state, as in most, it a recipe for catastrophe.

    My ex-wife wanted to be a SAHM and I allowed it – she talked a good game, using religion and related BS – and in a few short years she was "bored" … the rest of the script writes itself. I lost my kids in the divorce (she got them because she was the SAHM: take notes, gentlemen) and I was pretty near financially ruined. A complete disaster.

    After several years of rebounding angry alpha playadom I got married again (my ethical views don't permit endless promiscuity, just some) to a very decent woman – there are some – whom I have allowed to be a SAHM.

    The exception proves the rule. My second wife is very wealthy, as in major trust fund wealth, she wasn't working anyway (and I got a seven-figure dowry when I wed her: it can happen). She is also foreign and very traditional and our prenups make clear what will happen in a divorce, and the past horror cannot be repeated. We are both protected from our "worst cases."

    So under such a rare circumstance, when a woman poses zero financial threat to you even in the case of divorce, allowing the Mrs to become a SAHM is acceptable. But under NO other case, my friends. Don't fall for it as I did!

  13. Athol Kay says:

    Grace – We're running into the issue where a short blog post isn't a masters thesis and thereby leaves things out. Pointing out what I've left out doesn't make me "a little lacking". This is a delicate issue and frankly the point of the post is to try and tell both sides of the story to make both men and women aware of potential dangers.

    This is a Manosphere blog – I'm expecting a small backlash for simply saying SAHMs aren't all lazy bitches taking advantage of men lol.

    Anyway…

    1. I've written on this in much earlier posts. Once upon a time women had a choice to work in or out of the home, now there isn't much of a choice for almost all of them… they have to work outside the home whether they want to or not.

    The labor market was flooded with the influx of female workers, thereby devaluing the current labor supply, which means the male income declined to the point where it's no longer possible for nearly all husbands to support a family on one income. Which then forces women into the workplace whether they want to be there or not.

    2. You contradict yourself. Is being a SAHM not about childcare, or about childcare?

    3. There's not much way around this. The longer you are out of the workforce, the less valued you become there.

    4. This is just a pissing contest about who works more. Wake me when a study includes shoveling snow as part of the matrix of household chores. Or is that a leisure activity?

    5. I know. And frankly you want to keep people out of hospitals and nursing homes as long as you can. They are horrible places.

  14. Athol Kay says:

    I don't hate SAHMs. That's the opening line of the post.

    Trust me, Jennifer and I know the difficulty of school age kids and scheduling.

    If you're doing part-time work and generally being productive and functional there's no issue. You just can't act like a dependant.

  15. Tequila Mockingbird says:

    I have been a SAHM and a working mom. Being a SAHM in the suburbs to healthy children is a cakewalk. The ones who spout the most venom about how overworked and unappreciated they are are generally the ones who are immature, unorganized and lazy. They feel defensive, as well they should. But instead of upping their SAHM game cred by getting their act together and developing the skill set needed to be a good SAHM, they just whine about how unfair it is that they aren't admired for how hard they work.

    As an adult, allowing yourself to be completely financially dependent on another adult is supremely foolish, IMO. Providing a SAHM lifestyle to a spouse is a tremendous gift and should be regarded as such by the recipient.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This SAHM operates a successful online business, but hours of my day, four days a week is spent at the gym, and the salon a few hours each month – being a red pill kinda girl I realize as I age various parts need attention and maintenance, and the wonderful alpha male I have been married to for over two decades is most likely desired by any number of lovely females…so keeping this SAHM's body in shape is a priority…so having household appliances in this century of course make the job easier…but the time saved is spent maintaining one's self to appease the alpha. Sitting on the couch is not an option.

  17. Anonymous says:

    You make excellent points Grace.

    I'd also like to point out that the worse case scenario for a SAHM – divorced with minimal alimony and child support, and serious financial problems often happens to working moms. Most women cannot afford to raise children on their own; single women with children make up the bulk of the poor. Unless you happen to be one of those women who can support a family on her own, then the second you have a man's children you become financially dependent on him. SAHM vs working mother is just about the degree of dependence.

    The typical child support payment in this country does not cover even half the costs of raising a child and women are usually worse off financially after a divorce. Unless a SAHM is married to a really high earner then the moral hazard thing is just BS. There is no financial incentive for the typical SAHM with no career to divorce the man because she needs access to all of his income to support herself, not less than half of it. There is actually more incentive for a working woman who can support herself and her children financially to get a divorce. She is already supporting her family, she can take care of herself and her kids and the courts will let her keep about 50% of her husband's paycheck without keeping him. She doesn't need all of the money and will have no trouble living on what she earns and his child support until she can find a new and better husband.

    Anyway this is a moot point for most of the men who carry on about it. They can't afford a SAHM and their comments have a hint of "those grapes are probably sour anyway."

  18. Grace says:

    As you state, most people can't afford a SAHM. That means that the people who can generally have high paying, prestigious (=all consuming) jobs without clear hours but with lots of additional expectations. My sister in law is a SAHM, largely because her husband (a highly paid anesthesiologist) has a schedule which is too irregular and undependable for her to have a job, unless they also had a full-time, live-in nanny. Being a SAHM is about childcare, but that encompasses many different issues: how available the husband is for child care, if there are nearby relatives willing to help out, the family income, etc.

    You seem to be offended by the suggestion that most (which doesn't mean you! this is just the average) married employed men work less than married employed women. However, it's true: you can look at time studies (which of course include shoveling snow; researchers aren't that dumb); here's one: http://www.bls.gov/tus/tables/a6_0509.pdf. Note that SAHMs have almost 1.5 hours more of leisure time than working mothers.

    Being a working mother is really really hard, which you do not address in this post. I remember my own mother (who worked throughout my childhood) as perpetually overwhelmed, stressed and exhausted due to her too-many responsibilities. Honestly this is going to take a huge toll on a marital sex life, regardless of anything else. She advised me to stay at home if I could, at least for the first few years, due to this incredible difficulty.

    You just seem a little oblivious to the experience of women.

  19. Grace says:

    Also, Anonymous is right about the total inadequacy of child support/alimony payments in general. Actually, after a divorce, men's living standards tend to go UP, while women's (and children's) standards plummet. The misinformation about this issue is the most annoying thing to me about the "manosphere".

  20. Orange says:

    Here is the other half of our moral hazard equation! I am currently a SAHM to an 8 year old and a six year old.

    I fell in love with my husband as an 18 year old virgin…both of us were. I may not have had the benefit of red pill, but I was highly aware of the moral hazard. We did not get married for 11 more years..during which we had a 4 year long distance relationship during college. After college we moved to the west coast together for grad school. I went to work in a highly competitive, cutthroat field for the next 7 years. For a short time we lived together (2 years)…that was too much moral hazard for me to handle. He changed grad schools anyhow so we were long distance again. He could clothe, feed, and house himself on his stipend but I paid for the car, most flights, telephone bills, travel together.

    So, all in all, I gave him my virginity, my youth, my beauty, my unswerving love and
    devotion, all without any guarantee of marriage, with the moral hazard that he would cash that in for another girl once having attained success and status. I knew that he wanted to make sure he could support a family in his chosen field before making that commitment . He didn't want to find himself living in a tent on a beach, with a baby, as his hippie parents had. He'd never shown me anything but total love and commitment, so I was willing to take on that moral hazard.

    Now, 22 years later, he is a very successful academic. I've never shown him anything but total love and commitment, so he is willing to take on the moral hazard of having a SAHM/Wife who could possibly cut and run, with some money.

    In our case I certainly imagine working again at some point, but not having a "career" with its implicit obligations. For now, my not working allows my husband the freedom to travel to advance his career, as well as advance his career through longer family travel episodes. We spent 4 months going to 5 separate countries…3 and 5 year old in tow. We spent an 8 month sabbatical in New Zealand. He never has to worry about missing work when the kids are sick, taking the kids to appointments, activities, birthday parties…that's all me. I tried working part time last year. It was fun no doubt, but it also was expensive and my husband had decided to have a more relaxed year anyhow. As he put it.."I don't have to get anything done this year :-) "

    My husband is a pretty alpha guy, and thank you Athol for the help you gave me several months ago on the problem of too much alpha and a few other issues. He is certainly not interested in birthday parties. We have a real division of labor.

    We are also crazy about each other and happier than ever.

    Moral hazard, by itself, is not bad. It is not equivalent to moral weakness, or moral failure, or immorality for that matter. Every insurance company accepts moral hazard as part of doing business. People have to accept moral hazard as a part of life. I've seen my parents try to avoid it…does not have happy results.

    Being unaware of it however, I think is the root of much of the unhappiness out there in the manosphere and the ladysphere??

    Would love to hear your thoughts Athol!

    Orange

  21. Anonymous says:

    "A man may work from sun to sun, but woman's work is never done."

    This is, of course, due to poor organisation. :)

  22. Anonymous says:

    The hour the youngest child goes off to full time school starts the countdown for the SAHM to EPL divorce. Moral hazard is exponentially magnified at this transition. Failure to plan is planning to fail.

  23. GC says:

    Sorry, I was trying to make a little joke. I guess the subject is too touchy for that. You have raised important issues, ones that couples really need to work through. I agree that every adult in the family has to contribute in a meaningful way.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Wow! SOmeone sounds bitter!

  25. Z says:

    I'll agree to this, with my personal experience.

    I'm being divorced by a batshit crazy abusive man. [I got a restraining order to protect myself and kids, he filed.] I'd rather live on the streets than with him.

    I got full custody of the kids (one of whom is special needs and home schooled), plus the house … and 1/3 of his net income as support. No alimony. I have to go back to work, and earn big money.

    I've been a SAHM … and spent my "leisure time" doing extensive volunteer work, and supporting my ex's career and hobbies.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Unless her day is actually filled with real SAHM type work but just yelling at filipina nannies then it is a very real danger she will get bored and start to resent her husband. THere is also a very real danger of her starting to look down on him if he works his ass of for her but she contributes little.

  27. Badger says:

    I tire of the phrase "full-time mom," a self-aggrandizing SAHM eponym as if fathers and working mothers are only part-time parents. I understand that careerist feminism was hard on homemakers as underutilized sellouts to the feminist cause, but that doesn't mean they had to strike back painting anyone who actually cashes a paycheck as a defective parent.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I wed an engineer and after multiple threats, I let her be a SAHM. We adopted some kids and she convinced me she would homeschool them. Instead she spent her days sleeping on the couch, children not learning squat.

    I divorced her just to get the kids into school. And paid lots of alimony for 6 years – I did not get richer. She lived with the kids in our home rent free. Our divorce agreement allowed her to make $25k without reduction of alimony. Foolish me, I thought she would use her engineering degree, but no, she just wanted maximum payments from me.

    Now I realize, she was just a lazy person wanting my money. Lesson learned. No more SAHM for me

  29. Rachel says:

    From the majority of working mothers that I know… they do the majority of the housework because they regard their husbands as lazy and stupid, while the woman is a control-freak. They CHOOSE to do all the housework while working full time because he doesn't sort the laundry right and doesn't lick the sink clean just right after doing the dishes. They say, "Its easier if I just do it myself, because I have to go in behind him and do it again anyway if I let him try."

    Can't say I feel bad for their lack of leisure time.

  30. Stargate Girl says:

    Wow! You got seriously burned. That must really suck in ways I can't imagine, but not all women are like your ex. YOu may remarry someday and find you have a wife who is beyond devoted to you and your kids.

  31. Anonymous says:

    If your kids are in school 8 hours a day, you aren't raising them someone else is…

  32. Anonymous says:

    Most women don't do that. Why do you think that chose someone like that? Do better next time.

  33. Aurelian says:

    Anon 11:32:

    Did you use your entire brain cell to think that up?

  34. Anonymous says:

    Public schools suck. Sending your kids to one is basically child abuse. So there are really only two options:

    1) Your wife both makes big $$$ and wants to work, her income is used to pay for a good private school (at 20k/year, she better make a lot of money).

    2) Your wife either doesn't make big $$$ or doesn't want to work. She should homeschool. Consider hey homeschooling wage the 20k/year/kid you didn't spend.

  35. Sweet As says:

    All you have to do to see "traditional marriages" and "women's work" is look at developing nations.

    Not only do women do child-rearing and household work, but many of them run shops or sell goods in the open-air market, work in fields or manage small household herds (larger herds such as the cows of the maasai are managed by the men), or weave and make crafts that are sold at market, or cook and clean for other households in addition to their own, or work in factories if those exist, or take on work as laborers on farms if that is available to them, and so on and so forth.

    The idea of the "SAHM" is entirely romanticized and existed post 1850s and only in the upper and rising middlc class of the victorian era — when other women were hired to do the household work, and then upper and middle class women were expected to do charity work.

    But, the lower classes of women have always worked, and the closer a woman lives to a subsistence environment, the more work she is piecing together to make sure her family gets fed.

    And this is, of course, in addition to the excessive amount of labor/work that the man is also putting in (just so that no one forgets that men do — in fact — work hard for their families).

    I am not a SAHM. I don't want to be. I don't think it's necessary or required. We also don't utilize child care, though DS is in kindergarden 2 mornings a week right now which allows me to work more. DH also has a lot of time with DS — which they both enjoy, and is rare for many dads. We think this is very lucky and are happy that we can work this way.

    It's a good life. It doesn't have to be "traditional' to be good.

  36. Sweet As says:

    oh, and i did try the SAHM gig.

    it was boring as all get out. I finished the household chores by 9 am. My son was up, cleaned, dressed, and playing (or sleeping mostly while a newborn) and i didn't find it at all difficult to keep him clean and fed (elimination communication and breastfeeding). We did baby wearing, so he was in constant contact with me all the time, and by 9 am — i had the house clean, myself clean, the baby clean, the meals for the day made (or pre-prepped for cooking at dinner time), and basically. . . nothing left to do.

    So, i decided to go back to work.

    Luckily, the work i do allows me to bring my kid (or did at that point), and by the time he was mobile, I'd shifted gears to move from the US to NZ to run my business full time while DH because a part-time SAHD and worked at the business and I was the part-time SAHM and ran the business while DH was a SAHD.

    It's been a great lifestyle for us, and it's been great for our son — now 3.5.

    Now that we have our sex life back (yippee! thanks, athol!), everything is just super-awesomeness.

    I love being a working mom who is able to have hours and hours with her son. I love that we own a business that allows my DH to do the same. It's awesome. My son is well cared for, well loved, and we are all doing well here.

    And man, the business is growing growing growing — which is super thrilling because it means we get to eat. :D

  37. Anonymous says:

    Name win.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Gee, I wonder why many of you even had kids, since you find parenting so boring. Like sitting in front of a computer screen at work is much more interesting than seeing your kid take his first steps. My solution for those of you who have a problem with stay at home parents–just don't have kids!

  39. Sweet As says:

    I don't have a problem with stay at home parents. why would i?

    I also happen to find parenting ridiculously easy. I know a lot of parents find it very challenging, but I find it very simple. Perhaps I have an easy child.

    Most of the time, he's in free play while I"m with him — either in or outside of our house. Those areas are completely safe (as I designed them to be for him), and throughout the day we do "tidies" to keep the house clean and organized. In the AM when we do the 'heavy chore,' of the day, DS is either free playing or helping out. And, once a day I play with him and once a day his father plays with him and once a day all of us play together.

    My husband works our business in the mornings; I work in the afternoons/evenings. It works great for us.

    I don't see what the problem is. If anyone is 'hating" it's you, anon.

    And, since I do work that I love (like I said, I run my own business) it's not "sitting in front of a computer screen at work" which can be very soulless, I agree.

  40. The Momma says:

    I have met many SAHMs who *do* abuse their status and act like they're on permanent vacation. You can usually tell them by their stained "workout clothes" (oh, the irony) that are so small, they look like they're painted onto that huge ass. Obviously, you aren't working hard if you have time to get that fat.

    Being a SAHM makes much more sense the more children you have, because of the daycare costs. When my oldest went to kindergarten (our schools only do 1/2 day sessions) I still had a 3 1/2 year old, 15 month old, and was pregnant. Needless to say, I was very busy! And that was just with the kids, nevermind all the household stuff too!

    I would have liked to work part time, but it didn't fit into our family schedule. I never wanted to be walking out the door as their dad came in from work. I don't think being passed off on one parent or the other is good for the kids either. It was tough when I went back to work to be so far behind, but I worked hard and moved up quickly because I was capable. No matter how long you've been out of work, that is something that still counts.

  41. The Momma says:

    Would also like to point out that Grace is right, making clothes does cost more nowadays. (You can buy off clearance racks for much less. That's what happens now that everything's made in a China sweatshop!)

    Part of the issue is that sewing/crafting is starting to be seen as more of a "hobby" for women than an actual household role…so any woman who does actually make time for creating household goods is seen as having too much free time, in my experience.

  42. Anonymous says:

    This sounds like a great situation…one I'd love to have for myself. My dream has been to get my business (which is very small right now) up and running, but it's hard with the kids around. I have to agree with you that only having *one* child was a walk in the park compared to having 4! "Easy" is a pretty relative term, don't you think?

    -The Momma

  43. The Momma says:

    @Athol:

    Women who enter into the SAHM role are also trusting their husbands to play fair, and that doesn't always happen. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on men who abuse the SAHM arrangement.

    I've seen friends' husbands who were out late, "working hard" because their wives were are home to take care of the kids and all that…turns out they were having affairs. Of course, the SAHMs can't divorce them because they can't earn enough money to support the kids. They're stuck!

    Or maybe it's the husband who's messy and careless on purpose because cleaning is "her chore" and why shouldn't she pick up after him when she's home all day anyway?

    Money and divorce aside, both sides have to play nice and fair to make the arrangement work.

  44. Anonymous says:

    This is going to generate some flames, but I have some asbestos underwear on, so here goes.

    Men aren't very sympathetic about women's complaints about how hard it is to keep house, because most men have lived alone at some point. They've kept their own house and held down a full-time job. Sure, there were probably some dishes in the sink, but they managed. Housework isn't hard.

    Which means the whole debate is really about child care. Except that child care is expensive — because it really is hard (or at least time-consuming). For a lot of families, the income the wife brings in by working is about equal to what they're going to spend on daycare so she can go to work.

    The only rational reason for doing this is to improve the wife's chances of higher earnings down the line, by reducing that hiatus when she's taking care of the baby. However, given the negatives associated with keeping the kids in daycare from a young age, how much is that greater earning power really worth?

    What I'm saying is that there is an element of selfishness in women wanting to get back to work as quickly as possible. They want the respect of being a "working professional" rather than a "mom," and they want more money five years from now when the kids start school.

    This is a genuine choice, but the realities get buried under ideology and psychodrama.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Yeah. The only one. I'm dead now.

  46. The Momma says:

    EXACTLY. Thank you.

    If you have more than one child, you're probably working just to pay the daycare anyway. If you have some extra money, well, then aren't you working for that money? Or your "image"?

    I agree with you: Cleaning isn't that hard. Grocery shopping isn't that hard. Laundry isn't that hard. What's hard is raising kids…*actually raising them, that is*. Anyone can put a kid in front of the TV or play with him, but NURTURING is hard.

    Making money is easy. Being a working mother isn't working harder, it's just escaping from your kids and using money to justify it.

  47. Stargate Girl says:

    I guess I have too much free time. I make candles, sometimes with kids, sometimes without, and I make dresses for my daughter, and quilt. I can make quilted bags fairly quickly.

  48. Anonymous says:

    @JENNIFER

    "Being a stay at home parent to children who are school-aged…just leaves something lacking."

    So, what do you do with the kids when they're off from school during the summers? Or those week-long vacations? Ship them off somewhere, or hire a college or high school kid to babysit? I don't know of many jobs where I can magically take 3 months of leave to be with my kids when they're not in school…

  49. Stargate Girl says:

    " And no, making your own clothes is not cheaper (that's what people used to do, and it was so expensive that most had only one outfit to wear all year round)."

    That is so true. Bottomweights and other clothing fabrics cost more per yard than some outfits do. Still fun to do once and a while.

  50. Orange says:

    That underwear sounds very itchy. I really must chime in aboUt the housework. Its true that housework for a single person, or even a married couple is a cakewalk. I truly did not understand the level of housework that having two kids would entail. I truly thought it would be similar, but more volume. It is a good solid 30 hours a week for laundry, pickups, yard work, general cleaning. It seems that the second an area is cleaned up, another mess is right there to fill the vacuum. It is utterly relentless….my only complaint about being a SAHM. Now if the kids are at daycare all day, then that mess is made and cleaned up at daycare. They're onlly home for a few hours and the damage can be controlled. Unfortunately childcare and housework go hand in hand…not two separate categories.

  51. Stargate Girl says:

    I'm not the only one with kids who mess things up faster than you can clean em? I have 3 kids, 10, 9, 5. They generate a LOT of laundry. I do a min of 2 loads a day just to stay on top of it. My daughter is a budding artist. Loves to paint everyday. Makes a big mess :D But they are happy and healthy so i figure we're doing something right. I'd love my house to look like something in a magazine, but that's not happening with my busy guys. So lived in look is it.

  52. Anonymous says:

    You either don't have children, or your children are extraordinarily neat. Or maybe someone else does all the housework at your place and.you are ignorant about the effort it takes.

  53. Tequila Mockingbird says:

    It just won't do to have even the slightest whiff of suggestion that maybe, perhaps, possibly there might be the tiniest chance that having a wife be a SAHM isn't the best choice, and the rabid SAHMs freak out.

    "How dare you not admire me and all my sacrifice!" Sorry, hon, getting a BA in marketing or psychology and choosing to become a SAHM instead of working doesn't mean you sacrificed a career, it means you made poor educational choices.

    "Working moms are selfish, all they care about is money, you're not raising your own kids, you should have just gotten a cat," etc. Of course there is no actual evidence to support these assertions – just knee jerk emotional outbursts.

    What is it about these discussions that turns mommeeeeeeeees into venomous screeching harpies?

  54. Anonymous says:

    Child support in this country really is a mess. Custodial parents do most of the work and pay most of the bills. There's no real moral hazard or.incentive for a sahm to divorce. The logic and the facts just don't line up. Some men don't want a sahm because they see it as an easy job and want their wives to work as hard as they do.

    And what's this nonsense about a low threshold for failure. Do you two as working parents set your standards by whether or not the state will take your kids? I certainly hope that you set your threshold for failure higher than that because having a job doesn't make you a better parent.

  55. Anonymous says:

    I make some of my clothes because I enjoy it, but I consider it a luxury. It certainly costs more. Baking bread is cheaper because I got this great bread maker for free, but if I 'd paid for it that would be more expensive too.

  56. Anonymous says:

    What is it about these discussions? Well, for me it was being called a stupid, lazy bitch. (I was thinking about buying your book, but forget about it).

    The silly part of this is, there are probably hundreds of ways to do the job/career/parenting thing as a couple. I see more and more stay-at-home dads. Some couples both have demanding careers and grandparents help out a lot. There is really no right/wrong way.

    But what do I know? I'm just a dumb SAHM, lol.

  57. Anonymous says:

    Most of comments from SAHMs are quite reasonable and logical. Care to address any of those?

  58. Anonymous says:

    It is only more expensive because no one does it anymore. Simple supply and demand. It would still be cheaper if more of us did it. Cheap labor in China is still more expensive than free labor last i checked.

  59. Lainey says:

    I’ll be honest and say I don’t know how working women do it all. I couldn’t and that is why I am a SAHM. I do have to put my most important priorities first and that is my husband and kids. I do work from home part-time. I have 4 bio kids – 2 I homeschool part-time. These two also have adhd (yay, me!). My two foster daughters went home to their mom – not a good situation. We have an extra teen boy right now. He’s a sweetie, but hasn’t figured out his potential and how to use his resources effectively.

    I have to take 2 to monthly dr. appts right now for med checks. I have been busy all week with one child that broke a bone. My kids are involved in music, drama, and sports. We have all sorts of kids over in the evenings when we are home. Plus, we have many animals, which we love. We have made our lifestyle choices, yes, it does irk me though when I hear about people disrespecting SAHMs.

    Sometimes I do take breaks so I can spend the evening with my husband, cook nutritious meals, run kids all around, or face the next crisis. My husband is the main provider, and I am his main support. Without me he couldn’t handle the load, and without him neither could I. We are a team, granted we are very traditional.

    I find it interesting that some men on here want traditional women, but don’t want them in traditional roles. We can’t have it all.

    Every year I do a pro/con analysis of where I am. Sometimes I want to work outside the home, but it is best for us to continue as we are. I can’t sacrifice my family, just because the world thinks I would be better off getting a paycheck. That my worth is so much less because I am a SAHM.

    It’s frustrating, but fortunately my husband respects and appreciates what I do. I was raised by a single mom. It was chaotic and without structure. She was stressed and we were poor. I think our home life and family life now is much more successful. And yes, my husband gets laid regularly. I know how important sex is to men, but honestly the obsession with getting laid can make men look very shallow. You guys aren’t shallow, think about something besides sex, too.

  60. Lainey says:

    When people throw around insults it detracts from their stance.

  61. Orange says:

    I'll second that one!

  62. Sweet As says:

    To be sure, "easy" is subjective. The number of children and the relative ease is also subjective — depends upon the kids themselves and the number of kids.

    I think that *if* we added a newborn to the mix right now, we'd be in a world of hurt. It would be very difficult. But, we have talked about having another child in 2-3 years, when we think we'll be better able to balance it with our work-family schedules.

    But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. We follow attachment parenting principles, as well as "free range" parenting principles. It makes for an intensive beginning, but pretty much — for most kids — around age 3-5, they get very independent. Our son is currently 3, and when we take him to his steiner kindy, he's like 'bye mom!" and doesn't even look at me. LOL When it's time to go, it's always 'is it time to go? really?" Seriously, the kid is independent and social. Part of that is "just him" and that is also what makes him easy. :)

    What line of work are you in? Have you read the E-myth? Do read it. Fabulous.

  63. Sweet As says:

    While I would agree with you in some cases, but not in all.

    I decided to go back to work because my days were long and empty, even when parenting. :)

    With this, my husband was working a day job that was soul-sucking. It was hard on him, and it was upsetting to me. Here, my own brain-power was not being used to benefit us, and my husband's talent was not being used to benefit us either.

    We decided to start our own business. Our talents, combined together, have created the most dynamic workplace. Our business is growing by leaps and bounds, and creating for us a lifestyle that we like.

    But even more rewarding is that we *earn* it. It is all our efforts. Daily, we see the results of our work, rather than the "black hole" that DH experienced when he worked for a company. When we want more income for something, we look at how to grow and develop our business, instead of DH having to beg or grovel for a modest raise.

    And my son sees us. He sees us loving our work, loving our lifestyle. He sees us being able to do what we love, and to provide for ourselves in the style that we dreamed of. He sees us activated and authentic.

    And, I hope, he'll see that he can create that for himself.

    __

    being a SAHM is valuable. it just wasn't right for me, or for our family.

  64. Anonymous says:

    That Salon article and the accompanying comments are truly impressive… in the worst possible way.

  65. Tequila Mockingbird says:

    Lainey, I think you have hit upon a nugget of brilliance here:

    "I find it interesting that some men on here want traditional women, but don’t want them in traditional roles. We can’t have it all. "

    It's a balancing act, for sure. Finding the right balance of sexual polarity and financial parity is a huge challenge. That's one reason I think AK's work on this blog is so brilliant.

    As we all become more educated and self-aware, we are able to make the choices that best work for our own family situations.

  66. Sweet As says:

    Anon@11:35 — I don't think anyone was calling SAHM's dumb or bitches, but that — simply — it might have risks that people haven't considered. I know that I wasn't.

    Lainey — That certainly goes to the relativity of "easy." Special needs people require a lot more aid than those who are less special in their needs. Good on you, too, for taking on children with unique needs (fosters).

  67. Lainey says:

    TM – it is a balancing act for everyone. I really hate the mommy wars. I think your situation is an excellent set up.

    I do chafe at SAHM bashing. Some of the men on here are particularly hurtful. The fact is I don't personally know any SAHMs that loaf around. I just don't.

    I'm sure they are out there, but there are plenty of bad parents and spouses out there period. I get so irritated at how it has to be men against women or women against men. It doesn't have to be like this.

  68. Lainey says:

    Sweet As – I agree that there are risks to a SAHM lifestyle, but there are risks inherent to any marriage or relationship.

    I worked the first 10 months of my first-born's life. We worked alternate shifts so he wouldn't have to go to daycare. It was hard on both of us but worth it. I was also hit on quite a lot.

    I do wonder if the opportunity to cheat isn't actually more increased if one works. I mean there are men there that you get to know really well.

    Anyway, I don't care if moms work. I do get tired of the stereotypes out there. It's depressing when we are all just trying to do our best for our families.

  69. Sweet As says:

    I think, though, the point is to be aware of risks and decrease them when something is an increased risk in your situation. I think that was closer to Athol's point, anyway.

    A lot of guys on the manosphere want things "traditional" which means "SAHM" but they aren't necessarily seeing the risks of that situation to themselves and their marriage. No harm in putting the opinion out there. :)

  70. R. says:

    Watching all those comments repeating the same stuff over and over, and hushing to conclusions that Athol has never made is very tiring indeed. People should think deeply about what is being said before commenting or "getting offended"… actually, this whole "I´m offended" that keeps popping up nowadays is pretty boring.

  71. The Momma says:

    @Stargate Girl

    I must have too much free time too! It's unfortunate that an expression of love/care for your family ends up being turned into something negative.

  72. Dasugo says:

    Child abuse? What? Are you high? How many people CAN afford $20k for each kid? Heck, how many people can afford for a SAHM??

  73. Stargate Girl says:

    I wish I had actually learned sewing from my Mom while she was still with us. Unfortunately, my interest developed fairly recently and we lived 5 hours apart. But she enjoyed any little thing I made, no matter how awkward or pathetic it was.

  74. CB says:

    Okay..so I read the article and ALL the comments.The one thing I haven't seen addressed…and maybe it was just the situation my Wife and I encountered.
    She was adamant and up front about being a stay at home mom to any of our children (this was even before we got married and had discussed possibly being parents) until they started school.
    While I think a good part of that is that fact her Mother (or birth vessel as I like to call her) was not a role model for a daughter to learn mothering skills. The other part I think came from the fact that she worked full time in daycare for quite a while. In fact she did that before she was pregnant and kept doing it right up until she had our son.
    She told me story after story…like WEALTHY parents (both were lawyers) bringing their kids into daycare on their days off. Like rolling in at 9am, still in sweat pants, and dropping their kids off and going back home to do whatever. She would always say (and I agree then and still agree now) "Why have kids if you aren't going to raise them?"
    So I was perfectly fine with my wife being a SAHM to our son. That lasted until he started school.
    The ONE Thing I haven't seen mentioned? The STRESS it can put on a marriage, BECAUSE the wife is staying home . I don't mean possible affairs or break ups. My wife didn't even use a computer then, and only now to play games and look at Facebook every now and again.
    I would come home from long days at work (at first I was military then I was doing a lot of daytime travel for my job) and she would get ticked off over any little thing (or so it seemed). That was the rockiest our marriage has ever been.
    It took my TOO LONG to figure out…the main issue? She was BORED.
    When children are babies, they don't do a whole lot other than eat, poop, pee, sleep…rinse, repeat. In fact our son was not even 3 months old and she wanted another baby. Out of boredom I came to find out. And although I was working all day (and didn't go "Drink with the boys" after work) she would still be upset.
    The reason?

    I was working sure…but I got to interact with ADULTS all day. Have conversations. See people. She sorely missed that being in the company of an infant all day. She tried "play dates" and did make some friends with children, who were SAHMS as well, and it helped SOME. When I realized WHY she was upset…I finally understood.
    Financially it wasn't a huge deal. We were young. We bought a small house. We didn't drive new cars. We didn't care about big TV's. We could meet all of our son's needs and our needs…and still afford some wants.
    But it put A LOT of stress on our marriage. A LOT.
    I still believe to this day, if my wife hadn't of started working full time when she did, we'd be divorced right now.
    Adults need adult time. Now if you have 10 kids running around, sure it might be different…And laying around watching TV and eating 'bon bons'? More like vacuuming, steam cleaning, fixing meals, washing clothes, having play time, changing diapers, etc etc…and still being bored stiff by the time I got home.

  75. CB says:

    Continued, never said I wasn't wordy..

    Financially? We have gone through what every couple has gone through. You spend more when you make more. You become used to that income.
    If you can't support a family of 3-4 on $50K plus a year…you are doing it WRONG. Of course “support” may not encompass laptops, video games etc etc. But those aren’t needs. I did it on a ENLISTED military salary. Around $20K a year if I remember correctly. Guess what? My teenage son isn't scarred from the experience.

    Saying that more wives get divorced BECAUSE they are a SAHM is kind of silly. I bet the same women would be divorced if they worked full time.
    The issues with a SAHM and her husband is when the husband works full time, comes home and doesn't act like a FATHER. When every day off he gets is spent on the golf course or sitting on his ass.
    Of course that's just my take. My marriage needs plenty of work, but I don't worry about my wife leaving me…never have.
    Just my 2 cents.

  76. Dreadpiratk says:

    AMEN! I find it hilarious when couples say the 'just can't afford' for the wife to be a SAHM. What they mean is they can't maintain the lifestyle they think they need to with only one income. No, you can't have the McMansion with two late model cars, IPhones all around ect, on only one income, but those things aren't really making you happy anyway, are they?

  77. Anonymous says:

    Plenty of good observations here about the dangers of the SAHM situation. Both my exhusband and I worked full time while having physical custody of my stepson. I could never figure out what the SAHMs were doing with all that time. If you teach your kids to pick up after themselves and give them chores, teach them nutrition and how to make their own breakfast and pack their own lunches, where is all this work?

    I simply have to agree with the stereotype that SAHMs are either lazy or uneducated. No, I'm not going to take my hat off to them for scrubbing toilets and doing laundry because we're able to do those things too. Perhaps those without college degrees have it made if they stay home, but don't go overboard by equating baking cupcakes from scratch to a woman managing a business.

    Paycheck = Power = Respect

    If a woman does not work, her husband can mistreat her or cheat on her to his heart's content. So I think it speaks volumes of the personality of the guy that wants to keep his wife unemployed. Moms, if you don't want to be silently regarded as a child or a pet poodle, work.

    –Jaz71

  78. jen says:

    I think all you working moms are high and mighty assholes. My kids are in school youngest goes in 9:00 and I am back picking the oldest at 2:00. Where are your kids before and after school. Somehow it does not add up that working moms do it all. Your lying…unless you are a teacher someone else is watching them,helping them with homework and your feeding them chicken nuggets at night while your husband does the baths and bed because you had such a hard day.I stay home and do everything .You have three people if you have a babysitter or aftercare so the whole thing equals out as far as im concerned.

Speak Your Mind

*