Stories from the news: more women deciding to stay at home
A recent study published in the Psychology of Women Quarterly found that while females of Generation Y are more accepting of working mothers, there is an increased desire among them to stay at home, compared to the generation before. Thirty-two per cent of millennials in the US believe men are best suited to be the breadwinners and women the homemakers. This figure is up from 27 per cent in the 1990s.
Women have choices and that is excellent — families can make decisions that best suit them and change their arrangements as children get older. Women are no longer tied to the home as they were in the 1950's (when they were not allow to work once married) and the sigma of staying home is lessening so women are much freer in making chooses that suit their families. Women can move in and out of the workforce as it suits them and I am all for this flexibility. This is how it should be and women (along with their husbands) should be able to make these choices without the worry of what others think. And that is what feminism was really all about — giving women choices and not forcing women to choose between work and home (sadly, that message got lost in all the noise).
In Australia, there is a similar subset of young people with traditional attitudes towards the role of women in the household and workforce. Dr Jennifer Baxter of the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) reports there is a significant portion of 15-29-year-olds who agree with the statement: “It is better for everyone involved if the man earns the money and the woman takes care of the home and the children.”
Many Australian women work part-time, more so than elsewhere in the world so they can balance their lives. The part-time employment gives the family a little extra cash (and this is important considering the cost of housing in some cities) but allows mum plenty of time with her children. I think this is the best of both worlds, especially for mums who like the dabble in work but still has her heart at home.
Sophie, 25, and her husband Leon came to an agreement very early on in their relationship that she would stay at home while he worked full time and studied. She is proud to be called a housewife, but admits, “These days, it’s a bit of a dirty word. Stay-at-home wives and mothers are very underappreciated.” Despite the ‘stigma’, Sophie sees motherhood as “the most important job anyone could have” and is happy raising her one-year-old son, Charles, at home.
I think in time as more women choose to do what they think best, the stigma will lift. In many instances, it is a little bit of jealously — most ordinary women would like to be able to be at home some of the time, but can't due to mortgage demands etc.. A few of my friends would love to retire early and enjoy all their hobbies and spend more time with the grandchildren — but due to financial commitments and their superannuation funds (personal retirement fund) it wouldn't make sense to give up work early.
Dr Margaret Henderson, author of Marking Feminist Times, agrees the swing back to traditional gender roles is a reaction to millennial upbringings. “They’ve seen their parents’ marriages break up and [have grown up with] working mothers and [seen] the pressure that puts on the family,” she explains. “And so they think staying at home is the easier option.”
I think parents, when making these decisions need to to forget what everyone else is doing and do what is best for their families and its great to see that many Australian families are doing just that. In fact it is very encouraging to read.