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.





Comments

  1. Everyone needs to look at their own situation and goals, and make wise decisions based on that. One needs to look at what is needful, rather than a luxury. It bewilders me the number of families that have money guzzling 4WD's, rather than just an ordinary economical car. Small decisions like that can make a big impact on one's budget in the long term! And that is just one thing that could make the difference between Mum staying home to spend what is a very short time with growing kids, rather than beibg absent and running the risk of losing the kids' hearts. We need to spend QUALITY time with our kids, things don't make a relationship!!!

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    1. I think most people do make wise decisions about how they spend their money and who in the family works. There are those who are willing to live on a low income and have the wife at home. There are those who have mum working part-time and having the best of both worlds and there are those who choose to have two full-time incomes - but the reasons for these different decisions is complex and not simply a matter of buying luxury goods. The driving force behind most Australian families is the mortgage - if a family lives in Sydney it is expensive and if the husband has a low income, the wife has little choice but to work. Housing stress is a problem in Australia and most people can’t simply more to find cheaper housing due to employment issues. Other families make decisions on whether they choose to send their children to private schools or university in the future, whether they are willing to rely on government welfare or work, whether they are happy living on a very low income or would prefer to have less struggles etc… Most women have jobs that pay the bills, most are not career women - just look at the service and retail industries, full of women and many of these jobs are casual and part-time.

      I see lots of 4WDs where i live because of the high incomes in this city - they are very annoying and not good for the environment - I wouldn't waste my money on one, but interestingly , if you popped over to the North Shore you will see lots driven around by mums at home because the hubby is a big income earner.

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    2. I went to Ikea today and I had to smile as I parked the car - the carpark was full of 4WDs and I thought of you!! This town is big on 4WDs, often driven by women who say they buy them because it makes them "feel safe", unfortunately, it doesn't make the rest of us feel safe - I hate parking next to one in the carpark as they can be hard to see past.

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  2. ^^I agree, Betsy. No child will grow up and say "Gosh, I'm glad mom was always working to buy us more stuff." Things cannot replace a relationship.

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    1. I worked as my children grew up and I have a very strong relationship with my children - there are ways of combining work and family where there is a balance and there are ways of getting it all wrong. If you can stay home with them whilst they are young - that is excellent, but if you do need to work, choose carefully and never bring work home or make it your life.

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  3. I think it is good that we have a choice - and I am thankful for the choice we have made, even though it can be very hard at times. We each answer to God and Him alone as to our choices - and we have to live with those decisions and need to be careful we don't make decisions we will regret later. Children grow up SO fast - time is so precious with them, it mustn't be wasted!

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    1. They do - its hard to believe I have one that is 28 years old!! I think the discussion we had on Facebook about the sacrifices some women make and others should make. It might be wonderful to be a doctor is a specialised field and the money must be excellent, but if it takes you away from your family for endless hours - is it really worth it - the answer is no. The cost is far too high and you shouldn't have decided to have children. I do think some women do live to regret their decisions, often selfish decisions they make :(

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