Why . .

Why is there such negative views towards women who stay at home.  I have participated in a number of conversations recently and if stay-at-home mums come up in the conversation, the comments are almost always negative and derogatory. This appears to be also the case when I read articles in our mainstream  newspapers.

I just don’t understand why.

I thought we lived in an age of equality, which allows (encourages) men and women to make choices, isn’t this the manta of feminism — empowering women to make choices — however it would appear that women who decide not to enter the workforce or leave the workforce and stay at home are viewed as making the wrong decision, which basically says there isn’t really any choice at all.

And why, when the children start school, does society says to mums “it is now time for you to return to work” — believing that once the youngest child is at school there is no justification for a mother to remain at home. If mothers do stay at home they are viewed as being selfish or lazy.   If I told my work colleagues today that I was leaving to become a SAHM they would be horrified and wonder why I was taking such a backwards step “what about my career, my aspirations”?  Why is stay-at-home considered backwards?  I would argue (ladies do you agree) that women who stay at home have as many aspirations as women who work, they just are different and that should be just fine, but it appears not to be. I should my aspirations, as a working woman, be considered better to a woman at home.

It isn’t as if SAHM’s are costing society or causing anyone any stress or hurt, so why such distain, especially from other women.  Does it come down to jealous or envy?  Do they think that everyone should have a ‘real’ job?  This puzzles me. What business is it of others to be critical if a husband and wife have made the decision of the wife to remain at home to care for the children (no matter their age). Financially I am sure it can be difficult, however having mum at home is also making large savings as in childcare, travel expenses, working clothes for mum and I am sure there are many.

People seem to completely devalue women at home, even though they contribute very much to society, just not in paid work.  The range of voluntary work undertaken by women at home (old and young) is huge, they are often the ones helping out at school (in the tuck shop, listening to reading, baking for school fairs etc), they provide support to their husbands and to their elderly family.  Women who stay at home often work from home, e.g. in the family business, in cottage industries, thought the internet etc.. and this is as valuable as any work that I do. 

I have read a couple of articles about the number of younger women who are giving up their high powered career to become SAHM's —discovering that "women can't have it all". 

With both sides of government in this country offering Maternity leave for working mums — there does seem a real push to keep women in the workforce — but I wonder how many really want to be there?


  1. I don't know the answer to all your questions, Jo - but I do know I would rather be at home... I know when I have a busy day out and about, I don't feel like coming home and taking care of the house and cooking good meals etc for my husband in the evening; and I imagine this is even harder for women who work (with all the work politics and the mental/physical strain of their job).
    I think some of the comments (especially when they come from working women) are sometimes a form of jealousy - maybe they wish they were in a situation where they could stay at home? And sometimes it comes from the fact that they associate staying home to the pre-feminism era when women were *sometimes* treated almost like slaves or servants to wait on their family/husband hand and foot - or at least this is the image they have in their head of that era. I reckon if the movie world produced a bunch of movies showing what the stay-at-home life *REALLY* was like (not a dreamy rich image of it), there might be better accceptance of it - it's all about the attitude that people are forced to have, often, I think.
    It is not a *lazy* life at all (unless you choose to be lazy)!
    And finally, I think a lot of women would be bored at home and literally NOT have a lot to do because so many people live minamilist lives and their home-life is boring... they don't have as many hobbies or things to do around the house because when they're home (after/around work) they're tired and don't want to have hobbies that involve a lot of thinking - they would rather sit and be entertained. I think this becomes a mindset... "what would we do without the TV?" Does that make sense?

  2. Being a SAHM has been one of the biggest struggles of my life. I was shocked and ill prepared for it. I hold a Masters degree with post graduate studies in my field and I think people just assume that I should be doing something more "worthwhile" with my education. After waiting 35 years to become a mother and wanting it more than anything else in the world--I have been surprised at my response as well. I occassionally struggle with the what ifs--what if I worked, we'd have more money (debatable), we could buy that house or that car or travel there. But ultimately none of those THINGS are worth more to me than the time I get to spend with my children and caring for my family. Frankly, I don't know how we would cope if I worked outside of the house. It wouldn't be pretty. Wonderful post!

  3. You can't have it all. One only has so much time, so much energy, so many years. One has to choose. I know not everybody has the luxury of choice these days when everything is so expensive but the assumption that everyone wants to be a two income family effectively removes the choice to live on one income. Me, I hate being in the workforce & I hope to never have to be in it again.

  4. I'm with you Ganeida - I don't ever want to have to be in the workforce again either. And I don't think it's any place for a Christian single young woman to be, period. Today's world is so evil and the influences and pull of the world are huge and hard to stand against.

  5. I think you are right Clara, women today do have a funny idea of “life at home” and I think the feminists are to blame for creating this negative imagine (e.g. the women slaving away for her husband dreaming of life elsewhere) – and if a bunch of movies did present the home-front as more appealing (positive view) it might change some opinions. Also the fact the many women these days no longer have any interests so what would they do at home – I don’t tell some people I do arts and crafts at home as I get a strange look (no idea why). Home cooking and cleaning are being out-sourced so these skills are dying, many women would struggle to undertake some basic tasks I would guess. And for non-Christian women, how many do gravitate to the TV all day?

  6. I know this post is primarily about SAHM but if the world is so evil, and I agree that it is, shouldn't we who have the privilege of being a SAHM be praying for our husbands who have to daily encounter the pressures and stresses of being in the workforce. The home should be an anchor of security and calmness where the husband and children can return to at the end of their day. This is much harder to achieve if the mother is not a SAHM, and also has pressures from both home life and work.

  7. I have never been a career-loving person. When I had to work full-time, I dispised it. I love being at home and never get bored of it.

    I do work on a casual basis only, and the beauty of this job is I can say 'no' to any day I'm asked. I do enjoy working where I do because it's is a small town and it's a good way to meet people. The Lord definitely uses it. The people I work with are great too. None of them are Christians, so it's a great mission field!

    I can go months without working a day, then a have a season of working a couple of days a week. It is perfect for me.

    The world and the prince of this world has blinded, desensitised, numbed etc etc most people to really what life should be about... they are caught under it's sway and influence, so of course, they won't appreciate the call to 'home', and the roles of men and women (according to His purposes). They simply can't understand it or see it because they are deceived. I am not surprised at the negetive comments and attitudes of so many 'out there', as they have been conditioned by the enemy.

  8. I do work - but in a job that I like very much (no staff politics around me and it isn’t physically demanding, this is quite rare) - but I agree that you can’t have it all. I have no intentions of going for any further promotions as it would intrude into my home life and I won’t have that. I careful balance everything so I can do everything I need to and no longer having young children does make it all go quite smoothly. I would like to go part-time, but that isn’t an option in this position for the moment. Perhaps later on. I have a looked at options of working at home, still think about this from time to time and wonder what I could do. Write a book? I would much prefer to remain at home, but once you are locked into mortgages etc it is hard to make dramatic changes like returning to one income.

    Clara there are so many temptations in the workforce, for both men and women, one needs to be vigilant in how one presents themselves and who they mingle with — there are jobs I wouldn’t want my sons doing either, were other men behave in a manner that is not nice at all.

  9. Anonymous – yes our homes should be a place of refuge for all our family and I try very hard to create that for my husband. Sadly many husbands want their wives working (even Christian husbands) and it causes such sadness for many Christian women who try so hard to make it all work. Families (Christian or not) now want the bigger house, the newer car, the holidays so even if the wife wanted to stop working it would be almost impossible.

  10. Jo, you are definitely one who has a good balance. Judging from your weekend posts, you still manage your home in a beautiful manner, not neglecting anything.

    It is a fact that in this day and age, morgages etc often make working a necessity. He uses all things for His glory, and I am sure you are a wonderful witness in your workplace. He always used me in whatever work place I was in.

    I agree... men and women, young and old, need to be careful where they work, and prayer cover is important.

  11. LOVE being a SAHM for almost 20 years now. My husband and I have made sacrifices that only God knows. Do I work? ABSOLUTELY 100%, with no paid sick days, holidays or leave of absence. Do I get paid? Eternal benefits which make my work very difficult because some of those benefits I won't see this side of heaven, but nonetheless I would not change a thing. I am fine without a job. A job is what we get paid for. Work is what we were born to do. You can afford to lose your job. You cannot afford to miss your work in life.

    Do I believe every woman should be a SAHM? I think it would most definitely be very beneficial to this world; however, I respect those who feel their place is having a job outside the home and have not had the same personal conviction as myself. That said, I still think SAHM's should get more respect, especially from women who choose to have a job outside the home.

  12. Amanda – my mother was a primary school teacher whilst I was growing up (she taught me for a couple of years) so I witnessed a Christian woman who was able to balance her working life with her home and family. Mum worked as income from a farm is not always reliable but I am sure she would have preferred to be at home. I learnt from her how to balance work and home and the importance’s of family always coming first.

    I never leave my house in the morning without doing the dishes and everything in its place. It makes coming home much easier and nicer to all. I also always have meat in the fridge de-frosting and have an good idea of what we are having. God has always provided me with jobs that has allowed this balance and the strength to maintain a house that is a refuge for my family. If my work started to takeover my family then I would find something else.

  13. One Heart – I do agree that if women were at home looking after the household many social problems might be reduced. However I do much prefer seeing my female doctor which does create a bit of a problem.

    And yes - SAHM's are working just as hard as any other woman and it is a 24 hour job, 7 days a week! And this needs to be recognised in the community, which it isn’t.

  14. Great post Jo and one topic that is close to my heart!
    I personally haven't come across too many women who look down on my choice to stay at home but then again I haven't been in the workforce since I made that decision so I'll never know!
    With us it came down to conviction from God about wanting to be the carer for our child and not a stranger! We have made many many financial sacrifices to do this. But we realise the eternal benefits far outweigh the temporary benefits (had I gone to work after having her).
    I think maybe some women as has been mentioned before - have a false sense of what we SAHM's do all day:) or perhaps they are jealous, I don't know? :) I've realised time is so short esp the time with our kids as they grow up so fast and I want to be there with Rebekah through this time. I am blessed to be able to work a few hours from home to supplement our income but I am not sure if I will go back into the workforce when Rebekah has grown up. If I had to financially I would only like to work part time:) We'll have to wait and see on that one!
    May be I should do a post on being a SAHM sometime:)

  15. I agree that there are SO many temptations out there for both men and women, but I do think a God-fearing man is better equipped to deal with the evils and temptations of the world for several reasons (not that this means we shouldn't pray for him - we definitely should... this is just why I think it is SO much more important that young women stay at home): firstly, women are emotional creatures and get dragged into situations a lot more easily, and secondly, when mankind sinned originally, God told them man it was he who would have to toil (ie. work in a labourious job to sustain his family), while women were given the curse of labourious child-bearing (something obviously done in a private sphere, not in a work-place situation)... And because of that, I believe God equipped the male to better be able to deal with going out to work in the world in a way that He didn't for women. Does that make sense?
    All this to explain why I said I think the workplace is a particularly bad place for young women (specified as young women, because even though I think older women have a place as a keeper-at-home, they do/should have the advantage of wisdom, so if they have to go out and work, it shouldn't come with the same level of troubles as it potentially can for younger women - generally speaking). :)

  16. Clara, I agree with you - I think many young women get into trouble in the workplace - especially if they come from protected homes - they see things that they are unfamiliar with and can be taken advantage of and stray. It can often be their first taste of the world and they are consumed by it - like getting drunk.

    My mother was a teacher for many years, but she started in her 30's after I was born and was mature and sensible (as you say had wisdom) - her faith was strong and she wasn't going to be influences by the world around her. Therefore no trouble befell her. She also used her standing in the community to spread the word of God, they all knew she was the Christian lady with her hair in a bun and only worm skirts!

    I pray that I am now that mature woman - but if I did have the opportunity to stay at home, even part time i would. I will leave that in pray with God as he knows my future not me.


  17. Jo,

    I find it shamefully distasteful that certain individauls feel that any woman who decides to stay home full-time to take care of her family is found to be incompetent. I feel that society has a skewed view about success. For most people, an individual's success is based upon producing a paycheck. If one is not doing that, then they are somehow seen as a "drain on society."

    Afer a considerable amount of time in the workforce, my husband and I agreed it was time for me to be home full-time. This change has not been an unpleasant one, for our marriage is much happier and less stressful. I have never been the "career-girl" type, and that suits me fine, for I enjoy being home full-time, and I don't get bored. My husband also appreciates having a wife that he can come home to who is not always drained and stressed.

    At any rate, that's just my two-cents worth. There will always be those that oppopse of women who choose to stay home. It's an unfortunate reality. We just need to keep our heads held high, and know that we are doing the "right" thing for our families.

    -Lady Rose

  18. What a great post, and what a great bunch of comments to follow up! Well, I am not a SAHM, but I am a SAHW! This is the result of a lot of prayer and discussion between me, my husband, and the Lord. I have always had a career, all my adult life, and for most of the time, teaching. I was very good at teaching... but that does not necessarily mean that I liked my job all the time. I had to work, because I was a single woman who needed to support herself. But my heart was always at home, and all I wanted was to be a homemaker, to write, and to create (music, arts, crafts, home decor). I am in my mid-40s, and I am finally getting the chance to do these things. However, I will say, it is HARD financially. Since being here with my husband (for just over 3 years), I have had two different jobs. Both of them were awful. One was in a bank, and the other in a call centre. The surroundings were stifling; the co-workers (most of them) were frequently disrespectful, lewd, and even bullying; the pay was low; I was miserable and so was my husband. Now, we scrape by on one income, and it is not a large one. But, my husband comes home to a warm, loving home and a wife who is much happier. I have time to do all those things that were neglected when I was working. It is hard keeping the home and working. I admire you for your strength and fortitude. I simply don't have it in me anymore. And yes, I received a LOT of condemnation for this choice, from people I know, from my husband's family, and from people I have never even met before! As if it is any of their business. And the first thing most people ask me upon initial meeting is, "What do you do?" meaning, what job outside of the home do I hold. I still find it very hard to explain what I do (and I am forever busy), and then I am angry that I am put on the defensive. Why, indeed??


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