Monday, April 18, 2011

My Thoughts on Both Parents Working

I don't know what is good parenting and what's bad parenting (rather, I don't think I have the right to decide that) because I'm not a parent myself. But as I watch my friends and acquaintances, male and female, become new parents and as I watch them grow in the process, I make certain promises to myself every now and then that consist of things I swear never to do with my own kids and others that I swear to do with them. I realize, yeah, that these ideas may/will change with time, and I understand that I might change my mind completely once the time comes for me to practice parenthood. I'll add to the list with time, but for now, the one that's been bothering me a lot lately about many, many parents I know, I'd like to discuss it here. What instigated this, you might ask? Oh simple: The fact that some parents abandon their children, or send them over to other people (be they close family) to raise them instead of taking the responsibilities themselves, just because they're working! And this particular case I know of, their jobs are such that I tell you one of them earning money is good enough for the other not to work. But good lord, freaking don't have kids if others have to raise them for you, damnit!!!!

When I become a mother, I will ensure that either my partner or I stay home with the kid(s). Hopefully, he won't be a jerk and go, "Of course it has to be you - you're a woman." (In that case, then I wouldn't marry him, or agree to have children, if I's married to him already. Yeah.) It really won't matter to me if it's he or I not working, but one of us WILL be at home to be with the kids. Sure, if my siblings or parents or his siblings live so close to us that it'll be convenient enough for us to drop our kids off at their place, then all the more better! But even then, I wouldn't feel comfortable with it. Aaaannnd if his parents are living with us (which will be the case if they're alive, especially if they're old) and we get along very well, then that'd be an ideal situation. But let's not dream here. Let's assume, instead, that no close, dependable relatives of ours live nearby to take care of our kids while we're at work.

So, you see, I do not support the idea that both parents should work outside the home, except in the case specified above.That's not to deny today's demand that both parents work if they are to live a comfortable lifestyle, but I honestly don't think a "comfortable" life is worth pursuing at the expense of the early years of your children. I can't imagine how any parent can live with this, and I pray to God I don't become one of them.

I also don't believe in daycare/childcare. What on earth?! How would I leave my kids in a strange place where good hygiene is known not to be practiced. Again, this is not to deny that many parents today are compelled to do this because they are not lucky enough to have close family members to take care of their kids while they're at work and because their circumstances are such that they are required to work. But I doubt this is the case with all the parents who leave their kids at daycare centers and all the parents who work. I know of a few myself: They work just because they want to earn their own paycheck. I know that feeling's awesome, and I love it, too, but I would hope that a husband or wife, someone you commit to for life, would be someone who would never give you a chance to feel like you're dependent on them just because you don't work. 

Hence, contrary to what many people, including many feminists, believe, women who choose to stay home with their kids aren't "oppressed" or whatever. I don't speak for all here, obviously, and I certainly don't mean to suggest that I will for certain not be working when I have children--but I can't respect families who abandon their kids for the sake of money. I acknowledge that some of them are forced to do that, but I think that's when we need to do some self-reflections: What exactly is the purpose of our having children if we can't raise them ourselves?

'Course, it's totally possible that when the time comes, I will not remember any of this ... but let's hope I'll be better than that :)


  1. I do agree that it is more important to spend time raising our own children than anything else. I think raising kids is a tough job and yes, it is a commitment one has to make if they are going to bring little people into this world.

    That's why I'm a little skeptical about having my own kids. I can't even take of myself!! =(

  2. LOL, RM! That's actually try for me too :|I can't take care of myself, so how'm I to take care of mini-me! :s Life is so scary. Gosh.

  3. And this is coming from a feminist such as you? :)

  4. I don't agree with you at all. I'm in the fortunate position to be able to work part time and I'm also in graduate school in which most of my study is at home. My plan is to finish grad school at the same time my youngest will be starting school and in which case I'll go to work full time. I'm glad for my position because I kind of have the best of both worlds; I get to be home quite a bit and still have a career and academic life of my own. I would probably commit suicide or at least be in a bad depression if I had to stay home all the time with the children. I'm not kidding. I NEED a life outside of being a mother. I don't feel guilty about that.

    As for daycare, many stay at home moms send their children to preschool when they hit three or so because the kids need the socialization. It is quite the shock for children that have always been at home with their mothers to suddenly be thrown into school full time when they reach kindergarten age, so people put them in preschool (maybe just a few days a week) to help them overcome the adjustment, but also because kids need to learn how to be a functioning individual in the "real" world.

    I agree some people put their careers and money over the well being of their families. However, it is quite doable to have both parents working and still have healthy and happy children. People do it all the time.

  5. Thank you for your comment, Steph! Glad to hear from you!

    As I said in my post, different families have to deal with their children differently. I don't think you should feel guilty at all (and good thing you don't) for wanting to have more than motherhood as a part of your life; there is, after all, so much more to a woman than just being a mother (yes, I said "just"). But for me, it would be a completely different case, unless, God forbid, circumstances compel me to do otherwise: I would hate to leave my kids under anyone else's care. I simply don't look forward to a life in which both my partner and I are working while our kids are with other people, usually strangers. Frankly speaking, I'd prefer death to such a lifestyle.

    Regarding exposing children to socialization, absolutely. However, the best way is most certainly not through daycare centers. Again, I may be saying this just because I myself have never been a parent and don't know what it's like to leave a child in a center like that, but I would never do it myself if I had the option not to. If that meant I would have to stay at home and be with the kids, I'd do it willingly; if it meant my husband had to be the one staying at home with them, I'd make sure he does.

    Clearly, I don't speak of the parents, whether mothers or fathers, who have no problem with both of them working while their kids are at childcare or nannies and all; I speak only of the parents who have a problem with it and don't want to live like that. I'm currently among the latter group, and I hope it stays like that.

    Thanks again for your comment!

  6. I used to dream about raising kids as a stay at home mom... but I have come to accept that I must either give up the stay at home part, or give up on ever being a mother. Living on one income simply isn't attainable for me. In fact, in California, "to achieve economic security the average minimum income needed for a family with two workers and two young children is $67,920 — that's with both parents working, and earning just over $16 an hour.
    And a single worker with no children needs to make about $30,000 a year, which means working full-time and earning twice the minimum wage." (These figures do not include an entertainment budget, by the way. Read full article here.)
    Now, I'm 26 and my biological clock isn't just ticking, its blaring the alarm! I also made around $27,000 last year (full-time!), about the same as my boyfriend... well short of economic security. So what's the right thing to do? Wait until it's either too late or unsafe to have children? Or have them sooner but accept that it will take a whole village to raise my kids?
    By the way, my godson's parents both work, and I'm a major player in his little village. His grandparents, aunts, uncles, and several of his parent's friends including me all take an active part in raising him. He spends every moment of every day surrounded by people who love him. I can't imagine a better way to grow up.

  7. @ "Me" (LOL?), thank you for dropping by and commenting! Hmm... interesting you should say that; mind explaining what you mean, though?

    @ Sophia, thank you so much for your comment, and thank you for visiting me! :) I love your comment. I have the same fears sometimes-- I hope to have a child by the time I'm 30 (or 32 at the latest!), but what if my husband and I aren't financially fit to support them? And I'd hate to leave the kids to others to raise while either my hubby or I are at work, trying to earn a living ~sighs~

    I wish you well! God be with you!

  8. I am 30 and still do not have kids. Hubs and I come from the same position - we want financial security so we are able to focus more of ourselves on raising our children. Although this is our choice, I really respect working moms who go out and kick ass every day, it is not easy to be criticized both ways. We are damned if we do, damned if we don't.

    Feminists criticize if we do stay home, stay at home mom's criticize if we work. I hope to be a little of both. I think I'll work part time while raising my kids - I need adult interaction in my life in order to feel mentally healthy.

  9. Hiiii, AlmostClever!
    Thanks for your insight, girl!

    About getting criticism from feminists and anti-feminists alike, I don't understand. Everyone gets criticism (it's just like when a woman who covers her face is told by some that she needs to be liberated and should therefore stop covering her face, while others tell them TO wear it! What the hell?!). I don't think any group is exempt from getting any sort of criticism. Think of men who stay at home with their kids while their wives do the earning. Many people mock them and consider them feminine or not manly enough.

    So, I don't think we can escape other people's nonsense no matter what decisions we make in life. My criticism (and I don't want anyone to be offended by this or to think that they should re-evaluate their livelihoods just because some random blogger can't figure them out) is for those parents, both men and women, who work and leave their children under other people's care. Let alone criticize, I can't even respect them.

    This isn't about mothers; it's about parents, which means this includes fathers, too.

    P.S. I'd never have guessed you're 30! I don't believe you at ALL!

  10. Because feminists don't want women to stay at home and take care of their children. Thats the underlying message of feminism. but here you are, saying women should stay at home and take care of their children :)

  11. Serenity,

    I would have to disagree with your argument that criticism is the same for everyone no matter what we do. I don't see too many men having an issue with working and having a family at the same time.

    I am not in graduate school and getting my licensing so I can watch my degree hang on the wall just because I decided to have children.

    I give mad love to women who work and maintain their career, I think they are excellent role models. I also think they are great mothers and deserve respect.

  12. Thanks for your comment again, Sarah and "Me" (?? Dude!).

    @ "Me": It's unfortunate that you think that's what this post said, 'cause I do not support the belief that women should be the ones staying at home and taking care of their kids. The post above, if you read it, makes my point clear: Parents (who, remember, include both mothers and fathers) should not leave their children for other people to take care of and raise them themselves. Whether it is the mother who ends up staying at home while the father works earning, or whether it's the father who ends up staying at home while the mother's at work earning, it does not matter to me, and that's not the point. It's up to the parents to decide together how that should be handled.

    Hope that makes it clearer.

    No, I didn't mean (or claim) that criticism is the same for everyone. I do believe, though, that people get it no matter what. I appreciate both men and women who maintain their career and families in good shape -- if they are capable of doing it, since many are not. When the family's in bad shape because the kids aren't getting to spend enough time with their parents, it's not because of the mother just because she might be working; the father's equally responsible for the tragedy. (Yes, I find it tragic.) So I wouldn't make this entirely about women or men alone; it's about both women and men.

    As for what a "great mother" (or "great father") is, I would have to write another blog entry on that if I were willing to decide that. But since I'm not a parent myself, I don't think I have that right yet. It's only that I cannot respect parents, whether fathers or mothers, who leave their kids for others to take care of while they work. I explained above that I understand that many people don't work for pleasure and are compelled to work if they're to seek a comfortable lifestyle, but that doesn't change the fact that I can't respect someone who leaves their kids for others to handle. Bear in mind, though, that not respecting someone isn't the same as disrespecting them. No, I wouldn't disrespect them; I simply wouldn't look up to them.

  13. You should write another blog entry on that ;) I think it would make for a good debate! Whenever parenting is the topic, it always comes with some pretty strong opinions.

  14. I have to say I am more with Sarah and Stephanie here, although I don't have kids yet I would definitely continue working after having kids - at least part time. I also think the issue depends very much on where in the world you are located, childcare is excellent here in Denmark, and so is the opportunity to choose to work part-time, semi-full-time (30 hours a week) and even a normal full-time job here in DK is actually just 37-40 hours a week (overtime is not that common here unless you are in top-top-top positions).

    Like Stephanie also pointed out, socialization is incredibly important for children, and I know how much my 4-year-old nephew LOVES his kindergarden and although he also enjoys it when my sister keeps him home for one day every once in a blue moon, he's always happy and excited to go back to his kindergarden where he loves the staff and the other kids. But I am also aware that we generally have a very high level of quality when it comes to the staff that works in these places (the vast majority are trained in child care with 3-4 years of education behind them).

    Also, in agreement with Sarah, I completely respect a womans choice to stay at home (and a father's choice as well), I may not understand that choice, but I respect it.

    Also, another reason why I love my country is that the parents get 12 months of parental leave after each child is born, 2 weeks is specifically for the father, 3 months is specifically for the mother and the rest can be split between them (the usual split is mum 9 months, dad 3 months, but many are starting to do 50/50).

  15. Beckyyyyyy! Thanks for your comment! Great to have you join the discussion, jaan!

    Freaking 12-month parental leave after a child is born?! No freaking way!!! We don't get that here, not even close. What, I think it's no more than 2 months (if that at all!), and it's unpaid, too! When my sister gave birth to my niece, she was given only TWENTY (20!!!!) days leave... also unpaid. I could never, ever forgive a system for abusing me like that. Never. I don't know how my sister ever got over that.

    And, by the way, America is the only (Western) country that does not offer paid maternity leave - did you know that? It's a pity, really.

    so, you're right: it's about the region/country. Unfortunately, mothers in the U.S. are not as lucky as those in Denmark. Enjoy your privilege! I can't imagine working with the treatment they give to mothers here. Either me or my husband will have to quit our job, temporarily or otherwise, to make sure our kids get the time they need from their parents and are not left to others, be it an excellent daycare, to be raised. And, by the way, it'd be silly to have your kid by you 24'7 - the child does need to develop social skills from an early age, and that's where taking them to park, playgrounds, friends' houses, nurseries, etc. play an extremely important role in their development. However, that's not necessary, even from a scientific point of view, for 9 hours a day every day. Not at all. In all honesty, most of us don't leave our kids in daycares or nurseries with the intention to let them grow and learn to socialize, but with the intention that we earn our money (remember: This applies to both mothers and fathers, not just mothers and not just fathers). If our intention was the former, then we wouldn't be leaving them in these centers for as long a time as we do currently. That's what I find so tragic. We basically have others take CARE of our kids, we have them RAISE our kids - without realizing what that means for our children.

  16. Yeah, 12-months paid leave. Why do you think I've always said I want to have my kids in Denmark? I friggin love our system, this is one of the things I truly love about my country.

    Also, should you choose to not put your kids in daycare, one of the parents can work at home and be paid the same amount a month, that the government would otherwise pay to the institution (since the institutions are partly paid for by the government).

    Well, I do agree with you that it's important to spend time with your kids, and to have balance in your work and home life, I just think it is possible to achieve that balance with both parents still working (although not necessarily full time). But I am also very aware that it is not possible to do that everywhere, and that I'm very lucky to be in Denmark, where we have such possibilities, and where this is the NORM rather than the exception.

  17. ~sighs~ I haven't decided yet where I'll live once I become a mother, ka khairee.... Denmark looks quite appealing, BUT it's too cold there for my health :s Gosh, I'm so fickle.


Dare to opine :)

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