Monday, December 19, 2016

Why doesn’t she stay home with the kids?

Like a Chinese drama and conspiracy
It’s the death of a nuclear family staring up at you
It’s looking like another bad comedy

~~ “Nuclear Family” by Green Day

I recognize that there are generational differences but man, sometimes I just want to flip a damn table.

I won’t go into specifics because one never knows who might be reading this ([waving madly] Hi Vlad!), so I’ll just say that I heard an older woman criticizing a younger woman for going to college and heard the words, “She should just stay home with those kids.”


A few things here.

I applaud anyone—ANYONE—who wants to further their education. People with a college education earn more on average than those without one. Fact. So if you are raising a family, it makes perfect sense to get a college degree if at all possible. It’s not just about the monetary benefits, though. It’s also about learning for the sake of learning. Some of us still see the value in that. It’s why I am thrilled with the Rise of the MOOCs. I can take worthwhile and interesting classes online, continue to learn, and more often than not, I can do it for FREE. How super cool is that??

I know things were different “back in the good old days” *COUGH* (for whom?) but there is a new reality in the 21st century. If you are renting a two-bedroom apartment that isn’t a Roach Motel, you’re going to be paying at least $700 per month. Heck, it was 15 years ago that I was renting and my nice 2 BR in an apartment complex in a small city in northern Indiana was close to $800 per month. The price of food has gone up. The price of clothing has gone up. Utilities, gas, health insurance, you name it—it’s all gone up. This isn’t the 1950s, no one can raise a family on minimum wage, and that is a fact.

If people are working minimum wage jobs, it is a given that both parents will have to work. Maybe it’s comforting to live in your Leave It To Beaver world, but how can anyone ignore reality and not realize that it is just not the current reality and it never will be again? I suppose I know the answer to my own question. Low information voter.

Finally, there are plenty of women who find great satisfaction in working. Before anyone gets pissed at me, I’m not knocking any woman who chooses to stay home with her kids. If you are able to do that, more power to you! It is a very personal choice. But plenty of us enjoyed our work and found it stimulating and rewarding. I recall having a conversation with my ex many years ago about having children (it happened in front of others, which made it extra special) in which he said that he thought I should stay home and raise any child we might have. I was in my mid-20s at the time and was just embarking on my career in the laboratory and I was enjoying myself. I said, “What are you gonna do? Chain me in the basement?”

That attitude was bad enough coming from a guy (I think he attended one too many Promise Keepers rallies), but I find it especially bothersome coming from a woman. Again, I understand the generational differences and I get it that there is a wide gap between their reality and mine.

That doesn’t mean that I have to agree with it or that I will stop defending anyone who chooses to try to further their education. What was enough for you when you were raising a family might not be enough for a whole lot of us.


  1. ...though I have never broached the subject with my partner, both she and her sister works outside the home while raising a family in spite of being raised in a home where Mom stayed home... what I have gathered from the occasional comments that float through, the experience of struggling in a home with only one salary left an indelible mark on the both of them...

    ...I think that women who cling to the idea of being a homekeeper lack vision and desire for control of their own destiny... and the men who clamour for women to return to their traditional roles simply don't want the competition...

  2. Staying home should be a choice, not a requirement!


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