Your mother doesn’t have to live your life and she doesn’t get to tell you how to do that. There, I fixed your problem. :wink:

The fact is that once you are a mom, you cannot win. Someone is always going to be telling you how incredibly inadequate you are and how horribly you are damaging your children, no matter what you do. So, part of being a competent mother is learning to ignore all that and do what you know to be right for your family–without constantly second-guessing yourself and worrying that you’re doing it wrong. Put all that worrying energy into something more constructive.

Yet another vote in the “whatever works for that particular couple” category.

I’m very lucky in my situation. When I was single and first married, I worked and earned a low-to-mid level salary, and hated every minute of it. I’ve never been career-oriented, I still don’t know what I want to be “when I grow up,” waking to an alarm and having to wear “work clothes” and dealing with traffic and all that yuckiness was horrible. Luckily, I married a man who is extremely career-oriented. He glories in going to work every day, he lives it and breathes it and finds it very fulfilling. And he makes good money at it, too. So when we had our daughter two years ago, it was a no-brainer for me to stay at home and for my husband to support us financially.

*This *job suits me to a T. I love being a SAHM, I feel very fulfilled, I’m very happy. My husband’s happy, because he takes pride in being able to support us, and with me here to take care of the house he can focus more on his career. It works for us.

And I should add this was something we agreed on before we were ever married. I always knew I would want to stay home with my kids, and I made sure he knew that. Luckily, we were on the same page about that, so it was never an issue. If he had been adamantly against his wife being a SAHM, it might have been a deal-breaker and we might have never been married in the first place–it was that important to me. But everyone’s different.

I’m sure I’ll go back to work at least part-time when my kids start school full-time (I’m due for #2 in three weeks), but I’m not really thinking about that yet since it’s still at least five years away. I am dependent on my husband for now, but if anything were to happen to him we’d be okay. There’s life insurance, I do have a college degree, and a strong family support system on both sides. It would be hard, but we’d survive, and for now the benefits of me being there full-time for my kids outweighs the risk, IMHO.

I stayed home with my baby for the first nine months while her dad worked, I did the cooking & housework. We put her in a daycare and both worked for a year and a half, then took her out again and kept her home with her dad working from home and me going out to work, it just wasn’t worth the time without her. He’s an mad artist (signwriter, shoemaker, silkscreen printer etc etc) so he could work his day around being home for her as school ended. I did the housework and gardening, he’s been the cook ever since because I’m so crap at it. :smiley:

We separated when Boo kid was around 12, but not in the sense of the childcare, he was the one dozing outside the nightclub at 4am waiting for her or staying over by me with her if I went out. My feeling is the more you put in early the less worries you’ll have later and that’s proven correct for us and our kid.

My mother was a full time teacher and my father was an author/playwright/critic who also stayed home to work so that was fairly similar although I’m one of three kids.

I have to work, I was broke then and I’m broke now I live payday to payday. I know a few women who stay home and don’t work, some don’t even have kids, invariably there’s some sort of depression going on.

Kathmandu: “I’m enjoying the time I have with them while they’re little.” That’s it. When they’re little every day there’s some new achievement that’s so exciting, it’s just too good to miss. Ahhhh baby gazing!

When I say women who stay home and don’t work, I’m not referring to women who are home with small kids.

Yup. Same goes for being a dad. Parents in general cannot win, someone always assume that whatever choices they make are not only wrong but worse than Hitler. :smiley:

Though moms do I think have it worse simply because there are more “worse than Hitler” choices they can make, particularly with very young children.

I suspect that part of the problem, for professional types at least, is that once you leave the job market for a few years to take care of kids it is hard to re-enter it.

Naturally one could do some sort of service industry type job, but if you spouse is a professional it may not seem worth it. Better to do volunteering.

I can’t look at any of those situations and say what people should and shouldn’t do as I think it’s a personal decision between the two people involved in the marriage, regardless of the child situation. I know that personally, the insecurity of only having one income (given the reality of jobs today) would not be acceptable to me and I don’t think I’d mesh well with someone who “expected” me to not work after I had a kid. Also, I believe that generally speaking, opting out of a career long-term is an extremely risky decision for a woman in terms of her own financial health. I only wish I hadn’t been so willing to give up on medicine as a career because my sister’s schedule as a psychiatrist is significantly better than any equivalent salary position in my fields (law/current, finance/future).

I read an interesting statistic recently, that if a college-educated woman leaves the workforce for 2 years, it is associated with an 18% reduction in lifetime earnings. That’s 5% of an approximately 40-year post-college working life, and an almost 20% reduction in earnings. It is an association, not a proven causal relationship, but it bears consideration.

You do need to do what works for your family, but neither spouse should be in the dark about what it is costing financially. It’s definitely not just about current cash flow.

I don’t think anyone who’s posted here has given any indication that current cash flow is the only financial consideration. And while that statistic may be interesting, I don’t think it’s particularly illuminating. There are a myriad of reasons that there may be a lifetime reduction in earnings if you’re out of the workforce for a period of time, and many of them may be the result of informed, conscious choices. For example, now that I have kids, I have no interest in working 100 hour weeks to make partner at a large law firm. Were I single and childless, I’d be more open to that kind of lifestyle. The fact that I’m not means I’ll make significantly less money in my lifetime, but to me, it’s a worthwhile trade-off. Money isn’t everything.

For all of those who would like to work part-time, or re-enter the work force after a few years but find they have to start all over, I’d like to suggest that they consider signing on with a few temporary help agencies. They’re a far cry from temp agencies even a few years ago. You can set your own schedule, try out a few companies and even get training in new technologies. A lot of companies won’t hire “off the street” but will only consider temp agency employees after a probationary period. Hope this helps.

Money isn’t everything, but the statistics on elderly women in poverty are sobering. From here: “Elderly women are far more likely to be poor than elderly men. Thirteen percent of women over 75 years old are poor compared to 6 percent of men.”

If a woman is staying home, her husband should actually be putting *more *away for her retirement than she would be if she were working. Considering Americans’ dismal track record on saving overall, I doubt that happens very often. Money isn’t everything when you’re comparing partner at a law firm to, say, being a teacher, but it comes into sharp focus when you’re an elderly widow wondering whether to eat or buy medicine.

I support the idea of making an informed choice about this, but people’s typical level of understanding of personal finance is not encouraging.