Staying at home

I was reading another thread. Resumes and gaps in work experience came up. A few years ago, I had to help hire someone at my former job. One of the candidates had a really long gap in her work experience. It was over 20 years. Being young and a bit naïve I said “It’s been such and such a time since your last job.” She said she had been a stay at home mom. I remember her telling me her youngest was something like 17. She ended up not getting hired. I remember thinking at seventeen, you don’t really need your mom around. This is something that popped up into my mind then and occasionally pops up from time to time when something reminds me of that. At what age do you think a child no longer needs a stay at home parent?

I said “8,” thinking that at 8 a latchkey kid can handle himself / herself without supervision for a couple of hours, i.e. no supervision. This was pretty normal when I was a child but now is probably considered child abuse.
If you mean stay with someone other than a parent, I’d go younger.

My image of a stay at home mother is someone who is still raising small children. Seven years old or younger. Children who aren’t old enough to do basic custodial chores and who still need constant supervision.

I guess if I encountered someone who had older children, I would assume they were going above-and-beyond regular “stay-at-home” parenting. Like, maybe they were home-schooling or something.

I took it to mean “doesn’t need a parent home with them when they get home from school”, so I waiver between 12 and 14. I would like to be there when they get home from school before they reach middle school. But I am not a stay at home mom, my two are 5, and I have no qualms about placing them in daycare. Also, once they start school what is the point of staying at home when they aren’t even there?

You’re nicer than me. I just assume they prefer being home to working. I can’t decide between school age and 10. I feel 10 is sort of “old”. As in most ten year olds could get home at like 3-3:30 and would be waiting 2-3 hours for anyone. They’re old enough to do homework alone, make a small snack, and they know not to play with the stove and drink things from under the sink. I guess I’ll go with ten for unsupervised. School age and older if you do after school or sports or something.

I never really thought it. You can answer for both in the post, but for the poll we’ll go for unsupervised.

I don’t think there is any age that a child needs at stay at home parent. Plenty of kids go to day care or after school care and do just fine.

I also don’t think that there is any age that a child doesn’t benefit from having a parent home.

At what age do I think kids can come home from school and be on their own for a while? Depends on the kid. My son was 9 when he got off school 1/2 hour before I was due home. I let him walk the half block and let himself in. He was able to handle it.

That being said, I’ve been a stay at home parent off an on throughout my son’s school-age years. I have been one for the last 4 yrs. He’s now 14. I don’t feel like a typical “stay at home mom” because I also coordinate a volunteer program for training and socialize pit bulls at our local city shelter. It take up a lot of time, but I am available to drive him to and from school (no bus service) and to fiddle lessons and such.

ETA: You clarified while I was posting. I think an option for “it really depends on the child” would have been helpful.

What do you mean by “too long”? Do you feel like that’s indulgent? That she must have been lazy? You seem to feel like it’s a character issue. But I don’t think it is: people have to do what works best for their family, and that’s going to be different for every situation. For one thing, kids differ tremendously. For another, even with no kids at all, there are advantages to having one spouse run the household, and whether or not those advantages are worth the lost income is going to depend on how much that income might be, and by how much it would change their living standards.

I think that there are a lot of kids who will be just fine if their parents work, but who would also benefit from having their parents at home: it doesn’t have to be all one way or the other. When that benefit to the household is less than the cost to the household is highly individual. If anything, little kids may need their parents the least: they just need to be loved and safe. Kids in the 9-12 range are old enough to get into serious trouble or develop really bad habits if left alone (sloth, too much TV and videogames), but are too old for daycare. And kids can be extraordinarily demanding after school hours these days–homework, activities, etc. When the family only has 2-4 hours a day together, trying to cram all the life stuff–groceries and chores and cooking–can really eat away at all the other time you could have together, and leave people exhausted to the point of numbness. A second income needs to be pretty good before it’s worth it.

You seem to be arguing that people should work if at all possible, and that the yardstick is whether or not the kids will be “ok”. I think it’s quite possible to say “Yes, the kids would be fine if I went back to work, but the household is happier being poorer but with me home”. There’s no moral responsibility to work as hard as possible in this world, or to maximize your earnings.

I agree with everything you just wrote, Manda JO.

If I was working my previous job, my son would not get to go to the awesome charter school he’s at, he might not be able to take fiddle lessons, and I would not get to do all the good works I do for homeless animals. Also, we would have to run errands and do chores and stuff on the evenings and weekends instead of having more free time.

I like being there for my son and his friends after school, even if they are teenager. Just last week one kid’s brother forgot to pick him up on an early dismissal day. I was glad to give him a ride home.

It works for our family.

Again, it depends on the child and the family dynamic, too.

I do think that having a SAHP does not benefit the children if the other parent must work two full-time jobs, which was not uncommon in the past and still happens now, although nowadays it seems to mostly be women who do this because the man they’re with (not necessarily married) would rather smoke pot and play World of Warcraft all day. :rolleyes: I would not consider someone who does this a SAHP any more than I would give that name to a woman who drinks all day, also not uncommon in the past or present either.

And a lot of men need to be reminded that SAHM does not mean “24-hour live-in babysitter.”

Everything she said.

I’ve known families with teenagers who needed a parent to be home after school, but other families with 4th graders who were fine alone at home. Every family has different needs and priorities.

To do all the chores, shopping, cooking, bill-paying, etc. so that you don’t have to cram it in when the kids are home, so that evenings can be a low-stress family time. To take part in community (church, school, whatever) to help strengthen the community that your family–including your kids–are a part of. To be available so that if your kid gets sick, or the plumber can only come during the day, or the car breaks, it can be dealt with without having to plan the situation like the invasion of Normandy.

Furthermore, in some cases one spouse’s career benefits tremendously by having the other spouse stay home: because my husband stays home (though our son is not school age), I am much more free to take on responsibilities and make commitments that both increase my immediate pay and develop my future career. If we were both working 40 hours a week, I don’t think it would be ok if I had to work 60 or more hours some weeks, like I do now. And I think that will still be true when our son is school age.

I just want to address this. I think most people feel the way you do about middle school and up not needing a parents home after school, and I totally understand it. I know my opinion is in the minority, but I just feel that in middle school and high school, there are just so many problems and stresses that that is when kids need their parents around the most. I worked off an on during my son’s elementary school years, but I made a point of being home after school during his middle and (currenly) high school years.

That makes sense, and if we could afford it, it would be the ideal for me. But as of right now, I am the full time working mom and the hubs is a full time student. Admittedly the household chores and grocery shopping all get crammed into the weekends and it would be very nice to be able to do that during the week, but I would go stir crazy without something other than house work and chores to do while they are in school. I would be getting a part time or at least a volunteer job for the rest of my time during the week.

That is also a great point. I don’t want to be working nights or something when they are that age. I want to be able to be there for them after school and on weekends. That was not the reality for me when I was growing up, my mom had to work and was often not home until night time because of her job. I turned out ok and didn’t get into any trouble and and neither did my brother, and she was always there for late night talks when I needed her. I hope to be a good mom like her. Again, ideally my reality will be that I can be there for them after school and on weekends. Hopefully by that point we can afford for me to cut back on my working hours.

I agree with Rhiannon8404 and Manda JO. Kids don’t need a parent at home, but they benefit from it. I’m staying home with my daughter now (she’s 2) and if another one doesn’t come along by the time she hits first grade I’ll look for part time work. It would have to be a hell of a great job to claim me full time, though.

I’m an only child, it was daycare and babysitters then latchkey for me. It was boring and lonely and prevented me from doing any after school activities. Having parents who were always exhausted and rushing to do chores was suboptimal too. And feeling like a “problem” because they had to figure out what to do with me on school vacations.

I think, what it boils down to, is that there is no absolute right or wrong. No one has the right to judge other people’s choices of working or staying at home. The OP comes across as if she feels the woman in her example was lazy or somehow not contributing to society by not working full when her kids got older.

I have all kinds of reasons why it’s good to stay at home, but I also know the benefits of a two income (or one income/one student) household. You would not believe the grief I got for going back to work when my son was an infant. We needed the income, it was not an option. Plus, I loved my job. I wanted to work (which made it all the more grievous :rolleyes: ). You would also not believe the eyebrow raising I get when people hear that I don’t work at a proper job (for some volunteer work isn’t enough) and have a teenager.

My wife never stayed home after the 6 weeks the Army gave her off to have the kids.

I agree with Manda JO of course (who doesn’t). I’m assuming that there is an unstated premise that the parent can afford to stay home. Whatever the advantages and disadvantages of SAHPs, food on the table trumps them.

In better times part time jobs allowed a parent to work and be home for the kids. My mother started that way. Then you can go to full time when the kids are ready. What we did is that my wife started doing freelance writing when our kids were little, and took on more and more work as they grew. That meant that sometimes I took over full childcare on evenings and weekends, but that was a plus. And it meant there was flexibility when one kid went to auditions and the other went to riding lessons.
So my real answer is to let the kids tell you when to stop staying home.

I don’t think there’s an age limit - it really depends on what family dynamic you’re shooting for. I was brought up with people at home, dinner together every night, etc., until I left home and I’d want my kids to have the same. However, a friend of mine who feels the same worked two jobs until he was in his late 50s so his wife could be there for their kids - but they barely got to see him.