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Were you a full-time SAHM? ...or SAHD?

(67 Posts)
Jacey Wed 20-Jun-12 17:19:53

It seems that "former Prime Minister’s wife, and successful barrister Cherie Blair claims full-time mums are ‘un-ambitious’ and raise dependent children" hmm

Why is it that so many people seem to see things in 'black or white'? confused

Yes, I've come across many young, single, mums for whom getting pregnant, getting council accommodation, claiming benefits was a career choice ...but for others it isn't out of choice! Also I've come across many stay at home parents ...either female or male ...who have done a super jop or raising polite, friendly, caring, independent individuals who will make terrific future citizens of this country!

This universal tarring with the same brush makes me so angry ...but at least she has got herself 'in the news'

whenim64 Wed 20-Jun-12 17:37:32

Cherie Blair has a point about women who just want to marry rich men and stay at home. I think all women should be capable of independence.

I stayed at home till my youngest children were five, but during that time I studied and did a few hours voluntary work. I also kept the house and garden maintained, made children's clothes, and did practically all the housework because ex-husband was the world's expert on avoiding any household responsibilities.

If Cherie Blair can say hand on heart that she has the skills to decorate a house and landscape her garden, but chooses to go out to work despite that, well done her - I bet she couldn't, though! grin

merlotgran Wed 20-Jun-12 17:51:23

It's horses for courses. Cherie Blair is an independent, intelligent and very rich woman. She obviously knows a lot about one side of the argument but probably very little of the other.

kittylester Wed 20-Jun-12 17:54:23

Quite merlot. Surely she should see that not everyone wants to be like her - in lots of ways!

crimson Wed 20-Jun-12 18:56:55

For an intelligent woman she's done some pretty daft things in her time [albeit amassing a small fortune in the process]. Wonder how much she got paid for that article. Blunderwoman strikes again.....

Grannylin Wed 20-Jun-12 19:03:59

Yes, like forgetting to take her contraceptive pill!

merlotgran Wed 20-Jun-12 19:53:38

'Forgetting' was a bit of an intelligent cunning move, Grannylin. Remember the cringemaking excuses leading to nauseating press coverage of their stay at Balmoral? She started a trend for producing babies in No 10....Great PR.

nanaej Wed 20-Jun-12 19:57:57

This 'debate' is a bit passe really a bit like Cherie herself. I think that a big failure of the feminist movement was its failure to raise the status and importance of child rearing, homemaking and childcare.

If society put a higher value on SAHParenting and on childcare providers I am sure that some of current negative issues society currently faces might have been avoided.

I have one DD who has been a SAHM since her first child was born 6 1/2 years ago. She chose to forgo holidays/car/new clothes etc because she felt she could not do the job of parenting and do her paid work to the standards she would want to. The other returned to work when her son was 9mths. She was self employed so could be more flexible with when work happened and enjoys her luxuries. Both are great mums, have different styles and both love their children with equal passion! Both are intelligent and able women.

Greatnan Thu 21-Jun-12 01:14:38

I had four years at home when my two daughters were little, but I really felt I needed some intellectual stimulation, so I began a teaching degree when they were four and 2 and a half. I got a lot of criticism from some other mothers who had chosen to stay at home, but I did what felt right for me and my family. I would never comment on any other woman's choice so I was a bit put out to be told 'Oh, I couldn't do what you are doing, my standards are too high'. Once I started teaching, of course, there were few problems as I had back-up care in case the children were ill (my wonderful cleaner became a family friend and was always ready to take over.)

I know many mothers have no choice but to go back to work - not to pay for expensive holidays but simply to meet everyday needs. The last thing they need is to be labelled bad mothers. If any other woman chooses not to work and is able to manage financially that is also nobody's business but their own and their partners.
Cherie Blair has been able to employ a virtual army of cleaners and child-minders so it does not behove her to lecture other women. She is the best argument I know for an inherited head of state.

Mamie Thu 21-Jun-12 06:39:55

I thought she said it in a speech rather than an article. I have a lot of sympathy with what she actually said rather than what has been reported. I do think it is an unwise lifestyle choice to commit your whole life to your children so that you end up bereft when they leave home and they grow up thinking that someone is available full-time to meet their every need. I think if you look at what is reported in the media there is far more criticism of working mothers than there is of the "yummy-mummy" lifestyle, so I say good for her for redressing the balance!

Greatnan Thu 21-Jun-12 07:46:44

Mamie - I hope nobody needs to duck on gransnet for expressing their honestly held views even though some members might not agree with them.
I think we can guess which newspapers criticise working mothers - the same ones that criticise mothers for not working and living on benefits.
My sole point is that this is a personal choice, nobody knows the needs of another person and nobody has the right to pass judgement on a woman who chooses to work, or one who chooses to stay at home.
I have to say that when I was on various committees (guides, riding club, PTAs) it was the working parents who contributed most - we were often told by the SAHM that they were too busy. For some, it may have been a matter of confidence - perhaps working mothers found it easier to mingle, speak in public or make suggestions.
My sister has not worked outside the home since she was 19 and did no voluntary work. One of my daughters has always worked, child-minding when her own were little, taking an OU degree at 40 and having a very good career. Her six children are all highly motivated - they were simply expected to earn their pocket money from an early age. Perhaps they would have been highly motivated anyway, but one grand-daughter told me recently that she admired her mother tremendously for her hard work and ambition.

On the other hand, I do believe that child rearing can be exhausting and is not sufficiently valued. Perhaps what we need is for employers and government to acknowledge that employees are very likely to be parents and working conditions should accommodate this dual role.

Mamie Thu 21-Jun-12 08:21:24

Ducks was meant to be a bit ironic!
In principle, yes it is an individual's choice, but the feminist in me feels very uncomfortable with a woman spending the whole of her life supported by a man. I have known quite a few women who made a career out of being a wife and mother (and felt implicitly or explicitly criticised by them for working full-time) only to have the man move on to a younger model in their forties or fifties. I absolutely accept that some people think a mother should be there full-time up to school age (I don't), but even when the children are teenagers or later? Is that really a good idea?

Greatnan Thu 21-Jun-12 08:33:19

It certainly would not have satisfied me and I wish my non-working daughter, who is now divorced, had followed her sister's lead and taken some qualifications, but I am just reluctant to criticise any other woman's choices. I must admit that I do wonder what some non-working women do all day once their children are at school, unless they have an all-consuming hobby. My eldest sister never worked but she liked to spend the afternoon in bed with a book and a bottle of Martini (ugh!)
The situation is quite different when you have children below school age, of course. I ran myself ragged trying to fit in study, housework and childcare with very little help from my ex-husband but it was wonderful to be able to take part in adult discussions again. I don't think my daughters suffered by attending a creche and I know it is easier for children who are accompanied by siblings.

whenim64 Thu 21-Jun-12 08:39:01

Mamie yes, I know what you mean. I was listening to a radio 4 programme about Sweden's economy the other day. They encourage all women to be financially independent by subsidising childcare and having an ethos of treating each citizen as an individual who is indepent of their partner, if they are in a relationship. If you go in a coffee shop as a couple, you will be asked if you want to pay separately, and it is assumed that no one person is fincially responsible for another person's purchases.

Their chancellor (not sure what his role is called) is a pony-tailed man who wears an earring, and is perceived as something of an economics genius by the rest of the world's financiers. It appears the rest of Europe is starting to look at his methods as Sweden is financially stable despite the world recession. Sweden's employment levels are high and women assume they will spend shared time at home with their children. Couples can share approx one and a half years maternity/paternity leave, and they help out with childcare by working voluntarily with the communities' childminders, to enable them to have more time with their children. This is supported by employers.

They seem to have hit on something that strikes a better balance. It certainly promotes the notion that women can be independent of men, whether or not they go out of the home to work.

Greatnan Thu 21-Jun-12 08:44:49

If only Sweden were not so cold...............

Annobel Thu 21-Jun-12 08:57:47

My mother was quite lost when we moved from her home town the year I left school. After always having a support network of friends and family, and three daughters coming home for lunch every day, she was transported to a town where she knew nobody. I was away at University, my sisters went to school in Edinburgh and she was alone every day. She had never gone out to work but used her hairdressing skills on her friends and relations. No wonder that she experienced severe depression from which it took a long time to recover.

Ariadne Thu 21-Jun-12 09:00:41

I spent the first few years of my children's lives at home, but that was because, having go pregnant so young, I'd never worked, only had "A" Levels, and none of the others young officer's wives worked. One's role was to be "Wife of.." (W/O on paper work!)

I started my first degree when the youngest was three, but only managed it because of DH's support and the support of a couple of other professional women.

Like you, Greatnan, I got many spiteful comments, but am so glad I persevered.

dorsetpennt Thu 21-Jun-12 09:10:57

How times have changed. My grandmother never worked a day in her life - other then war work on a Red Cross canteen during WW2. She came from a family where girls didn't have to work just left school, stayed at home until Mr.Right turned up.[considering she was a young woman in WW1 was lucky to meet someone]. My mother left school , did some nursing which she hated, the war arrived and she joined the WRENS.Met my father, got married, left WRENS [their rules] and had me. When we lived in Hong Kong we had servants, so she decided to go to Secretarial College to take a shorthand/typing course, and learnt to drive [if you know HK you know what a feat that was]. She finally got a part time job in the local council [we were back in Canada by then] and loved every moment of it. I went back to part time work when my son was 9 months old, had a 6 year gap when we lived in the US, returned here and have worked ever since. My DIL went back to work after 6 months of maternity leave for both her little girls. We all did what was expected of us.

kittylester Thu 21-Jun-12 09:32:15

I agree with nanaej - the feminist movement doesn't seem to have achieved giving women more choice - just more pressure!

I was in the fortunate position of not having to work to maintain our family lifestyle but I have often been made to feel a lesser woman because I didn't have a career. I do realise that not all women have the option and not all women want to stay at home.

We see a family as a team with each person having their own role. My husband worked hard to bring home enough money to enable us to do the things we wanted to do while I did the things that kept the household and family running smoothly which enabled him to work hard etc etc. I certainly don't feel 'kept' by my husband and I am definitely NOT, nor ever was, a Yummy Mummy!

My husband has worked hard for the NHS all his working life and continues to do so in his retirement and, recognising our happy position, I did lots of voluntary work both for the children's school, in hospitals and in local playgroups but I still, often, felt as though I was not pulling my weight in society.

Definitely - ducks!!

whenim64 Thu 21-Jun-12 09:40:01

kitty for someone who describes herself as 'not having to work' you certainly have been pulling your weight. It's time women who care for children, maintain a home, and do voluntary work in their community, received some sort of recognition that would enable them to have equal and independent status, particularly for women who subsequently find themselves having to sort out a lifestyle away from a partner in the event of relationship breakdown.

Ariadne Thu 21-Jun-12 09:43:54

Staying at home is hard, hard work! I totally agree that no woman should be made to feel in any way diminished if this is her choice.

whenim64 Thu 21-Jun-12 09:53:58

I have to say that staying at home when you have dependents of any age is hard work, but retirement for me is a complete doddle grin. However, when I had my four plus one children (ex-husband!) and I obtained full-time work, I would go to work for a rest!

AlisonMA Thu 21-Jun-12 10:22:54

I gave up work when our first son was born and didn't go back until the third was 7 (18 years) and then it was only to pay school fees. I don't think I had a choice as there were no nurseries and we didn't have family near but I was happy doing it. My husband worked very long hours, was often away and rarely came home before the boys were in bed. There was no way we could both work.

I ran the school library, was treasurer of the PTA, did craft work with the infants, was on the DCC and chair of the social committee, helped out with poeple in all sorts of ways but not all at once! Where we lived it was not the working mums who did everything, it was people like me who gave a lot of time to others.

When I went back to college I was surprised to find out how easy it all was and when I started work I progressed very rapidly. Having been told how hard the working world was I found a lot of people with no commitment and no common sense, it was easy to go back to work after all that time but I did have a very good friend who looked after my son before and after school.

My DS and DiL each work 4 days a week so GS goes to nursery 3 days a week. They don't have a choice for one of them to give up work as they live in Wimbledon where life is very expensive and neither of them earns a huge salary so they have made a happy compromise.

I really don't think many women have a choice, just the priviledged few.

nanaej Thu 21-Jun-12 10:39:58

I do consider myself a feminist but I see that as ensuring women have the same opportunities as men to make informed choices about their lives without being made to feel guilty/ pressured even in the more trivial wear make up /not to wear make up debate!!

I agree with kitty re the family being a team and as long as all members pull their weight and contribute for the mutual good it does not have to be divided into male /female or the earner to be more valued than the home maker.
If both man & woman choose (or have) to work that's OK too as long as childcare meets the needs of the child not the parents!

I had four years at home after 2nd baby and did similar things:set up playgroup, volunteer at youth club, shopping for elderly, ran a slimming club etc but also spent time putting the world to rights over coffee with other SAHM .. a sort of face to face forum really! grin whilst our kids played and learned to be socially interactive. A great time in my life I will not regret. as it helped to shape me and I met all kinds of people I might otherwise not have.

Mamie Thu 21-Jun-12 10:43:17

We both worked full-time from when the children were toddlers and we definitely have always seen ourselves as a team. We have always shared all the chores although there have been times when one has had to do more than the other because one of us was working away from home. My son and my daughter both combine work with running the household, although my son is regarded as very unusual by his Spanish in-laws. I remember when I was supposed to be a "company wife" (very bad at it) someone saying that she wouldn't go out to work in order to subsidise the company. I found that a very bizarre attitude at the time and she was one of the wives who was abandoned for a younger one later on.