Costs of motherhood are rising, forcing women out of the workforce? Of course, that was the goal!

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Natural parenting is working.

No, not for children, silly! There’s no evidence that it has improved children’s lives. Rates of children’s psychiatric problems, including suicide, have never been worse.

It’s working on mothers just as it was designed to do. The holy trinity of natural child-rearing — natural childbirth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting — was designed explicitly to force women back into the home by problematizing infant safety, promoting maternal sacrifice as critical to child health and fetishizing physical proximity of mother to child. The result is that women who could work, who have been trained to work, are opting out of the workforce.

Those who feared women’s emancipation set out to make motherhood more demanding, intending to force women back into the home. It’s working.

Finally others are taking note.

Claire Cain Miller, writing in the New York Times observes The Costs of Motherhood Are Rising, and Catching Women Off Guard.

An economic mystery of the last few decades has been why more women aren’t working…

The share of women in the United States labor force has leveled off since the 1990s, after steadily climbing for half a century…

The new analysis suggests something else also began happening during the 1990s: Motherhood became more demanding. Parents now spend more time and money on child care. They feel more pressure to breast-feed, to do enriching activities with their children and to provide close supervision.

A result is that women underestimate the costs of motherhood. The mismatch is biggest for those with college degrees, who invest in an education and expect to maintain a career …

But motherhood itself did not become more demanding. Children did not become more challenging or more needy. Socially constructed expectations of mothers became more demanding. Why? People who feared women’s political and economic emancipation set out to make them more demanding with the explicit intent of forcing women out of the workforce.

Think natural childbirth is about childbirth? Wrong. It’s about forcing women out of the workforce.

Grantly Dick-Read, the father of natural childbirth, wrote:

Woman fails when she ceases to desire the children for which she was primarily made. Her true emancipation lies in freedom to fulfil her biological purposes …

Think lactivism is about breastfeeding? Wrong. It’s about forcing women out of the workforce.

As psychologist Susan Franzblau has explained:

Out of concern that recently instituted bottle-feeding and drug-assisted births would break family bonds, these religious advocates of breastfeeding prescribed a regimen that included suckling on demand day and night with no pacifier substitute … Any work that competed with the infant’s need for continuity of maternal care was out of the question. One La La Leche League International group leader said that she was “pretty negative to people who just want to dump their kids of and go to work eight hours a day.”

Think attachment parenting is about children’s needs? Wrong. It’s about forcing women out of the workforce.

Bill and Martha Sears are explicit in their belief that God wants women to stay home and care for their children:

The type of parenting we believe is God’s design for the father-mother-child relationship is a style we call “attachment parenting.” Our intent in recommending this style of parenting to you is so strong that we have spent more hours in prayerful thought on this topic than on any other topic in this book… We have a deep personal conviction that this is the way God wants His children parented.

These socially constructed expectations of motherhood were designed by privileged white people in order to control privileged white women and that’s precisely where they’ve achieve their greatest success.

As Miller notes:

For many women, the researchers show, stopping work was unplanned. Since about 1985, no more than 2 percent of female high school seniors said they planned to be “homemakers” at age 30, even though most planned to be mothers. The surveys also found no decline in overall job satisfaction post-baby. Yet consistently, between 15 percent and 18 percent of women have stayed home…

The people most surprised by the demands of motherhood were those the researchers least expected: women with college degrees, or those who had babies later, those who had working mothers and those who had assumed they would have careers. Even though highly educated mothers were less likely to quit working than less educated mothers, they were more likely to express anti-work beliefs, and to say that being a parent was harder than they expected.

It’s harder than the expected because the social constructed expectations of mothers have increased dramatically since they were children. They did not foresee the demands since those demands — natural childbirth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting — didn’t exist until recently. In each and every case, these demands have meant more work, more pain and more self-abnegation for mothers.

The cost of motherhood fell for most of the 20th century because of inventions like dishwashers, formula and the birth control pill. But that’s no longer the case, according to data cited in the paper. The cost of child care has increased by 65 percent since the early 1980s. Eighty percent of women breast-feed, up from about half. The number of hours that parents spend on child care has risen, especially for college-educated parents, for whom it has doubled.

And natural parenting advocates oppose virtually anything that decreases the cost of motherhood like epidurals, C-sections, formula, pacifiers, disposable diapers, commercially produced baby food, etc. That’s not a coincidence. Under the guise of what’s good for babies, they have ratcheted up the pressure on mothers. The worst part is that babies don’t truly need any of what’s touted to be good for them.

Miller quotes researchers:

“It is deeply puzzling that at a moment when women are more prepared than ever for long careers in the labor market, norms would change in a manner that encourages them to spend more time at home.”

It’s not deeply puzzling; it was intended all along.

  • rational thinker

    Thats how it should be, after my son was potty trained he was not allowed in the bathroom when I was in there.

  • Sarah

    Note also that even if not forced out of the workplace, these extra demands take up mothers’ time, so they have less time to engage with current events and be politically active.

  • I know I keep posting ridiculous articles from MAM, but it’s like the anti-SkepticalOB site, and I just can’t keep away. This one deals with why it’s okay to let your kids break the rules, and the limited perspective the author (“Danielle”) reveals is astoundingly narrow:

    “In our society, we have to accept that us crunchy, attachment moms are really not rule followers. We do not follow the expectations that society pushes on us. We got to be that way by questioning authority.” [Which authority? When it comes to cranks and quacks, these people obey them as if they were speaking the words of God.]

    “Teach multiple points of view with no one “right” way.” [RIGHHHT. So make sure you teach them about different points of view on breastfeeding, cosleeping, vaccination…right? Right?]

    “Let your child make their own decisions, like what to wear, what food to put on their own plate.” [Notice that she carefully gives harmless examples that most child experts (and parents) would agree with. Would she really give her kids agency on something such as what kinds of food to buy, or whether or not to receive vaccines, or in what manner the child is to be schooled? Doubt it.]

    “Consider homeschooling to keep your child from learning there is one right way to do everything, if possible.” [HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Because carefully ensuring that your child is exposed ONLY to your point of view is really conducive to exposing your child to lots of different points of view!]

    “Find a group — if you don’t already have one — that advocates for something you believe in. It may be breastfeeding, educating about vaccines, baby carrying, or working with your state legislature to influence lawmaking. Whatever it is, find your tribe and use their resources, courage, and experience to build a stronger presence in your community fighting.” [In other words: If you don’t like the rules, try to change them to rules you DO like.]

    This pearl of wisdom may be found at https://modernalternativemama.com/2018/09/19/why-your-child-should-break-the-rules-and-its-okay/.

    I advocate for “indoctrination” (which really means an explicit recognition that one is operating within a certain value system) here: https://lazymothermusings.wordpress.com/2017/07/18/three-cheers-for-indoctrinating-our-children/

    • Heidi

      So insulate yourself in an echo chamber and lock your children up?

    • Mel

      I think I felt a few neurons die when the author declared that talking to a lawmaker about changing a law was an example of being a rule-breaker.

      The US has a horrifying history of restricting the right to vote from poor people, people of color and women – but we were all allowed to talk to the rich, white male politicians about changing laws long before we were allowed to vote.

      IOW, that’s NOT rule-breaking; it’s exercising your rights as a citizen.

    • rational thinker

      Chocolate cake and reeses pieces for dinner every night! What a great choice.

      • Here’s the thing: I am positive that this person would not allow cake and Reese’s in her house. There’s this bizarre refusal to face the reality that she is trying to mold her children in her own image, and that what she calls “breaking rules” means following rules that other families do not.

        • rational thinker

          Exactly. She probably would not allow any sort of junk food in the home. The food choices is just another thing she has indoctrinated onto the child. This being so she can brag to people that if her kids are being given a choice her “little snowflake” would choose organic veggies for dinner. Its not because the kid wants organic veggies its cause she trained him to choose that.

      • kilda

        cool, I’m coming to your house!

    • kilda

      it’s so cute how they think they’re free-living rule breakers when they’re all so carefully following their subculture’s set of rules about breastfeeding and cosleeping and organic food and non-vaxxing and so on and so on.
      it’s like the way teenagers often show their rebelliousness and nonconformity by wearing the same things as all the other rebellious noconformist teens.
      “whatever it is, find your tribe, and…” do exactly like they do and then all congratulate yourselves for being so unique.

  • Tina

    I read this a while ago and exactly thought the same thing. People just make it needlessly difficult for themselves. And also, I constantly see this new trend of writing things about “what motherhood really looks like” and then you see pictures of completely exhausted women sitting on the toilet while two children are standing around them and then some caption saying something like “as a mother you will never pee or shower alone anymore”. So I asked my mum if when my sister and I were little, we were ever in the bathroom with her when she went to pee or had a shower. She looked at me like I had gone nuts. Of course not. She totally didn’t get it that this seems to be a thing now…do not take the eyes of your child for even one minute…not even to go to the toilet!

    • FormerPhysicist

      But these expectations are enforced by more than just eye-rolls. When I let my 9-year-old daughter walk 2 1/2 blocks home from the library in broad daylight, in a safe suburb, I got no fewer than 8 calls from other concerned parents, and veiled threats to call CPS. Even veiled threats are enough to make me scared of such a complete intrusion into my life and parenting.

      • Cristina B

        I was thinking along the same lines yesterday. As a kid, there was a curfew bell (siren) that went off at 9 p.m. that signalled all the kids to go home. Now, I mention that my kids play outside without me (in front of my big living room window while I’m in the living room) and people give me side-eye.

    • rational thinker

      Having your kid in bathroom while you pee after maybe two and a half years of age is probably mostly the attachment parents. Thats the age when you should start teaching them some friggin limits, and personal space.

      • demodocus

        or a particularly persistent pre-schooler. No, boybard, I do not want company!

        • Amazed

          Last time I took Amazing Niece with me inside was when she was about 2 years old. I took her because she had this freaking habit to sit just outside quite silently and I just forgot that she was there. A few bumps on the head couldn’t teach her that this was not a good idea but two times in a terribly tiny bathroom with Auntie taught her to say well clear of me… and then, of course, she locked herself inside…

        • AnnaPDE

          “I help you pee!”
          Also: “Remember how we talked about privacy when on the toilet?” Kid nods and closes toilet door through which they’re invited to leave. “Yes! Now we have privacy!”

    • Merrie

      I know… My big kids (7 and 4) know not to barge into bathrooms. The baby can’t open the door yet. But he is learning that sometimes he has to wait. I only take a kid into the bathroom with me when in a public place.

  • Mel

    Oddly timely since I’m returning to paid employment for the first time in a bit less than 2 years. It works only because I have easy access to two sets of grandparents who can cover Spawn’s childcare for free three days a week. education is one job that offers plenty of part-time sub jobs, and I really, really, really wanna get out of the house more.

    I think women in the workforce is one of those issues that needs structural change to make any headway. My lifelong plan was to work at least part-time as soon as I was off of maternity leave….yeah, that worked nearly as well as all of my 5-year plans ever have. Spawn’s increased risk of lung and heart issues put paid to the idea of putting him in daycare or even leaving the house much for the first year he was home – but I wouldn’t have been that much farther ahead if he had been term and healthy.
    I live in a rural area with a massive deficit of childcare; my sister-in-law and I have threatened to place our yet-unconceived second children that we’re not trying to conceive yet on daycare lists in hope of getting one of the 10 or fewer slots for infant daycare in the county. Working as a sub – which is relatively well paid right now due to a massive teacher shortage in our area – would just about cover ImaginaryKid’s daycare costs; my sis-in-law’s lower paying job would require taking some of her husband’s pay to pay the daycare.

    • fiftyfifty1

      This whole economics of childcare is something I don’t understand at all. I’ve read a number of articles about how there is a critical shortage, especially a rural shortage. That a large percentage (~20%) of in-home day cares have closed in recent years. That many women are stuck at home because they just can’t find a slot. That if they do find a slot, the price is exorbitant. But none of the articles ask or answer the obvious questions: Why aren’t more of these stuck-at-home mothers opening up their own home-based daycares as was common in the past? If the cost of a daycare slot is so exorbitant (one article quoted $10,000 a year), why does the average daycare provider make so little (that same article quoted $12/hr.) It just doesn’t add up. Let’s say the average home daycare is open 2,000 hrs/year. If each kid pays $10,000 per year, then if she has just 4 kids, she should be grossing $20/hr. But the home daycare my kids went to had 8-10 kids at any time.

      • Sarah

        I don’t know about the US, but I know here the regulatory burden and insurance would be an issue.

      • FormerPhysicist

        I believe the law in my state is no more than 2.5 infants per provider. And I think 3 toddlers per provider. So, $10,000/year is low. Because you can’t have 8-10 kids paid.
        The 2.5 infants per provider, 3 toddlers … if you take in one family group of an infant and a toddler, and have your own toddler, that’s IT if you’re licensed. Unless you hire an assistant. Which is a whole ‘nother bucket of regulations, laws and taxes.

        • fiftyfifty1

          In my state there are also limits on numbers of babies and toddlers, but in addition you can have older kids. It’s not like if you max your baby quota, that you can’t take more kids, it’s just that you can’t take more babies. Total of babies + toddlers + preschoolers can be no more than 10 children per adult.

        • Mimc

          Here it is 8 total with 2 under 2. Or you can do 4 under two and then you don’t need a yard. If you get certified as a large home daycare you can have twice that many but you’d need another adult.

      • Daleth

        $10,000/year? For full-time childcare? You realize that’s $5 an hour, right? That’s not what it costs. Especially not for infants and toddlers under 2, since the allowed adult to infant or toddler ratio is very low.

        When I was pregnant a co-worker recommended a great university-based daycare to me. It did sound awesome… but having two infants in it full time (I was expecting twins) would’ve cost almost $43,000 a year.

        • fiftyfifty1

          “10,000/year? For full-time childcare? You realize that’s $5 an hour, right? That’s not what it costs.”

          Yes, $10,000/year. For full-time childcare. Yes, I do realize that’s $5 an hour. That’s what the article I read quoted for the town in California they profiled, and that’s also what in-home daycare does cost where I live.

      • Heidi

        I’m pretty sure 8-10 children per adult isn’t legal. I’m sure there’s licensing fees to pay, inspections to contend with, and looks like 2-3 children would actually be legally allowed, and one of those children is your own, there’s negative income there. Plus, I’m guessing a lot of us have no desire to be daycare providers. A lot of your money is going into maintaining your house (which I’m sure has to meet certain inspection standards), providing entertainment, and sometimes food. I wonder if you have to own a vehicle that can transport all the children at one time in an emergency.

        • fiftyfifty1

          I looked up the law in my state. The max is 10 children per adult for in-home daycares. There are further regulations about age. The following would be a legal mix of the 10 children: 1 infant under 12 months, 1 toddler between 12-24 months, 8 pre-schoolers ages 24 months+. The provider’s own children DO count in that total if they are less than school age. There is a fee of $550.

          • Mel

            That’s much, much higher than the ratios in my state. There’s a limit of 6 per adult with no more than 2 under two.

      • Tara Coombs Lohman

        In my state a person can have four unrelated children being cared for in the home before they have to get a state license for their establishment. We just had a horrible case in our city of a set of twins who drowned in their caregiver’s pool, and there was a lot of discussion about the rules and regulations of such day cares.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

        If you want to be a legal, certified home daycare it costs. Many women running home daycare do it “under the table” cash only. If you do it legally you have to have your house up to code, follow safety codes, you can only take a limited number of kids including your own, you have to be insured (in case a child is hurt or killed in your home under your care)

        In business type day care, like the one I used when my daughter was a baby, the workers had to be continuing their education, they had to have a degree or be working toward one and the facility had to have insurance, pass inspections, and keep the building and grounds to code. There also had to be a certain number of workers in each age room depending on the age of the children.

        Very few people want the overhead of running a home daycare. Add in parents who think its fine to constantly leave their kid after hours with out prior arrangement and the ones that don’t supply enough extra clothes, bottles, formula, diapers and it’s a definite NOPE for a lot of people.

      • demodocus

        Because I can barely handle my 2?

        • fiftyfifty1

          Which maybe is part of the rising expectations of motherhood? It used to be you could park them in front of the TV or stick them in the playpen. You could feed them baloney sandwiches, chips and a glass of milk. If they were being brats you could say “stop being brats.” Now you have to be constantly “enriching” them and scrutinizing food labels and cajoling them into eating “just one more bite” of organic veggies, and nurturing their every last feeling. The expectations are endless. And there’s nothing more exhausting than doing make-work.

          • demodocus

            being an old mom with depression, that’s kind of what I do.

          • fiftyfifty1

            And the good news is that’s all that’s needed.

          • PeggySue

            Yeah, I asked someone about playpens not long ago and was met with an absolutely baffled stare. And the fury I saw on some website about “blanket training,” wherein you teach the kid to stay on their damn blanket on the floor or grass or whatever, was like WOW.

          • Dinolindor

            I think the fury there is because “blanket training” is somewhat synonymous with hitting babies until they learn not to crawl off the blanket. Not because there’s danger, but because you don’t want them to move off of that rectangle. And not swats or taps, but full out hitting. With a twig. (In my view, this is worlds away from the play pen method of keeping a baby in one place, and I have my own complicated feelings and pressure there.)

          • namaste

            The Duggars blanket train their kids. That alone should tell you something about it. I believe, as per Michael and Debi Pearl, the recommended impliment is 3/4 inch plumbing line.

          • Who?

            I used to want a play pen so I could get in there with my cup of tea and book for an uninterrupted half an hour (okay, 15 minutes) while the kids had the run of the house.

            We bought one when the dog needed hip surgery and wasn’t allowed to walk any distance.

          • Dinolindor

            This was always my thought when I put one of my kids in time out. Can I have a time out please? I’d like 2-5 minutes to chill out in peace, please and thank you.

          • Blanket training isn’t putting the kid in a playpen to keep them safe/out of the way and happily entertaining themselves with toys. It’s putting them on a blanket with no toys or TV or anything to entertain themselves and beating them (with 1/4 inch plumbing line, often) if they dare to crawl off it. It’s a pretty horrific “child training” technique that is only advocated by people who also advocate beating children- that should be more than enough reason to stay far, far away from it.

          • rational thinker

            Ariel Castro used the same technique on 3 grown women.It conditioned them to stay in their rooms.Literally the same damn thing.

          • demodocus

            look for play yards. We have a Gracco pack-n-play and it is very similar to the playpen I remember my little brother in.

      • Who?

        Here in Oz, if you go to work, you can claim all kinds of deductions from your tax. If you have your own business, you can claim even more.

        But can the cost of childcare be one of those deductions? Absolutely no way! Seems to me that if you need childcare to get one/both parents out to work, and the same parents could claim a deduction for a uniform or books, or special equipment for work, they should be able to claim something for the cost of the childcare. This would, however, cause some kind of implosion, apparently.

        • DoubtingDebbie

          Don’t let the fact of heavily subsidised childcare in Oz get in the way of your whinge. For those who might like to know the facts on this, childcare is heavily subsidised here in Oz. The rate of subsidy from the information available at this link appears to show the level of subsidy for most parents would far exceed what one would get back in tax via a tax deductions (rule of thumb for tax deductions is to expect to get back 1/3 of what was outlaid).

          https://www.education.gov.au/child-care-subsidy-combined-annual-family-income-0

          • Who?

            I was observing, not whinging. It seems bizarre to me that having children cared for isn’t treated as an expense of going to work, in a world where all kinds of other things are.

            And despite all that money being poured in (including several milion a year into the pocket of a senior government minister whose family trust owns a chain of childcare centres, and who sat in on Cabinet meetings while these subsidies were being discussed) childcare workers are paid atrociously.

        • Sarah

          Can’t deduct for childcare costs in the UK either. We don’t have family deductions anyway but if you’re self employed there are various things you can deduct if you require them to work- not childcare though!

      • Mel

        Prior to the Spawn, I looked into starting a licenced in-home daycare. The costs are pretty steep.

        $50 application fee
        Background check for adults in the home – $15 per head; assume 2 adults. (That’s if they allow the cheap FBI card background; the educational system one is $63 dollars per person)
        Dr. Appointment for Medical Clearance Form – $30.00 copay
        TB Test – ~$15.00 + two visits to the Department of Health
        CPR/First Aid $113.00
        Inspection of any non-electric heating source(s) – $150
        Radon – either $9.99 (if they allow the commercially available ones) or $50.00 for a commercial firm.
        Inspection of septic and well – $400.00

        There are very few folks around here who can put $797 down before bringing in kids.

        That also assumes that the caregiver already has access to one matt, bed, cot or crib for each kid who will nap there and has some toys from their own kids to keep the new ones occupied. I’m also assuming that the provider doesn’t need to do any advertising to get kids because I think I could get 5 kids from talking about the daycare at the local grocery store, a few churches and the local restaurant.

        • fiftyfifty1

          Interesting. It must vary a lot depending on location. Like here there is no septic and well inspection because we are all on city sewer and water etc. I can totally see how $797 would be a problem.

          • Mel

            We joke that the real definition of rural is “has a well and septic system”. 🙂

            The septic and well inspection is a killer – but even for city folk it would still be around $300 for start-up costs plus a few days of lost labor time for appointments and a 6 hour orientation to the licencing procedure.

            There’s also probably another $100 in random minor home renovations that most people would need to bring a house into alignment with in-home daycare rules. None of the changes are onerous alone – but several $20.00 fixes add up quickly.

            One other hurdle: I’m great at bureaucracy. I can fill out forms, wait in lines, and be on hold on the phone for hours without losing my mind. For many folks out my way, doing all of these steps including collecting the correct paperwork and hammering out any quirks – which I am sure are myriad because it’s my state – would be as large of a hurdle as the finances.

          • PeggySue

            People might be willing to pay you, Mel, to do the bureaucracy aspect of this or many other business situations! I know I would…

        • Madtowngirl

          In the US, there is also a “self-employed” tax, which is a much bigger hit to the income that you may expect. My neighbor runs an in-home daycare and she was barely breaking even because of that tax.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Ah, maybe that’s the missing bit of info.

      • MaineJen

        …….because I had a job I liked and didn’t want to give up, and running an in home daycare is my idea of Hell?

        • fiftyfifty1

          OK. But I’m not asking why any individual woman doesn’t do it. I’m asking about what is keeping market forces from working here. News stories report there are lots of women stuck at home because they can’t find a daycare slot, and news stories report parents pay huge amounts to have their kids looked after when there is a slot available. Voila, Supply meet Demand! So what’s holding this back from happening? No article I have read addresses this.

          • Heidi

            I bet upfront costs (my state makes you attend an orientation to tell you what the rules even are and will not let you apply for the license without attending orientation so you could sink money in only to find out there’s no way you could swing an at-home daycare). Housing costs are going up too and I bet a lot of people aren’t living in dwelling that could accommodate so many kids. I live in a 1400 square foot house. Is that even legal? I have no clue but I personally would lose it with that many children in my two bedroom house. And there may be some apprehension about what people expect out of daycare providers. That may very well be true. I’m sure some parents want to pay $5 an hour for their kid to be watched by an individual who has a PhD in early childhood development who would feed them an all organic meal sourced from the local farmer’s market. I know I have no desire to work in the service industry because of people’s ludicrous expectations.

          • MaineJen

            Good home daycares are rare, and often a last resort. Those articles are likely talking about “licensed” daycares, aka daycare centers. We used a home daycare because the cost of sending both of my kids to a “licensed” daycare was ludicrous.

            Someone is making a bundle of money off of large/chain daycare centers, but it’s not the actual providers who work there.

          • fiftyfifty1

            The articles I read were talking exclusively about licensed *home* daycares.

          • MaineJen

            OK. Well, maybe there aren’t more home daycares because *it’s a sucky low-paying job* that most people don’t want to do. It takes a special kind of person to do that, one who genuinely enjoys being around little kids all day, and can be endlessly patient with other people’s kids. It’s not just a money-making scheme that anyone can do.

          • Mimc

            Home daycare are required to be licensed in my area. Though church ones aren’t. Their is a push to change that though because there have been several deaths at church daycares in the last few years because they did not follow the safety rules that licensed daycares have to.

      • mostlyclueless

        I think part of the issue may also be concerns about disparities between caring for your own children vs. others. I have seen childcare providers confess (online, anonymously) that once their own children came along they felt resentful of the other children they cared for taking their time/attention/energy away from their own child(ren).

  • And until women are as likely as men to be the bread winner, to have the higher paid job, the costs of motherhood after birth will continue to be borne by women. There’s an economic penalty to be had when those costs are not borne by the person with the lower income.

    Further – many of today’s mothers are contending with the impacts of their own mother’s liberation from the home. When my mother became a mother – she benefited from not one but two stay at home grandmas. It was an option to rely on if and when needed. For many in my generation, our mothers are still engaged in the labour force themselves during the period of early childhood when such assistance would be most needed and the costs of daycare are substantial. There is no stay-at-home grandma to fall back on if and when needed. Those who have this option have a substantial advantage in the labour force.

    Regaining ground in the labour force will mean continuing to value the education of girls and women, enabling fathers to be more active caregivers in their children’s lives, enabling accessible and affordable childcare.

    • Jen

      That’s part of the purpose of lactivism: even if the woman makes ten times what the man does, she’s the only one who can breastfeed.

  • demodocus

    Its not just that, though. There’s also the insane costs of day care and preschool. We can barely afford boybard’s public preschool tuition after we pay the bills. Either I find a job that pays childcare and tuition plus gas, or I work 3rd shift and watch the kids during the day, or I just stay home and budget extra carefully for the next 10 months.

    • PeggySue

      Working in somewhat the opposite direction, the customer cost of prenatal and birth care has gone way up, so I know people who would like to have more children than they have, but simply cannot afford to. In a lot of places in the States, Medicaid covers the expenses for 50% of births. People who have high-deductible insurance but don’t qualify for Medicaid may have no coverage at all for childbirth.

      • The Kids Aren’t AltRight

        The birth itself is covered due to ACA regulations, but lans and ultrasounds and other related but not birth costs are not covered. I spent about $3k on pregnancy related healthcare with my plan, and nothing in healthcare has th price listed, so every cost is a surprise. I was very privileged to have enough money in my hsa to cover it.

        • Mimc

          Yeah my insurance only covers one ultrasound but all the doctors require two so the 9 week one is completely out of pocket and doesn’t even count towards the deductable.

          • The Kids Aren’t AltRight

            Yeah, my 12 week was $800 out of pocket. Caught me completely by surprise.

  • rational thinker

    Most kids especially teens and pre teens do not want and are not benefiting from having mom home up their ass all day. They need to learn independence at an early age or they are still going to be living at home when they are 30.

    • namaste

      To be fair, that is more or less the new economic reality. Millenials got completely screwed over by the crash of ‘08, and the baby boomers are retiring later and later. It’s not that they don’t want to move out, it’s that they can’t afford to.

      • PeggySue

        Anyone entering the workforce or changing careers got screwed over, and actually anyone regardless of birth year who wasn’t in a very highly paid job. Wage stagnation affects even baby boomers, many of whom have lost tons of buying power even if lucky enough to be still employed. Want to know why we are still working? Don’t assume it’s just to screw you over.

        • namaste

          I am not accusing anyone out there of trying to screw anyone
          over, and I am sorry if it came across that way. You’re right, everybody suffered, and everybody lost money. My point was that the overall game has changed, and that people living with their parents at this stage is out of economic necessity, not a refusal to cut the emotional apron strings.

          • LaMont

            I mean… houses cost “must be a gazillionaire” money now. I’m pretty sure I’ll never own one.

          • namaste

            Hell, rent costs “Must be a gazillionaire.” At least where I am (California).

          • LaMont

            I just got to Cali after a decade in NYC. Feels cheap to me 😉

          • BeatriceC

            We have a very nice, 4200 square foot home in Southern California. And the only reason we can afford it is because MrC bought it 24 years ago, and below market value even for the time because it was in rough shape and was a short sale. We could not afford to buy our house right now at current market value. Hell, we couldn’t afford to buy a house worth half of what this one last appraised at.

          • MaineJen

            *sobs quietly*

          • demodocus

            People wonder why we seem to have no money. Because rent is an enormous chunk of our budget? Oddly enough, the rent on a 3 bedroom and the mortgage on a 3 bedroom are about the same in our portion of Ohio.

          • PeggySue

            Thanks, I get a lot of flak from younger friends who have more income than I do about how my generation screwed them over, and so I can be oversensitive. But of course it’s true–rents are at about $2K per month for an apartment where I live, and I could never afford to come back here if I moved away. Greed, pure greed.

          • Madtowngirl

            Millennial with boomer parents here –

            I do very much dislike the “boomers screwed us over” accusations that I see flying around in my generation. My father was just forced to retire two years shy of his intended retirement. He was essentially bullied out of his job. I’m not kidding, 2 years ago he was their golden boy and getting stellar reviews, then suddenly he was “not meeting expectations.” Nothing had changed, with the exception of his 62nd birthday. The best we have been able to determine is they wanted him gone because he was too expensive, having been with the company for 20+ years. We have also discovered that this is VERY common in today’s corporate world, and that people aren’t lodging complaints out of fear and shame. He tried to find a new job, but age discrimination is still a thing.

            In 30 years, we are going to be in the very same boat if nothing changes.

          • PeggySue

            You’re absolutely right–In health care, I saw so many wonderful nurses “promoted” into management positions and then out of work (Oh, we just have to reduce staffing, we need to eliminate jobs) when they suddenly got more expensive than a new grad. It is disgusting. And it also damages care, when you let people with good clinical expertise go and replace with new grads.

    • Heidi

      Eh, I went to school with plenty of kids with stay at home moms, and they’re doing just fine. They got into good universities, got well paying jobs and own homes. Unfair to their moms perhaps, if they really didn’t want to be stay at home moms, but I don’t know there’s an overwhelming amount of evidence that having a stay at home parent is screwing children up.

      • rational thinker

        I didnt really mean an average sane stay at home mom, i had one. I meant the attachment parent that is still breastfeeding at age ten and homeschools and generally wont let the kid grow up.

  • Beth Presswood

    This kind of religious ideology and biological essentialism is bullshit, but 2nd wave ideas of fulfillment through career are privileged bullshit too. We need adequate support for parenting, family, and work-life balance for everyone like many European countries have.

    • Sarah

      Yes. Most people work to live. Most women with young children work not to make money but to retain a job, since they are scarce and if you leave the workforce it becomes impossible to re-enter and compete with younger, family-free candidates. Nursery fees are equal to most lower to middle income professional salaries (I am in the UK) so it’s not about making money, it’s about staying employable. And it’s even more tempting to drop out of the workplace once you hit childbearing age because you are senior enough to see workplace discrimination that wasn’t visible to you when you were younger. It simply becomes no longer worth it to pursue a career. Tolerance of part-time work, flexibility, all that is lip service; it is supported only in theory. Realistically, they want presenteeism, emails at all hours, and give others roles that could lead to promotion/progression if you don’t show willing. We are absolutely up against a toxic work culture.

      • susannunes

        The rest of us who work for a living should not be supporting the affluent lifestyles of women who still act like idiots and try to justify living off a man and staying home, thus guaranteeing poverty down the road if the man dumps them.

        • Who?

          Quite a bit to unpack there!

          I wouldn’t worry if I were you about all the people taking advantage of your unacknowledged ‘support’. Whatever small gains in work life balance might have been made this century are well on the way to being swept away by the glut of available workers and employers’ and governments’ enthusiasm for casualisation.

          Fetishising ‘working for a living’ as somehow more valuable than doing something unpaid is a bit last century, frankly. For many families, it makes financial sense for one partner to be at home for periods while they have young children. Not all families, or all jobs, are manageable with two parents out of the house most of the week.

          There is life insurance to protect families in the event of the death of a breadwinner.

          Divorce happens whether people are working or not-and women in lower paying jobs don’t seem to do terribly well in divorce compared to women to have never gone out to work, probably because either way the ‘pie’ isn’t as big as if both are earning well.

          And, just so we’re clear, caring for your home and children isn’t ‘helping’-it’s taking responsibility. The parent who brings in the money might well not do as much heavy lifting around the house as the other; and where both parents go out to work the woman might just do more than her ‘fair share’ at home, at least from an outsider’s perspective.

          It’s called life, most of us manage to work something out. Calling people ‘idiots’ because you don’t agree with their life choices is pathetic.

        • Sarah

          I totally agree – but here’s the thing, you’re asking the individual to make their own life harder for the feminist common good. I’ve always believed that women should work, and in very large numbers, otherwise none of us wil able to. But personally I am at breaking point, trying to do everything, in no small part because the society I live in assumes someone will be at home and have time to do ‘extra’ things for school etc. I’d love for men to get off their asses and step up but it isn’t happening, it may be for a few individual men who step up at home but it’s not happening structurally in society. It’s also not true to say few women have the option to stay home, at least not where I live (UK), in fact if your income is less than childcare fees you have no choice but to stay home which is pretty shit if you want to be out working!. But if you have a choice, then omg the guilt! Letting down my feminist mother (who by the way had free full time childcare from her mother) and sisters, and my daughters, or saving my mental health by not pushing myself into another breakdown…and the article is right, it’s about increased expectations – I feel bad I’m not spending more time with my kids when in fact logically I know they are fine! But now ”parenting’ is a thing. In addition to being as bouncy, smily and enthusiastic and willing to ‘go the extra mile’ at work as I was at 22. Why can’t I manage a full time job plus motherhood? Can someone who is, please tell me the secret? Because unless I keep doing it all, whatever I do, I’ll be letting someone down. The only practical solution I’ve come across is to sleep less, then again my Dr advises I can’t do that long term.

          • Who?

            I’m sorry you’re going through all that.

            I’ve been playing or observing this game for the best part of 30 years, and I believe this: first, let go of caring what you think others think of you. Most of the time they are buried in their own stuff, and that goes triple for the mummy chorus at school/daycare/wherever. Anyone who wants to provide an opinion can either pitch in or simmer down. Next, keep yourself safe and sane, whatever that looks like.

            Finally-decide what you can, truly, give up: if you’re breaking yourself cleaning and ironing, and you have space in the budget, farm it out. If it’s meal prep, and there’s space in the budget, go for prepped meals for you and husband (those diet ones that get delivered weekly are awesome) and radically simplify what you do for the kids. If it’s your job, and you can afford to stop, then stop. Before you decide, though, know that a good job ie in your field, doing something worthwhile, with people you like, is an investment in the future. The sort that keeps the roof up is an investment in now. Any other sort can be replaced/upgraded when you have more time and headspace.

          • Sarah

            Thank you.

          • Anna Lee

            Hi Sarah, I Am sorry you have all of that going on. I definitely share your point of view that mothers are pulled so many different ways and turned every which way but loose. I hope that you do what is truly right for you & your family, whatever that is. Sending lots of thoughts of support & peace your way.

        • Heidi

          What a fantasy world you’re living in! All those great high-paying careers that are out there for everyone, that pay even a living wage that would allow for childcare costs. Or we subsidize childcare costs, but clearly, you can’t behind that. It’s not exactly controversial that technology is displacing many workers and will continue to do so.

          You’re just classist trash. Only women with “careers” matter to you. I’m sure women who haven’t found themselves with great careers did something wrong in your book and thus deserve none of your sympathy or support.

        • Amazed

          Living off a man?!

          Listen, I work for a living and you couldn’t pay me enough to stay home and be a SAHM. If you pay me thrice the money I get in my best months of self-employment, I might consider becoming SAHW but that’s my limit. Why? Well, because taking care of a kid full time is terribly exhausting. I love my niece to bits and I love taking care of her when I can but at the third day I inevitably find myself longing for paperwork full of mistakes and clients who start harassing me about the deadline about five minutes after I have accepted the project.

          As my brother says, he’s so very privileged that I give up my chance to make some money so he and his wife can have this chance as I take care of their kid. I can’t imagine the man in my life saying that I “live off him” as I part with the job that I love and take on the most ungrateful, unpaid job of all.

        • Sarah

          Given that you’re replying to someone in the UK (I’m a different Sarah in the UK to the person you’re responding to here) there’s no excuse for this level of ignorance. There are thousands of women in the UK who have no choice but to be SAHPs because of the cost of childcare. The idea that it’s an affluent thing is laughable. Do some research.

          I work, ftr.

        • Montserrat Blanco

          I have worked in the UK. I am a physician. I earned about 2700 net pounds (years ago) and the Nursery fees for one child five days a week was about 1800 pounds near my house and with the full hours that my job 9 am to 5 pm would require ( those hours were fictional, I almost always finished about 7-8 pm). There were taxes reductions for families, child benefit and childcare help costs, but the takeout is: even with a very well paid job I would be going every day to work for around 900 pounds. Take the 200 that I usually spent on transport and… that without counting the high costs of paying for my flat and it was not the greatest idea to go to work. If I earned less than 2000 pounds a month, and believe me, most of the people does, it just does not make sense to work.

          Do a little bit of googling before calling people idiots.

    • susannunes

      “Work-life balance.” “Life” has little to do with marriage and babies. It is sexist at its core, for men are not told “life” is marriage and babies. Sick of it.

      In some European countries women are FORCED to go on leave, and their leave is far more than a man’s. That is NOT feminist. You don’t even know what second-wave feminism is. Staying at home isn’t a career, it is a lifestyle choice that those of us who WORK for a living should NOT have to subsidize. You are rich enough to stay home and live off a man, a one-way ticket to poverty because you don’t have the nerve enough to ask him to do his share? That is your choice. Don’t ask me to support you.

      • AnnaPDE

        Welcome, Ms Exhibit A for how short sighted individual jealousy and selfishness ruins things. Functioning societies have long recognised that helping each other out makes everyone’s life so much better that sometimes it’s worth enforcing it.
        You think full time work for both parents while the kids are babies or toddlers is what parents (yes, fathers included) should be forced to do? It’s high time we recognised that raising kids is a hard and time intensive job that the whole community benefits from, and support the people who do it instead of letting them burn out.

      • demodocus

        His job paid better than mine and he has insurance..

      • swbarnes2

        They make women take their leave so that they aren’t under pressure to forgo it to keep up with others who aren’t having kids. If a woman’s leave is family care time and recovery from childbirth rolled into one, it should be longer than that of people who didn’t give birth.

        Raising kids at home is work. It’s valuable work. What’s anti-feminist bullshit is to take something that is primarily done by women and trashing it as worthless for that reason.

      • Amazed

        A lifestyle choice? Shut your ignorant mouth, you…

        I’m currently subsidizing the lyfestyle choice of a friend who decided to leave work, aka stay home because at her workplace, people made her life hell for trying to get pregnant with medical help and pregnancy wasn’t happening. Plus, they wanted her gone so they could appoint someone else in her place. After she and the baby went through great difficulties, she’s now trying to return to work force part time because her baby is very young indeed. Too young for daycare. So I consciously limit my own normal working routine to go there and take care of the baby as she deals with whatever projects come her way. It isn’t easy because I am self-employed and I have my own deadlines to chase. But I am not letting her leave this chance escape.

        Now, she’s a privileged idiot for prioritizing her desire to have a child over keeping a job in a place where people had become hostile to her? She also WORKS for a living.

      • rational thinker

        For most women in my state they are forced to stay home due to having no way to pay for childcare. The average blue collar job here pays about $8 or if you are lucky $10. Child care here costs about $8.50 an hour for each kid. Which makes working pointless. Then people call them lazy . then the average rent is around $1300 a month. In nj.

        • fiftyfifty1

          “For most women in my state they are forced to stay home”
          Or, what more frequently happens, opposite shifts. One parents works days and the other works evenings or nights. It’s grueling for sure.

          • rational thinker

            The opposite shift thing does work, me and my husband did that for a long time. The same thing cant be said when it is a single mom and there are a lot of single mothers with this problem.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Very true. I have met a very few women who join up with another female friend/single mother and share a house and do opposite shifts with her, but I’ve never seen that last long.

          • Sarah

            And this is where work-life balance should be possible, for mum, dad and kids.

      • Sarah

        I don’t know what societies you’re talking about here, but in the one I live in at least, there are parents (usually women since we earn less) who are forced into being SAHPs because childcare would cost more than they earn. Low income women. They are the opposite of rich and privileged. Reading the posts from commenters in the US, it seems this is a problem there too. Not surprising really since childcare unless heavily subsidised often costs more than a worker might earn.

      • Montserrat Blanco

        I live in an European country and have worked in others and never ever heard of forced leave when pregnant. Could you please provide the source?

        Some jobs do get a compulsory leave if you are pregnant, in order to protect the pregnant woman. For example you can not work with radioactivity and it is very protected that your employer is not allowed to get rid of you under no circumstances. I would say that this is a good measure and would be more than happy to take leave if I worked with radioactivity on regular basis.

        In Spain the paid maternal leave is 4 months, and the paternal leave is 1 month. Women must take 6 weeks of paid leave after giving birth in order to recover properly. The other 2.5 months can be transferred to the other parent. If the child is adopted the parents can choose how to split the 4+1 months leave with each parent getting a minimum of one month off.

        I agree that men’s leaves should be longer, and in Spain we are working for that, but I also think that giving birth is strenuous and should get a long period of time to recover properly, so if we really have to choose because there is not enough money,, yes, I think women should have the longer leave.

        • Sarah

          You’re obliged to take 2 weeks of maternity leave after the birth in the UK if you’re employed, 4 if in certain factory roles. The idea that this is a dreadful imposition rather than something that protects women is an, erm, unusual interpretation.

      • Allie

        I WORK for a living, and I am more than happy to subsidize my fellow beings who are engaged in other valuable pursuits such as raising young children. For that matter, I accept that a certain percentage of the population is simply incapable of hitting the ball for whatever reason, and I am more than happy to subsidize them, too. ‘Cuz I’m a human being : )

      • Beth Presswood

        I don’t know what your problem is. Work-life balance IS important and it’s important for men too. And yes, for the vast majority of people their family is way more important than their stupid job.

      • space_upstairs

        I can see your basic point: the optimal solution to the limits of feminist progress in allowing more equality in both work and home is probably not this young century’s trend of discouraging women from working or men from caring for babies. But I don’t think it’s fair to say that working mothers are “subsidizing” the “lifestyle choice” of modern housewives and thus getting screwed by them. Instead, we are all trying to deal with the challenges of life in today’s economy as we think best. Given that I earn more than my husband and my career is how I met him and is deeply important to me, I will fight tooth and nail to resist any pressure toward housewifery after my daughter is born. But I cannot blame others, riddled with fears over their children’s financial and physical future in the absence of a highly cultivated upbringing and with less emotional and economic incentive to preserve their work, from taking the risk of lost employability and reduced adult contact to try to keep their kids healthy, safe, and running in the intensified college rat race, or as an excuse to get away from a crummy job.