Today was Budget Day in the UK. We listened to George Osborne set out his plans to develop more state assistance for working parents, reduce the handouts given to those perceived as ‘unworthy,’ and raise charges on various other sundries and services. I missed the actual speech, but I listen to BBC radio 5 Live, and so I heard the gist of what was happening.
My main concern is the topic of the 5 Live Your Call phone-in at 9am this morning. The Conservative (sorry, coalition) government want to offer incentives for parents of young children, to encourage them back into the workplace. More specifically this is aimed at women, and I say this based on personal experience. In my social circles it is largely the men that work full time and the women who either stay home with the children, or juggle part time or full time jobs around childcare.
This is the issue that upsets me. All I heard on the radio this morning was that stay at home mothers are demanding handouts and they don’t deserve them. How dare people say such things, and actually mean it! I am at cross purposes at the moment. I was a stay at home mother for the past 18 months when my maternity leave expired and I chose not to return to my minimum wage part-time job. But I work from home developing my business as a freelance writer, and it is a very slow and tedious process.
I have said before that I despise the term ‘stay at home mother.’ It implies that we, the childminders and domestic cleaners, do not work. There is no respect in the UK for people, and I say again, women (with the odd rare househusband) who make the tough decision not to return to paid employment. We don’t take the easy option. Far from it. We take responsibility for our own children, at the expense of our financial independence and future pension benefits. We have to rely fully on our husbands or partners for financial support, and that to me is very difficult.
I do not expect handouts from the tax payer. I loathed paying such high taxes when I was in full time employment for several years. We all do. From what I have learned, back in the rose-tinted post-war years when women returned to the home and men to the office, housewives would receive an allowance from their husbands. This, in effect, was their salary. It seems that nowadays many families simply do not have the spare cash after they have paid the household bills and transport costs. And then there is childcare if both parents are working away from home.
All I want, and what so many of my friends and acquaintances want, is a little understanding. We need respect and support for the job that we do as housewife, mother, domestic slave. It takes a lot of courage I think to give up a regular job and rely solely on another person for your home and board. It also takes the patience of a saint to raise children and teach them decent values and morals so that they grow up to be well-adjusted members of society. These are our future carers, providers and pioneers. Why should we damage them at a young age because we are coerced into accepting thankless jobs in faceless corporations? We should not.
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In part, the devaluation of stay-at-home moms is the backlash of what my generation was taught in the 90s – you can (and should!) grow up to be anything! You can (and should!) have a high-paying career! It’s so difficult to grow up with that message ingrained without feeling bad about raising children, even if it’s the most important job of all… and I totally agree that it’s a scary and brave thing to let yourself become financially dependent for the sake of your children.
Have you read any Penelope Trunk? She writes a lot on career moms vs stay at home moms, and it’s an interesting perspective.
No I haven’t, I will check out her books! Thank you for commenting.
Really like this piece. I have also taken a view on the budget here http://robbinsnr.wordpress.com/. I will be following your future posts with interest.
Thank you, I will take a look.
I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!
Hello, great to meet you!