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March 23, 2009

Open questions

do Americans really value parents who decide to have one or the other stay home with the kids? Is there any value for the kids to have a SAHParent?

What would you conclude about people who say they value SAHPs then use that "class status" to dismiss the SAHP's legitimacy as a serious person of ideas?

Posted by Darleen at March 23, 2009 06:51 AM


Of course they don't. They will parrot useless pro-SAH platitudes, but when push comes to shove? Nope.

Posted by: Carin at March 23, 2009 07:04 AM

That's a fine question, Darleen. Libs like me used to ask it all the time back in the 90's, when some cons criticized poor minority people for being on welfare and raising their kids, but loved the middle to upper class, Evangelicals who could stay home with theirs...where to draw that line?

And, where to draw the line of the nice upper class folks who use au pairs and nannies?

The Mommy wars are always interesting. Some studies show daycare kids do fine, intuition and others tell us they do not do as well.

I think these questions are the ones women wrestle with mostly out of guilt. My wife has to work for us so we can have a roof and a car, etc, but she feels guilty dropping the wee one off at the daycare. Guilt, although it doesn't with her, can easily lead to resentment of the sort of woman who is able to stay home.

The best option, I think, and one I bet you can even agree with, is for involved grandparents to take care of kids when the parents work. My kids love the one day of the week they spend with grandma and grandpa.

Posted by: timb at March 23, 2009 08:04 AM

I am currently single and childless, so I work, but I always have assumed that when I have kids, I'll be a stay at home mom. My mom was a SAHM (is that a new acronym?), and I think it was a good thing for me and my brother. My cousin is staying with her kids, and she had never intended to stay at home. But she loves it.

Partly, too, it's because I despise the public school system. If I can't afford private schooling, I want to be in a position to teach them myself.

Assuming I ever get married.

Posted by: Ella at March 23, 2009 08:19 AM


The so-con criticism of welfare mothers wasn't the "mother" part, it was the welfare part. It was women knowingly and carelssly engaging in risky behavior and then pawning the consequences of that behavior off on taxpayers. They had sex, had kids out of wedlock, and made no attempt to support their kids either by a) getting married or b) getting a job or c) even finishing high school. The welfare moms are not, in any functional sense of the word, stay at home moms.

I personally think it is best for families to have a stay at home parent; if a family has to scale back their lifestyle, do it. It is better for the kids mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and physically. It is also better for the family structure and creates a healthy relationship so that kids are willing to take care of their parents as the parents age.

I have friends and family my age whose parents basically threw them to daycare wolves so that the moms could be "more fulfilled" by going to work, and, trust me, the second one of their parents breaks a hip, they're getting shipped off to a home. Bad feelings there, and I'm not saying daycare is the problem. I am saying amindset that pushes parenting to #5 or something on an adult's to-do list behind "self-actualization" and "cool consumer electronics" is. The sacrifices that come from having a stay at home parent usually push parenting decisions to the forefront, meaning teh family as a whole is at the forefront.

There are always exceptions and caveats - widows, divorcees, people in a family business, people with have debt loads or personal problems that demand support. I'm just saying that as an ideal, it is best to have a parent stay at home at raise their own kids with their own values.

And I do NOT mean to imply that any specific family where both parents work is selfish or that they don't put their kids first. I fully believe that most parents do. It's as a society and as a cultural norm that I think the concept of two-earner households is destructive. The stereotype is destructive, so when "everyone" does it, I think it's less than ideal. When "The Johnsons" or "The Walkers" do it, I am sure (at least I hope) it works out better. Also, I'm more or less a small-l libertarian, so I really don't care what other people do with their lives. Live and let live. I have my opinion, and I only mention it because it was asked.

Posted by: Ella at March 23, 2009 08:29 AM

Ella, I agree with your last few points...it is a personal choice mothers and fathers must make and, ideally, one of them can stay home.

Posted by: timb at March 23, 2009 08:35 AM


Anybody seen Jeff?

Posted by: Yackums at March 23, 2009 09:07 AM

For years we couldn't afford to have me be a SAH mom. So, I worked nights bartending. Another SAH mom I know is the most frugal person I know, and they have gotten by on a shoestring income.

Posted by: Carin at March 23, 2009 10:21 AM

Like most complex issues, this one depends on multiple factors. Personally, I believe that a close family member or trusted friend should keep an eye on the kids until they start Kindergarten. Past that, if they demonstrate a fair amount of natural chutzpah and adaptivity, I think SAH isn’t required. But I’ve heard of too many kids who were bullied, or were bullies, weren’t learning, or had specialized needs which required one parent to not only stay home, but school from home as well. In those cases SAH was probably the best decision. But that’s my own pragmatic centrist version.

For the conservatives out there: If you don’t have a SAH parent for the child in their formative years, they will most certainly become drug addled, homosexual, tattooed and pierced, or worse, satanic in nature. They could even turn postmodernist. And you will burn in hell.

For the liberals out there: The world is full of dangerous ideas, such as “greed is good”, “nuke the whales” and Rush Limbaugh is always right. A SAH parent is a must to keep the young impressionable mind from growing into a corporate zombie.

Posted by: centristderangementsyndrome at March 23, 2009 03:17 PM

Yeah, Carin. I know a lot of working moms like you. You love your kids, and that's what's most important. The situation is different for every family.

It's the people who condemn stay at home parents, I think, who have the problem, because they view childrearing as demeaning. And that can only hurt the relationship they have with their kids. It's not the working v. the staying, so much. It's more a matter of focus and priority. Making family the priority works out differently for different families, and that's cool. It's when it's lacking that there's a problem.

Posted by: Ella at March 23, 2009 03:58 PM

I don’t know Jeff G, but the mocking comments about him being a SAHP by Patterico and nk was not very cool.

Posted by: Original ML at March 23, 2009 05:15 PM

Oh, crap. I forgot to answer the second question.

What would you conclude about people who say they value SAHPs then use that "class status" to dismiss the SAHP's legitimacy as a serious person of ideas?

Does Jeff G dispense good parenting advice at his preteen wisdom website? If he does, then he’s alright by me. But if he’s giving office workers and malingerers another place to play on the sly, then I think he’s a very bad man.

Posted by: centristderangementsyndrome at March 23, 2009 06:34 PM

Does Jeff G dispense good parenting advice at his preteen wisdom website? If he does, then he’s alright by me. But if he’s giving office workers and malingerers another place to play on the sly, then I think he’s a very bad man.
Jeff G's young one is far from preteen. His site caters to thinking people of all ages (some of the best continuing education you can get, for the price) and I'm sure that those thinking peoples can make a value-added decision as to when to visit the site. I don't visit during my at-work hours; that's my choice. But if someone else does, that's fine too.

Where do you get off worrying that 'sly malingerers' take advantage of their employer's good will and web access? Are you an IT professional? And labeling Jeff G a 'bad man' because he posts during working hours...how many sites would you have close down during business hours? Is that how Huffpo and KOS works? Would you have web sites shutter when there's a possibility that an office worker might sneak a peak?

Someone is a bit jealous, methinks.

Posted by: serr8d at March 31, 2009 06:00 PM