How does this relate to the debate?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
How does this relate to the debate?
Wed, 08-20-2003 - 7:56pm
Hey I rhymed! lol

Something occurred to me earlier and I wanted to see how others thought it might relate to the whole "which is harder SAH/WOH" portion of the debate that crops up so often.

I think that, when you look at either group *as a whole*, the WOHs might have it harder. And this is why ...

There are virtually no SAHMs who SAH because they "have to". There are virtually no SAHMs who are forced to SAH. A woman that SAH wants to SAH.(I'm sure there's a few exceptions out there; controlling dhs who MAKE their wives SAH, disabled children, etc) A woman that SAH doesn't hate her "job", or else she'd go get a WOH job. A woman that SAH is generally getting what she wants.

There are LOTS AND LOTS of WOHMs who WOH because they "have to". A single mom, or one whose dh doesn't make enough to support the family, or one with a disabled dh, whatever the case may be ... she may long, with all her heart, to SAH, but *can't*. Many WOHMs hate their jobs, but can't quit.

Anyhoo ... just wanted to stir up something new



Avatar for val10154
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-26-2003
Wed, 08-20-2003 - 8:08pm
>>>>"which is harder SAH/WOH">>>>

Funny you should bring this up b/c I was just having a conversation about this w/ my friend, who's a SAHM (I'm a WOHM). I think each is harder AND easier than the other in different ways. Up until my daughter was 2, I only worked nights & weekends, so I was w/ her all day. I now work full-time, so I have been on both sides & my answer to which is harder is this:

(First, I want to put a disclaimer in here. I don't think one can say one is harder than the other in general b/c everyone's situations are different. Some WOHMs may have a REALLY tough job & they might say working outside the home is definitely harder then taking care of the kids. Anyway, this answer is for me personally...)

Basically, I feel that it was harder to take care of my dd all day than it is to do what I currently do at my job right now. However, I feel that the whole package that comes along w/ being a WOHM is harder. (drop off at school, go to work, pick up from school (for me, this is all always a rush as my hrs. at work give me JUST enough time to do al this), having to worry what to do about holidays, summers, days off, etc., not having hardly any time at night, balancing all this w/ chores & errands)

Again, this is JMO based on my personal experiences. Overall, I don't think there's an answer to the question of which is harder.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-15-2003
Wed, 08-20-2003 - 8:15pm
I pretty much agree with that, but just had to add, how sad would it be if there WERE that many SAHM's who hated their jobs? Who actually HATED being at home with their children? I'm a SAHM myself, and it does certainly have it's downsides at times, but I am FAR from hating it, and if I ever thought I was getting to that point, I would be back in the workforce in a flash. Much better for children to be in an atmosphere where the caregiver is happy to be there, whether it is a DC or SAHP, than to be where the provider is miserable, and making the children miserable too.

That said, I know you did say that there are exceptions, but there are probably a good number of SAHM's who couldn't feasibly go to work even if that was their choice. I, for instance, and I've mentioned this before, could not go back to work without costing my family money. At the very least I would only be working for the priviledge of getting out of the house, as most or all of my income would go to childcare. I'm sure there are a lot of SAHP's like that. Guess it comes from all us SAHP's having so little education, huh? ;) (just KIDDING here folks!)

Just a few added thoughts. --->Dawn

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 08-20-2003 - 9:15pm
There are SAHMs who SAH because they have to, those that would not make enough money working to pay childcare.
Avatar for cyndiluwho
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Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 08-20-2003 - 9:42pm
With regard to this debate, I think the SAHM's have it harder. There's very little out there to say that SAH is beneficial to kids over having a WM but there's plenty out there to indicate that improving your financial situation, and WM's usually do improve theirs, is beneficial to kids. There is also evidence that WM's have a positive impact on their dd's self esteem and educational aspirations when compared to SAHM's. As you pointed out, while SAHM's are doing what THEY want to do, many WM's are doing what needs to be done. Doing what needs to be done is far nobler than doing what you want to do.

With regard to supporting a debate stance, I think there is more to support the WOH stance. The only thing SAH has on it's side is popular opinion but we've seen time and time again that popular opinion can be wrong. WOH can positively impact SES, influence our dd's aspirations and, when done to improve the family's lifestyle, is a selfless thing to do. While SAH plays a traditional role and does what she wants. Just who is the selfless mother? The one who asks her family to do without so she can SAH and get what she wants or the one who gives up what she wants and goes to work for the benefit of her children?

Edited 8/20/2003 9:44:37 PM ET by cyndiluwho

Avatar for 1969jets
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 08-20-2003 - 10:05pm
I agree that MOST of the time SAHMs usually want to be AH. Or at least they feel it is best for their family for them to SAH, so they do it for the time they feel their kids NEED them to SAH. WOHM are a more mixed bag. While there are plenty that like their jobs and are happy working, there are others who really want to be doing something else.

Like anything else there are no absolutes in the world. So please don't turn around my answer to mean that ALL SAHMs are happy and ALL WOHMs are unhappy. I didn't say that and you know it.


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-15-2003
Wed, 08-20-2003 - 10:27pm
Do you realize how much you isolate those of us who only have sons when you harp on and on about how beneficial having a WM is to dds? It really isn't just about a girl seeing her mother as a strong woman who goes after what she needs and/or wants by working. I think I provide an excellent example of a strong woman to my three boys, and I also think my mother provides an excellent example to my neice AND nephew, who she is raising, and we are both SAHM's.

There may not be a lot of graphs and charts "on our side", but there are a lot of women who have seen their choices work, and raised strong, independent dds AND ds's, by staying at home with them. My family may not be the richest family on the block, but you know what? I don't want to be. Not if it means sacrificing what makes my family happy. It's not about "popular opinion", or about money. It's about providing what is best for your family. I am doing that, and setting a strong example for my children by not putting my desire for the "extras" above what I feel I am contributing to them by being at home with them. I'm not more worried about my "SES", as I am about being with my children when they need me most. And I feel like my children need me most right now. So, I stay home. Because it is best for us. Not because there are tons of graphs and charts and studies out there that "prove" it. --->Dawn

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2000
Wed, 08-20-2003 - 11:27pm
If I worked, it would not affect our SES at all. Not all of us who worked, made enough money to impact our SES. Not everyone works in high-paying careers. I worked in a non-profit, a sector of the workplace that is notoriously underpaid. With three young children who would be in daycare if I worked, the amount of money that would be leftover, though still not chump change, it would not affect our SES. We would be living in the same house, same neighborhood, same vacations, same cars, etc.

You say: "WOH can positively impact SES, influence our dd's aspirations and, when done to improve the family's lifestyle, is a selfless thing to do."

And what do you mean by aspirations? How do *you* judge success? Does one have to be a high-falutin' career woman to be successful? Success means different things to different people. My brother is a professional musician. It is what he always aspired to me, but he makes CRAP for money. Some people would look down on him b/c he doesn't have a conventional job or make a lot of money. His wife works and makes a decent salary for someone w/o a college education, but they live a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. And they are very happy. Their kids are too.

And, btw, my SAH DOES improve our family's lifestyle. Improving one's lifestyle isn't always about money. Right now, *my* kids are much better off having a parent at home b/c that is what works best for *our* family, both logistically and in other ways. I am doing "what needs to be done" as you put it, just as you are doing "what needs to be done" for your family. While I don't consider myself noble, I don't consider you noble either, simply b/c you work.

Edited 8/21/2003 12:01:55 AM ET by merella

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-02-2003
Wed, 08-20-2003 - 11:49pm
You brought up the point I was going to also... for me to go back to work ... 40 hours a week with a 9-5 schedule...with my limited education... only a few college credits.... on paper it would not make much sense finacially. Daycare costs would be expensive and summer programs alone for 3 boys would probably be no financial contribution... then add in gas and clothing allowance and higher tax bracket... ugh

I think too it is again about perspectives. I am looking to contribute finacially to our family... it can be done without a forty hour workweek and flexible schedules. I have not made the right connection yet. I am actually leaning towards starting a home baking business and packaging up my cookies for sale. This is something that even if successful I can do and still attend the boys sports events and with intelligent planning I can take days off and take some related college courses at a local community college.

I don't really think you can judge "easier" in either realm. Each choice is up to the individual and their perspective and life expereinces belong to them only. Courtney


There's a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day... there's a great big beautiful tom

Avatar for akpennington
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Thu, 08-21-2003 - 12:10am
All my desires in regards to SAH mean nothing to our family right now. We *did* agree early on that we wanted a SAHP for our children. We are happy we have a SAHP. It works well enough. But none of that means anything, really, because in reality we'd have less if I WOH - right now. I don't have alot of choices in that respect at this point. But I don't think that makes it harder. (or easier) It just is what it is.

I'm not a lifer, though. I'm very young and have - potentially - very much life left. I have time to complete my education and that'll happen right about the time all my kids are well into school FT.

I guess you could flip it, though. Some could say that not having much of a choice makes the 'decision' easier. Whereas, if you have choices, you have to actually MAKE a choice. But I've never really been able to get why people spend any substantial amount of time trying to figure out and prove whether or not they have it harder than the other guy.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 08-21-2003 - 12:25am
I think quite a few SAHM don't have a lot of choice in the matter. Around here, many have husbands that work long and/or irregular hours often with travel that takes them away for weeks if not months. Quality childcare is very hard to find and is very expensive. The public school system is not accommodating to WOHP, so you have to factor in private school costs on top of childcare. Most of the SAHM by choice that I know are really choosing SAH over split shifts or PT weekend work.

That said, I think it is harder to be a "have to" WOHM. I am very glab that my husbad now has job security and I can go back to being a WOHM by choice. Now if I feel like my job is interferring with my family life, I have the freedom to make changes. Before, I was in a position where the choice was which does my son need more, Mom or Medical insurance. That is not a fun position to be in.