SAH early years vs teen years

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Registered: 04-22-2005
SAH early years vs teen years
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Sun, 06-13-2010 - 4:26pm

This past weekend I shared a room at a church youth conference with a mom of three girls (6 years, 13 years and 15 years). In getting to know each other, she mentioned that she has recently quit her job after being a working mom her entire children's lives. She was concerned about her 13-year-old and decided to stay home so that she could focus more fully on some problems that have been surfacing.

I nodded in approval and casually mentioned that I thought that if there was a more critical time to have a stay home parent, it wouldn't be the infant years; it would be the teen years. She nearly burst out crying and said that she was SO RELIEVED to hear somebody say that. She said that she always hears people talk about how we should stay home when our kids are really little, and so she felt guilty (her words) that she didn't choose to stay home when they were little and yet she was choosing to stay home now.

My take on the matter, which I conveyed to her, was that when they are small children we WANT to stay with them but nothing serious is likely to happen by trusting another loving, responsible person to take care of them while we work. By contrast, when they are teenagers, they are much more independent and much more capable of getting into serious trouble. For some families, having a stay at home parent would be a good way to increase the diligence factor (eliminate the distractions of work and use that time and energy to get more involved and keep an extra close eye on things).

She had never thought about it this way and was really, really grateful to hear it. You could tell it was something that had been eating her up. She thought that society was somehow looking down on her for her choices because "all you ever hear is messages about how important it is to stay home when the kids are little; you never hear anything about staying at home when the kids are teens."

So my question is: Why do you think hardly anyone ever touts the benefits of staying home once the children are teens?












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Avatar for mom34101
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Sun, 06-13-2010 - 11:16pm

I think there's more social pressure to work when your kids are older because they're in school all day. The problem with that argument is that school hours and vacations are often not very woh-friendly.

For myself, I wanted to sah or work pt when the kids were little because that was the time they were home. I have a teen, and I don't see any reason to sah now. She's gone 9 hours a day during the school year anyway, and she has much more of a life of her own now than she did when she was 3. However, I do think it's important for me to be there when she gets home from school, both to provide supervision and to be available to talk (not to mention my chauffeur duties ;)). For me, right now that means working pt.

IME, people who work when the kids are little are unlikely to quit when they're teens. On these boards, I have often heard the argument that the teen years are the time to stay home, but always by people who have not chosen to stay home during either period.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2004
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 2:12am

So my question is: Why do you think hardly anyone ever touts the benefits of staying home once the children are teens?

I still believe the 1st year is important, I can understand the teen years. Especially for her situation since she is worried. A lot can happen and go wrong in the teen years.

I think people tend to believe that teens are more independent and they must learn to do things on their own with little parental supervision. That they should know right from wrong, or they must learn from their mistakes. Though some of those mistakes can be lifechanging or life ending. Teens can do so much on their own, why do they need mommy or daddy? I have seen enough in my years that I could understand this woman wanting to stay home. What I saw I would never want my DD to get into. I would try to prevent it best I can but it is her life not mine. Then again, she would have to suffer the wrath of her father...:D, so we might be ok. But I think he will soften up over time.


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Avatar for rollmops2009
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Registered: 02-24-2009
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 2:32am
Because a teen is not going to talk to a sitter, nor is a teen going to listen to a sitter. With little kids it is generally far less complicated, and little kids are usually somewhat more open and accept outside authority better.

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Erica Jong

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-15-2006
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 5:57am

good for her.


my only debate is what specifically she hopes to gain in SAH that she can't do WOH..keep an eye on "what" things?

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-15-2006
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 7:53am

societal attitudes do vary.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 8:12am
Because a teen is not going to talk to a sitter, nor is a teen going to listen to a sitter.



Really? You know thus is true for all teens? Well, I have to say the older teen in my house thinks hanging out with the sitter is a very cool thing to do. He's 16 yo and she's 22 yo. He is apparently under the impression they are equals. They talk, though honestly that is not something I really care too much about. I like that she is here to know things are going smoothly for any teens who are here, I am not looking for a sitter to be a parent, friend or therapist to the teens. As for listening, the teens in our house repsect authority most of the time, and that includes non-parents. If/when they fail to do so there are consequences. The sitter isn't crucial for the teens, they can be here alone, but they usually are not here alone and I like that.



With little kids it is generally far less complicated, and little kids are usually somewhat more open and accept outside authority better.



Less complicated when it comes to authority, in some cases sure. Apparently we have some crazy thing going on since our teens are supervised by non-parents all the time and we don't have a major problem with authority (if they did, their dad would be all over that). But also authority isn't the only issue for little kids. There is a long list of things that can go wrong for little kids, things that lead to physical or psychological harm that makes putting young children in the care of others also an issue. Even if you have good, trained, well meaning sitters iff they are not responsive enough, or there is too much change, or turnover, you could see a child becoming less trustful, less open, less secure. I would say leaving young children in the care of sitters is far more complicated than having a non-parent keep an eye out for your teen a few hours in the afternoon.

Say not, 'I have found the truth,' but rather, 'I have found a truth.' -Kahlil Gibran



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iVillage Member
Registered: 01-15-2006
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 8:18am

They are now smarter than me, they have issues that I can't imagine and I was a rather diffident teen. I love my children, but I'm not stupid. They will rebel, they will be stupid, and I will catch them and put them on the right track,




I guess that's why teens in our house aren't harder. They are not yet smarter than us, they don't have issues we can't imagine (we aren't stupid either). They do rebel (especially the 16 yo), he gets caught, is put back on the right track, all with a working parent who is able to delegate to others when he can't do it himself.


ITA here.

 

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Registered: 05-27-1998
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 8:40am

Because it's a matter of trust. Little children will trust any kind adult who doesn't hurt them and meets their needs. Teens won't. They are much more sophisticated in their thinking.


And I do not know a single child over the age of 12 who wouldn't get upset at the idea of having a "substitute caregiver." That means babysitter, and babysitters, in general, are there to meet the physical needs of a child, needs a teen is perfectly able to meet for himself. It's the emotional ones that are important at this age. It's not about whether I know my child (although that certainly counts), but wheher my child knows me. That's the difference.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-08-2009
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 9:03am

Parenting is relentless, period. When my kids were babies and toddlers and preschoolers, we were lucky enough to hvve both flexible hours and stable, woderful substitute caregivers. When they were in elementary school, we made it work with a combination of flexible hours, lots of time off in the summer combined with good camps.....this year both of my kids are in high school. I accepted a promotion that is going to cut down some on my flexibility and felt some anxiety about doing so, because even though they are fairly independent, they are not raised yet.

I don't know which is easier teens or toddlers; they do both have their challenges and their rewards. I do think toddlers are much more forgiving; if you screw up or violate your own rules or demand something of your teens they think is unfair or hypocritical, you will hear about it for weeks....months....years! A one year old will not know or remember that his Daddy was out of town on business for his first birthday partty, but see what happens when a parent has to travel on business for a child's 8th grade graduation.....the kid may be quite vocally resentful. Stuff like that.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 9:40am
Because it's a matter of trust. Little children will trust any kind adult who doesn't hurt them and meets their needs. Teens won't. They are much more sophisticated in their thinking.



Trust is one of many issues to consider. But yes, when it comes to little kids they are more trusting. This makes it more of a challenge when leaving little kids in the care of others. Teens at least can withhold trust until there is a reason to trust, which is good. Being more sophisticated in their thinking is why we can leave teens alone. However, they can also get into trouble when they are alone because other areas of their development are not complete, so having a parent *or* non-parent around to make sure they are not getting in trouble is also good. Ditto for little kids, they need someone there all the time and a parent *or* a capable non-parent can handle it.



And I do not know a single child over the age of 12 who wouldn't get upset at the idea of having a "substitute caregiver." That means babysitter, and babysitters, in general, are there to meet the physical needs of a child, needs a teen is perfectly able to meet for himself. It's the emotional ones that are important at this age. It's not about whether I know my child (although that certainly counts), but wheher my child knows me. That's the difference.



In our case the sitter is here for the younger siblings, when it's a sitter. When it's just me I'm not a sitter, I'm a stepparent. When they aren't home, they are being supervised by friends parents, teachers, or coaches. I agree emotional needs are important at this age and that is what a parent is for. But what my husband is concerned about when he is not here, and what I am concerned about when I'm not here and the sitter is - is behavior. Making good choices, not doing something they are not permitted to do. A non-parent can ensure a child is not getting into trouble whether it's a relative who happens to be in the home, a hired person there to make sure things are okay, or volunteer adult running an organized activity. The parent is *still* able to ensure the child's emotional well being even if they are WOH and other people are watching out for the child after school. A parent can even do that if they are WOH and the teen is alone for a few hours in the afternoon, if in fact the teen is able to be trusted and does make good choices during that time frame (it may be shocking to some, but there are teens who are just fine in this area).



While our society might not tout the benefits of SAH with teens, I think we do recognize the benefits of having teens involved in activities, not being alone too much, having parents know their whereabouts, check in with them, and do whatever they can to ensure the teen is making good choices and is not getting into trouble. There are numerous ways a parent can accomplish that, SAH is only one way.

Say not, 'I have found the truth,' but rather, 'I have found a truth.' -Kahlil Gibran



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