SAH early years vs teen years

iVillage Member
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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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 2:29pm
Our experiences differ greatly. IMHO, sitters for little kids would have to be really awful to inflict actual harm.



What is "actual harm"? Does that mean only the kind of harm you can see physically, or measure? I'm pretty sure that anyone who is a significant caregiver can affect how a child feels, and how they are, how much they trust. Children use caregivers as a secure base to explore the world, and they attach to them, so if the caregiver does not promote feelings of security, if they don't attach, or they attach and there is a lot of turnover in caregivers, that could cause problems that are long lasting and hard to overcome, because they become part of who that child is.



As far as the teens, among the people I know, the main reason for private school beginning in middle school is the sitter problem. So, I am obviously not the only one with the experience that making teens mind a sitter is an iffy proposition. OTOH, you are certainly right that this does not make it a universal.



Teens minding is an iffy proposition, period. That pertains to parents, stepparents, teachers, coaches, other family members, other parents, and other people in a position of authority. Big picture: if your teen can respect authority you have less of an issue than if your teen cannot respect authority, period. When it comes to SAH vs. WOH with teens, the issue is similar to how it is for young children. Some feel they need to be AH for their teens whatever their reasons, some know that they can find an appropriate situation for their teen while they work whether that is a non-parent or the teen being alone. If teens couldn't handle having WOH parents we'd probably not be so accepting of parents of teens WOH. Some parents want or need to SAH with their teen, just like some parents may want or need to SAH with their young children. The issues with teens are different than for young children, but overall non-parents can be appropriate substitutes for WOH parents of any age child.

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



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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 2:33pm
It did mean, however, that the option of getting her a sitter at 14 was pretty much out.



Same here, probably closer to age 12. But WOHPs don't have to hire a sitter *for* their teens in order for their teens to be supervised or looked out for by a non-parent.

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



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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 2:35pm
I don't know about finding someone from other cultures, but my sitter comes as early as 3pm and stays as late as 11pm, sometimes on Saturdays and can come during the day if I arrange it with her ahead of time and it doesn't conflict with one of her other obligations. When I found her she was a college student, it worked out well because she was in class during the day and wanted to work in the evenings. She's not attending classes anymore, but now she watches other kids a couple days a week, and mine a couple evenings a week.

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



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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 2:37pm
But if I needed to do this, I would never tell her I was hiring a "sitter." I'd tell her I was hiring her a driver. ;)



Exactly. I would never tell the teens that I've asked the sitter to watch out for them too, and when I quit my job to SAH with the little ones we didn't tell the teen/preteen "this will be great because Harmony can keep an eye on you guys after school too!"

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



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"The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding."
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Avatar for mom34101
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 2:42pm
Nothing, but I'm not sure what that has to do with it. If someone chooses to sah with teens instead of little kids, more power to her. What I'm talking about is the argument that has been made on these boards by wohms that sah is important when the kids are teens but not when they're little, coming from people who have no plans to sah during the teen years and don't.
Avatar for mom34101
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 2:57pm
True. The suburban existence (at least around here) seems to be such that people don't even think of public transportation as a way for kids to get around.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 3:01pm
What I'm talking about is the argument that has been made on these boards by wohms that sah is important when the kids are teens but not when they're little, coming from people who have no plans to sah during the teen years and don't.



I agree, but I think the point you are making is relevant whether the parent SAH in the teen years or not. If we are going to make broad statements about what is appropriate, the fact is that the appropriateness of SAH vs. WOH is very much dependent on the children, the parents, and the situation in question. Regardless of age. SAH isn't inherently better than WOH, and vice versa. SAH with a young child isn't inherently more important than SAH with a teen, and vice versa. All sides have their advantages and disadvantages, and deserve consideration based on the specific circumstances involved.

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



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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2005
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 3:01pm

<>

First, so what if they don't plan to stay home? Just because something is important doesn't mean something else can't be more important.
Second, (speaking only for myself) I never said that SAH isn't important when the kids are little.












iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 3:01pm
Sometimes there is a total lack of public transportation. Where I live we have none.

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



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"The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding."
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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2005
Mon, 06-14-2010 - 3:04pm
Ditto, unless you count calling a taxi from the phone book.











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