Okay, I've gotten a bit irritated by the posts suggesting that the woh side is the majority, and the sah side is the minority. What I see on this board is a majority who believes that choices can be equally valid, a minority who sees sah as superior for all children (as long as you can afford it), and only one or two who believe that woh is superior for all children (as long as you can afford it). But I have been persuaded that minority viewpoints deserve a voice, even if I don't believe them. So I am going to support the woh is better minority with top ten reasons why everyone should woh.
1. I think children deserve to have two parents who model a strong work ethic. I do not believe it is healthy for children to believe that their choices in life include the possibility of someone else supporting them financially. I knew too many teenage girls who just assumed they would graduate from high school and get married, and put no thought or effort into academics or career. While a few thought that and still had ambition, there were more who didn't. In addition, I knew several women who refused to step in to help the family when money was tight because earning money was not their job. There is a certain entitlement that goes along with that. Therefore, I think it is too much of a risk for parents to set that kind of example.
2. I believe children deserve to have two income-producing parents. If something happens to one, the children are going to have to adjust and deal with it, too. The children should not have to additionally adjust to the other parent transitioning back to work, plus changing the whole family's standard of living. I believe that both parents should at all times be capable of making a seamless transition to being the sole breadwinner. And I don't think that can be done if one of them is out of the work force.
3. I believe anyone who has benefited from government-sponsored financial aid programs to get through college or graduate school has a social obligation to work and pay taxes until they reach retirement age. The economics of the program is based on the idea that the tax breaks they receive on student loans will be repaid several times over when they are part of the workforce. I think the number of women who sah and therefore do not contribute to the tax base as an individual are burdening the financial aid system. Claiming their husband's taxes is not sufficient, because he would have been contributing whether you had gotten an education or not. I think therefore the sahms who had financial aid or tax breaks on student loan repayment are a drain on the system.
4. I think children who are raised by sahp's are more likely to pick up their parents' bad habits. Having a few different caregivers gives a child an opportunity to see which behaviors are inappropriate in the eyes of most people. If a child has only one caregiver, then they can pick up those habits the one caregiver has because there is no other caregiver who is correcting the behavior. Example to illustrate what I am talking about: a friend who is a sahm did not realize what a control freak she was until she heard her children being control freaks to each other, and realized that what they were saying and doing was exactly what she said and did to them. The bossy behavior would have been corrected in day care or with another care provider, but instead it was reinforced by the sahm situation. by the time she realized it, she had an impossible time convincing them it was not okay, and the kids had a bit of difficulty adjusting to school.
5. I think all parents should balance the obligation to their family with an obligation to the society in which they participate. That means that I believe all adults should contribute in some way to the world outside their own home, and that volunteering a day or two a week is nice, but that alone is not sufficient to meet the obligation to society. We all benefit from other people's work--people who work on the roads, the people who build cars, the people who stock the grocery shelves. I think that we owe it to them to engage in some type of work that benefits them as well. While one may argue that raising their child well is enough of a contribution, I think that is the equivalent of saying that doing my own laundry is enough of a contribution. Raising your child well is just basic responsibility. Not to mention there is no guarantee that sah with them is going to mean you've raised them better than if you had woh.
6. I think it's unfair to the spouse when one sah. It leaves the entire financial burden on them. If their job becomes unbearable, they have no choice, the family will falter without it. It is more pressure on the wohp and it often means the wohp has to work longer--both on a daily basis, but also in a lifetime. If both spouses worked, they might both be able to retire at 59. With only one working, that one spouse may have to work until he is 65. I think it is selfish on the part of the sahp who spends his/her days on playdates, chatting with friends while their kids play on the playground, only to go home and whine about how much harder their job is because they have to do it 24/7.
7. I think any family that has more than one child (unless they are twins) are doing a disservice to their children to not give them a few hours a day when they are not together. The older children have to be patient with the younger ones instead of just being their age. The younger children grow up too fast because they are trying to do everything their older siblings are doing. I think day care, where kids are grouped by ages, is much more appropriate and gives all children a chance to just act their own age.
8. I think that sah when the kids are young and then going back to work when they are older can be the worst choice if you do not have a strong career before you quit to stay home. If your return to work puts you as the low man on the totem pole, then you will probably miss more of your kids' school events than you would have if you had worked your way through the ranks and made yourself invaluable to your bosses. And contrary to the popular thought that birth through school is the most impressionable time, I think that school age children need their parents time and attention outside of school hours, because those are the years when kids are likely to be influenced more by peers than by adults, and it's the parents who are most likely to be able to maintain the strongest influence IF they maintain a strong bond. returning to work when kids are older, having to miss things because you are the new guy, can make a kid feel they are no longer the first priority. If you are established in your career by the time the kids enter school, you can avoid having that badly time transition.
9. I don't actually believe that anyone sah because they think it's best for their family. I think people who want to sah do it, regardless of whether they can afford it, of whether their partners are in favor of it, of whether the kids would benefit from spending time in day care. I think that many sahms spend their days in ways that make them happy. they like to pretend it's work, but really, it's pushing a baby in a stroller through the mall, having lunch with friends with similarly aged kids, making craft projects and watching TV. I think the only reason they like to pretend it has anything to do with the kids is to make themselves feel better about the self-indulgent choices they make. I also know many, many sahms who don't actually have the patience to be home with the kids all day, but who are unwilling to admit that the kids may benefit from being in an environment where childcare workers get breaks and can get some relief, and to then come home to parents who are happy to see them. I know many sahps who took their kids for granted because they were with them every day, day in and day out, who talked to them with harsh tones of voice, and whose kids learned to feel like an annoyance. We all lose our patience sometimes, but for those who do it often, refusing to admit that the child many not actually be better off with a parent who is constantly frustrated with them than with a caregiver who chose that career because of their endless supply of patience, and who can get breaks seems to me to be based on the parent's own desire to avoid working.
10. I think the supposedly value-drive choice to sacrifice things so that mom can stay home is a selfish one. The whole family is sacrificing things, things like better educational opportunities, but only mom is getting the benefit of staying home. I do not actually perceive any benefit to mom staying home. In the long-term, the kids get fewer opportunities, educationally and career-wise, and have nothing to show for it. No greater self-esteem, no more intelligence, no more happiness. Just a lot more debt, in cases where people sacrificed college funds to stay home.