What is the attitude in our society? Do housewives receive more respect than women who try to balance career and family?


Charlie - posted on 12/18/2011




I think women in general disrespect each other it has nothing to do with what they do ( not all women of course but we are a competitive lot)

Vicki - posted on 12/19/2011




I think women are seen to be doing 'wrong' whatever they do. SAHM? Lazy. Working Mum? Ignoring your children and farming them out for care, wanting it all. Don't have kids at all? Selfish. Have kids of any number? Selfish, you should just be working.

I work part time in what can be a stressful job. I still find it easier than my stay at home days sometimes! We are all just doing what is best for our families and anyone who judges can go jump.

Aleks - posted on 12/20/2011




I must say that here in Australia, I get the feeling (from tv, radio, magazines, newspapers and others around me) is that YOU HAVE TO GO BACK TO WORK. Its almost a non negotiable. You get pregnant, go on maternity a few weeks or days before you birth. You go back anywhere btw 6-12mths after. If you don't then yeah, you do nothing, are unproductive and just plain boring, lazy and probably "backward". No sane, smart and educated, with previous career woman stays at home full time. The only ones that stay at home are the dole-bludging bogans. That is the attitude from just about everyone including the government (which are devising ever more schemes to getting mums back into the workforce - remembering that a worker equals a tax payer).

Forget mums sniping at eachother, its probably because the whole society pits us against eachother. Governments and Employers (read THE ECONOMY with all its trappings) pushing for workers back at work, while psychologists beating their drum regarding damages done in long-term day care of young kids.

These are the two messages that are clashing.

Another thing I do have to mention:

I believe that a lot of women feel like they "have" to go back as they are not cut out to be sahm is because of the lack of respect and VALUE for the *services* they provide for the whole *community, society and country* by sacrificing for a few yrs to raise their small kids. Bah, if women centred jobs and careers (ie, teaching, nursing, carers- old age and disabled, etc) were more respected and valued by our society, we probably would see a lot more women staying at home (at least in the early yrs of a childs life) and not rushing off back to work for "sanity" (yes, there are many women out there who feel incomplete without their chosen career, however, from personal experience these are not as many as those who go back through for a myriad of insecurity/uncomfortability because of deep seated,and usually unconscious, reasons many of which have a root in being VALUED and RESPECTED as a productive member of society).

I whole heartedly believe that if our ROLE as a MOTHER was REVERED as much as being a doctor in our society, the rates of postnatal depression would probably more than halve. And not to mention there probably would be a whole lot of community support for mums so that they don't feel so alone and isolated, they would be able to go out and about more and be a lot more social with other adults. Not to mention have access to shared care of kids (probably through this community co-op/support) --- Ok, gotta stop daydreaming out loud...lol

Ok, please also note these abve musings have not included women who have to go back to work for economical reasons. Unfortunatelly for these women the choice is out of their hands. And we should all salute these women for being so strong even if they are doing something they may not want to.

Vicki - posted on 12/19/2011




Just have to add that I hate the term 'housewife'. The 18 months I spent at home I wasn't married to the house. I was being a fulltime Mum.

Vegemite - posted on 12/19/2011




Realy I don't care if a mother is a SAHM or works as long as she is doing the best she can for her family. Why is it anyone elses business anyway, what gives one person the right to make their values or ideals someones elses?


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Aleks - posted on 12/21/2011




Totally agree Kelly. I am exactly like you said. I am sahm, and no am not cutsie woots.. or whatever. That IS INSULTING.

Oh, and Sharon, I do believe that I did mention that there are women out there that are "incomplete without their career" so please don't get your knickers in a twist.

I am speaking from personal observations, and I can tell you that many women I have spoken to who do the "I couldn't stay at home it drove me crazy" were typically going back to JOBS and not CAREERS. So, yeah..... to me that looks and sounded (after a whole conversation and not the tid-bit snipped I posted here) like they were escaping from whatever it was that scared them at home. Rather than dealing with stuff. But that is another argument for another day. It was mainly used to make a point of how in our western society I notice how little our society values many of the services we provide and do as women and how that affects our self esteem and psychy in general.

Oh and Tam, yeah if nurses were valued so much, then why does a nurse get paid so much less money than a plumber does??? If s/he were valued so much then I am sure the work done by a nurse should be valued so much more? Wouldn't you agree??? *Typically* a plumber is a male. Note how many *typically* male jobs (from a historical perspective, that is) are highly paid, and now compare that to the "typically female" (from a historical perspective). And please......then lets talk about VALUEING.

As for men not having a problem with working mums? May be they don't say things to your face, but many a man secretly is annoyed (no not all, but I reckon about a half would) at the fact of all the "consessions" many working women get during work - running off home half way through the day cause kid is sick, getting preferences for holidays so that they can match it up with school holidays, etc.... (I have read many a male, and sometimes female, complaining of such things in forums regarding working women.. so I know its there).

Just thought I should point this out, and why I have my opinions that I do.

[deleted account]

Maybe part of the problem is television. Now, I am not usually the one to blame anything on television, but last night I flipped to Wifeswap. Of course, one mom was a sahm and one was a working mom. And they obviously HAVE to get two women of each extreme, you know? One was a hot mess that did nothing but wait on her son and husband hand and foot, it was a little nauseating. Then, on the opposite end of the spectrum was a working mom who had three careers and expected her husband and children to do everything for HER. This is 'reality' television, so I can assume that these women exist. Another one is Supernanny, c'mon! Working moms and sahm's that suck so bad at one or the other (or both), they have lost the ability to manage their families?? It may be reality television, but it certainly isn't my reality and I doubt it's the reality for 99.9999% of moms out there.

Good, well-balanced moms, working hard on whatever career they have don't make for interesting television, so we will never be inundated with positive examples of each. We know these well-balanced moms exist too, they are in our families and they are our kids' friend's moms and they our in our own social circles. But, they are not in our living room, on every single channel, at all times of the day and night.

I have to believe that this amplifies the stereotypes for both.

[deleted account]

I am not "cutesy-wootsie" either, though I am a sahm. I never could do the baby talk thing, I didn't get all into the mommy & me stuff (though I did try), and I had no idea what to do with my kid all day.

Through extensive research, trial and error, and just plain, old determination and practice, I was able to be a successful sahm. It did not come naturally to me and I feel that I found success in it through treating the way I treated my career in society before J was born because it IS a career. And that is all it is--a job--ONE single facet of my life. Just as working mother's have identities outside their career roles, I have an identity outside of my role as sahm. You (general) are not ONLY a nurse, or a teacher, or an office manager; you are many different things, just as we are many different things outside of being a stay-at-home-mom.

I hate the insinuation (and I know you didn't mean it this way, Sharon, but I do see it in everyday life) that all sahm's are fully immersed in their children's lives, have no lives of their own, and have basically forfeited their previous identity in order to parent their children. I DO have a life apart from my son's, I still have my own interests, hobbies, goals, and accomplishments outside my role as wife and mother.

[deleted account]

"Cutesy-wootsie? Gotta say I find that pretty offensive and a little judgmental. Maybe you don't really mean it that way?"

No, this came out wrong and I do apologize for the way it was worded. I was not the kind of mom to be able to fully immerse myself in baby/toddler life they way I say other moms at library events or mommy & me activities. I never talked "cutsie" to my son either. I most certainly did a lot of fun things with my son when he was smaller, but comparing myself with SAHM, you can easily spot the differences- I wasn't one of them! So I do apologize for the poor wording on my part.

[deleted account]

@Sharon CF -- "I couldn't do the cutesy-wootsie Mommy thing."

Cutesy-wootsie? Gotta say I find that pretty offensive and a little judgmental. Maybe you don't really mean it that way?

Tam - posted on 12/20/2011




I don't feel that being a stay at home mom is undervalued. In my area, it is the norm, actually. And pretty much expected, or at least, if the mom works she is usually only doing it part-time or from home.

Thing is, in my experience there isn't such a thing as 'woman centric' jobs. There are fields dominated by women, like the ones you listed. There are also fields dominated by men, which is the field I work in.I actually find that I am less subject to judgement as a working mom in my field as an aviation electrician than some of my friends who are teachers and nurses. Men don't really do that, nor do the women I have encountered professionally.

I'd say that professions like teaching and nursing are actually quite respected, at least here (I'm in the midwest USA), but no having experience in those professions, I can't really give any hard input. I do know that professions like nursing is really undermanned, so it probably wouldn't get a huge amount of professional support if a nurse decided to halt her career for four or five years.

[deleted account]

"I believe that a lot of women feel like they "have" to go back as they are not cut out to be sahm is because of the lack of respect and VALUE for the *services* they provide for the whole *community, society and country* by sacrificing for a few yrs to raise their small kids. Bah, if women centred jobs and careers (ie, teaching, nursing, carers- old age and disabled, etc) were more respected and valued by our society, we probably would see a lot more women staying at home (at least in the early yrs of a childs life) and not rushing off back to work for "sanity" (yes, there are many women out there who feel incomplete without their chosen career"

And yo uare most certainly entitled to yuor belief. I can only speak on behalf of myself: I LOVE teaching. It's my career. I hate being at home. I couldn't do the cutesy-wootsie Mommy thing. It's just not me. I simply was not as maternal as I expected to be and I was downright miserable and depressed being home. So in a great balance, I took on a part time 3 days a week teaching position. This saved my sanity in so many ways and still allowed me to participate in Mommy/Toddler activities. But in truth, I had nothing in common with SAHMs who simply immersed their lives in their children. It just wasn't for me, but I would never ever judge or or downplay a mother's role in her choice to stay home or work.

Mrs. - posted on 12/19/2011




I agree that it does have a bit to do with what community you live in. When I'm down in the states, in particular, in my parent's small Texas town, if I say I'm generally a SAHM, it seems pretty common place and is not an embarrassment.

Here in Canada, in my big old city, in the area I live in (which is affluent generally, with a smattering of non-rich folks like me who live in the apartment complexes), I tend to be the only mom pushing her own kid in a stroller. In fact, I tend to be the only non-Filipino nanny pushing a stroller. When I do meet another mom, she usually seem unimpressed at my SAHM status.

Now, I do still audition and go to school, but it doesn't seem to matter to some women or people. I think sometimes it is looked at as a waste, that I'm wasting my time and not contributing or worse, that I'm lazy.

Of course, I am a career person as well, it just so happens that, at this point, my husband can make way more money than me and any job I get acting is usually not a stable gig. As well, my health is not always peachy, so I am the obvious choice between the two of us to stay home. It sucks sometimes because I'd much rather be working, but my kid needs me, my husband needs me and what some stranger thinks about me on the street...it is just not as important.

[deleted account]

Maybe it's a factor of having two sets of twins, but I don't think I get any flak from either side. It's pretty much admiration all around. Personally, I struggle with being 100% a SAHM because I start to feel like I'm going crazy. I prefer to work a little bit. I would never want to go back to full time, though; at least not when my kids are the age they are at now (4 under 4). I did the full time gig when my first set of twins were babies and it sucked. I felt like I wasn't really parenting since they were spending most of their waking hours away from me. Honestly, I feel bad for moms who can't to stay home with their babies. I wish the US would get on board with the rest of the civilized world and let moms stay home for the first 1 to 2 years of a baby's life.

Lady Heather - posted on 12/19/2011




It depends on who you talk to. I tell some people that I'm a SAHM and they think it's awesome and I tell others and they clearly think I must be boring and stupid because only boring and stupid people who choose not to work. Haha. Same goes for working mums. Some people think they are awesome and others think they are neglecting their kids or whatever. Mums can't win.

[deleted account]

Like most of you, I do not think one gets any more or less respect than the other, but there will always be those on both sides of the fence who look down on those on the other side.

As a working mom, I struggled to balance it all, even with a live in nanny and full time house keep staff, I was stretched beyond my limit, always conflicted. When I was with my son, I thought about work, at work, I worried about J--even when he was just in the next room.

It took 3 tries for me to get the hang of staying home--it's not easy, it's not boring, and I get plenty of "me time" and adult interaction.

I never felt judged for being a working mom, but that could be because I was so stretched I never had time to speak to a sahm. As a sahm, I do feel judged by working moms on a regular basis. The most common responses "I would be bored out of my skull as a sahm!" and "I need adult interaction and my own time to be me."

Those responses both baffle and irritate me. Why do they think sahm have no adult interaction or identity outside of motherhood? Most volunteer in the community, most take time for themselves every week for friends and hobbies, and well, I just don't understand being bored with your kid. Cleaning is boring, I get that, and few working moms do their own cleaning (in my neck of the woods anyway) but that is just a small, small part of my life--I can get all my cleaning done in less than an hour a day--less than most spend on their daily commute, which imo, is also boring.

Each side has its pros and cons; I know when I worked, I was bored with parts of my life, and I needed more time to be myself--the very same things many working moms fear in staying home.

Tam - posted on 12/19/2011




I've been working since about age 16. I've been a working mom for the entirety of my children's lives. Like Debb, I'm not made to be a stay at home mom. My patience has its limits and I require much more adult interaction than many of my friends who stay at home. In fact, right now I work while my husband stays at home and goes to school at night.

Thing is, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to stay at home full time. The first thought that comest o mind is that it would be SO easy to sleep in later than five, and only have to worry about making lunches and getting the kids to where they need to be on time. And when I take a few days off of work to spend with the family, reality rears its ugly head - as hectic as my day at work can be (I work in the aviation industry) it is nothing compared to kid wrangling. At least, for someone like me. I can deal with broken airplanes, inspections, and running around on a flightline all day long, but when it comes to trying to get two young children focused on what they need to do all day, well, it's just a bit daunting.

That's not to say I can't do it. But I prefer to work. Less stress on everyone, and most importantly, less stress on my kids. By the end of my vacation, pretty much everyone in the household is ready for me to go back to work.

I might be looking at being a sty at home mom soon, and the prospect is actually a little terrifying. I think there are strengths to each side. Luckily, I've never run into someone who actually said something to me about how I must 'not really care' or somesuch. Though I do think that society is a bit behind the times - when a woman is about to have a child, she is often asked if she will leave the workforce to stay at home with the baby. But I have yet to ever hear the same question asked of a man.

[deleted account]

I have always worked, since I was 15 and having my son didn't slow me down any. I am not built to be a SAHM, at all. I would be incredibly unhappy and would therefore make my family unhappy too. Being a SAHM is kind of something that I admire. I have a ton of respect for women that stay at home with their families and IMO, I think that their chosen full time career is much, much HARDER than my own. Why? I get to leave my job every day at 3pm and drive home and be with my family. But, I get a "break" for 8 hours from being all things to all people in my house when I go to work, and then I get a break from being all things to different people at work when I come home. I truly love that moment when I get home and my 12yo son charges at me and tackles me with a huge bear hug and asks me how my day was. My whole day could've been crap, but that moment makes it all turn around.

Once, when my son was in 1st grade a neighbor SAHM was talking to me while we were waiting at the bus stop for our boys and asked me if I would be helping the PTA (she was a very involved PTA member) with the school carnival that was coming up. I just shrugged and told her that unfortunately with my work and school schedule it was unlikely that I would be able to find the time. I will never forget her response, "Hmmm, it seems like a caring mother would MAKE the time..." We never spoke again. I'm not usually super sensitive, but that one stung, A LOT. What can you do though? It's her opinion and she has a right to it, I don't think that all SAHM's share her opinion though, and even if they did, to each their own. I honestly don't think that it's my business to judge any mom based on whether or not she works.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 12/19/2011




I think that both have their "flaws" from an outside perspective. It is not so black and white. I have been both, and I have gotten the "don't you want to stay home with your kid" and right now I am a SAHM and I get the "oh man, I bet you wish you were working". I think it depends on the individual that you are talking to.

Elfrieda - posted on 12/19/2011




It probably depends on where you are. When I lived in the city, I felt extremely sheepish every time I met someone and had to explain that I was at home fulltime. It always felt like that person was trying desperately to get out of conversation with me, because how boring I must be!

Now that we live in a more rural area, it's more normal, and actually me working one day a week when we don't desperately need the money is unusual. (there are lots of women who have part-time work in the evening so that their husbands or moms can take care of the kids then, but that is due to necessity, and I don't think anyone either blames or praises them for it, but probably somebody does.)

Amanda - posted on 12/19/2011




You are kidding right? I get tons of flack for being a SAHM, even my husband gets it for not "frocing" me to work. I think there is a ton of jealousy towards mothers who stay at home and can still afford a decent life.

Sal - posted on 12/19/2011




I think you will find Sahm say the exact opposite that working mums get the respect and we have to fight for respect.... But a mum is a mum is a mum basically we love our kids and do what we have to to get through the day...

Becky - posted on 12/18/2011




I don't really know about society's attitude as a whole. As a SAHM, I really haven't ever been in a situation where I felt I was not respected for that. I've never been a working mom - other than working p/t from home - so I can't speak to whether they feel disrespected or not. I know that I have seen several articles that lean towards placing a higher value on stay at home moms than on working moms. Someone is always trying to say "oh, putting your kids in childcare is no good for them" or, "putting your kids in childcare is better for them". To me, these studies are kind of pointless, because it really comes down to moms doing what is best for their family. Some moms work out of necessity - it's the only way to provide for their kids. Others work because it is best for their mental health and they are a better mom that way than they would be staying at home. Most SAH moms do it because they really want to, but some do it out of obligation or because it actually ends up being more cost efficient than them working. Bottom line though, as long as a mom is making the choice she is making because it is in the best interests of her family, she deserves respect. Both are very difficult and very rewarding.

Tinker1987 - posted on 12/18/2011




I respect any woman that does what she does to make her family happy, but there are always going to be the miserable ones that will judge one another.Some woman feel they have to go back to work for fiancial reasons,so they resent the ones that have the luxary of staying home...and some stay at home moms wish they could work too. I worked fulltime since i was 14,so when i had my baby at 23 i wanted to stay at home and raise him,daycare here is insane for prices so i dont see how i would take home much cash after paying a 800 dollar daycare bill

[deleted account]

I honestly don't think this is an issue of a SAHM receiving more or less respect than a working mom. I respect a SAHM for the simple reason that it's a job I personally could never do! I'm a career person, but that does not mean I have more respect because of my status. It just works best for my family.

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