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Stay-At-Home Motherhood Has Been Made Economically Impossible For Many

By Simone Hanna··  7 min read
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Stay-At-Home Motherhood Has Been Made Economically Impossible

Has life just gotten more expensive? Even working full-time, many simply don’t have the income to have the lives they desire. This can be said especially for those who wish to live more traditional lifestyles.

Back in the 1960s, known more widely as an era of mass social change across the nation, family life was very different from how we live today – but not for the negative reasons some may view it.

Family life was much simpler to attain. In fact, it was the norm for nearly every household, even for those you’d (today) assume couldn’t afford it. People earned less but were able to afford more. In 1960s London, for example, an accounts clerk making the 2016 equivalent of £25,000 could afford a home, a car, a tv, and for his wife to stay home with the children. Someone making the same £25,000 in 2016 could afford neither a car nor their own living space, let alone children.

Even in the 1950s, minimum wage workers in America could pay a month’s rent for less than a week and a half of full-time work. A few decades ago, the wage of one man was enough to feed a whole family, allowing many wives to remain at home, performing house duties and full-time nurture of their young ones. Today, however, both men and women share the same burden of money-making duties – and with much more difficulty. 

Student Loans Killed the American Dream for Millions

An increasing number of young Americans are choosing to take out massive student loans, under the promise that it will result in higher wages after their degree. The issue? This simply isn't bearing out. Not only are bachelor's degrees failing to deliver on their promise of higher wages, but now an increasing number of young people are being saddled very early with debilitating loan debt.

Nearly two-thirds of all college graduates under 25 have debt once they graduate, an average of $28,650 per student. The worst part is that unlike other debts, graduates who don't see the promised wage increase or can't get the job their college supposedly prepared them for have little recourse if they can't afford to pay off their loans. Government-guaranteed loans are nearly impossible to escape, even if you declare bankruptcy. So instead of spending their 20s building up savings and personal capital, many young people are finding their wages sucked away by ever-present loan payments.

Women in the Workplace

With women in the workplace, men have had no option but to have their wages lowered. With so many women working full-time, the supply of skilled, educated workers has swelled. This means that competition for jobs is on the side of workers, not employers, allowing businesses to get away with lower wages across the board.

That’s not to plaster and pile on all the negatives onto women — if women want to work and be financially independent then that’s their own choice. Unfortunately, it comes with cutting more women out of the opportunity to stay at home, a great pity for those who naturally feel drawn to the idea of nurturing children early on or living more (seemingly) simplistic lives. 

Modern working women are still financially struggling due to the high cost of childcare.

In January 2020, pre-pandemic, Time Magazine named women “the majority of the US workforce” but further stated that modern women were financially struggling and alluded to the high cost of childcare as a contribution to this. With many couples now being “dual-earners,” both partners are expected to make up the money for their children, leaving many children much lonelier in their home lives. 

Women who wish to be homemakers often ask where the logic is in a woman slaving away at work only to pay for daycare, and it’s one of the sad realities of modern-day parenting – women are home much less than they were in other eras, leaving many children lacking the motherly nurturing they’re biologically inclined to crave. 

So Is “Gold Digging” Inevitable for the Homemaker?

We’ve all heard the term “gold digger.” Usually used as an insult, gold-digging is often done by the materialistic types we see plastered on television and media pages for laughs. Often with men double their age and very little in common, gold-digging is the easiest way to a life of luxury for those women who, one: don’t have it naturally, or two: don’t wish to work for it. 

And it’s their own lives, their own choice, and it’s not like both parties don’t make some gain from it – so no judgment there — but what about those who feel marrying a man of wealth is the only way to achieve something deeper, something that was more natural and more easily attained in another age?

Today, families will work their skin and bones off to provide for their children, often putting off many from having children, or leaving others feeling like family life is inaccessible. We complain that women are gold-diggers today, but if women don’t date a man who can take care of them financially then many of them can’t be stay-at-home mothers.

If women don’t date a wealthy man then many of them can’t be stay-at-home mothers.

Some may argue couples should save money of their own, then wait until they’re older and more stable to have children, but this generally makes things more difficult as women are less fertile with age. Additionally, those whose ideal life consists of staying at home and looking for children often want more than one child, and that means starting to have children earlier, not later.

I’ve often asked whether modern love is struggling against materialism, but in some cases, I wonder whether it’s forced to. Can we blame women for wanting the financial means to become homemakers? If a woman craves traditional family life today, she must be wealthy enough to afford it – which means picking romantic interests who are financially stable. 

Feminism and Family Life

For me and many like-minded women, the worst part is that numerous modern-day feminists expect us to see them as our “saviors.” But women who crave something biologically ingrained in them (the need to nurture and raise children) have been set back by third-wave feminism, especially those who are less wealthy. Those who can’t afford it simply don’t have the privilege of what should be standard living. 

Today, stay-at-home mothers are looked down on more than ever before. Success in the modern day is working and being independent, and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting this, feminism’s part in setting back motherhood is undeniable. Current work/home life expectations make mothers only spending quality time with their children on the weekends a normality. 

Women who desire to nurture and raise children have been set back by feminism.

Moreover, the idea of a woman financially depending on her husband has become more scrutinized and condemned with time. Even when a woman finds someone to support her and her family, there’s this constant dread of being branded “lazy” by those who value careers over stay-at-home motherhood. 

Closing Thoughts

It’s incredibly saddening that the option for mothers to stay home and nurture their children is not available to regular, working people in the same way it was before. Even for the middle/metropolitan classes, the ability to live this lifestyle is much more limited than it was in past generations. 

The modern age has made the life that many women (some, secretly) crave so much harder to attain. The nature of family life, and how society views it, has changed significantly over the last century. Traditional family life is no longer a common freedom, but a privilege. 

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