Raising Parents: Teaching Our Kids that Parenthood Is a Noble Career
By Theresa Novak on March 19, 2013
The MONEY Question
The real question is: Will they be able to afford to stay home and raise a family? On the one hand, I want to prepare them that they may not be able to afford to stay home. On the other hand, I have observed several women I know who feel they have to work. Now, really, I don't judge them, they can live however they want and I will still love them, but I often wonder if they gave up their designer clothes and weekly shopping trips, their fancy vacations and their fancy SUVs, their gym memberships and mani/pedis, eating out several nights a week and $300 haircuts, how much money would they save and would they then be able to stay home? As a society, we have started to look at spa days and fancy vacations, heated leather seats and designer clothes as necessities rather than luxuries. At what expense?
When women routinely stayed home and raised families, they didn't expect to wear designer clothes and Italian pumps (unless they were socialites), their weekly shopping trip was to the grocery store (or maybe they went daily), their family may have had one car, their friends gave each other home permanents and they didn't need a gym membership after running around after a toddler all day, and who would pay for a manicure when you had dishpan hands or who needed to eat out when you were home all day and could cook just as good as any restaurant? Families stayed together, divorce was less common, there was not as much teen pregnancy, you didn't hear of school shootings or kids dying on playgrounds from being bullied. I know, some people are going to say that things were hidden behind closed doors but those things are probably still hidden in today's society... And sure, some women were unhappy, but don't fool yourself, in today's society some moms are completely stressed and unhappy working full-time, even if they have recognition and autonomy and all that good stuff... they wish they could be home smelling their babies' heads and sitting around the table talking about their kids' day.
So, how do you do this? What do you tell your girls?
I am still not sure, to be honest. Jason works very hard for our family and we sacrifice fancy vacations and designer clothes and heated leather seats so that I can stay home with our girls because that is important to us. My girls have grown up not expecting expensive shoes and clothes and weekly wardrobe updates, so maybe they will be okay with making those sacrifices when they raise their own children. I hope their husbands can earn enough that they at least have a choice to stay home. But, at the same time, I want to encourage them to pursue their interests and think about a career to fall back on... for when their kids grow up... just to have something to brainstorm and dream about.
I think all children, boys and girls, those with big career aspirations and those who want to be stay at home parents, should be encouraged to:
- help clean the home and do projects with the family around the home
- do laundry
- prepare meals
- learn to budget money
- understand sacrifices and priorities, the difference between necessity and luxury
- be encouraged to pursue their interests
- have opportunities for interest-led, self-directed learning
- as they get older, be part of conversations regarding issues in our society and how we can change things/make things better
I think as a society we need to change how we view parenthood. One parent has to work and in my opinion, one parent has to be willing and able to be completely committed to their career and whatever their career entails -- long hours, business trips, meetings at crazy hours, etc. In my opinion, in order for one parent to be able to devote themselves to a career, the other parent needs to be able to be there for the kids all the time, to listen to the kids, to prepare meals, to drive them to lessons, to give them a hug, whatever their kid requires; the kids need to know they can count on that one parent consistently.
My Grandpa had an expression, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well." Why does that not apply to parenthood anymore? Why not raise our kids to believe that being a parent and doing it well is a noble career choice?