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The Position of Women and SAHPs in 2019

Jambalaya

Ideal_Rock
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It's 2019, we've had feminism for fifty-odd years, and STILL life just isn't working for too many women and other SAH givers of childcare. I am SO fed up with it. (I said "women" and not "mothers" because the situation also affects women who aren't mothers, due to the obstacles in their way. Those obstacles might be factors in planning their lives and families.)

I've been watching from the sidelines friends with children, some of whom had unexpected midlife divorces. It's made me decide that one of the biggest obstacles facing mothers and other SAH caregivers today is the woeful lack of decent, safe, affordable childcare. This lack has cornered many of my friends and forced them to stay at home, because the cost of quality childcare for two children well outweighs their salary, or takes most of it. (If parents want to stay at home, that's great, but I'm talking about those who would rather not.)

It is terrible, and completely unfair, that those women/caregivers who don't want to stay home are effectively coerced into giving up treasured independence and careers/jobs that they sacrificed for, in terms of paying for an education. I've looked at childcare costs out of curiosity, wondering what my life would have been like if my ex and I had had kids, and I was appalled. In some cities and metro areas, it's 5k a month for two children. Even if someone can afford that, for many, the huge bill would preclude much saving for college or retirement.

People are protesting for climate change and MeToo, but I think there should also be huge protests against this lack of quality affordable childcare. It's the biggest obstacle we have to both parents in a family remaining economically independent.

We have a society where everything is horribly expensive, from medical care to education, but then we make it impossible for both parents to work, in too many cases. Women, especially, are too often still in a position where they must sacrifice their self-sufficiency for the good of the family, which a person might be fine with if they have kind and faithful spouse. But what if their spouse is not always so kind, or so faithful? I have zero issues with SAHPs (stay-at-home parents.) What I'm talking about is the lack of choice resulting from the horrendous cost of childcare.

This cost has made too many SAHPs dependent on their spouses' salaries when they might not be comfortable with that. If one trusts one's spouse and is fine with the one income, that's great. But for spouses who don't want to put all their financial eggs into their spouse's basket, the lack of quality affordable childcare is a terrible obstacle to remaining economically independent after having a family.

And this, together with the high rate of relationship/marital breakdown, means that too many SAH parents end up in a real bind.

This is the situation in 2019 for too many:

Both parents have to work because of the spiraling cost of living.
Both parents cannot work due to the appalling cost of good childcare.
One parent gives up their career, because working doesn't make sense, due to that cost.
The parent who gave up their career is now dependent on their spouse, while being more in peril of relationship breakdown than any previous generation.

Can we really say we've moved on much since the Fifties? At least SAHPs had much more marriage security back then. I know divorces happened, but at nothing like the rate that they happen now. Not saying we should go back to that, I'm saying that in the ways decribed above, it seems SAHPs today have worse choices than Fifties housewives. Which is terrible!

And this trap is all because of the lack of quality affordable childcare. It makes me SO mad that people - disproportionately women - are in this position in 2019.

Decades of feminism, and still these are the choices for one parent out of the two, because of sky-high childcare costs.

I'm convinced that women and other caregivers of children have no chance of real opportunity-and-economic parity with their higher-earning partners until we have a real solution to the issue of childcare costs. And I am so, so upset that the position of one person (often the woman) in a partnership remains this unequal in 2019.
 

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partgypsy

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I think things are more complicated, society-wise, than "childcare is expensive." Many cultures and in fact even in the US we had extended family where grandparents, aunts, even older siblings did much of the childcare. We have a culture where kids are not supposed to be unattended any second of the day (versus in the 70's latchkey etc kids). Yes childcare is expensive, as it should be considered what you are paying for. The solution isn't to make childcare cheaper. Though it would be great if more workplaces provided daycare). There are other things that help as well, Grandparents or extended family. Live in less expensive areas. Have fewer kids. It's the saying you can have anything but you can't have everything. If we are going to start anywhere, why not have every mother get 8, 10 weeks of paid maternity leave when giving birth? That's a better place to start.
 

telephone89

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Alberta has $25/day childcare. That comes out to less than $550/month for 1 kid, which is extremely affordable for most families. I believe it's govt subsidized, and there are limited spaces, but it's an amazing first step. IMO working parents greatly contribute to the economy, and having skilled workers leaving their jobs because they can't afford childcare is bad for the company, the industry and the state/province. These are people who've spent thousands (likely more) on degrees and dedicated years to their career, only to end because of the breakeven with childcare costs.
 

StephanieLynn

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What's even more sad, in most childcare facilities the workers are not paid well. So on one hand you have extremely high costs for childcare with inexperienced and/or underpaid employees. What a total racket. Granted there are very good high quality daycares, DH's cousin works for one and for full time daycare for an infant the rate is over $2,000 a month. A lot of Yale professors enroll their children there to give you an idea of how that compares to other places in our state.

Back in 2007 when our first son was born I looked into daycare even though I had every intention of staying home. The rate for a newborn was $1200 a month, at that time I would have brought home $800 had we put him in daycare, it wasn't worth it for us.
 

Jambalaya

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I think things are more complicated, society-wise, than "childcare is expensive." Many cultures and in fact even in the US we had extended family where grandparents, aunts, even older siblings did much of the childcare. We have a culture where kids are not supposed to be unattended any second of the day (versus in the 70's latchkey etc kids). Yes childcare is expensive, as it should be considered what you are paying for. The solution isn't to make childcare cheaper. Though it would be great if more workplaces provided daycare). There are other things that help as well, Grandparents or extended family. Live in less expensive areas. Have fewer kids. It's the saying you can have anything but you can't have everything. If we are going to start anywhere, why not have every mother get 8, 10 weeks of paid maternity leave when giving birth? That's a better place to start.
There are too many issues to encapsulate in one post, but I just want to say that the Quebec model wasn't about making childcare itself cheaper - it was about subsidizing the cost of providing that quality care. Critics said that the program would only pay for 40% of its costs in increased tax revenue, but in fact, it paid for more than 100%, because so many young mothers went back to work. So the government was making a profit.

(There were some downsides to the model, the most notable one being that more people wanted to use it than there were spaces available. The government plugged this gap by contracting private daycare centers, as opposed to the centers run by the government. The quality at those private centers was significantly poorer as they weren't under the same stringent regulations. But that's another story.)

Regarding grandparents helping, that's OK if you have the right set of circumstances: The grandparents are healthy enough to help, willing to help, live nearby, and are respectful and non-intrusive enough that their kids feel comfortable having them so closely involved in their lives.

About having fewer kids, the childcare costs in many areas are prohibitive for just two. And when kids were unattended in the 70s, there weren't things to contend with like unsupervised internet use like now, plus there were fewer drugs and more neighbors around who were at home, if any kid had a disaster.

I agree about the paid maternity benefit.

This country wants people to produce workers but it doesn't want to pay anything toward the raising of them.
 
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Jambalaya

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Alberta has $25/day childcare. That comes out to less than $550/month for 1 kid, which is extremely affordable for most families. I believe it's govt subsidized, and there are limited spaces, but it's an amazing first step. IMO working parents greatly contribute to the economy, and having skilled workers leaving their jobs because they can't afford childcare is bad for the company, the industry and the state/province. These are people who've spent thousands (likely more) on degrees and dedicated years to their career, only to end because of the breakeven with childcare costs.
Yup, Telephone, that's exactly what I mean. How galling to pay thousands for your education, and dedicate years to your career, to find you can't afford to carry on if you want a family. This is where we are in 2019.
 

Jambalaya

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What's even more sad, in most childcare facilities the workers are not paid well. So on one hand you have extremely high costs for childcare with inexperienced and/or underpaid employees. What a total racket. Granted there are very good high quality daycares, DH's cousin works for one and for full time daycare for an infant the rate is over $2,000 a month. A lot of Yale professors enroll their children there to give you an idea of how that compares to other places in our state.

Back in 2007 when our first son was born I looked into daycare even though I had every intention of staying home. The rate for a newborn was $1200 a month, at that time I would have brought home $800 had we put him in daycare, it wasn't worth it for us.
The combo of high cost/low-quality care is awful. And yes, the rate of over 2k a month for one doesn't surprise me. It's much the same in my nearest large city. Can you imagine the cost of sending two??

I understand why you made the decision you did. Not only would you bring home $800, you'd miss out on his early years without gaining any real economic benefit for your family. If working enabled you to squirrel away college and retirement money as well as pay for childcare, there'd at least have been a clear benefit to working and missing out on time with him. If I'd had kids, I'd have had those exact same choices. And it makes me mad. There should be huge-scale protests about the prohibitive cost of childcare, like there are for MeToo and climate change.
 
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Jambalaya

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You'd have thought that quality affordable childcare would be a priority for society. The fact that it isn't makes me question how much we are really invested in creating the best society we can, one which fosters the choices, nurture, and development of everyone, whether they are adults or children. With the current system, the stay-at-home parent sacrifices a huge amount, which can backfire on them if the family breaks up. But when childcare is poor quality, children suffer.

We need a system which works for everyone.
 

kipari

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I second @partgypsy on the " it's more complicated part". Yes, maternity leave is a human right. I bet if any man in the world had to deal with post partem pain and breast feeding, we'd had that 150 years ago...

I also think that affordable childcare is not the only part in this equation. I know many women who stopped working because of the "all or nothing" attitude of many workplaces. If I have to physically be at work ten hours, my kids are in daycare TWELVE HOURS. Have you spent some time in an excellent crèche /daycare? I have. It's noisy and busy. It's stimulating, but WORK for babies /toddlers /kids. For my son it was too much to be there for 12 hrs at under 1y/o.
Flexible working hours and an HR headcount that takes into account the work / project that has to be accomplished rather than a contract with rigid hours is equally as important as the childcare. Where I'm living now and where I used to live this was even more problematic than the childcare. I constantly had important meetings at 6pm,.. yes, people were available at other times but it's a way to say : look I am so busy, we need to get together super late. Just because it's not in the culture to take into account that it's equally important to care for your child. Obviously a company doesn't care, but as long as you do an excellent job, it's a small thing that costs nothing. Nowadays many people CAN work from anywhere and can get their projects done while maintaining a certain flexibility. Yet the better jobs are often still given to people who are willing to commit to certain working hours on site. Many young moms aren't even considered for those jobs. This is even harder to change than childcare infrastructures.
 

Jambalaya

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I second @partgypsy on the " it's more complicated part". Yes, maternity leave is a human right. I bet if any man in the world had to deal with post partem pain and breast feeding, we'd had that 150 years ago...

I also think that affordable childcare is not the only part in this equation. I know many women who stopped working because of the "all or nothing" attitude of many workplaces. If I have to physically be at work ten hours, my kids are in daycare TWELVE HOURS. Have you spent some time in an excellent crèche /daycare? I have. It's noisy and busy. It's stimulating, but WORK for babies /toddlers /kids. For my son it was too much to be there for 12 hrs at under 1y/o.
Flexible working hours and an HR headcount that takes into account the work / project that has to be accomplished rather than a contract with rigid hours is equally as important as the childcare. Where I'm living now and where I used to live this was even more problematic than the childcare. I constantly had important meetings at 6pm,.. yes, people were available at other times but it's a way to say : look I am so busy, we need to get together super late. Just because it's not in the culture to take into account that it's equally important to care for your child. Obviously a company doesn't care, but as long as you do an excellent job, it's a small thing that costs nothing. Nowadays many people CAN work from anywhere and can get their projects done while maintaining a certain flexibility. Yet the better jobs are often still given to people who are willing to commit to certain working hours on site. Many young moms aren't even considered for those jobs. This is even harder to change than childcare infrastructures.


I agree with all this.

This is a complex subject with many variables and nuances, for sure. But the cost of quality childcare is an enormous challenge to families today. much more of a challenge than it should be. In 28 states, daycare for one child costs more than sending an 18-year-old to college!

Changing attitudes like the ones you describe above is hard, but if we lived in a society that valued equal opportunities for all (for all adults and all children), attitudes would stand a better chance of changing. Scandinavia has the most family-friendly policies in the world and those countries are among the world's most egalitarian on a number of other measures.

The attitudes that exist, plus the lack of affordable childcare, don't indicate that we value the contributions of working mothers very highly, nor the rights of small children to the best start in life, and this makes me sad.
 

Snowdrop13

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Well, you (I mean the US) would need to spend A LOT of money to achieve any of these ideals and from what I read on here that would not be popular with the current powers that be- inevitably more tax money would be needed to say nothing of the requirements for businesses. I’m just wondering how you would change the system to make it happen?
 

Jambalaya

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Good question, Snowdrop! For a start, I wouldn't have spent so much public money on war.

I'm not sure that tax money would be needed except at the start, looking at how it worked out for Quebec.The program was so popular, it recouped its costs in tax revenue generated from all the parents re-entering the workforce, and the government even started making a profit! The bottom line is that it's good for society to have more workers rather than fewer, and many SAHPs entered the workforce after Quebec started its program. In one area, fertility even increased! I have many friends who wanted more children than they have, but simply couldn't afford it.

The Quebec model shows that when you make quality childcare affordable, you have greater participation in the workforce and you might well end up with more children! Since we need the population to be at replacement level in order to support older generation, the Quebec model - or something similar - seems a good idea. Over-subscription lowered quality in some instances, where the government had to contract with subpar care centers, but there are bound to be growing pains.

I just wish that U.S. parents weren't faced with such a dismal set of choices once they become parents.Workforce participation of women increased a lot in the Seventies and Eighties but has declined steadily in the last twenty years.

It's amazing to me that young women are not protesting this issue of affordable childcare. The Quebec model has been taken up by a number of countries. It's bad that we're not even trying to work something out.
 

yssie

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I hope any girls I have decide to pursue their own careers even if they - as individuals or couples - take a monetary loss balanced with childcare.

Your salary when you're 25-35 isn't what it could be when you're 40+. And when you leave the workforce for any extended time (I'd consider this to be a year or more) - you aren't giving up just your current salary - you're giving up promotion potential that you'd have benefitted from for the rest of your life. That 3% raise you missed, compounded over the next 30 or so years, translates into a lot of lost income.

My advice to my girls will be to always make sure they're fiscally independent, and IMO this means seeing those critical early career years through as best they can. The reality is that no 0-3 year old child will ever remember mum or dad being home all day.
 

Jambalaya

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Daisys and Diamonds, do I take it that you're Canadian, from what you said above?

The Quebec program ended up not only paying for itself in the generation of tax revenue from all the SAHPs going back to work, the government ended up making a profit! So, far from taxes needing to subsidize the program, the program generated both tax revenue AND a profit.

But you would probably need government funds to set up the program, of course. And I think over-subscription would probably be a huge problem at first.

Personally, I think that taxes could be used to pay childcare workers more than they currently earn. Yes, that would need to come out of taxes. But what society doesn't want the best for its children? Especially as we now know that the first five years of a child's life are crucial for their development.
 

Jambalaya

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I hope any girls I have decide to pursue their own careers even if they - as individuals or couples - take a monetary loss balanced with childcare.

Your salary when you're 25-35 isn't what it could be when you're 40+. And when you leave the workforce for any extended time (I'd consider this to be a year or more) - you aren't giving up just your current salary - you're giving up the promotion potential that you'd have benefitted from for the rest of your life. That 3% raise you missed, compounded over the next 30 or so years, translates into a lot of income.

My advice to my girls will be to always make sure they're fiscally independent, and IMO this means seeing those critical early career years through as best they can. The reality is that no 0-3 year old child will ever remember mum or dad being home all day.
I agree completely, Yssie. But childcare expenses are such that many couples can't realistically afford quality daycare for one child, never mind two. In 28 states, care for one is more than sending a child to college, except that parents haven't had time to save up. I'm guessing that childcare costs aren't tax-deductible, either.

You should advise your daughters to marry Canadians!
 

StephanieLynn

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While it's true that young children may not necessarily remember a parent being home all day the reality is some parents just do not have access for whatever reason to high quality childcare. There is surely a marked difference with children who have been with parents during this early years who have been attentive and responsive to their needs as opposed to being in a daycare with high rate of turnover, overworked and underpaid employees.

Of course there is also the immense impact this has on not only future earnings but also being able to find employment again when re-entering the workforce as well as retirement.
 

Dancing Fire

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Regarding grandparents helping, that's OK if you have the right set of circumstances: The grandparents are healthy enough to help, willing to help, live nearby, and are respectful and non-intrusive enough that their kids feel comfortable having them so closely involved in their lives.
Yup, Now my wife's full time job is babysitting our grandkids since she retired 3 yrs ago. She have to wake up earlier now then when she was working full time. :lol:
 

Gussie

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Women make decisions for all sorts of reasons. Priorities often change after having children, money just being one of them.
 

GliderPoss

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I agree this is a complex matter but definitely worth being angry over. Affordable QUALITY childcare would make the world of difference to many women's lives! I honestly cannot believe the outcry over climate change yet suddenly no one seems to give a sh*t about other current massive issues such as:
  • POVERTY & HOMELESSNESS & FAMINE
  • RUBBISH / POLLUTION & DEFORESTATION
Getting back to OP's post - I think other factors such as location make a huge difference - my sister lives in Sydney, she has 2 kids. There are so few childcare places within cooee of her house that she had to put them on a enrollment list literally the day they were born...:roll:to ensure they can take her son 1 year later. Spaces available are limited, factoring in long traffic commutes and also struggling to get to a job on time (and look professional blah blah blah) - it all adds up as overwhelming the new mothers! :errrr: I know it has definitely been easier for my other sisters living in rural towns, although there are often less job opportunities there.
 

smitcompton

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Hi,
Jambalya has brought up a serious problem for women. It is really only a part of a symptom of what has happened in our society. Fundamentally, costs have risen, some excessively, while incomes have not kept pace. And the middleclass has suffered the most, almost disappearing.

Historically, Corporations and Gov't have worked to improve work conditions, each in their own way. Health Ins used to be free through your employer. Companies used to pay for schooling as McDonalds tells us they do. The VA pays for veterans schooling and housing. Twenty Five yrs ago, a Corp--nationally known, set up a daycare at the company offices for moms that worked there. I knew a woman who worked there(tech job). She said it was great. I thought that was the best idea yet, a perk for employees.

The 1980's changed American Capitalism for the worst. The Carl Icanns of the world came and bought companies, sold them at enormous profit and destroyed many companies that took care of their employees. They cut costs, laid off workers, fought unions and the bottom line became the most important thing in our society. MONEY.

The Gov't can't supply all society's needs. I just wrote to a friend that perhaps we do have to bring back the Unions. I do include both men and women in my discussion. If they are part of the middleclass they have also suffered, thus we need two persons working in the household. If you are rich this does not effect you., but as I said in a recent post women are no longer free to choose whether to work or not work.

For women who don't have children now, most will not make the statement in the future that women should sacrifice their time with their babies because they may forego some future promotion. When you become a mother the child is first, and the chances are you will not want to go back to work so soon.==Thus a parental leave is really necessary.

Employee need to get more from Corporations who have taken the money that belongs to the employee. Executives do not deserve the money they get. I saw someone this morning explain that Corps have both shareholders and Stakeholder. Both have to be attended to.

Annette

I am a capitalist--not a socalist
 

bludiva

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Hi,
Jambalya has brought up a serious problem for women. It is really only a part of a symptom of what has happened in our society. Fundamentally, costs have risen, some excessively, while incomes have not kept pace. And the middleclass has suffered the most, almost disappearing.

Historically, Corporations and Gov't have worked to improve work conditions, each in their own way. Health Ins used to be free through your employer. Companies used to pay for schooling as McDonalds tells us they do. The VA pays for veterans schooling and housing. Twenty Five yrs ago, a Corp--nationally known, set up a daycare at the company offices for moms that worked there. I knew a woman who worked there(tech job). She said it was great. I thought that was the best idea yet, a perk for employees.

The 1980's changed American Capitalism for the worst. The Carl Icanns of the world came and bought companies, sold them at enormous profit and destroyed many companies that took care of their employees. They cut costs, laid off workers, fought unions and the bottom line became the most important thing in our society. MONEY.

The Gov't can't supply all society's needs. I just wrote to a friend that perhaps we do have to bring back the Unions. I do include both men and women in my discussion. If they are part of the middleclass they have also suffered, thus we need two persons working in the household. If you are rich this does not effect you., but as I said in a recent post women are no longer free to choose whether to work or not work.

For women who don't have children now, most will not make the statement in the future that women should sacrifice their time with their babies because they may forego some future promotion. When you become a mother the child is first, and the chances are you will not want to go back to work so soon.==Thus a parental leave is really necessary.

Employee need to get more from Corporations who have taken the money that belongs to the employee. Executives do not deserve the money they get. I saw someone this morning explain that Corps have both shareholders and Stakeholder. Both have to be attended to.

Annette

I am a capitalist--not a socalist
Agreed. Capitalism isn't working properly when only a small slice of the poulation reaps the bulk of the benefits. I'd argue many self-professed capitalists aren't....squashing unions, lobbying, price collusion, etc. aren't tactics of free amd fair capitalism.
 

arkieb1

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America is complex, it's not just childcare that is failing you have an inadequate welfare system, and minimum wages that are far too low to support people that do work. The people that tend to work several low earning part time jobs and take care of children (often on their own) do tend to be women..... So it isn't just SAHM that cannot afford to live but women that work and take care of kids earn less, tend to be in lower paid jobs and then have to find childcare. The whole system is failing women and families where there is a single parent in general.
 
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