CNN/Dual careers

Debra M. McDonough donough at
Mon Jun 19 17:58:24 EST 2000

Paul S. Brookes wrote:
>A fact worth considering is that with 
>the lack of reasonably priced childcare, 
>the only way most families can survive 
>is to have one parent work and the other 
>stay at home.

I don't really know about that.  In this market, child-care is ~$5,000 per
year per kid.  Since the first $5,000 can be paid pre-tax, it's closer to
$3,500 for the first one.  Most professional women make significantly more
than that.  The news magazines that run the math for families usually use
mothers working minimum wage jobs when they "prove" that dual income
families don't come out ahead.  I remember one that even assumed that the
mother would do all the hair cuts and that the family would never go out
to dinner again if she could only stay at home.  Not exactly unbiased news
reporting. . .

Now, I have hit societal pressures to stay home - that arguement about it
being better for the kids gets me from all sides.  Haven't really found it
to be true.  It's been extremely valuable for me to have another adult who
knows my kids really well.  Especially one that also knows a bunch of
other little kids well enough to keep us all in perspective. . .  It's
also refreshing for me to have the mental challange and regular contact
with adults who don't want to talk about my kids that my job supplies.
Makes the kids that much more fascinating when we are together.  I 
regularly get comments from the family doctor and strangers in a store
as to how calm and effective I am in response to the routine misbehaviors
of the kids, but I'm as irritated as the next parent when I spend a week
alone with them because the sitter went on vacation right when my
husband's code was to ship. I believe quite firmly that good child care
can be of very real benefit to the child and parent alike.  

But any pressure that I face isn't equal opportunity pressure.  My husband
does occasionally get comments about how nice it would be if I could stay
home with the kids.  He's never gotten a comment about how nice it would
be if he could stay home with the kids.  In fact, the one stay-at-home
dad I know gets a lot of pressure to go back to work.  From the some
of the same danged people who've suggested that I should stay home.  Folks
seem to assume that he's just too lazy to get a "real" job. . .

So, while economics may certainly play a role in the phenomenon, I find
that it's typically overrated.  Keeps on looking like more of a cultural
issue to me. 


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