Homing in on motherhood

Homing in on motherhood – stay-at-home mothers

For the first time since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping records in 1948, the percentage of women in the work force has dropped, due primarily to mothers choosing to stay home with their children. According to the US Department of Agriculture, only 31 percent of mothers with babies, and 18 percent of mothers with two or more children, are working full-time. The majority of those with children under age five are staying at home or working part-time. Consumerism and workaholism are out, say social analysts; downshifting and cocooning are in. (Fortune, 10 Feb 1992, pp. 101-104)

Staying home has become a major national trend, according to Darcie Sanders and Martha M. Bullen, coauthors of the book Staying Home: From Full-Time Professional to Full-Time Parent (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1992). The two women, who conducted the first national survey of professionals turned at-home mothers, found that the vast majority of women in this growing segment of the population are jumping off the treadmill. More than half made the decision before giving birth; the others discovered such a “strong emotional attachment” to their children that they were unable to leave them. Of the 600 women surveyed, 97 percent say they are happy with their choice and would do it again. Most plan to return to the work force after their children enter school. (Staying Home)

Will this trend impact on the overall hiring of women? “Statistically,” state the authors, “women are still a better employment risk than men….Recent studies indicate that women actually miss fewer days of work and change or leave jobs less frequently than men do.” (Good Housekeeping, Aug 1992)

As for the sizable loss in income, families agree it’s worth it. For one thing, the dollars earned cannot take the place of the deep-rooted identity and sense of responsibility children gain in the full-time presence of a parent. Nor can it take the place of the knowledge to be learned. As Dr. Ken Magrid and Carole A. McKelvey explain in their book High Risk: Children without a Conscience (Delta, CO: M & M Publishing Company, 1985, p. 71): “Human beings learn along a logarithmic curve. It is estimated that half our life’s knowledge is locked in during the first year. During the second year, we learn half as much….”

Then, too, the dollars earned via two-parent incomes hardly represent a pot of gold. A study conducted by the Congressional Joint Economic Committee reveals that despite the greater number of employed mothers, dual-income families generated only 8 percent more money in 1989 than they did in 1979. The growth rate was twice that in the 1970s and four times greater in the 1960s. All the gains of the 1980s stemmed from increased income earned by women, and most of the gains came from more hours worked rather than higher wages earned. (Youth Law News, May/June 1992, p. 15)

Although a homemaker, by current estimates, is valued at an invisible $52,000, many back-to-homers are in need of more visible contributions, report Sanders and Bullen, and are seeking ways to generate money “not at the expense of their families.” Freelance work, consulting positions, and home-business enterprises head the list of creative endeavors. Even accounting for the added wages, a full 25 percent of women surveyed are raising a family on a household income of $30,000 or less. (The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Aug 1992, p. 14)

And while home businesses are growing in number, so, too, are work-at-home scams. Not all opportunities are as golden as they sound, cautions Barbara Brabec, author of Homemade Money: Your Homebased Business Success Guide (Betterway, 1992). The most common frauds include envelope stuffing and circular mailings, numerous home sewing and craft assembly projects, chain letters (Turn these over to your local postmaster–they’re illegal!), and opportunity ads. Copies of Brabec’s book as well as her free Home Business Success Catalog are available from The National Home Business Network, PO Box 2137, Naperville, FL 60567.

COPYRIGHT 1993 Mothering Magazine

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