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Women & Money: Do More Women Want to Stay Home Now?

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Mom and Daughter 2“Despite the fact that there are more young women in graduate and undergraduate programs, the young bride is willing to give up her career for marriage and kids,” Susan Shapiro Barash says.

Barash teaches gender studies at Marymount Manhattan College, and is well known expert on gender. Her most recent book is The Nine Phases of Marriage: How to Make It, Break It, Keep It. She points out that, for some women, the goal isn’t to advance their careers, but rather to to stay home. “They’re the children of Boomers. They have watched their mothers get divorced and hit glass ceilings,” Barash said.

Editor’s Note: This is part one of our week-long series Women & Money – focusing on the challenges women face today. Sheryl Sandberg’s book,Lean In, and her subsequent media promotion blitz have inspired us to create this week’s series and we hope you’ll join us in discussing these important issues.

Instead, the new goal for the young, educated, and professional woman is to put the career on hold to have a family. While some young professionals might be interested in doing things more like their grandmothers than their mothers, though, Barash points out that it’s more of a choice: “The young career woman is making a choice. It’s a conscious decision, not a role put on them.”

Barash’s observations are borne out, at least to some degree, by a recent survey cosponsored by ForbesWoman and TheBump.com. After surveying 1,000 women in the United States, the two entities found that 84% of working women aspire to stay home, and now consider staying home a luxury. That’s a far cry from the ideals of the last generation, which saw a push for more women in the workplace.

Not only that, but the survey found that 1/3 of the women who took the survey actually resent their partners sometimes because they aren’t making enough for them to feel as though staying home is economically viable. Even though more than 10% of stay-at-homes regret deciding to give up their careers, it appears that a larger percentage of women wish they could stay home.

New Respect for Those Who Choose to Stay Home

“Finances look a little more traditional for Millennials,” Barash says. Even though many Millennials are putting off marriage until they are older, once the decision to start a family is made, things might change. “More young women are saying, ‘You make the money, and I’ll stay home,’” Barash says.

But, since it’s a decision made by the couple as a unit, and not a situation forced by tradition, things can be a little more comfortable. “It is all discussed and computed,” Barash says. “There’s new respect for the women who stays home, empowered in her decision. It’s very new and very Millennial.”

Of course, this situation applies mainly to those who can afford to stay home. The young professional who finishes her degree and has a few years working in a career has a start on earning money, as well as skills and experience. “Many of these young women feel very confident that a career will be waiting for them later,” Barash says. “That remains to be seen.”

With the later marriage age, there is a better chance that a couple makes enough money to afford to lose one of the incomes, since they have both had a few years in the workforce, and time to save up.

What do you think? Do you think there is a throwback to women wanting to stay home? And is it feasible for a single income family to make it today?

(Photo: Ava Lowery)

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22 Responses to “Women & Money: Do More Women Want to Stay Home Now?”

  1. huskervolleyball1 says:

    My grandaughter who is a sophmore/junior in college is switching her major from pre-med to psychology. She is changing her goal from psychiatrist to clinical psychologist. Part of her reason is that she will be able to teach at the college level and be at all her children’s functions. Holy Toledo.

  2. My daughter-in-law has stayed home while her children were young. It was difficult to live on one income. Now that her children are in school and she’s working on getting her degree to go back to work.

  3. Jim says:

    It must be challenging to re-enter the workforce after so much time off, how is she adjusting?

    • Stephanie says:

      Jim, I have to say from my viewpoint that it’s hard work staying at home with young kids. I am a full-time student and Mom of two and I work part-time. I feel like I’m getting time off when I go to work! Who knew?

  4. David S says:

    As for the question on is it feasible to life on a single income; our family does quite will on a single income in a semi-high priced area like Seattle.
    It just depends on what your priorities are and avoid over extending yourself early on in life.

  5. Roxanne says:

    The point is that women now have a choice. That is, they don’t HAVE to stay at home if they do not with to do that.

  6. Mike says:

    The feasibility of “staying home” is almost entirely dependent on the economic stability of the other partner’s vocation. As grocery and gas prices continue to rise, and more money is taken out of our paycheck for payroll taxes, it is becoming harder and harder to live on one income, especially if that income is around $40k. You can pay your bills (if you are frugal), but you can’t really save for the future. It’s incredibly difficult for us, but we are giving it a go believing that it is the best thing for our child (8 months old). We’ll see how long it lasts

    • Julie says:

      Mike, hang in there and keep trying. I have been a single mom with 6 kids and staying home (doing child care as my income) God provides, you just have to have priorities. The book Tightwad Gazette is so encouraging and helpful to live a full life cheaply.

    • LPC says:

      But if you were working, what are the chances your paycheque would be used to cover daycare? You might not be that much ahead considering the extra costs incurred for working.

  7. Christine says:

    And what do the men feel think of this?

    • Kurt says:

      As a married family, we are also a team. We have team goals, and understand each other’s personal goals. We each also have different skill sets and abilities, which only get enhanced via training and education.
      We should all (female, male, single, married) build our abilities, visualize and verbalize our goals, agree on a plan for success, and get busy….

  8. Kurt says:

    CAUTION…we get used to a certain lifestyle, and making the decision to live on one salary can be extremely difficult (let alone sustainable) if you are not already socking away the second salary. Staying home to raise kids is an investment in your family with substantial opportunity costs. Talk candidly with your spouse, and your financial planner. Personally, we are having a hard time tightening down from $120k to $90k in the Houston market. It’s all about priorities and reality.

  9. Kelly says:

    After graduating from college, getting married, and working for almost 5 years, together with my husband I chose to give up my career to stay home with our children. That was almost 14 years ago. Although there are times in which a single income does prove to be challenging, looking at other women/families my age with similarly aged kids I see that every income style creates different challenges that couples have to work through. What the real challenge I see is changing your mind regarding this type of decision. The longer you are at home, the harder it is to return to work not only because your skill sets aren’t current and interviewees seldom respect the work experience or ethic of the SAHM, but also because you have organized your entire life to support the primary bread winner simply because the importance of the breadwinner staying employed and continuing to progress profitably to support the family financially is critical and makes it hard lifestyle wise for the SAHP to suddenly not be there to take care of everything else. So if I were to offer a word of caution to this younger generation of women, I would stress the importance of long term planning and having a strong sense of self.

  10. mustafe hashi says:

    After graduating from college, getting married, and working for almost 5 years, together with my husband I chose to give up my career to stay home with our children.

  11. Shirley says:

    We married young and I worked until the first child was born and then went back to work eight years later when the second one went to school. I worked only the hours/days that they were in school for the next eight years and then it was back to work full time until retirement six years ago. We lived frugally but I felt that I had the best of both worlds. Unless one partner has a very well paying job, I don’t think that could be done today.

  12. Shirley says:

    We married young and I worked until the first child was born and then went back to work eight years later when the second one went to school. I worked only the hours/days that they were in school for the next eight years and then it was back to work full time until retirement six years ago. We lived frugally but I felt that I had the best of both worlds. Unless one partner has a very well paying job, I don’t think that could be done today.

  13. bloodbath says:

    The young women I know do not want to stay at home. They are currently employed college graduates who think of work as careers. They are delaying marriage and children, some have said they will not have children at all and some have decided that will NOT marry a man as a way to hide lesbianism, so they must work to support themselves.

  14. Karla says:

    I never thought I would ever be or want to be a stay at home mom. I have an MBA was on the fast track to the executive suite and made a very confortable six figure salary. Why would I want to stay home? I can afford a live in nanny. And so when I had my son and hired the live in nanny everything seemed fine. I did not count on how I would feel getting home at 7pm barely seeing my son and my son getting more attached to the nanny than to me. So I quit my job!

    Best decision I ever made. I love my son and I want to be the one raising him not some stranger. I really think our society needs to be more flexible so we don’t end up with crazy kids that want to kill their classmates. I honestly believe that we have these issues because we don’t have parents any more we only have care takers who are not responsible for ensuring that our kids grow up with morals.

  15. aua868s says:

    more women are having kids later in life which is helping them to be relatively financially better off giving them the option to stay home for the kids(at least for a few years)


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