Why mothers shouldn’t have to stay at home

The idea that men should provide financially for the family and that women should stay home to care for the home and the family is problematic.

There are multiple reasons why it’s problematic, but one reason has been on my mind recently.

This arrangement keeps women unskilled and uneducated. I mean, technically, stay-at-home parents gain skills as they manage a household, but these skills rarely transfer over well to the workforce.

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If a woman is encouraged to, above all else, be a stay-at-home mother, to get married as soon as possible, and to have children as soon as possible, then there’s little incentive to get a degree in a marketable field and to plan out a career trajectory.

And as such, she becomes entirely dependent on her spouse to provide for her temporal needs. This becomes concerning when a woman wants to leave her spouse but can’t because she depends on him to provide for her.

If a woman is in an abusive relationship, for example, and she has no trade certificate, no college diploma, no university degree, getting a job to support herself while on her own can be a challenge. And the longer she is out of the workforce, the more challenging her predicament.

When we encourage women to be stay-at-home mothers above all else—to the point of eschewing education and any career development—we force women to stay in relationships they don’t want to be in (or that are even dangerous for them) out of fear of not being able to care for themselves.

Women in these situations are driven to choose between staying or accepting menial, low-paying labour to sustain themselves and their children.

Even when we tell young women to pursue an education “just in case” (job loss, spouse health, etc), it still frames careers as exceptions. Which means that they don’t see education and career development as necessary. And no one goes into a marriage expecting their spouse will be a threat to them or their children. Everyone assumes their marriage will be free from abuse.

And encouraging women to stay in abusive relationships is just one of the problematic aspects of telling them they should be stay-at-home mums.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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