Debating Whether “Stay-At-Home Mom” Is A Worthwhile Profession

Earlier this morning, I was talking with my buddy Allison Sommer from Pajamas Media about whether stay-at-home moms were making a wise decision given the situation Silda Wall Spitzer now finds herself in.

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation..

Allison Sommer: I hope Hillary gets elected president and Silda Spitzer takes Hillary’s Senate seat. 🙂

John Hawkins: Ehr….let’s not be wishing that fate on the rest of us just to give Silda Spitzer a break.

Allison Sommer: Good feminist lesson – you give up your high powered career to raise your kids and support your husband, and look where it gets you.

John Hawkins: Nothing wrong with going that route. Her husband was just a sleaze.

Allison Sommer: Yes, but it illustrates how high-risk a career as a “spouse” is.

John Hawkins: Every career has risks. There are a lot of rewards to being a stay-at-home mom as well and most marriages don’t end up like the Spitzers.

Allison Sommer: Didn’t say it wasn’t rewarding, just said it’s risky.

John Hawkins: Every profession has risks. The bottom could fall out of the advertising market next year and I might not be able to support myself blogging. You could screw up a story and lose your job. A pro-football player could blow out a knee. A business owner could see a competitor move in across the street and cost him his company.

I don’t think stay-at-home-mom is any riskier than anything else — and heck, who knows, the Spitzers may end up working this whole thing out — or if they don’t, she may walk away with a “severance package” far higher than she could have ever gotten from any company.

Allison Sommer: Yes, but she didn’t screw up her job – she put her faith in him and he screwed up…it’s different to have your success ride on your own abilities, market forces, or even luck, rather than someone else’s integrity or lack thereof.

John Hawkins: I don’t know. My last job before I went into blogging was doing tech support. One day they had a big meeting and told us they were laying us all off — but, we could take huge cuts in salary and benefits to stay on. I said, “no, thanks.” That’s a bad break. She had a bad break, too.

I see being a stay at home mom as an honorable profession, one that is as good as pretty much any other. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but I think it’s a great choice for the women who want and are able to do it.

Allison Sommer: Yeah, but you can take your skills and experience elsewhere. It’s harder for a 50-year-old woman to do a lot with her “resume” of bearing someone’s kids and running their house and giving dinner parties for their friends.

John Hawkins: True. But, there’s more to life than having a nice resume when you are 50 years old.

Allison Sommer: I also think it’s a totally legit life choice to be respected, particularly when the kids are small and school age. But I see it as a very problematic way to make it a lifetime career, profession, whatever.

John Hawkins: Depends on your marriage situation.

Allison Sommer: Exactly. Which is why girls should not be raised to bank on it as a “career choice.”

John Hawkins: There are probably more women who succeeded in that “career choice” than any other world wide and in the US, over any period in history. That doesn’t mean the other ones are bad, or that stay-at-home-mom is the best for everyone, but it works out very well for a lot of women.

Allison Sommer: Depends on your definition of success. Anyway, it’s not for me. Been there, done that. The dynamics of my marriage are a lot better when I work. I’ve scaled back my career and I work from home, etc. but I can’t imagine life without a career and an income and the knowledge that I am able to support myself and my kids if I had to.

John Hawkins: Well, like I said, it’s not everybody’s gig. If you are happier not being a stay at home mom, that’s great.

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