Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

Do you think people who have never worked for someone else full time have any idea what it is really like?

Asked by JLeslie (59506points) April 12th, 2012

I ask this because of the comments Hillary Rosen made about Romney’s wife. I have pretty much said on other Q’s that people, usually women, who have never had to work full time basically have no idea what it is like to have to get yourself up and to work every day, especially when you hate your job. What it is like to have an employer require you to do things, stay late, overload you with work, and you can’t quit because you have to support yourself and your family.

This does not mean these people don’t “work.” If they are raising children, certainly that is a demanding job. Even if they don’t have children they may be busy doing charity work or other things.

I have had a career, I have worked part time, and currently I don’t have a job, but I am the social chairperson for a club we belong to. There is no comparison to working full time with all the other things I have done. Working for an employer is incredibly demanding, especially if the job is a physically demanding job. I don’t think office workers have any idea of the physical exhaustian of those who stand on their feet all day and have to lift, and I don’t think people who have never worked full time have any idea what that obligation is really like psychologically.

I am not excluding people who work for themselves, most businesses require an incredible amount of committment and time, often it is much more than a 40 hour week.

This is not a Q about what Hillary Rosen said, or about politics. It is just your opinion about people who have not had to work ever outside the home full time, and if domestic responsibilities really give someone a clear idea of what it is like to hold down a job and worry about financially responsiblities. It also is not a Q to pass judgement on those who choose not to work outside the home.

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77 Answers

marinelife's avatar

No, they can’t imagine the environment of the workplace or having someone else organize your time.

At least when you are home, you are the one deciding what to do when.

Qingu's avatar

I just read about this.

While I do think that being a domestic partner is “work,” I certainly don’t think a stay-at-home mom or dad has any idea what it’s like to work at a full time job AND raise kids at the same time.

Many Americans cannot choose to only work as a stay-at-home mom or dad. They have to do both because they can’t afford otherwise. And the Romneys’ fake-outraged response to Rosen’s comment just shows how out-of-touch they are.

bkcunningham's avatar

What was their response, @Qingu? I’ve also just heard about her comments.

Qingu's avatar

Rosen said Ann Romney “had never worked a day in her life.”

Ann Romney’s response was “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”

To which I say: maybe. But not as hard as working full or part time and raising kids. And I would also guess raising five kids is much easier when you are a multimillionaire who can hire four housekeepers.

JLeslie's avatar

Even if staying home with children is hard work, which I think it is, I don’t think it gives an understanding of working outside of the home. I also think a lot of people are clueless about how much work it is to take care of children. What I am tired of is women getting defensive about the comment, that they feel they have to defend they are not sitting home all day eating bon bons on the couch. It is still a different type of work and different obligation.

Having to work and take care of children is a whole other thing that obviously is a tremendous stress and does not compare to doing only one of those things.

jca's avatar

Replying to the original question, I also think when someone works (full time or part time) for their husband or other relative, it’s probably not the same as working for a company or organization where your first obligation is to the job. When a kid works for their parents’ company, or when a wife works for their husband’s company, they have more leeway than the rest of us. I have an aunt who works for her husband’s company (their company) and she can come and go as she pleases. She may be at work for 30 to 35 hours per week, but she has no boss, if she needs to attend a meeting at her son’s school or leave for a manicure or something, it’s not like she has to account to anybody and “charge it’ to her vacation time or something like that.

Trillian's avatar

Nope. Not a clue. And while it probably doesn’t hold true for everyone who doesn’t work, I know some who also have no concept or value for other people’s time.

bkcunningham's avatar

I don’t consider Romney’s response “fake outrage” or outrage of any sort for that matter.

Qingu's avatar

Indignation then.

Though maybe you’re right, maybe it’s not fake. Spoiled people like the Romneys tend not to realize just how entitled they are.

GoldieAV16's avatar

I’m going to remove the entire Romney/Rosen aspect, because I think that has become convoluted.

As someone who has (in this order):

Been a full time stay at home mom;
Been a stay at home mom while working two part time jobs and attending school part time;
Been a full time worker and mom;
Been a full time worker;
Been a full time self employed worker;
Been a semi retired self employed worker—-

I have to say that each set of circumstances brings with it a unique perspective. Had I never worked outside of the home I would have remained largely unaware of many workplace issues and stresses. Reading about workplace harassment is vastly different from witnessing it, or experiencing it. Being late driving your kid to school is vastly different from being late with them, THEN arriving at your office late – and getting written up, even though you were late because one of the kids threw up just as you were going out the door.

What can be a minor inconvenience or annoyance for a stay at home or self employed person can become a major stressor to someone who works outside of the home.

I also gained a different perspective on money. Somehow it is really different to have a chunk of money withheld from a paycheck that is not your own, just as it can be very different to spend money you did not earn (but was earned by someone else or inherited) than it is to spend money that you earned. $50 bucks takes on a whole new meaning when you know that it cost you some blood and sweat (and being written up for being late AFTER mopping vomit and speeding in front of your kids), compared to the meaning $50 bucks has if it was someone else’s work, or a dividend paid on a stock that day (one of many).

I agree with you that being employed by someone else delivers a unique perspective that I don’t think can be arrived at by hearing about it; just as being a full time mom or self employed person brings with it unique perspectives that have to be experienced to be fully understood.

Blackberry's avatar

Yes, but I also have no idea what it’s like to be a housewife, which is still a difficult job, but…..I’m pretty sure Romney’s wife had a rich husband, which changes a lot.

missingbite's avatar

Actual perspective probably not but then there are a lot of things people don’t have a perspective on but they understand the situation.

nikipedia's avatar

I agree with you, @JLeslie. I am sure raising kids is a lot of work, but there are plenty of people who have to do all of that work AND have a full-time job.

As if we needed any more evidence that the Romneys are completely clueless and out of touch.

GladysMensch's avatar

No, no idea, and here are several reasons why:
Staying home and raising children is an option that is not available to most working people. Romney’s wife even said that it was a difficult “choice”. The average working joe/jane doesn’t have a choice, unless you consider poverty as an option.

Being a bad stay-at-home parent results in messed-up kids. Being a bad employee results in loss of employment, loss of income, loss of health care, loss of housing… etc. The stakes are much higher for a person punching a clock.

Also, a stay-at-home-parent is the boss. You choose the consequences (good or bad) for your children’s actions. An person working 9–5 is the employee. Your boss chooses the consequences for your actions. And you have little to no control over those decisions. Did you work 40 hours of overtime on the project, only to see the promotion go to the suck-up who barely came in? I’m sure you understand that management has good reasons for their decisions; reasons that they cannot discuss with you. Now get back to work. Oh, and we’re gonna need you to come in next Saturday.

bkcunningham's avatar

@JLeslie, to your original question, if domestic responsibilities really give someone a clear idea of what it is like to hold down a job and worry about financially responsiblities?

If someone stays home and takes care of the household responsibilities and/or the children, that would mean, in most cases and I assume for the point of your qestions, that there is only one income for the household. I would think that would make financial responsibilities and knowledge of handling finances and time even more important in that household.

The price of goods and services is the same for the family with one breadwinner as it is for a family with two incomes. I don’t see that managing a home makes someone less aware of what it is like to hold down a job. In my opinion it would make you more aware of the financial responsibilities of life. These responsibilities don’t change because you have two incomes. I mean, there isn’t a line to pay bills or buy groceries that says stay-at-home partners or two income households.

wundayatta's avatar

I find that people who have never experienced something don’t have much of a clue as to what it is really like, even if they have read a lot about it. Virtually none of us know what it is like to fly in a space ship or walk on the space station. Not all of us know what depression is like. A few of us may not even know what working for an employer is like.

bkcunningham's avatar

But does that mean, as @JLeslie asked in her original question, @wundayatta, that you don’t have a clear idea of what it is like to hold down a job and worry about financially responsiblities?

Qingu's avatar

Somehow I don’t think Ann Romney has to worry about financial responsibilities.

I would be surprised if she actually goes shopping for food.

And that was the original point, I think. I also think it’s a valid point to say that a stay-at-home parent who is rich does not know what it’s like to be a stay-at-home parent who is not rich.

jca's avatar

Lots of good answers above. I am a working single mom, and I thought of my situations when I read what @GoldieAV16 wrote. I thought of walking out the door, already running late, having grabbed coats and bags etc., and then my pre-school aged daughter says “Mommy, I have to go poo poo.” (sigh). It is what it is. Times I’ve been off work since she’s been born, I realized the pleasure of a stay at home mom when I was able to get my hair done during the week, get the car fixed during the week, not having to do those things on a Saturday afternoon or worry about needing some car maintenance desperately and having to take off work in order to accomodate it.

Also, having read what @GladysMensch wrote, I thought of friends of mine who did choose to work when their kids were small, and how they are truly the boss of the household. It’s definitely hard work, but it’s your schedule. Get up and sit in your sweats for a few hours, dealing with kids all the while, yes, but going along at the pace that is set by all of you. Get in the shower when you’re able, do a load of laundry, etc., not have to get up by this time so you can get in the shower by this time so you can be out the door by this time so you can have your crazy commute and be at work by this time. Then 5:00 comes, crazy commute back to the day care and crazy commute home, to look at what we can drum up for dinner, get off to bed and do the whole thing over tomorrow.

Coloma's avatar

Well, I’ve done both, and as much as I loved raising my daughter the first 11 years of her life before going back to work, let me tell you going outside to work is far EASIER than being a full time stay at home mom. Not only was I hard on myself, feeling the need to have everything “perfect” all the time, but also feeling the pressure of having to go above and beyond to make sure my contributions were seen as viable and that I was “earning” my keep. Bah! Going to work was a lot easier than being at home.

I have the utmost respect for women or men that choose to make it a priority to raise young kids, and their hard work is usually minimized, at the least, and payed lip service to, when, in reality, the vast majority of people really do not respect this choice and all the pressure that comes with it. Work is work, and a stay at home parent is not only losing out on earnings in the workplace during those years but also working their ass off for no pay, while also knowing, deep down, that most people really do not consider parenting to be a viable “job.” Bullshit!
I was on the go from morning til night, maintaining a house, yard, gardens, multiple volunteering and managing everything on my own while my ex traveled a lot for his work.

Anyone that doesn’t consider this to be work needs a few rocks lobbed at their head. lol

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham I think a lot of the time it isn’t the same. Budgeting the money is simply not the same as earning it. I think a woman who has never worked and their husband is the sole earner, I don’t think she ever feels the same pressure he does assuming he makes enough money for the bills and they are reasonably responsible with money. For her the money is just coming in. I live it right now, it is easy to be mindless about the hard work, time, and sacrifice to earn the money. I have worked full time and supported myself, and yet still it is easy as money is less of a problem to not really pay attention to the work it takes to earn it. Even when we both worked and we needed both salaries, my husband still, I believe, feels more pressure in general to support the family. I felt responsible for myself and that I was expected to work, but it’s different. Good men are raised to take on the financial burden usually with no choice they must make money to have value. Especially in an older generation I think it is even more exaggerated. My husband’s mother has never worked, and when his dad had a business fail, she was waiting around for him to figure out what he was going to do. I mean he better do something right? The burden was on him. Have you worked outside of the home?

@Coloma I do know several women who say working outside the home is easier than raising the kids and doing everything at home. I was not really comparing the two, and like I said, I am fine with the choice women/men make to stay home. You mention you needed everything to be perfect, well that’s your problem. You probably could have made it a little easier on yourself. When you went to work did you give yourself some slack on that perfect at home bit? I’m not sure what your job was outside of the home and if your employer was very flexible. That can make a difference. And, if your salary was necessary to pay the bills? That makes a difference too. I think the psychological stresses of women who stay home are not understood by many, just like the psychological stresses of going out into the workplace are not understood by those who have not done it. I do feel like I need to start earning money again, I miss feeling like I was contributing that way, but I also am greatful for being able to not work, my life is much easier without working there is no question, and I hope my husband feels his is easier and more calm without me working. I don’t have children though, so I don’t dare compare to those who do.

Qingu's avatar

@Coloma, for many people it’s simply not a “choice” to stay home and raise a kid. They can’t afford it.

This isn’t to say that staying home and raising kids is easy. I’m sure it’s extremely hard to do well. But it’s also a luxury that many people do not have.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie You are correct, I was hard on myself, for all the reasons mentioned.
I’ve let go of my perfectionism for years now, but at the time, and being part of the “programming” involved in choosing a “position” that is not seen as true” work”, yep, well, all I can say is that all things considered, being a parent in the home is far harder than dashing off to work where expectations are clearly defined and you actually DO get BREAKS! lol

bkcunningham's avatar

Yes, I have worked fulltime outside the home. At one point in my life, I worked two fulltime jobs and had the responsibilities of a home, a sick parent and raising children. I’ve had partners and done it solo at various times, @JLeslie. Once in my life, I didn’t work outside the home for about a year.

Coloma's avatar

@Qingu That is true, but it is also true that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. I think all children deserve security and consistency of care in their most important formative first 6 years of life or so. A sad commentary on modern life, where earning a living trumps caring for ones children. I always say that you don’t get a puppy and keep it in the neighbors yard. My fondest desire for humanity would be a return to economic solvency where children can regain a state of priority over the almighty dollar for those families that wish to pursue a more “traditional” model of life.

I have zero regrets for the years I devoted to my daughter and it shows. She is a far more together and secure young woman than I was at her age, and yes, I was a daycare kid with my mom being single in the 60’s and 70’s and I always knew I wanted to really be there for a child when I had one. I wish the economy afforded more young families true choice.

Qingu's avatar

I agree. I also consider myself very lucky—my mom was fortunate enough to be able to work at home, so she got to concentrate on raising us much more than many people do.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham And, you think people who have never worked understand what it is like to work as you did and understand what @GoldieAV16 described in her example of the $50?

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham, here’s the fake outrage I mentioned. Romney’s people just organized a press conference “on women and the economy.”

It consisted of five people bitching about how disrespectful the “Obama adviser” was to Ann Romney.

Nevermind that Hilary Rosen is not an Obama adviser.

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma I too wish we were in a place where more parents could be home more hours with their children. Sometimes it is out of economic necessity, but I often see it as people wanting more and more material things and actually could live on less without much difficulty. It is a matter of Nissan vs. Mercedes sometimes. And, unfortunately, being able to afford certain neighborhoods affects what schools children will go to, so there is this pressure to have to spend, to have keep up, to be able to live in a safe place with every opportunity available. I wish we could chill out, calm down, and slow the treadmill down.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie I agree. We have reached an era where many luxuries are considered necessities. Computers, cell phones, ipods, new cars, etc. etc.
I like the Buddhist work philosophy that says working 6 hours a day is more than enough “work”, one must balance the rest of life as well.
Economic hardship is the number one cause of most failed families and relationships, when people are forced to spend 50–60+ hours a week away from their families it leaves little time or energy for the rest of ones life and relationships. Truly sad and kids suffer.

bkcunningham's avatar

Although it wasn’t your question, @JLeslie, I hope you don’t mind if I ask you something. Do you think Rosen has any idea about the realities of the types of hardships working women have that we are discussing here or the $50 example?

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham She is a working woman. I have no idea what types of jobs she has held. I can’t comment on her specifically, and I habe not commented on Romney’s wife specifically, my questions was speaking to generalities. I have said more than once here that I think it is hard for a person without kids to know what it is like to really raise kids, basically I am saying it is really hard to be in someone else’s shoes without having been in them. Some people are better at it than others.

I feel like Romney’s wife did the typical, “hey I have value, I work hard to raise my children, I don’t want my contribution to be dismissed.” I never dismiss the contribution of stay at home moms. Hell, I don’t care if there are no children, if a couple prefers one person stay at home and do all the domestic needs of the family I am fine with it. I believe all the roles make a contribution. But, even if I give stay at home mom’s credit, which I do, that does not mean they understand what their husband is going through at work or his responsibilities. I can’t tell you how many women complain their husband’s come home on edge, or they complain their husband missed one of their kids soccer games because of work. They equate that with not putting family first. Bullshit. Those men feel providing for their family is family first, and they have to do what the job demands. There may be be some wiggle room, depends on the job. And, they should give their husband a half hour to calm down and adjust from his work day to being home. Just my opinion.

A relative of mine used complain her husband came home from work all heated up, yelling at every little thing. When they got divorced and she started working, she became him. Maybe if she had worked before or while they were married she would have had some more understanding.

bkcunningham's avatar

I agree with you on judging others, @JLeslie. I know you didn’t comment on Romney’s wife specifically. I respect that. Also, that is why I prefaced my question in the manner I did. :)

I get what you are saying about having empathy for a partner who works outside the home in a stressful job. I suppose if you haven’t done that specific job, it would be difficult to understand the stress. But, I thought about something else to consider. Perhaps the stay-at-home partner hasn’t ever worked outside the home; but their parents did. I think that experience, although not firsthand, would give a stay-at-home worker more credit than it seems some people want to give them for understanding a stressful job and other factors in working outside the home.

JLeslie's avatar

I looked up Rosen on Wikipedia. Seems she has worked, been responsible for financially providing for herself, and raises children with her partner. I don’t know if she might have been raised with wealth, and actually did not have the same economic pressures most of us have had? It doesn’t mention anything about that.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham I still disagree. First, sometimes children are sheltered from the real tension a parent has or between parents. Although, I do think most kids have an idea of the real deal going on inside the house even if the parents try to protect them. I don’t see why a kid would have a better idea of what it is like to work full time and provide for a family than a spouse? If anything the adult would be able to imagine the pressure better I think. Would you agree when a kid gets a job they learn better to respect money, to respect the work it takes to earn the money?

bkcunningham's avatar

I meant when the child of working outside the home parents grows up…well, never mind on that point. I absolutely believe that saving and earning your own money creates responsibility in a person. I also believe that when I stayed home for a year and didn’t work outside the home that I earned my share of my husband’s paycheck. I respected that money as if I’d been the one doing the work. Did he physically work harder than I worked? Yes. Was the money more his than mine? No.

Aethelwine's avatar

Not all stay at home parents have a wealthy spouse. There are many households with stay at home parents who struggle financially, just as much as working parents do. They feel staying at home is worth that sacrifice. I think these people who don’t work outside of the home do understand what their spouse is going through. They are struggling with the finances and trying to make ends meet. They appreciate the hard work of their spouse.

But really, how many people do you know who have never worked? Going from high school, maybe college, then being a homemaker without working outside of the home. We’re talking about a very small percentage of people here.

I do agree with @bkcunningham‘s last statement. A person may not work outside of the home, but they have lived with family who has.

I see the same argument with non-parents. We see that all the time here at Fluther. How can a non-parent give parenting advice? Maybe they have worked with children or had to raise siblings. They aren’t parents, but they have been exposed to the issues of parenting.

bkcunningham's avatar

I have a sister who never worked outside the home for the first, I guess, 20 years of her marriage. My baby sister has never worked outside the home in her adult entire life, @jonsblond. She is 48. In all fairness though, my mother and father owned an IGA grocery store and a Phillips 66 gas station. All eight of us children, including the two sisters I mentioned, worked with my dad in the store and pumping gas from the time we could walk.

I think that my life experience is where I have an appreciation for people who understand working outside the home and have a work ethic from their parents, yet have never had a job that involved working outside their home.

Even things that I did outside of my home; the work I did as a paren and woman, involved fundraising for school activities, filling out forms and dealing with beauracrats and people who held power over me. Tell me that isn’t a job. lol

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond Working in high school usually does not compare to working full time and supporting oneself.

Do you think Romney’s wife really understands the economic difficulties you have? The emotional toll it takes? That is what Ann Romney was commenting on in the beginning, the economic challenges of women, Mitt was saying or eluding to his wife being an expert on women and the economy. Don’t get me wrong, I think she can be empathetic, concerned, and knowledgeable about working women and families struggling economically, but I have a hard time thinking she know how scary it is to worry about paying a bill or buying food for her children.

bkcunningham's avatar

So? Let me play devil’s advocate. @JLeslie, what difference does that even make? Does the wife of the POTUS have to have lived every circumstance in life in order to make a good First Lady or to be a good person or be a person who can make wise decisions or choices concerning those issues? What is the point of saying Romney’s wife wasn’t raised in a poor family?

Aethelwine's avatar

@JLeslie She may. I don’t know her or the people she knows. I do know she’s worked with at-risk children in the past, so it’s quite possible she may have some empathy for those who struggle.

I’m not quite sure why you said working in high school doesn’t compare to working full time and supporting oneself. I didn’t mention anything about working in high school. (sorry, I’m a bit sleep deprived and may be missing something here) =)

bkcunningham's avatar

What about kids who work in high school to support their families? Unless we’ve been there and done that, I suppose we can’t understand what it is like or have a discussion about those issues either. To me, that is the same thing as criticising Mrs. Romney for not working outside the home yet speaking up about women’s issues. I like all the support on issues I can get.

Aethelwine's avatar

@JLeslie What I am tired of is women getting defensive about the comment, that they feel they have to defend they are not sitting home all day eating bon bons on the couch.

I’m curious why you are tired of women who get defensive. Have you had people around you, especially family members, who don’t respect your decision to stay home and look down on you for it? I have and it hurts. Of course I’m going to get defensive. I don’t expect more respect or even equal respect than those who work, but a little respect would be nice, and sometimes stay at home parents don’t get any respect at all.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham absolutely not. I don’t feel the wife has to have lived every circumstance to care or to be effective in helping those in circumsatnces she has never experienced.

@jonsblond I think I misread what you wrote. When you mentioned high school above I first interpreted it as people usually have worked at some time, but I read too much into it. My mistake.

Meanwhile, I am not really here to pick apart Ann Romney, but I also think Hillary Rosen’s comment has some legitimacy. Generalky I like the Romney’s. I don’t have a big gripe about them, I am no way looking to snag them on comments they have made. I think Mitt’s words have been twisted in horrible ways by the media, as the media does to all candidates. I agreed with him with wanting to be able to fire someone, I have no ill will with him paying low taxes, that was the law, as long as he followed tax laws no problem. There are more examples, but I don’t want to derail my Q too much.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond If a woman gets defensive because someone questions her choice to stay home, then I completely understand. Rosen was not criticizing the choice, she was saying Ann Romney probably has no idea of the economic challenges working women have. It is two very different things to me.

Aethelwine's avatar

@JLeslie Derail all you want. It’s your question and it is in social. =)

Coloma's avatar

Well..bottom line, women are still, more often than not, damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Stay home and be seen as a “less than”, lose out on earning potential that can NEVER be made up for, perhaps even be labeled unmotivated or lazy…OR…go to work and feel guilty that you’re never around for your kids, live on frozen foods and takeout because you’re too exhausted to cook every night and unless you’re making 100k spend 80% of your earnings on daycare and work related expenses. In the meanwhile, lets not forget that most men are still not doing their 50% of childcare and housework either.

The double edged sword is as sharp as it ever was. lol

YARNLADY's avatar

It boils down to the semantic difference between working and working for wages (being employed) on a job where you are at the mercy of your employer.

People who have never had to worry about being fired or forced to do work at another person’s whim could not be expected to understand the frustration that paid employees face.

bkcunningham's avatar

@YARNLADY, I had to do work at another person’s whim when I was staying home fulltime for a year. What does the worry about being fired really come down to? A worry that you won’t be able to pay the bills or eat? I had to worry about that during my sabbatical from working outside the home.

@JLeslie says there is a certain stress that comes from that responsibility that others can’t understand. If that is true, it doesn’t make me a bad person does it?

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Who is talking about anyone being a bad person. All we, and I will take the liberty to speak for many people on this thread, are saying is it means that person probably is not an expert on the matter.

@Coloma I agree with you. I have no kids, and I have not worked for three years. I do, as I mentioned above, schedule all the social events for the club we belong to, about two a month. I also do 95% of the cooking and cleaning and errand running. Anyway, my friends think I am lucky. I do to. Would I ever say my stress is the same as my husband’s right now, never. Do I have thoughts and stresses I did not expect being unemployed, yes. I never try to say I work just as hard right now as I did when I worked.

I think parents do have hard jobs. I have a friend who would be asked all the time to do school fund raising things, and some of the moms would say, “since you don’t have a job…” and it used to annoy her. She used to comment that it’s like the other parents don’t understand how much she does do. Honestly, she doesn’t work as much as working parents in my opinion, and they are parents too, I think they get it. But, still, in my opinion she has no obligation to be the one to organize the fundraising all the time.

Aethelwine's avatar

In my 20 years of parenting I have come across countless women who would rather work outside of the home than stay at home with their children. They say it would drive them crazy if they had to stay home. lol

I really hate this contest of who has it harder. I wish all parents could support each other. Parenting is hard whether you work outside of the home or not.

bkcunningham's avatar

Agreed, @JLeslie. They may not be an expert. Big deal.

Coloma's avatar

@jonsblond Yep, the womens movement wasn’t intended to pit woman against woman, it was about choice. Women have pitted themselves against each other for choosing. It’s about solidarity not more division. ;-)

bkcunningham's avatar

It is about supporting other people, @Coloma. At least when it comes to the court of public opinion. I knew a couple and one spouse was a commissioned artist and had a fulltime job as an instructer at a community college. The stay-at-home mom got so much shit from fellow members of a community art co-op that they almost quit. People. Get a friggin life and stop the complaining.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond I don’t want it to be a contest either, nor any sort of judgement. We each have our own lives, I don’t think we should compare with each other.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham I don’t know if it is support, I think of it more as respect. Respecting each others decisions.

Coloma's avatar

Right, supporting choice. Simple, but has really become an over knawed bone. ;-)

bkcunningham's avatar

Has it become that@c?
Ccleaning out the cookie jar may becfome an issue with me.

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma Do you think the womens movement back in the day really addressed women staying home with children? I’m asking, I don’t know that detail, I have no assumption on the matter. Or, was it more focused on women have financial independence, equal opportunity, and equal pay? I guess kids came up, because maybe some men argued a woman’s place is in the home with her children?

@jonsblond I thought more about your question. Here is what I hear behind closed doors so to speak. A woman who doesn’t work is evaluated and stereotyped based on the specific situation. If the couple has plenty of money to live on, and the wife is happy, can have intelligent conversation, knows about different things, all is good. If the wife is an alcoholic or fat, she is seen as lazy, out of touch, and depressed. If the family is having financial troubles, people wonder why the wife does not help out financially. My father wants me to work at something, because he feels it will give me a sense of purpose and accomplishment, I actually do agree with him, but choose not to right now. My husband would prefer I make some money, and he would rather see me using my brain and abilities more. My husband fell in love with a working woman, so I think in the end he finds that very attractive. That does weigh on me a little.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: It’s interesting, because I have heard people say on more than one occasion that “women ruined it for themselves” because they wanted equal rights, and now have to be moms AND have to work outside the home. Not that women have to work outside the home, but I think what those people were insinuating is that women are now expected to work outside the home, in addition to being moms, whereas prior to Equal Rights, women just stayed home (mostly) and that was all that was expected of them.

@JLeslie: Do you not work because of the economy? or are you in a career transition?

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, equal pay for equal work and opening up fields that were traditionally allocated to males was part of it, but it was also about supporting a womans right to chose whatever she chose, be it home or career. It was about a womans freedom to work if she so chose. I do think that us first flock o’ females that came of age on the cusp did get screwed in a lot of ways. While it may have opened up more career options for women it also did put us in a position of having to manage two jobs while many men only still managed one.

Men in my generation expected it all and it was and is, IMO, unrealistic and a set up for failure in many ways. I’m just glad I’m out of that loop, whew! :-)

It also placed expectations on women to be/have “it” all, and having it all is an illusion, somethings gotta give and it usually does. lol

Qingu's avatar

I don’t think anyone was deriding Ann Romney for choosing to stay at home and raising kids.

I think this entire line of discussion is a red herring.

Hillary Rosen was deriding Ann Romney’s fake expertise on “being a woman” when she is superwealthy and knows nothing about the economic challenges most actual women face. The fact that she gets to stay at home and raise her kids while still having hundreds of millions of dollars at her disposal makes her life experience completely alien. If Romney was a stay at home mom who struggled to pay the bills and rationed gas to drive her kids to soccer practice, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

I don’t begrudge her for being rich. Some people are lucky. She appears to do some good work with her time and money. She also suffers from MS, which I hear is horrible. I do begrudge her husband’s apparent belief that their wealth is proportional to their hard work and moral value. And I think it’s preposterous when superwealthy people try to pretend they “know what it’s like” to face the economic challenges that actual voters face.

bkcunningham's avatar

After receiving critism from many other super rich people like the POTUS and the First Lady, Rosen apologized. I would love to know Rosen and her former partner, Elizabeth Birch’s net worth.

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham, what point are you trying to make exactly? This is one of many instances where you sort of throw out what sounds like a criticism, without explaining your logic.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca When we moved to Memphis I took a job full time as an executive assistant, but after not many months told them I wanted to quit and just help out when needed. I asked them to just start looking for someone new, and when they found them I would bow out. The CEO, I reported to her directly, had someone from her old job who could come right over, so within three weeks I worked as needed, and it was great for about 3 years. Then a lot changed there and I stopped working.

Honestly, I miss retail a lot, but some of my physical problems make me afraid I could not do it again. I could part time, but around here it pays nothing. I don’t live in a part of the country that has good retail opportunity. I was doing real estate right before moving here, but I have no desire to do it in Memphis because everything I liked about it, does not exist in this market.

In the meantime, during these three years, my husband has started racing Porsches with his club, and we love to do the trips together. I plan everything, usually 5–6 day trips over a weekend, 3–4 times a year, so it is a lot of time off from work if I was working. Plus, we try to get a vacation or two in separate from that. I plan all the events for porsche club mid south region, about 2 a month, plus keep their website updated and our facebook group. I also help with my aunt in NY. So, I kind of became very busy, but at the same time I am not so busy. I would really love to do something part time. If I came up with some sort of business of my own it would probably be best. I would like to earn some money, I like being able to do things well and get the positive feedback, and I think it would be better for my marriage.

For sure some of it is enjoying the luxury of not having to work. Some probably see it as lazy?

@Coloma I think younger men are now better about helping out with things around the house and the children. When I went to college there was still joking about women getting their MRS degree, but I had never heard that where I grew up, the first time was when I went away to college in MI. I don’t know if it was because it was a different part of the country, or because I was on a college campus. I don’t think any of my girlfriends growing up thought they would only be stay at home moms. Some of us wanted to stay home with our children, but we also thought we had to work, plan for a career, and then when the kids came, if we could financially, take a break from working.

I think women not working in great numbers was a blip in the 50’s and 60’s. Maybe I am wrong. Sure women were probably not getting equal pay, and they might have stopped work when the children were born, but most of the women I know my grandmothers age worked at least part of their life. She would be in her 90’s if she were still alive. I’m not saying things were equal then, just saying it was not all some sort of macho scenerio where the husband would not hear of it. What do you think?

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: I can definitely understand your reasons. I think as far as the retail opportunities not paying as well in your area, I can understand that because I think that free time is worth a certain amount of money. If you’re only going to get $7 or $8 per hour for your time, it’s not worth it unless you’re desperate. For that, you may as well stay home and do other things.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca I did do a little looking back years ago and could probably earn $12—$14 doing retail, but still, I made a lot more than that years past even when I worked part time. I think my last part time was $20 an hour working for a vendor. That was a good gig. If I went back to being a retail manager I could make a decent salary even here, probably in the $40k’s, but can’t see doing that job now for many reasons.

I kind of wish I knew just what I want to do, even go back for some education to do it. I really have not spent enough time thinking about another career.

Aethelwine's avatar

@JLeslie If the family is having financial troubles, people wonder why the wife does not help out financially.

For some families it’s just not worth the stress and little extra money that would come in if the non-working spouse went to work full-time. There can many different reasons why a spouse isn’t working that people aren’t aware of. It’s unfortunate that the non-working spouse is judged because of this, especially when there are children in the house.

When I say our family struggles financially, I don’t mean that we can’t pay our bills. We just get by, but there is no money at the moment for vacations, movies, nice clothes or going out to eat. We rent now so we don’t have to worry about real estate taxes and all the surprises home owners deal with, like needing a new roof or having a major plumbing issue. That’s where we struggled in the past and had to go through a foreclosure. We just weren’t prepared to be homeowners. We are happy now that we don’t have those stresses in our life.

I don’t know what we would have done if I was working when our 8 year old daughter was recently very ill for over a week and she missed school. We don’t have family near us to help watch her. Either my husband or I would have had to miss 7 days of work to stay home with her, and would probably cost us our job for missing so much work. Then there is the cost of daycare during the summer months and vacation days and all of that. We only have one car and it’s not the most reliable car. It would be difficult for me to find a job that would pay enough to be worth it. I worked as a travel agent in the past, but there are no jobs available in my area for that kind of work. My best bet would be a hotel, but that doesn’t pay enough.

My husband works for the money that supports us, I stay home and take care of everything else so when he gets home he can relax, then we can have time for the family. This works for us. We’d rather have it this way than have both of us working, then having to come home and clean, cook and run errands. There is barely enough time left for the family in this situation. I feel bad for families who must have two working parents. I don’t know how they do it. Children grow up so quickly. Having a nice car, nice vacations and nice clothes isn’t as important to us as having time to be here for our children.

now I’m way off topic. lol. sorry

I guess my whole point in this is that as long as both spouses are in agreement it really doesn’t matter what others think. but it would be nice to feel respected by those around you

bkcunningham's avatar

@Qingu, you made a point about a super wealthy woman knowing nothing “about the economic challenges most actual women face.” I was just curious if Rosen, whose comment started this discussion, would fall under your classification of an actual woman understanding economic challenges.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, I think you’re right about those couple of sharings. My grandmother worked for the governement well into her 70’s after raising a family and becoming widowed in her 50’s.

@jonsblond I agree 100%. It was the same in my case during the years I was at home with my daughter. For one, we chose to live rural so there were not a lot of nice little part time jobs around. For two, my ex traveled for weeks at a time, if not months. One job he was working on kept him out of town Sunday through Friday for an entire year.
Lastly, but not leastly, yep, after I figured out how much I would be earning at the time, minus childcare expenses, clothing, transportation costs etc. I’d have been lucky to see maaaybe $40—$50 a week at the time.
For a crappy extra few hundred a month it was not worth it to me to jump through those hoops.

Also, as you mentioned, kids being sick and missing school, minimum days, vacations, summer, etc. well…who’s going to take the time to manage these situations? The person earning less is the one that is expected to make the adjustments and handle the problems.
Do you think my ex who made $20 an hour at the time was going to forfeit his pay for our daughter when I made $6 an hour? Nope, sooo, the lesser earning partner is the obvious one that gets stuck managing everything that comes with the territory of having kids.

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham, Rosen never claimed to be an expert on the economic challenges facing women.

By the way, here is Rosen’s quote in context. It’s clear that she wasn’t attacking Romney’s choice to stay home and raise kids.

What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, “Well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues. And when I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing.”

Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and how do we—why we worry about their future.

She’s absolutely right.

bkcunningham's avatar

Regardless of whether or not Rosen CLAIMED to be an expert on the economic challenges facing women, @Qingu, I wonder if Rosen has had to deal with “the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and how do we – why we worry about their future.”

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond Oh, I can definitely understand why staying home can be a good decision both emotionally and financially. I actually lean towards children do better when a parent is home more hours, which I kind of a no no to say today. Like I am criticizing working moms. Those generalizations above are what I hear, not what I think. I think everyone makes decisions for themselves and their families and no one on the outside really can know all the reasons, and should not assume they do. I think I would make a different decision than you, but in no way do I think I am more right. And, I am not even sure I would make a different decision, I am not in your shoes.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie Well, in your case I don’t think you have anything to feel guilty about. I and one other close female friend that is my age (52) decided to take a few years of “mini-retirement” from work and life in 2007 til present. We could both afford to not work, ( I have been working part time again the last 3–4 years after 2 solid years of sabbatical from life. :-) Bottom line, I have more than enough to keep me busy being single, divorced, no kids at home anymore with 5 acres of property, a home, animals, etc.
Both my friend and I took flack from other friends who were, self admittedly jealous and envious that we could afford to do so.

At 52 now I am extremely choosey about who and where I work and am determined to only do what I WANT to do these days. Quite frankly the saying “we are human BEINGS, not human DOINGS” resonates with me and has for a looong time now. I think the work ethic is insane, highly over rated and as far as others judgments about my lifestyle and choices, well…nobodys biz. Everyone should find the courage to live their lives their way and to hell with others opinions. :-)

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma I don’t feel guilty really. With the job market as it is, the timing is good. I worked my ass off for many years, and my husband and I sacrificed a lot for many years and saved a lot. Now we can live “check to check” but we have this stash of money already, so we don’t worry about it. If he gets a bonus at work, that we add to the savings. I saved that money to have freedom later in life. To quit a job if I hated it, or to not work if it was better for us, or to not panic if something unexpected happens. So, that part of the plan has worked.

Anyway, it isn’t guilt, more like could I feel more fulfilled? For now I am not bored, I am not depressed, I feel happy and appreciate my situation. The Honda I bought instead of the Mercedes, and not spending much on vacations, and all the little sacrfices we made when we were young adults, to save were worth it to have this financial freedom. It is what I wanted, that was a goal I fulfilled. I never thought of it that way, I have always thought I suck at having a goal and acheiving it, but this makes me see maybe I do have goals I didn’t even realize.

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham, again, I fail to see your point. If she never claimed to, why are you projecting criticism of the merits of that claim on her?

Let’s review. Nobody criticized Ann Romney for anything until Romney trotted her out as an expert on women’s economic issues. That is why it’s fair game to point out that, actually, she has no goddamn idea what it’s like to deal with the majority of economic issues that women who make under a million dollars have to deal with.

You only seem to be trying to dirty the water, which never ceases to disappoint me in our discussions.

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