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In praise of SAHMs

Posted: January 28, 2011

I was reading recently the Resignation Story’ of popular blogger, Rohini which deals with how and why she decided to become a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) and that set me to writing this post on a topic that I have for some time been thinking about – the risk involved in being a SAHM.

Contrary to what some people may think, SAHMs do not just sit home and watch TV everyday. They act as cooks, cleaners, teachers, chaffeurs, finance managers and much more. Some have begun to volunteer on social causes as their children grow older.

For all this, they usually earn nothing. Some do run a business from home, but this often brings in much less money than they could have got at a regular job, especially when the children are young and need more time.  If they decide to return to full-time work after a few years, they often find that they have to start at a lower level or retrain or change fields.

In short, what the SAHM does is: exchange financial for emotional satisfaction (and this is where she does it out of choice, not to mention the cases where she is forced to by husband/family because “it is her duty”).

Now, most of us live in the assumption that things will go on peacefully as they always have, but that’s not how life is. Divorces happen. The spouse loses his job or becomes ill. The main breadwinner of the family passes away. SAHMs are left in a perilious situation with little financial power in their handsOf course, some women have worked for many years and accumulated enough savings or have sufficient market value to return to the workforce. For the majority of women, that’s not the case.

Becoming a SAHM implies very real risk – that of giving up your financial independence and security for emotional benefits that are not quantified. This is apart from those families where SAHMs are not even respected because, after all, what do they do all day? Woman from such families who quit their jobs finds that there is lip-service-praise for conforming to traditional norms but little attention to their needs and wants.

I am not sure if any homemakers think about it in these economic terms, but nevertheless, it’s important to appreciate the unpaid labour of thousands of women who do it for the sake of their families.

Founder & Chief Editor of Women's Web, Aparna believes in the power of ideas

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