That got your attention, didn’t it? Before you blow me out of the water, give the first paragraph a read.
My wife and I were lucky: I made enough money that she could choose to stay at home, raising the kids and taking care of the house. When we met, she was a working mother, and the “lifestyle” that she was able to “enjoy” was less than stellar. She would leave the house before sunrise to drop the kids off with her grandmother (who watched them for years) and was not able to return home until long after sunset after running the normal errands that a family needs, like shopping. After we were married and I was working at a good job, we were in the position that it would actually cost more to put the kids into day care than she could make at her job. That’s notwithstanding the fact that the kids were then in school, so they would only need daycare for a few hours each every day.
These were the rocking and rolling days of the early to mid 90’s when there were jobs available more or less for the asking. Once I was established in a career track, she and I sat down and crunched some numbers, and came to the conclusion that it would cost more than she could make in a week if we put the kids all in daycare. Therefore, it was as much an economic decision as a personal preference that she stayed home with them. She didn’t WANT to be a working mom, she wanted to be a stay at home mom. I was all for that, since that’s what I grew up with, and saw what some of my peers with two working parents had to go through.
Before I go any farther, let me say that I think that the working mom/stay at home mom decision should be left up to each family, and I think that both of these choices are valid and good. One is not necessarily intrinsically better than the other, but each has it’s pluses and minuses. Which one is more appropriate should be left to the decision of each family unit. But it should be an actual choice, not a forced one because of economics.
That being said, there is a recent Gallup poll that shows that stay at home moms tend to have lower family incomes and lean toward political independence, rather than either liberal or conservative. Both of these are not surprising to me, since I’ve seen the economics of the “work/raise kids” dichotomy. I also think that it’s fairly obvious that, since they live the reality of the situation (as opposed to an idealized view like Anne Romney has), most moms who stay at home would tend to be more moderate and pragmatic. Anne Romney has had a better-than-average family situation, especially after her husband started bringing in 6 figures per year or more.
The Gallup poll also indicates that more stay-at-home moms tend to have a lower over-all education level in addition to a lower over-all economic level. This is definitely NOT to say that stay-at-home moms are incapable of either. However, I firmly believe that it’s a compound problem: Some moms start with a lower level of education (no degree), meaning that they are not able to find high-paying work outside the home. Because they can’t find high-paying work, they are not afforded the realistic choice to work outside the home, since the cost of child care is roughly equal to or higher than the income that she could gain at her level.
All this is my rambling way of saying that I think that Anne Romney had a great option available to her, and that option is not one that all of American women are afforded. I also think that Hilary Rosen put her foot in her mouth big time, saying that Mrs. Romney, as a SAHM, hasn’t “worked” a day in her life or is out of touch with her family economy.
I approve of women being able to have the option of raising their kids at home, regardless of their income level. Even those on public welfare should be afforded the opportunity (if they have a working partner) to raise the kids, rather than being forced to choose between maintaining their benefits or raising their kids. I firmly believe that a big social problem is that there are not enough available role models available for the youth of America because of the requirement to work if you want benefits.