$100K Nannies

Good news -- evidence that quality child care is becoming increasingly valued in our society. Last Friday, USA Today ran an article in the Money section titled CEOs Shell Out Nearly 6 Figures to Secure the Perfect Nanny. The cover story profiled several experienced, college-educated nannies who earn close to $100,000, plus benefits including paid vacations, room and board, gym memberships, employer-furnished vehicles, cellphones and health insurance. For those of you interested in finding nannies with these qualifications -- or applying for these jobs yourselves -- an international resource cited in the article is the International Nanny Association. A well-known Washington, D.C., agency is White House Nannies, and a quick Internet search reveals dozens more high-end nanny placement firms around the country.

For average nanny salaries in your area, check out the International Nanny Association's 2006 Salary Survey, which breaks out results by region. Salaries ranged from $300 to more than $1,000 per week. Most nannies reporting making roughly $12-$15 an hour, with incremental overnight pay of up to $100 per night. The survey was based on 1,119 respondents.

The article explains what most moms (and at least a few dads) already know -- that raising children is a serious job that demands equally serious compensation. When both parents work full-time, a family needs a well-educated, highly competent child-care provider who can do far more than wipe noses and schedule play dates. Dual-career couples are responsible for 68 percent of nanny hiring, according to USA Today, and they are willing to pay well for college-educated nannies with degrees in fields such as education, nursing and child psychology who can home-school children, help with geometry homework and teach such skills as swimming, sports and languages.

The downside? Another fact of life for working parents: Our country needs more affordable high-quality child care. But a six-figure salary means respect in this country, and, as such, marks an important milestone. This dollar-respect for child-care providers at the top end of the salary scale should have a halo effect on all child-care providers -- paid and unpaid -- over time.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  July 6, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Childcare
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Hmmm ... How do I get that pay and benefits for raising my own child? That figure of about $100K is somewhat consistent with the study that was issued back in May by Salary.com that said stay-at-home mothers, if they were compensated for the services they provide, would get paid approximately $134,000 a year. I'd actually give up the salary to get the benefits of those nannies -- benefits I don't have anymore since I left my "office" job for freelancing at home, my effort to combine work and motherhood.
The USA Today story is just further evidence of how far we are from "affordable" child care and that we, as mothers, need to become more politically active to make that happen.

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | July 6, 2006 7:17 AM

I don't know... This seems to me more like an anomaly that will remain a leveraging tool of the wealthy and a perk for those employed by the rich. I have trouble seeing this as having a halo effect or resulting in better pay or care for the children of middle class or poor folks.

Wait, wait, maybe we've stumbled on to a new immigration policy... Government subsidized childcare provided by an influx of migrant workers. This might even be a solution big business could pounce on and our children might have an opportunity to grow up bilingual...

Is it just me or does it sometimes seem like the free market too often works against the needs and growing of families?

Posted by: marc | July 6, 2006 7:54 AM

PunditMom, I still get bugged when I remember the time someone went off on me when I mentioned that my then 6-month-old was wearing me out. Apparently, I had no right to be tired since I didn't have a job. Of course, if I were a nanny, minding the baby from 9-5, five days a week, and getting paid for it, it would be allowable for me to be fatigued. (Of course, I do know from experience that minding one's own child and someone else's do differ in terms of types of energy output and accompanying stress, but still...)

But as for the larger point, I agree with Ms. Steiner that dollar-respect for child care providers is a hopeful sign for the profession in general (really grossly underpaid and underappreciated). I hope it marks a trend.

http://momsquawk.wordpress.com/

Posted by: MommaSteph | July 6, 2006 8:05 AM

I don't know that this demand for college-educated nannies is really anything new, though I admit the salary is much higher than anything I ever dreamed about when I nannied. I recall speaking to a nanny agency when I'd just graduated from college and was toying with the idea of continuing to nanny while I attended law school. The poor woman nearly hyperventilated when she heard I had a degree (albiet in English) and gushed over the fact that I was "European." Of course, I was naive enough at the time to say "oh, I'm not from Europe, I'm American."

On a more serious note, I wonder if there's a type of solution here for SAHMs who'd like to go back to work, save for the child care issue. If I could take a nanny job that paid decently and allowed me to raise my kid alongside my boss's kids, I'd jump at it, JD or no. Do you think any CEO would allow any such arrangement with their nanny?

Posted by: NewSAHM | July 6, 2006 8:22 AM

I can't imagine making that much money to watch kids! Although the money is well spent because we all know how hard it is.

I too would like to hope that it is a trend, but I doubt it is going to trickle down to the middle and lower class. Who could afford it?

I also have to say that sometimes the "i'm tired" harrassment goes both ways. If I say i'm tired when I go home to my family, someone always says, but doesn't she go to day care.

On another note-Pundit mom, Ilove your blog!

Posted by: Scarry | July 6, 2006 8:24 AM

Actually, I'm not a real nanny, but I did play one on TV.

Posted by: Mary Poppins | July 6, 2006 8:35 AM

NewSAHM - I know a few high-powered couples who allow their nanny to bring her own child. It works especially well because their child and her child are roughly the same age. I think it could work...

Posted by: Leslie | July 6, 2006 8:40 AM

I haven't read the article, but I'm guessing that hiring a college educated nanny is not so much "valuing childcare" as prestige for prestige's sake. I stay home with my kids, and I think it does take some intelligence to do well, but I don't think it takes a college degree, particularly if there are only a few kids (managing a classroom is another ball of wax).

I suspect the high salaries are to allow the nanny to fit in with their affluent social circle. Can't have her wearing clothes from Target, ya know?

Posted by: WiSAHM | July 6, 2006 8:48 AM

I want to make $1000/week! Seriously, we were in a nanny share until a recent move, and the nanny was making $300 per week per child. She was wonderful for our son, but it always bugged my husband that she made more than me. But this is the person watching our child for 9 hours a day. I don't want to cut corners here. We got rid of cable at home and cut out a few other things and our son is happy and thriving.

Posted by: NewMom | July 6, 2006 8:50 AM

Leslie, it's not in the least bit surprising that you -- who fell hook, line and sinker for the Salary.com marketing stunt a few weeks back -- think paying $100k+ for a nanny is "good news" and a sign of "respect" for the profession and childcaring in general. That's an obviously optimistic point of view.

(It's telling that out of the 343 words in your post, just 17 words - less than 5% - considered the affordability of childcare.)

A pessimistic or cynical view would dismiss $100k+ nannies as another bloated status symbol for the wealthy to enjoy and for the upper-middle and middle-middle class to be envious about. (Does anybody remember Louis Gerstner, the former CEO of IBM? He paid his own private chef $80,000 a year to cater all his meals for him, including on business and personal trips.)

A more realistic and neutral view would be that the market for paid nannies has always included a luxury dimension, and this is simply the most recent manifestation.

Posted by: Skepticality | July 6, 2006 9:05 AM

I am a little conflicted about this. I don't want to trivialize the nannying here (obviously what they are doing is very important), but I think we might be missing the value of the other stuff being done.

Leslie's comments seem to specifically say that these highly compensated folks are also doing such things as home schooling and perhaps using their child psychology degrees to attend to special needs kids.

This, to me, says that the job isn't just "nanny", but it's also "tutor" or "nurse". To me, paying $100k for a nanny (as the title of this blog implies) is outrageous and I don't think we should aspire to place the nanny's value quite that high. Though I could see how the super-rich might want such an expensive trophy nanny to go along with their house in the Hamptons.

Would I ever spend $100k on a nanny? No. Not even if I had it to give. Leslie says "The article explains what most moms (and at least a few dads) already know -- that raising children is a serious job that demands equally serious compensation." Not $100k. Not for just the "raising" part (attending to the child's basic biological needs).

Would I spend $100k on a full-time caregiver for my special needs child? Probably. If I could come up with it and I was assured that the benefits would far outweigh the negatives (lack of socialization? spoiled behavior from always being center of attention?)

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 6, 2006 9:17 AM

Wow, "Skepticality" beat me to it. We're on the same page.

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 6, 2006 9:18 AM

To all you $100K haters. Think of it this way; $100K to an individual who makes $1M a year is only a tenth of that CEO's earnings. Most of the people in my office who have kids talk about paying $14-20K a year on daycare and they have household incomes in the 90-100K range. They are paying almost 20% of their earnings on the raising of their children. Seems reasonable to me for the CEO's to pay in the six figures.

And lets be a bit more honest about what a CEO's nanny does. This individual raises the children completely; often around the clock. Reading, baths, playing, teaching manners, helping with homework after school, fixing lunches, loving the child, kissing the bumps and scrapes away, etc. They earn every penny they make.

Posted by: The Math | July 6, 2006 9:31 AM

Is this right--that 32% of families with nannies are *not* dual income? One person makes enough for the other to stay home and still pay a third person to watch the kids? I understand if you had infant twins or something, needing some help, but otherwise...

Posted by: Arlmom | July 6, 2006 9:33 AM

So, if you're a SAHM, raising kids is a cop-out and you're out of touch with the real world and you need to Get to Work!

But if you're not the actual mother, it's a serious career and you can be paid $100,000 per year.

Wow.

Posted by: Tami | July 6, 2006 9:36 AM

Tami, you are right on the money. (Pardon the pun.)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 6, 2006 9:37 AM

Add me to the chorus of those who applaud Skepticality's point of view!

Of course, to beat my own favorite drum, none of this is the least bit surprising to me given the war of words going on in the Atlantic over a scathing but spot-on review of Ms. Steiner's book.

As a husband, I am embarassed by the fact that I don't earn enough to allow my wife to at least have the choice of working or not, so forgive me if I feel a measure of outrage when being asked to feel sorry for people who can afford not to work. A far, far better use of our energies would be to figure out how to prvide every mother with the choice of whether or not to work. How about writing about that, Leslie?

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 9:38 AM

Arlmom, yes, there are lots of people out there (mostly men, but women, too) who are making enough salary for their wife (or husband, though I'm sure that's rare) to stay home and yet they also employ a nanny to watch the kids.

Posted by: LC | July 6, 2006 9:40 AM

Skepticality, you may be right, but it may well be the high-end of a growing trend away from seeing anyone with some free time as an appropriate candidate for providing childcare. At least where I live, middle-class consumers are much more demanding than they were 20 years ago when I was minding kids for cash.

I'm also seeing more willingness in dual-income families to spend one salary just on childcare.

Could the trickle-down effect make its way down to improve options for the working poor? One can only hope...

http://momsquawk.wordpress.com/

Posted by: MommaSteph | July 6, 2006 9:42 AM

I wonder what the average salary is for nannies who work for celebrities such as Madonna, Gwenyth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie? They are probably full-time, live-in nannies, because these women continue to work but certainly want "the best" in childcare. I can imagine these high-earning women paying more than $50K per child, even with all the perks they would get of living in fine homes and such.

Posted by: LC | July 6, 2006 9:43 AM

My mom taught rougly 10 mentally and physically handicapped students for 30+ years. At $100,000 per kid (doing a lot, if not all of the things the nannies did/do), she should have made $30 million over the course of her career. Why aren't teachers rewarded the same by society for parenting students? Their job is definitely difficult and my mother can vouch for that!

Posted by: teachers | July 6, 2006 9:44 AM

Good News...or just a empty blog?

$100K for a CEO to pay for child care isn't that much compared to their annual salary which could top $10 million. They also pay $40K per year for pre-school. I don't think that this indicates respect for the profession. It is a very isolated case.

These CEOs also pay huge salaries for gardeners, barbers, dog walkers, etc. They are usually perks from their companies and can be written off. I don't think that we can make the comparison to "normal" families.

Posted by: LC | July 6, 2006 9:46 AM

At the risk of being accused of nanny bashing, I would like to relay my experience. I have three children and have tried both nannies and high quality child care. I paid market rate for both types of care. Right now I spend about $40k on day care. When I had nannies, in addition to a good salary, I also paid benefits and provided a car.

What I found was that, without a doubt, high quality child care was better for my children. They learned more, ate better, and had more fun than when they stayed home with the college educated nannies. I also knew that at all times they were safe, attended to, and not watching TV.

A nanny does, however, provide a lot of convenience. No need to dress and feed the children before leaving for work. No need to bathe them at the end of the day. No hurrying home at the end of the day.

I suspect that the $100K nannies are hired by folks who place a premium on this type of convenience. But that salary doesn't necessarily buy better child care.

Posted by: MM | July 6, 2006 9:48 AM

I think it is an unfortunate reality that we do not see people or work as having worth unless it has a dollar sign on it. The need for childcare is certainly there, so why is it so hard to find? A nanny does not seem like a viable solution for the majority of families who need childcare. There's a childcare center in the government building I work in and they charge between $165 and $220 per week, but the waiting list is ridiculous--I believe I signed up for it when our son was born (Aug. 2002) and there was an opening about 18 months later; my reaction: Yay! Now we can finally stop leaving him home all by himself for 12 hours a day! There's childcare offered 2 doors down from us by a group of 4 nuns and I think they charge $100 per week; however, only 2 of the 4 nuns are mobile enough to really watch after the kids.

Wouldn't it be nice if there were a major tax break for stay at home moms or dads who left the workforce for the first 5 years of their childrens' lives?

Posted by: marc | July 6, 2006 9:48 AM

"Why aren't teachers rewarded the same by society for parenting students? Their job is definitely difficult and my mother can vouch for that!"

...It's called supply and demand!!!

Posted by: LC | July 6, 2006 9:48 AM

Last post, I promise - this just happens to be a topic near to my heart:

Glover, I'm with you. You might find this WSJ article about a Canadian initiative interesting:
http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB115188262819396660-S1YjOtszaZS70P6E6bO7sCwuYGw_20070703.html?mod=tff_main_tff_top

(sorry, long sloppy link...)

Posted by: MommaSteph | July 6, 2006 9:53 AM

I'd guess some of that missing 32% might also be single parents with large incomes - they have fewer options for how to take care of their kids and less choice about whether to work or not.

Posted by: SEP | July 6, 2006 9:55 AM

SEP...good point. I'm sure that some of them are single parents. Arlmom forgot about them.

Posted by: 2nd LC | July 6, 2006 9:57 AM

Okay, this notion that paying a nanny $100k is *more* justified because the CEO earns $1M plus is ridiculous. Is the CEO also justified in paying more for housepaint and cat litter as long as the proportion of overall income remains constant with what a middle class family would pay?

So should everything be proportionately more expensive for the CEO family because they have more $$?

What if a plumber came to your house and charged you $10 more per hour than your neighbor because you earn more?

Where is our "Economist" today? Pls weigh in. What is the relationship between "Price" and Consumer Income in a free market?

If you want to say the nanny is worth $100k then fine you can argue that.

Posted by: Ridiculous | July 6, 2006 9:58 AM

I've often wondered what the wealthy paid for childcare. 100K. Now I know. Sounds reasonable, maybe a little lower than I expected.

Several months ago, the Washingtonpost ran an article on the Great Zucchini, who does stand up comedy at children's parties. He only works on the weekends and makes a little more than 100K. People pay for talent.

I think there are a lot of nurses that make a comparable salary as the 100K nanny, and they serve the general public.

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 6, 2006 10:08 AM

Scarry, Glad you like my blog!

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | July 6, 2006 10:09 AM

Prices are not jacked up because the CEO makes more money (probably--I'd charge a client with deep pockets more for my services), but the CEO is more likely to buy things that are more expensive because they have more disposable income and less incentive to shop bargains. The CEO probably WILL pay more for house paint, certainly--not all house paint is created equal and a person with a higher income will buy better (and more expensive) stuff than someone scraping by.

Tangentially, someone who is actually _poor_ also often pays higher prices due to having fewer options. They just pay higher prices for lower quality.

I think the argument is that it's not as ridiculous for a CEO with a $10 million annual income to pay a nanny $100K as it would be if someone making $75K did. Is it worth it? Depends on the nanny, I guess, and how much the nanny's services are worth to the CEO.

Posted by: Historian | July 6, 2006 10:11 AM

I suspect CEOs want to pay their nanny more, because it's a way of announcing their priorities-- "see, my kids are important to me, I have the best nanny money can buy". Whether they actually value the work is probably better measured by how they treat their nanny.

And, while it may not be true for plumbers, IME, service people do seem to cost more in pricier neighborhoods. We recently left Ashburn, and we were happy to leave the "Cashburn tax" behind (things had been cheaper when we were in Falls Church). I suspect it's just a case of charging what the market will bear.

Posted by: WiSAHM | July 6, 2006 10:13 AM

I love your blog, i'm sending it over to my mom and sisters, heck I bet my dad will even like it.

Posted by: Scarry | July 6, 2006 10:14 AM

I wonder what effect this report will have on the pay of the illiterate Vietnamese peasants who care for children?

On a serious note, what a worthless blog post. Who really cares how the super-rich manage their work/family "balance" issues? And if you really think that what the super-wealthy pay for their personal services has any impact on what the middle class pays, you are delusional. It's "voodoo economics" on a small scale.

What if my family's current child care provider saw this article and said, "You know, I should get paid more, like these CEOs' nannies. I'm going to double--no, triple!--my rates (which still doesn't get me anywhere near $100K)." Guess what? We would find someone else because we couldn't afford to pay it.

Posted by: Brian | July 6, 2006 10:19 AM

ridiculous: I think what the other posters implied about the CEOs income was that because it was such a small percentage, its not really that big of a deal. Most middle class Americans will comparison shop and cut coupons when buying things like Kitty litter or house-paint, or in fact paint the house themselves. Because, we don't have the money to throw we compromise our time for these tasks. Very wealthy people have the opportunity to hire someone to paint the house, or just pick up kitty liter, not worrying about price. Or another example is usually household items a convienant stores are more expensive than going to Wal-mart or Target. You're paying a preimuim because of the convience factor (you usuallly don't buy these things at a gas station unless you are in a rush and really need it, and the store capitilizes on that).

But I digress.. so while most of struggle to find a balance between finding quality childcare at rates we can afford, a person who has enough money that its not an issue can go out a get the best money can buy.

Posted by: new to dc | July 6, 2006 10:20 AM

um... everybody DOES charge me $10 more per hour because I can afford to live in this zip code.

Progressive taxation takes an even bigger marginal bite.

If a nanny can get a posting for $100k they by definition deserve it. Maybe more qualified candidates will be attracted to the service.

When I lived in the UK we had a part time nanny share when we had 2 in diapers and although not cheap was very professional, intelligent and respected. Nice not to have everybody be so incredibly judgmental - -

Both my parents were attorneys in NYC in the 70's and I had live in child care until I was 12, then I was latch key.

You should have seen the disdain directed towards my mom and my nannies over the years by the neighbors. We lived in a NYC suburban row house, not the lap of luxury by any means, but everybody considered it their business to criticize. Is this an American trait? Too bad if it is.

Posted by: Fo3 | July 6, 2006 10:22 AM

Leslie, are you advocating for gov. subsidized child-care? You must be, because asking for affordable childcare while also insisting that childcare providers be well-compensated are two opposing ojectives. I'm not against it, I just think that you should be more explicit, if that is what you are saying.

Sounds like you think child-care should be more akin to our public school system. Everyone (through the gov.) pays for the children.

Posted by: Raia | July 6, 2006 10:24 AM

MommaSteph, thanks for the article. If only it were $900 instead og $90, then we'd be onto something...

I too second the sentiment that the issue of how the rich pay for childcare is a pretty silly topic. But then again, Leslie would like us all to feel sorry for the SAHM who drives around in her BMW X5, sipping Starbucks all day (while the nanny tends to the child), and lamenting why people don't respect her more.

I applaud the women who make the choice to stay at home to raise their children. Indeed, I think it is the most noble work one can do. But don't ask me to feel sorry for anyone who can afford it. I think a better use of our energy would be to figure out how to give that choice to EVERY mother, not just the rich ones.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 10:36 AM

I was mostly reacting to The Math's claim that "Seems reasonable to me for the CEO's to pay in the six figures. "

I'd argue that a CEO would see that decision through the eyes of his/her CFO. A CFO would not endorse spending more on printer paper as the company got bigger, just because the company could afford it. That kind of thinking is not how you get to be CEO.

I can believe it if you tell me that the CEO does it for other, non-economic reasons like status or convenience. But then it is not a "reasonable" (reasoned) decision. It's something else.

If it sounds like I am parsing this too closely it's because some people seem to be arguing that society is now realizing that nannys are worth this $100k. I don't see that (at this point in the conversation.) Wealthy people may have reasons for paying the $100k, but it is not clear that the reason is "because that's what a nanny is worth."

Posted by: Ridiculous | July 6, 2006 10:36 AM

A word on "illiterate peasants"...

My father's parents were peasants in an Eastern European country. When the horse died, my grandmother pulled the plow. My grandparents came to this country before women had the right to vote in Federal elections. They never bothered to learn more than a few words of English; they didn't have to in order to survive in their neighborhood.

My paternal grandmother raised three children (2 daughters and 1 son),who became professionals. They all attended bi-lingual schools.

My mother's parents were shopkeepers from England; I'm pretty sure that at one time their ancestors were also peasants.


Posted by: June | July 6, 2006 10:39 AM

glover park,

I feel for you about your wife not being able to stay home, I know many families including myself who just can't afford it.

Something you and your wife might want to look into is her working from home. Many jobs these days can be done at home. I am a techincal writer and almost everything I do can be done from home. There are even online degrees, from real colleges, in this field. Good luck to you.

Posted by: Scarry | July 6, 2006 10:40 AM

Ok, I don't know what you people are smoking, but, much like the percentage of people who make six figures or more in this country, the percentage of nannies pulling in high salaries AND benefits is a miniscule percentage of the total number of nannies. Most nannies do NOT get benefits or get piddly benefits because it isn't cost effective for an individual employer (as most small business owners know) to provide benefits. Most live-out nannies make anywhere from $300 - $600 week depending on how much housework they do and hours they work, the minimum number of hours being 45 (think your work week plus commute time). These nannies still get taxed so their take home pay per month after paying their estimated taxes (b/c most employers don't take out state and federal taxes for you b/c they are only required to take out FICA) is between $900 - $1,800/month. They work too many hours to get a second job and where in this area can you make even the highest figure and be able to pay for your own car insurance, health insurance, etc. as well as normal living expenses like rent, gas, food, and clothes (the average rent for an efficiency in this area is between $600 - $1K/month). The people who take care of your children need to be able to make a living too or they will come to work sick and not provide the kind of care you all say you want.

Posted by: MEG | July 6, 2006 10:44 AM

The "illiterate peasant" comment was referring to someone yesterday who said (proudly, I think) that her children were watched by a Vietnamese illiterate peasant.

While her legal status in the U.S. is a subject I won't get into, I am curious how a parent would feel comfortable letting someone who's illiterate watch their children. Literacy just seems so important to me, mostly for safety reasons, and especially if they are not native speakers. What would happen if there were an emergency? Or the kid happened to eat medicine, would she be able to find the number for poison control and call (or even to read the label as to what to do in case of poisoning?).

Posted by: Curious | July 6, 2006 10:44 AM

>>I wonder what effect this report will have on the pay of the illiterate Vietnamese peasants who care for children?>>

Oh my god, people, I was responding to someone who implied that hiring other people to take care of your kids was somehow "elitist" by pointing out that I know I woman who can't read, drive, or speak English well but she is able to make $25,000 a year taking care of kids, which by the way she likes doing and is good at. I never got the explanation of how that is "elitist" or exploitative.

I don't think this report will have any effect on her pay. She gets paid the market rate. Her market is home day care for middle-class families in Northern VA, e.g., $250 per week per kid. In addition, her potential income is limited by her lack of skills--she can't legally take more than 2 kids without state licensure, and she can't get licensed because she can't read (so she can't pass the written CPR exam, etc.) The market for college-educated nannies with unlimited working hour and travel flexibility, tutoring skills, and second language fluency who work for CEOs is a different market.

Posted by: Economist | July 6, 2006 10:45 AM

An earlier post said that as a society we should "figure out how to prvide [sic] every mother with the choice of whether or not to work." A fine goal, but why is it that everyone-- men and women-- talks about the work of child rearing under the assumption of the mother as primary caregiver? Where, pray tell, are the fathers in this lofty scenario under which every mother has the choice to work or not work? I'll tell you-- working outside the home for pay. And who here thinks that that those fathers are not good parents?

My point is that the goal of giving every mother the choice to work is loaded with gendered assumptions about the roles of mothers and fathers. I know the sentiment was meant to somehow give me more "options" as a woman, but I'd rather just be able to make choices about career and family without the added burden of societal expectations of how I will exercise my extra X chromosome.

Posted by: LDC | July 6, 2006 10:46 AM

It seems that shows like "Nanny 911" and "Supernanny" have done their bit to raise the prestige of nannying as a profession. The TV nannies are like fairy godmothers! Sweeping in to restore order and goodness to homes beset by tantrums and chaos. Oh, and don't forget "Nanny McPhee!" That lusciously art-directed film starring Emma Thompson as a nanny with MAGICAL powers.

So yes, nannying's a profession on the uptick.

Posted by: Friend | July 6, 2006 10:49 AM

"If a nanny can get a posting for $100k they by definition deserve it."

Eh? Fo3, how's that work?

I feel like I'm holding back the flood of bad interpretations of economics/capitalism. If you want to argue that something is worth what the market will bear, I believe that only applies to commodities, like land and soybeans. Is childcare a commodity? If so, we don't need to be concerned about the skill of that workforce, right?

Even if I'm wrong on the commodity issue (I don't think I am) the notion that the nanny "deserves" it is highly subjective.

Posted by: Ridiculous | July 6, 2006 10:53 AM

I'd like to thank LDC for taking time out of her precious day to correct my typos and grammar, to say nothing of taking me to task for an unwitting gender assumption.

I don;t think anyone here would dispute the idea that a stay at home father is just as vital a role as a stay at home mother.

Thanks for whipping me with a wet noodle and making a perfectly inane and irrelevant point.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 10:54 AM

Thanks economist, glad to have you around.

Posted by: Ridiculous | July 6, 2006 10:55 AM

To June,

Yes. It's not pejorative. It's descriptive.

Posted by: Economist | July 6, 2006 10:58 AM

I actually have a different issue with Ms. Steiner's post, as well as many of the responses. There seems to still be an assumption that caring for children is the mother's role. Ms. Steiner wrote, "The article explains what most moms (and at least a few dads) already know..." Why does Ms. Steiner make the assumption that predominantly mothers but not fathers would know this? Glover Park, who I gather from his post is a husband, has the noble idea of wanting to "figure out how to prvide [sic] every mother with the choice of whether or not to work." But why just mothers? Why not fathers? My husband would like to be the person who stays home with our children. To me, the better solution would be to figure out how to provide every family (single parent, multiparent, etc) with the choice of whether to work. And perhaps some day my husband won't just be a parenthetical add-on.

Posted by: Not yet a mom | July 6, 2006 11:07 AM

Arlmom wrote at 9:33 am "Is this right--that 32% of families with nannies are *not* dual income? One person makes enough for the other to stay home and still pay a third person to watch the kids? I understand if you had infant twins or something, needing some help, but otherwise..."

Just wanted to clarify that the figures cited include part-time nanny work. So I bet (and I hope) there are a lot of full-time SAHMs who need a break, or want some 1:1 time with each child so they hire someone to lighten their load.

Arlmom's post implies that staying home with kids fulltime is NOT real work, so the parent staying home shouldn't need a break. That's a big problem facing SAHPs --people like Arlmom don't consider it "real work" (unless infant twins are involved?) so they are attacked for hiring help.

This attitude is ridiculous, and I've yet to find someone who has actually stayed home fulltime with multiple children for more than a few months who takes that position. Full-time, 24/7 childcare is one of the hardest jobs imaginable. Actress Felicity Huffman recently said "Staying home with kids is harder than being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company." I agree totally -- and I imagine recognition of this fact is why so many CEOs are willing to pay nannies so well!

Posted by: Leslie | July 6, 2006 11:08 AM

There lies the difference in care. You do not need a college degree to ensure the baby stays breathing, but being that these are the most formative years of a child's life you may want to use the time well. Say you want the child to speak fluent French, Spanish or Chinese, learn to play the violin, you want those skills and they will not come cheap. But the plus side once your child has them they can never be taken away.

It is about value added. Some nannies also are gourmets with nutritional food--no processed cheetoos for junior, can do CPR on any infant, and have mini educational certification. It can also be a peice of mind issue. By the time the child is 5 she/he will be well read, well bread, and well fed.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 11:12 AM

Do baseball players deserve millions?
Do union pipe fitters deserve $75 an hour?
Does a first year MBA grad deserve $85k?
Does an HS drop out deserve minimum wage?
Does an illegal worker deserve what ever the going market rate is for illegal day labor?
Is a can of soda really worth a dollar?
Is oil really worth $70 a barrell?

If a nanny gets paid $100k the employer has set a transferable and measurable value
on the service. More power to her! (er him if a manny)

The USD price that the market bears IMHO by definition sets the "deserving" water mark.

I lived in the Soviet Union for some time. I saw what a labor market driven by "each according to one's needs, and each according to one's ability" produces.

If I look at the socialist model I am currently overpaid for what I do. I have had to make choices along the way balancing my time, potential for advancement, and standard of living versus how much my employer is willing to pay. Was I underpaid as an associate working 80+hour weeks in NYC while eating ramen noodles and tang so I could afford my appartment and pay that lousy 48% marginal tax rate?

Does the market overshoot and make mistakes? Sure - but government b'crats are less efficient than the mkt. Look at New Jersey. Wealthiest State per capita in the country and the govt is shut down since they cant manage their fiscal affairs.

Deserve is subjective. A price is proof. A single price might be one data point but nonetheless a valid one.

Posted by: Fo3 | July 6, 2006 11:18 AM

I knew I missed my calling wow to make 100,000 a year to take care of kids.....and here I worked in a school age based child care centre with children from 4-12 years of age most in my group was 75 kids in the summer.

I made take home 12,000 a year yikes!!!!!

Oh and when I did before/after school care, I did help kids with their homework to study for tests etc. etc.

Guessed I should have became a nanny then eh.....seriously though I loved the kids in my care and there is no way I would trade my piddly salary for a higher income as a nanny.

It's nice work if you can get it, and if they can make that kind of money, good for them :)

Posted by: Mom in Canada | July 6, 2006 11:18 AM

Nannies (or governesses) have ranged in fee based on their skills since at least the early 19th century. From Austen's _Emma_:

"Your musical knowledge alone would entitle you to name your own terms, have as many rooms as you like, and mix in the family as much as you chose; -- that is -- I do not know -- if you knew the harp, you might do all that, I am very sure; but you sing as well as play; -- yes, I really believe you might, even without the harp, stipulate for what you chose..."

Posted by: Historian | July 6, 2006 11:20 AM

Let me state unequivically for the record that I erred when I wrote that we should strive to provide mothers with the choice of whether or not to work. It goes without saying that fathers should get that choice too.

With that said, surely we all have something better to talk about than my unwitting gender assumptions.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 11:28 AM

>>Arlmom's post implies that staying home with kids fulltime is NOT real work, so the parent staying home shouldn't need a break.>>

I understand needing a break, of course. Babysitting co-ops, mother's day out programs, playgroups, relatives, neighbors, sitters--all options. I was just kind of stunned that so many people apparently have the luxury and wealth to pay for a *regular employee* to give them those breaks, on top of the wealth to be able to not work, especially since we hear so much about all the sacrifices all these people make to stay home. Heck of a sacrifice. I am either driving to and from work, working, or home with my kids. When do I get my break?

Posted by: Arlmom | July 6, 2006 11:29 AM

CEOs might not deliberately spend more on paper, but for official correspondence they're going to get the good stuff, not cheap paper. And from what I read in the papers, "frugal" isn't the first word that comes to mind with many CEOs. No one _needs_ a house in Martha's Vineyard, they get it for status and are willing to pay for it. Same could apply to the $100K nanny.

As for what people are worth, the more experienced I am in my field it seems the less time I spend at work and the more money I make.

Posted by: Historian | July 6, 2006 11:32 AM

I am so intrigued by this idea that families should have an automatic right to have the mother stay at home while the children are young. Even if you expand the idea to include the (shocking!) possibility of stay at home fathers...

Is the idea that parenting is so noble that all of society should pay the cost, through some sort of government-sponsored wealth redistribution program? Or that a working parent should automatically get paid more, to cover the cost of a spouse who chooses to stay home? Does this idea have any practical implementation aspect to it that I am missing, or it is akin to saying that we should all be able to fly to the moon whenever we want?!

Posted by: curious new mom | July 6, 2006 11:35 AM

I didn't really see arlmom's post as attacking a SAHM who needs a break. Maybe I read it wrong. I mean wasn't the article about the very rich who can afford to pay a lot of money for childcare. I don't know very any who have nannies because they need a beak.

Every mom needs a break whether they work or not. However, if you need a nanny to do things like yoga, have tea, go shopping with friends etc, then are you really a SAHM? Are you really different from the working moms who use childcare while she works? Just a thought.

Posted by: Scarry | July 6, 2006 11:36 AM

"Babysitting co-ops, mother's day out programs, playgroups, relatives, neighbors, sitters--all options...
I am either driving to and from work, working, or home with my kids. When do I get my break?"

Maybe you should try to avail yourself of some of the options you mentioned above.

Posted by: Curious | July 6, 2006 11:36 AM

Luxury nannies making 100K, Luxury bathrooms (article in the Post today) in every house.... is this for real? who can afford these things except the wealthy. Am I to believe that luxury bathrooms are now the norm for American bathrooms and luxury nannies are now the norm for American familys? Who makes this stuff up? Neither of these things has any relevance for the vast majority of Americans. It seems like a silly topic to me. How do we make child care available to the majority of working American families? That is something to discuss.

Posted by: notaluxurylivingamerican | July 6, 2006 11:38 AM

sorry, it should say I don't know any SAHM who have nannies becasue they need breaks.

Posted by: Scarry | July 6, 2006 11:38 AM

To answer your question, "curious new mom": Yes.

I would be much happier living in a country that is deeply in debt because we are paying to allow a parent to stay at home to raise a child as opposed to, say, a war of choice in Iraq.

The question as to whether we should pay someone more because they need to cover the cost of a spouse staying at home is a murkier question, but on the face of it I'm pretty cool with that idea as well.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 11:38 AM

Scarry, I think the women who have children, don't work (either volunteer or paid), and have full-time nannies are different from working moms who use childcare. They are avoiding all responsibility and indulging their whims while others raise their kids, paid their bills, etc. It reminds me of the Nanny Diaries where she talked about a "cast of thousands" who provide 24/7 "me" time to a woman who neither works nor parents (and her days are a mystery to us all).

Dare I call them lazy and spoiled?

Posted by: Unreal | July 6, 2006 11:39 AM

Glover Park wrote at 10:36 am "I applaud the women who make the choice to stay at home to raise their children. Indeed, I think it is the most noble work one can do."

Glover Park, unless YOU are one are one of those rare souls who would rather be compensated with compliments than a paycheck, calling stay-at-home moms "noble" is sexist condescension in disguise. Ever notice how "noble" and "selfless" are usually compliments slathered on women who earn next to nothing? As if women are supposed to be happy with paltry compliments in lieu of real financial recognition and independence. And these compliments are so empty -- unfortunately, what I've seen is that staying home with kids is a demotion in our country, in terms of your earning ability when you return to work, your leverage within your family, and even your social standing within the community.

We call mothers "noble" but we don't give them ANY of the power usually associated with nobility. This is unfair to moms and children, and destructive for our society overall.

Before anyone calls stay-at-home moms noble, I'd like to see them stay home with small kids for a few years in this country, or become a teacher or social worker or some other "noble" underpaid profession and come back and then let us know if it's fair to ask someone to trade a secure financial future that you control for a few anonymous pats on the back.

Think about the guilt and other motivations behind the lofty praise.

Posted by: Leslie | July 6, 2006 11:40 AM

"Arlmom's post implies that staying home with kids fulltime is NOT real work, so the parent staying home shouldn't need a break. That's a big problem facing SAHPs --people like Arlmom don't consider it "real work" (unless infant twins are involved?) so they are attacked for hiring help.

This attitude is ridiculous, and I've yet to find someone who has actually stayed home fulltime with multiple children for more than a few months who takes that position."

You found her. I took absolutely no offense to Arlmom's post; on the contrary, I agreed with her completely.

I have four children ages 3-14, and have been a full time SAHM for over 6 years. My younger children do not attend preschool and only participate in activites that I am there watching or actively participating in, so I (willingly, granted) have no "break" from children during weekdays. I don't say this to be high and mighty or to state that my way is better than anyone elses...just to point out that there are some of us out there who don't agree that hired help is necessary for SAHMs.

I belong to a babysitting co-op that I use for drs. appointments and volunteering in my older childrens' schools when I can't take my younger children along. Some of the moms in the co-op also use it to go work out, clean their houses uninterrupted, work part-time, go grocery shopping, or just have some time to themselves.

I also know parents who hire "mothers helpers" - young teens - to entertain their children while they're in the house but just need some quiet time.

And let's not forget about evenings and weekends (for most SAHPs, at least) when there is another parent around to give the SAHP some respite. There are MANY options other than hiring a high priced nanny.

Posted by: momof4 | July 6, 2006 11:43 AM

Wow, Glover Park, thanks for the candid response. It is rare that I hear people admitting that they would be willing to pay more in taxes (which, to be fair, you didn't actually say, but I am assuming, since that's the way to get out of the debt that you cite) to enjoy more benefits.

For the record, I still think it's a ridiculous idea, but kudos for the follow through!

Posted by: curious new mom | July 6, 2006 11:44 AM

unreal, you made a very good point.

Leslie,

Didn't you get enough sleep last night? geez, I don't think that glover park said anything he meant to be offensive. Although I can't speak for him. I'll just say that he didn't offend me.

Posted by: Scarry | July 6, 2006 11:46 AM

Glover Park, I cannot speak for other people, but I was in no way trying to attack you. However, dispelling gender assumptions is never a bad thing. I am glad that yours are gone, but the reason I decided to post a response was not to make you feel bad, but rather because I thought that other people may have the same ideas and thoughts that you did. Your idea seemed like a good one, theoretically - let's make it easier for women to have a choice to work or stay home. But without realizing it, that kind of statement only further pidgeonholes women into caregiver roles, and, in turn, causes male caregivers to be anomalies.

Posted by: Not Yet a Mom | July 6, 2006 11:48 AM

Leslie,
If you want to take me on, bring it. Because taking me to task for the use of a word like "noble" is pretty lame and pathetic.

I guess all of my comments about your bogus war of words in The Atlantic and the crocodile tears we should cry for super-rich families (like yours) who can afford to stay at home must have really touched a nerve.

You take up space wirting about the 100K a year nanny and issues like that, all the while avoiding genuinely important issues as to how we, as a nation, can allow every parent to do the NOBLE work of raising a child.

Perhaps your words would have more weight to them if you contributed your considerable book advance to an organization that provides quality child-care instead of a down payment on a house in the Hamptons.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 11:48 AM

Unreal, I am not lazy or spoiled. I saved my money for years so that when we had a child I could stop working, hire in-home childcare, and do things other than go to the office and gripe about having to put my little one in daycare. I have a part-time business and I do volunteer work. I also get massages and go to lunch with friends, take my daughter to the park, clean house and do laundry, and enjoy cooking meals for our family. I have family members nearby that I visit regularly (sometimes alone, sometimes with husband and daughter). I have a full life, one that I worked hard for, and it's ridiculous that anyone call me lazy simply because I can afford to have a life aside from caring for my little daughter all day long.

Posted by: L in Alexandria | July 6, 2006 11:53 AM

I bet that wasn't really Leslie posting at 11:40. It doesn't sound like her. She tries to stay pretty objective.

Posted by: Duh | July 6, 2006 11:53 AM

'Not Yet a Mom,' I appreciate what your saying and accept the gentle rebuke. I just didn't want a mistaken turn of phrase to overshadow what I earnestly believed was a point worthy of discussion: how to enable any parent to stay at home to raise a child.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 11:55 AM

L in Alexandria, you missed my point but actually proved it. Of course you're not lazy and spoiled. You have a part-time business and you do volunteer work. I'm not talking about moms like you. I'm talking about the moms who spend their days lunching with the girls, attending spa appointments and who knows what else while their children are being raised by a nanny and their husbands are working to bring home the bacon. My post is not directed at you.

Posted by: Unreal | July 6, 2006 11:56 AM

>>"Babysitting co-ops, mother's day out programs, playgroups, relatives, neighbors, sitters--all options...

Maybe you should try to avail yourself of some of the options you mentioned above.>>

Hee. I know. We do have a neighbor who sits for the kids sometimes on Friday nights. But with 2 working parents, we have only so much time to spend with the kids and to do house stuff, so we don't get out much. Also, I would point out that a lot of these things are designed for stay-at-home parents. I don't know any "mother's day out" programs available on Saturdays, etc. It would be great to drop them off for an hour or two so we could get our errands done, we could finish in half the time if we didn't have to deal with all the carseat unbuckling and stroller unfolding and...

I guess it's why all this talk of tax breaks and all bothers me. There isn't enough time and money for most of us to do all the things we want to do or to take much time for ourselves. Making trade-offs is the price of having kids, and I think it's worth it, which is why I don't expect anyone else to subsidize my choices. But can you blame me for being jealous of people who have kids but can afford to not work outside the home AND not work inside the home?

Posted by: Arlmom | July 6, 2006 11:57 AM

"[S]urely we all have something better to talk about than my unwitting gender assumptions."

Relax, Glover Park. No one is calling you sexist. The issue of what we expect of mothers and fathers is not about you. Or, at least, not about you exclusively. You didn't do anything that every single one of us has not done countless times in our lives: assume, or at least appear to have assumed, that women should be the primary caregivers within the family.

And as for your pleas that what you really meant is that both mothers and fathers should have the choice to work or not work, I'm frankly a bit disappointed. How is it that both the mother and the father can have this choice-- unless, that is, they are both the beneficiaries of sizeable trust funds? What I would rather hear is your take on how mothers and fathers should allocate the work of child rearing, given the realities that families need food, clothing, and shelter and want education, vacations, and other trappings of success. Don't cop out with an "everyone should have equal and unlimited choices" answer.

Posted by: LDC | July 6, 2006 12:02 PM

"Another fact of life for working parents: Our country needs more affordable high-quality child care."

Bottom line - paying child care providers well means that child care costs more (unless you're willing to let one individual care for many children - which, in the minds of most, militates against "quality").

Posted by: Economic Realities | July 6, 2006 12:02 PM

"But can you blame me for being jealous of people who have kids but can afford to not work outside the home AND not work inside the home? "

Oops - there's where you lost me Arlmom. ;o)

Are you jealous of them, or do you think it's unnecessary? Because your first post, I believe, said something about how you didn't understand why a SAHM would need a nanny. (On which I agreed with you completely.)

I'm not *jealous* of people who hire help so they can go get their nails done and go out for lunch with their friends. I don't get it and I think it's unnecessary and I think there's far too much emphasis in this country on the plight of the poor, overworked SAHM, but jealousy isn't part of the picture at all for me.

Posted by: momof4 | July 6, 2006 12:04 PM

Sorry, Unreal, but my life on the surface probably looks far more like the one you are putting down. My part-time business takes up maybe 10 hours per week and is just to keep my skills up. I was trying to say that sometimes people you think are lazing around are doing lots of things you're unaware of. I do plenty of housework and such, but when I'm out for lunch with my friends, I guess it looks like I "do nothing" all day.

I think you really don't know anyone who "spends their days lunching with the girls, attending spa appointments and who knows what else", because you can't say what else they do. Sure, there are super-wealthy women somewhere out there maybe who are doing this, but most are more involved with their kids and homes and volunteer work than you seem to think. I'm an introvert. I can't be with a toddler all day long. Shoot me for hiring a nanny so I can get out of the house. I know working mothers who say they would likely murder their kids if they were home with them all day. My child is being raised well and my husband and I spend plenty of time with her. What's the problem?

Posted by: L in Alexandria | July 6, 2006 12:05 PM

Glover Park -- I did actually contribute the Mommy Wars book advance to several organizations that provide quality child care: the 26 moms who wrote the essays in the book.

I did not mean to attack you personally -- I just do really think it is bogus to compliment SAHMs as "noble" when our country is unwilling to recognize them in any other ways. I'm giving our two-faced society grief -- and sorry if I hit you, personally, too hard in the process.

Posted by: Leslie | July 6, 2006 12:06 PM

"Before anyone calls stay-at-home moms noble, I'd like to see them stay home with small kids for a few years in this country, or become a teacher or social worker or some other "noble" underpaid profession and come back and then let us know if it's fair to ask someone to trade a secure financial future that you control for a few anonymous pats on the back.

Think about the guilt and other motivations behind the lofty praise."

These comments are downright bizarre. Most things that are truly noble represent a real personal sacrifice. We can't damand nobility and self-sacrifice from others as somehow being our due - but we sure as heck should appreciate it when it's given as a gift (ESPECIALLY when it's given by people who're willing to do more than the rest of us). What's amazing about the noble people I have known is that they DON'T consider their efforts a sacrifice, but a joy. And that, most likely, is the real difference between them and the rest of us.

Posted by: Huh? | July 6, 2006 12:08 PM

Unreal -- Why do moms get so much grief for leisure time activities? What about the dads who are on the golf course while they're wives go into labor? I think moms deserve a break without being bashed for it.

Posted by: Leslie | July 6, 2006 12:09 PM

Sorry, L, wrong again. I do know women just like the ones I described. My husband is an attorney and we regularly see several couples who have a situation much like the one I've described. The wives spend their days playing tennis, getting manicures and pedicures, meeting with interior decorators (for their new "project" homes), lunching, etc. These are not people I would choose to see socially, but we can't really avoid it. It is so very amusing to hear them fumble about when discussing the children. They are much more passionate when it comes to discussing the shortcomings of their staff.

I recognize that the overwhelming majority of moms who stay at home are not lazy and spoiled. But some are, and that's the point of my discussion.

Posted by: Unreal | July 6, 2006 12:12 PM

Think you are right on, Huh -- "What's amazing about the noble people I have known is that they DON'T consider their efforts a sacrifice, but a joy. And that, most likely, is the real difference between them and the rest of us."

But my point is directed towards people who call SAHMs "noble" in a meaningless "if I pat you on the back I can go back to my own selfish ways without feeling guilty" kind of way. I see a lot of this empty praise and I'd just like to see it turned into truly meaningful praise.

Posted by: Leslie | July 6, 2006 12:12 PM

"unfortunately, what I've seen is that staying home with kids is a demotion in our country, in terms of your earning ability when you return to work, your leverage within your family, and even your social standing within the community."

Does this really reconcile with an article on the high cost and high value of hiring someone else to raise your kids with the same care and quality that you'd provide personally, if you had the time and inclination to do so?

We can look at income as something entirely personal or you can face the reality that for most of us it is a family issue. Meaning that if both spouses work then you have to factor in child care, housekeeping and gardeners, not to mention dual commuting expenses.

After years of working and being a mom, I did the math and decided that, from a long-term perspective, my time was more valuable to my family if I invested it directly in them and not by working and paying for child care, etc. and investing it them indirectly. Our family income actually grew given the fewer expenses in the above, my husband being able to work longer hours in his private sector job (as opposted to my public sector job) as well as my having more time and attention to pay to family investments.

I can live with being demoted in Leslie's eyes. I'm the same person I was when I was working, no better, no worse. My compensation is the enjoyment and satisfaction I have investing in my family directly. We're lucky that after all these years of working that we have this level of independence and choice.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 12:14 PM

Woo, the gloves are off today. Leslie, since we're talking about Dads who play golf now, I have a problem with them, too. But in the scenario I'm discussing, the Dads are the ones who are working and the moms are participating in leisure time activities all day!

Posted by: Unreal | July 6, 2006 12:15 PM

Okay, Unreal, glad to see you criticizing the men too then! Don't like it when women become such an easy target. But I also think it's awfully easy to make assumptions about and criticize people when we just view their lives from the outside. Who knows what those people you observe actually feel like on the inside.

Posted by: Leslie | July 6, 2006 12:15 PM

Just want to make clear: it's not ME who is demoting SAHMs! I'm just reporting what I see. Don't shoot the messenger...

Posted by: Leslie | July 6, 2006 12:17 PM

LDC wrote: What I would rather hear is your take on how mothers and fathers should allocate the work of child rearing, given the realities that families need food, clothing, and shelter and want education, vacations, and other trappings of success. Don't cop out with an "everyone should have equal and unlimited choices" answer.

You present a fascinating question, and I'm not sure of the answer. In my own situation, I am in the process of trying to switch careers, which will likely mean leaving a job that pays well to start at the bottom in a new industry, or perhaps start a business of my own (I am an aspiring filmmaker.). COmbine this with the fact that right now, as I work in a good job with a good paycheck, my wife makes just about double what I make.

Does that mean that she should be forced to go back to work by dint of her bigger paycheck while I write sceenplays and documentary treatments? Well, I could become a stay at home Dad which would perhaps porivde something approaching a best-of-both-worlds scenario but I'm not so sure. I'm comfortable enough with myself to admit that there's some kind of deeply dormant pseudo Homo Neanderthalis thing going off in my mind at this. At the very least, I wish I could give my wife the ability to make her own choice on her own terms as to whether or not she wants to go back to work.

At the smae time, I feel like both parents should have an equal role/share, whatever you want to call it, in raising a child. Just because someone puts food on the table, etc. doesn't mean that they can totally cop out and not lift a finger around the house, help raise the child, etc. My father was like that and I hated it.

So that's the perspective I bring to it. Parenting to me, as well as marriage, is an equal endeavor. I believe that one needs to approach it thinking about the other person(s) at least as much, if not more, than one's self.

I hope I haven't avoiding your question and at leats provided something approaching a decent answer. If I have, I'm happy to keep trying to explain myself...

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 12:17 PM

Can we get a clarification? Is "Leslie" the "real" Leslie Morgan Steiner" or just another Leslie? Because, the "real" Leslie doesn't usually respond this often.

Please clarify,
Thanks

Posted by: LC | July 6, 2006 12:19 PM

Empty, I think. To outsiders, I think their lives look so wonderful and full of possibility, but every so often I hear a comment that makes me realize how purpose-less their days are.

And I'm with you about paying lip service to the "noble" stay at home moms while at the same time refusing to do much else. Reminds me of the time when the company I worked for raved about my work in my annual review but didn't give me a pay rise. Thanks, but no thanks!

Posted by: Unreal | July 6, 2006 12:19 PM

L in Alexandria: the "problem" may be that SAHMs with schedules like yours often get very huffy if it is suggested that they don't do as much work as working mothers, and claim that they are full-time mothers to justify their long lunches and trips to the spa. Nothing wrong with those things, mind you, but for a harried working mom who hasn't been out to lunch with friends in months, claims of equivalent effort might fall a bit flat.

Posted by: RR | July 6, 2006 12:20 PM

Someone posted a quote from actress Felicity Huffman to the effect that "staying home with kids is harder than being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company."

I have heard this assertion (or some variation) before, and I'm curious: what do people mean by "harder"? Do they mean more stressful? More intellectually challenging? Or is "harder" being used as a synonym for "more unpleasant"?

Just an observation: if "harder" is, indeed, being used as a synonym for "more unpleasant," then that more than explains the $100K salaries working parents (and perhaps even non-working parents) are willing to pay. Being wealthy (i.e. having disposible income) is all-about being willing to pay others to do tasks we would prefer not to do ourselves.

Posted by: BIOTC | July 6, 2006 12:25 PM

Leslie, you say you contributed your advance to the women who contributed to your book. Not so fast.

You paid them for their work -- which is as it should be. My question directly referred to contributions, not compensation.

As to the rest of your post, I guess I overreacted a bit and appreciate what your saying. But for my money, I like the word 'noble.'

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 12:26 PM

The issue of what people "deserve" in terms of financial compensation for their work belongs in the realm of economics, not morality.

Generally speaking, people are paid based on what they can do---that is, the value of their services to people who are seeking them. People who work as janitors are paid less because the work requires little in the way of preparation or skills. Many people could do this job; thus there's little competition for the skills of any one person. In contrast, people who run commercial cleaning services make more because their work requires knowledge of finance, recruitment and supervision of employees, and marketing, as well as the technical skills to make decisions as to, say, whether a new floor polisher would pay off in terms of quality and/or time saved over an older or less expensive model.

It's ridiculous, of course, in a moral sense that rock stars and athletes earn millions of dollars, but it is "what the market will bear". Season tickets for professional sports teams are expensive, but some people will pay to see highly skilled athletes perform.

The work of elementary school teachers is, no doubt, more important to our society, but few people are interested in paying to watch them perform. Until we face teacher shortages or raise our expectations of teachers, their salaries are not likely to rise substantially.

It's hardly surprising that the burn-out rate for teachers and social workers is high. The work is hard, and the pay is low. As Leslie said, nobility is nice, but is doesn't enable people to pay the rent, pay for braces for their kids' teeth, save for college, live in a nice neighborhood, or take vacations.

If someone is willing to pay $100,000 for a nanny, I say good for the nanny. If more people seek such services, salaries for nannies will rise overall, and people will have to make choices as to whether to pay for those services or find some other way to obtain childcare.

That's the way things work in a market economy. If we don't want things to work that way, we need to think in terms of public programs to provide care for young children, much as we provide education up through high school for everyone.

Posted by: THS | July 6, 2006 12:26 PM

I'm confused. What is the problem with SAHMs having nannies, housekeepers, dog walkers, lawn services, snow removal services, or any other service provider?
How does having these services make them lazy and spoiled?

Posted by: Marlo | July 6, 2006 12:26 PM

Glover, I don't know any SAHMs who would be offended at the "noble" comment, but nor do we feel it fits. Most SAHMs that I know don't feel noble, but we do feel lucky (when we don't feel like blowing our heads off).

Your comment is interesting, and part of the whole Mommy War dynamic - it seems like people often feel they have to couch talk of SAHMs in this rhetoric as if we're are a bunch of missionaries. And why not? If you put SAHMs down, woe is you (ask Linda Hirshman).

Being a SAHM is hard, but so what? Most of us had a little clue of what we were getting into. Lots of working mothers would love to have our problems.

As for working moms, I like how the Car Talk guys put it - their working mother consultant is named "Erasmus B. Dragon".

Posted by: MommaSteph | July 6, 2006 12:37 PM

Leslie wrote: "Glover Park wrote at 10:36 am "I applaud the women who make the choice to stay at home to raise their children. Indeed, I think it is the most noble work one can do." Glover Park, unless YOU are one are one of those rare souls who would rather be compensated with compliments than a paycheck, calling stay-at-home moms "noble" is sexist condescension in disguise."


Wow, this post really surprises me. After all, wasn't the topic of the column about respecting the choices of people who care for children full-time? I think Glover Park was making a very important point, that it is a valuable and respectable choice that should be available to all, not just the upper crust. I think those that cleared up the unwitting gender assumption made valid points and Glover Park, much to his credit, responded very well. But to say his use of the word noble makes him a sexist is really rich. He IS recognizing their value in saying that it is an important option that should be more widely available.

And as for your follow up, I'm not sure what "other ways" of recognition you are after, maybe some clarity on that would give some credence to what was otherwise came across to me as a very personal and somewhat gratuitous attack.

Posted by: Megan | July 6, 2006 12:39 PM

Marlo - thank you! Rich SAHMs are actually doing a service to the economy by providing so many jobs. Women, particularly wealthy women, make an easy target so people always seem to criticize them, not the men making those same decisions. Ever hear men called "overprivileged"? It's a term reserved exclusively for women and children, because it is so much safer to attack people who don't have the power to attack you back. Cowards!

And Leslie is Leslie Morgan Steiner. Just got tired of writing my whole name, especially when posting so often.

Posted by: Leslie | July 6, 2006 12:39 PM

"How does having these services make them lazy and spoiled?"

And what if they are lazy and spoiled? I hasten to say that I'm not in favor of people being lazy and spoiled, but we live in a country where, by and large, people get what they can pay for.

If we want to live in a different world, we have to have the political will to change it. Women's suffrage, civil rights legislation, the FMLA, and the ADA--to name just a few pieces of legislation that have expanded our rights and opportunities--didn't come about because our political leaders thought it would be nice to implement these changes. They came about because the affected parties worked hard to influence the people who had the power to make change.

As long as care for young children is regarded as an issue for every family to address on its own, we will have what we have now---a system in which many families can not find (or find it very difficult to find) the childcare services they would like to have because they can't pay for them.

Posted by: THS | July 6, 2006 12:39 PM

I agree with the posters who assert that $100K for a nanny is about prestige more so than child care or value of the occupation of nanny. In my increasingly upper-middle class neighborhood in DC that majority of moms that I speak to who have nannies pay them under the table and engage in highly illegal employment situations since it is "too expensive otherwise".

Posted by: mommyworks | July 6, 2006 12:41 PM

The "real" Leslie knows the difference between "they're" and "their". The Leslie posting above is a fake, I'm certain.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 12:42 PM

marlo,

I don't care if they have all those things but, they can expect that some people are going to say they are spoiled and maybe lazy.

I've come to expect that many people feel superior to me becasue I work and put my kid in day care. I get really annoyed when people say they are a full time moms, as oppossed to a part time mom which is how some people see working mothers.

It's just the way the world is I geuss. My point was that is you don't stay home with the kids most of the time, how are you a SAHM?

Posted by: Scarry | July 6, 2006 12:43 PM

"How does having these services make them lazy and spoiled?"

In some way, don't most people strive to be "lazy and spoiled" some day? Either we work hard now so that we can be lazy and spoiled when we retire or (some people) marry and procreate with someone who will allow them to be lazy and spoiled.
Only, if you work for it, you won't have to rely on someone else to "allow" you to be lazy and spoiled. If you rely on someone else, then they can take the priviledge away when you get old and fat and they decide to drop you and let someone else be lazy and spoiled on their dime.

Just my opinion...just my opinion...just my opinion

Posted by: Working Man | July 6, 2006 12:45 PM

MommaSteph, I'd like to gently split a hair with you because I think, to a certain degree, one does have to be a bit careful in discussing SATMs (and Dads). My only reason in saying that is because they do recieve so little respect and value in society and frankly that bothers me.

Also, I gently dispute your willingness to not think of yourself as a missionary. Perhaps missionary isn;t the right word, but from my perspective I think stay at home parents ARE doing some of the most important work one can do, and I reserve my right to put all of you on a pedestal. :)

BTW, Leslie, I will call anyone overprivileged regardless of their gender...

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 12:46 PM

I am 100% certain that Leslie isn't Leslie Morgan Steiner.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 12:48 PM

"Most SAHMs that I know don't feel noble, but we do feel lucky (when we don't feel like blowing our heads off)."

MommaSteph, that really made me laugh. So true! I think the discussion between you and Glover Park is interesting - staying at home with kids, regardless of your sex, is to my mind a privilege, a huge and difficult responsibility, and a way of life all at once. That makes it hard to describe and ascribe value to without falling into stereotypes or antagonizing someone else.

Posted by: Megan | July 6, 2006 12:56 PM

>>How does having these services make them lazy and spoiled?>>

It doesn't. But it does deflate the argument so many SAHMs self-righteously throw around (on this blog anyhow), that they are "sacrificing" to be able to stay at home. (Back to the whole "noble" thing.)

Posted by: Arlmom | July 6, 2006 12:58 PM

Aw, Megan, is that you I just saw running screaming down the street?

:-)

It's funny that you call being a SAHM a privilege (I do, too), but of course time was it was largely portrayed as a prison. Maybe being able to choose this lifestyle made it seem especially attractive.

I do wonder (and this might be an interesting post for here at a later date) how many couples COULD choose to have a parent at-home but they just don't realize it...you can save an awful lot if you only have one used car, no vacations, no take-out, no dinners out, and one pair of shoes that you wear into the ground. I know that sounds judgemental, but I don't mean it that way - I think it's just that in our culture we tend to make assumptions about needs vs. wants that aren't necessarily grounded in reality.

OK that's my last post, lest I be accused of neglecting my children, who have been patiently eating lunch here while I type.

http://momsquawk.wordpress.com/

Posted by: MommaSteph | July 6, 2006 1:08 PM

"I am so intrigued by this idea that families should have an automatic right to have the mother stay at home while the children are young.

Is the idea that parenting is so noble that all of society should pay the cost, through some sort of government-sponsored wealth redistribution program? Or that a working parent should automatically get paid more, to cover the cost of a spouse who chooses to stay home?"

I am also intrigued by this idea. Last time I checked, people and animals were producing offspring every minute of every day. It's great that we as a population are so concerned with raising good kids, but to consider it "noble"?

Noble is being a soldier or firefighter or police officer--a position that protects society that could cost a person's life.

Parenting is something that most people in the world are going to do that does not protect society or threaten the parent's very lives. It's an important, life-long responsibility, but it's far from noble. Best of all, it's a choice! If you think it's the worst job in the world, you don't have to do it!

In fact, if the government were going to subsidize anything, it should be paying for people not to breed. I mean, have you seen the traffic, the overpopulation in schools, prison, and everywhere else? Have you seen the children starving in underdeveloped countries?

But I digress...

To tie my rant to the most recent dicussion, with daycare and nannies, as with everything in life, you get what you pay for. Imagine the pitfalls of something like universal healthcare for childcare. I firmly believe that healthcare should be available for all people in the U.S. However, it would be essential to attract the same caliber of doctors and nurses to make sure the quality of healthcare did not suffer. The same would go for any widespread plan for childcare. The more it's subsidized or regualted, the more it becomes like other minimum wage positions. The field will continue to attract unskilled workers, while better skilled childcare providers continue to charge more for specialized service.

Posted by: Meesh | July 6, 2006 1:09 PM

This is my own take on the "lazy and spoiled" comments; I will do my best not to generalize here.

It would seem that monniker of "lazy and spoiled" would deal most with what are people doing with the time they have freed up using nannies, dog walkers, gardeners, etc. There are some folks out there (men and women alike) that are using that time for volunteering, schooling, business work, etc: things that can help make a difference in a community and within their own family. Some likely use it for a little "me" downtime or for couples' time or even family time (someone minds the house while the family spends time together). These are all fine and dandy pursuits. Then there are those who use all the extra time for exclusive 24/7 "me" time -- these are the cases where children and (sometimes) spouses are less family and more fashion accessory: just something to trot out for photo opportunities. The folks in the last category would more likely fit the label.

(Again, just my two cents -- let the flaming commence...)

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | July 6, 2006 1:12 PM

$100K for a nanny is perfectly fine if both the employer and employee agree it's a fair salary. What I can't imagine is why the wealthy parents -- particularly those who could afford to have a stay-at-home mom or dad -- would keep two jobs and hire a nanny anyway (NOTE: I'm not yet a father, but someday.)

It's worth some financial sacrifice to actually be with your kids, even if a nanny would be just as good a caregiver.

Consider: The parents are Jewish liberal Democrats in a left coast city, with all the social and political views you'd associate with the description. The nanny is a Catholic midwestern farmwife, though a Democrat you would call her a social conservative by any accounting. The kids are raised by the nanny pretty much all the time.

Whose values do they pick up, the parents' or the nanny's?

With an absent-parent view of family life, are they likely to want families of their own, or do they look on family life negatively?

I'll be back later with my answers...

A big kudos to all the stay-at-home parents reading this. Don't listen to anyone who tells you to put your career first. You made a great decision, and I hope you are able to enjoy it every day.

Posted by: I'll be anonymous today | July 6, 2006 1:15 PM

"Being a SAHM is hard, but so what? Most of us had a little clue of what we were getting into."

That cracks me up! How on earth do so many women have "little clue" of what it takes to be home with a child or children all day? I have no children and I don't have children because to me it was obvious since I was, uh, 12 years old how much work it takes to take care of young children! It would make more sense if most women had working mothers and no siblings, but many of us had SAHMs and younger siblings and we saw firsthand. If not, didn't you have friends or relatives older than you who had children?

As for people who hire nannies or other help so they can have some time to themselves now and then, as a poster said above, why not? Isn't that what most people aspire to? I don't see many people who DO have that luxury putting down working women or SAHMs who they know are busy with children all day and can't afford outside help. All this fighting seems so unnecessary and this side is jealous of that side or this side demands to be given more credit for having the harder time than everyone else. Anyway, to end my post: Raising children is time-consuming, emotionally draining, and difficult work that you will do 24-7 until they are in their late teens, at least. If you have no clue as to how much work children are, then please wait to have kids until you DO know.

Posted by: No kids, thank heavens! | July 6, 2006 1:17 PM

To Curious New Mom;

I think Glover Park's idea of increased pay for child care workers is a great idea. We could reduce the cost of the war by 1 billion per day and divvy that out to the child care centers. The point is to make it into a highly sought-after position so that people with higher education want to enter that profession.

Same for teachers. My belief is that all teachers' salaries should start at $80k in the DC area, pro-rated for the number of months they work. If they teach Summer school, they get full pay. Without, they would get 3/4 pay, or $60k. There should be a nation-wide payscale, with adjustments for cost of living.

Would I pay a higher tax for that? Absolutely. Much more readily than if I am taxed for building new roads or stadiums we don't need.

Posted by: Working Dad | July 6, 2006 1:25 PM

To No kids, thank heavens!

I think you misread this statement: "Being a SAHM is hard, but so what? Most of us had a little clue of what we were getting into."

The writer didn't say that SAHMs had "little clue", but "a little clue". The writer is saying that people did, in fact, have some clue about what they were getting into when they have kids.

Posted by: THS | July 6, 2006 1:26 PM

"Consider: The parents are Jewish liberal Democrats in a left coast city, with all the social and political views you'd associate with the description. The nanny is a Catholic midwestern farmwife, though a Democrat you would call her a social conservative by any accounting. The kids are raised by the nanny pretty much all the time."

My guess is that people who are hiring an individual full-time care giver will probably hire someone who has values they agree with, because they will likely realize that this person will have enormous influence on their child. Even in looking for day care for half days we made sure to find one that we felt would not impart values that were contrary to ours.

I understand your larger point about who is spending the most time with your child, but assuming that the parents will not exercise care in who they hire seems extreme.

Posted by: Megan | July 6, 2006 1:27 PM

THS, you may be right. It's just a weird way to word that statement, and I have had so many friends who had a child and then were flabbergasted at how much work (and expense) it involved. So, I guess I'm still going from their bafflement, which surprised me every single time, because I couldn't believe that they truly expected it to be smooth and simple, all evidence to the contrary. My best friend thought she'd be up and starting her own home-based business a month after giving birth. I warned her about the whole "lack of sleep" thing and she didn't seem to think that was possible. !

Posted by: No kids | July 6, 2006 1:30 PM

Everybody makes choices. Some of those choices feel like a sacrifice.

A. Giving up
i.) a blossoming career
ii.) a paycheck
iii.) a sense of professional worth?
iv.) regular adult interaction?
v.) those luxuries?
vi.) golf?

to B:
i.)nurture infants, toddlers, home school, guide teens, provide medical other attention for disabled...
ii.)pass on my ethical code/value system
iii.)provide for the home (shared or unshared with slacker spouse)ie cook, clean, shop, taxi, tutor, nurse

vs

A1. Going back to the ranks of the employed
i.) after becoming a parent
ii.) to retain future career upside
iii.) be a good role model for the kids
iv.) for the valuable contribution of the work to society
v.) to make the workplace fair to working parents by asserting my rights (Dieu et Mon Droit)
vi.) provide knock on employment to nannies, day care professionals, attourneys, house cleaners, peapod, laundry services, housekeepers

to pay/govt subsidized pay surrogates (family, day care, schools, nannies: live-in; live out; au pair; et possiblement au revoir avec mon epouse) provide B: (above)

is one of those really fun choices that I can just chat about for months! Today's topic is whether an educated nanny deserves $100k, AND whether that $100k shows that Americans are beginning to value quality home care more.

Wheee. Depends and depends.

Will the real Leslie please provide proof of identification.

Posted by: Fo3 | July 6, 2006 1:35 PM

Fo3, that's awesome!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 1:39 PM

1. I don't think being a SAHM is "noble." I'd settle for the people in my life (my husband, children, parents, ils, siblings, friends, etc.) recognizing that I'm doing the right thing by my children and putting value on what I do. Not by assigning some meaningless salary to it or calling it noble or giving me tax breaks, but just recognition that "what you're doing is important."

2. Unless there are extraordinary circumstances (i.e. a child with severe special needs), being a SAHM is NOT the most difficult job in the world, and even if it was, I'm with "No kids" in that I'd sometimes like to say "HELLO!!!!" when I hear people say that they didn't know what they were getting into. We're bombarded with the idea that parenting is tough, and 24/7 physical presence parenting gets even more press. Television shows, books, magazines, the Internet - it's *everywhere.* If I hear Dr. Phil say one more time that being a SAHM is the equivalent of two full time jobs, I'm going to scream. I worked full time outside the home for my first 8 years of parenting, and I'll be the first one to say that it's FAR more difficult - perhaps in all ways except for financial recognition - to be a working parent than to be a SAHP.

3. Regarding whether or not it means someone is spoiled & lazy to hire outside help (nanny or otherwise) when they don't work outside the home....I don't think I'll go so far as to say it's being spoiled and lazy. However, I don't aspire to be spoiled and lazy as some others are suggesting is a human trait. And there are things I could technically afford - I could afford someone to clean my house every couple of weeks, or to mow the lawn, or to hire a mothers' helper...but why should I do that when I already have balance between my work and personal time?

It seems to me like some SAHMs spend so much time fretting over their burden that they're not seeing the forest for the trees. They're not recognizing that they're already going to the gym three times a week and utilizing the daycare there, to book club once a week and mom's night out once a month while dad stays home with the kids, and watching daytime TV and surfing the internet for two hours every afternoon while the children nap. And then they're also spending untold hours reading books with titles like "How to raise your children without losing your mind" and pouring over parenting magazines that tell them they need to MAKE TIME FOR THEMSELVES!! and complaining to their girlfriends at playgroup that they have such a HARD JOB. Get real.

Posted by: momof4 | July 6, 2006 1:40 PM

Any actual CEO reading this blog? Please tune in -- I'd love to hear what you've got to say...

Posted by: UFO | July 6, 2006 1:42 PM

momof4,

You're my hero. Other than a 4 month maternity leave for each of my 2 children, I have always worked fulltime outside of the home. I NEVER believed that it was harder to be SAHM than WOHM, but didn't feel qualified to really say it since I was home for only a short time. Not to say that SAHM do not work hard and do valuable things, but it seems to me that a lot of what they do is not mandatory. Housework, volunteering, and even caring for your children beyond basic needs (think hours of flash cards) can be as low-key or intense as the moms make it. Not so the job - not too many can decide to take a break for a few hours while someone is napping and do the work later.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 1:49 PM

"The article explains what most moms (and at least a few dads) already know -- that raising children is a serious job that demands equally serious compensation."

I thought the "compensation" for raising children was...well-raised children.

Who knew it was all about the almighty dollar?

How weird that parents have children, work outside the home, and then pay big bucks to someone else to raise them.

My son attends day care. But there's no way I consider that paying someone to "raise" him. He spends most of his time with me. If I reached the point where I felt someone else was "raising" my child, I'd quit my job today.

Posted by: MD Mom | July 6, 2006 1:50 PM

"Is this right--that 32% of families with nannies are *not* dual income? One person makes enough for the other to stay home and still pay a third person to watch the kids? I understand if you had infant twins or something, needing some help, but otherwise...

Posted by: Arlmom | July 6, 2006 09:33 AM"

That "otherwise" includes a LOT of single parents. Not everyone has two parents in their life ... Life, unfortunately, includes almost a majority of kids with single parents...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 1:53 PM

So, I think a lot of this discussion really has to do with how we value the task of raising children. Economist makes the point that capitalism works better if we put price tags on all things. So, let's let SAH's (men and women) put a price tag on their services. I'm not going to pretend I'm worth 100K, but it would not be unreasonable for me to be worth 35-50K in the DC market.

I don't expect anyone to give me a check, but it would be nice if Uncle Sam reduced the gross amount we get taxed on by that amount as a thank you for doing a good job raising future taxpayers.

Someone earlier today hit it dead on. Why can we support women who work in childcare as doing important work (remember all the praise a few weeks ago for the NY nanny who called her job the most important one she'll ever do), and so much sneering about women like me with PhDs taking some time off a traditional career path to raise babies?

Posted by: VAMom | July 6, 2006 1:57 PM

>>I don't expect anyone to give me a check, but it would be nice if Uncle Sam reduced the gross amount we get taxed on by that amount as a thank you for doing a good job raising future taxpayers.>>

OK--if that applies to all parents, including those who work. Because I think we are all trying to do a good job raising our kids.

Posted by: Another working mom | July 6, 2006 2:01 PM

I didn't say that most of us aspire to be spoiled and lazy, what I meant was that we aspire to have more time to ourselves. Isn't that true? If not, why do so many parents (especially moms) say they've "lost themselves" and that they "never have time" to do anything for themselves. The magazines sure paint this picture. That's why I hire a nanny. I want more time to myself. I have never said that I work as hard as working moms and/or SAH moms. I know that I don't, and THAT was my choice! I have no desire to be worn out by childcare and work stresses, so I am grateful that I have the resources to hire excellent childcare and live a bit of life for myself, my husband, and my child. Given the option, isn't that what most people would do?

Posted by: L in Alexandria | July 6, 2006 2:02 PM

"I don't expect anyone to give me a check, but it would be nice if Uncle Sam reduced the gross amount we get taxed on by that amount as a thank you for doing a good job raising future taxpayers."

How could this be verified?

Posted by: June | July 6, 2006 2:05 PM

I really have to take issue with some of these comments. SAHM IS a hard job. I worked too for the first couple of years, but now I don't. Frankly, it was easier in many ways when I was working. I have 3 children under the age of 7 and one more due in November. I don't go to the gym - we can't afford it. Taking all 3 kids to the store at the same time is absolute hell. Running errands is ridiculously time consuming because of all buckling in and unbuckling and keeping kids from running all over. I love the time home with the kids, but I hate the housework, and it is almost impossible to get it done because the kids are too little to help out much or at least refrain from making a bigger mess in the living room while I'm trying to scrub toilets out in poorly ventilated rooms. I don't have a cleaning lady, gardener, nanny, or anything like that; I occassionally use peapod, but that is a bit more expensive than going to the store, as I find Giant as a whole one of the more expensive grocery stores, and Peapod doesn't run as many specials as they do in the actual stores. My DH is a computer programmer with long hours and a 1.5 hour commute each way - he doesn't usually see the kids much during the week at all. Mostly, though, is the isolation that I feel here - most parents are working outside the home, so this place is a ghost town during the day. I don't have a mother, but even if I did she would be of an age where she would be working full time, just like my father and inlaws do, so no family interaction, either. Many times it's intellectually stifling, as well. It is difficult, not to mention expensive, to find babysitting for 3 kids as young as mine so that I CAN get a break, go to the doctor for a gyn exam; teenagers can make more money working retail, and do.

Mind you, I'm not complaining, I knew it would be like this before I reached the conclusion that it was better for my family for me to not work outside the home. My husband and I recognized that it was a big sacrifice for one of us to stay home - he would happily do it, too, but he makes more than double what I could pull down since he has a "scientific" degree and mine is liberal arts. But I do take issue with people saying it is easy, or implying that I sit around all day doing nothing. It is mind bogglingly hard work. When I worked outside the home I actually felt more balanced, because my work allowed me to get a break from my kids, talk to adults for a while, and do some work exercising different parts of my brain than I do dealing with a 2 year old temper tantrum in a parking lot, yet I also spent plenty of time with my kids. Having a 3rd child made it not worth it for me to continue to work outside the home. It was the right decision for our family at this time - when the newest baby is 4 or so I will probably go back to work, and I'm investigating trying to find freelance work in the interim to keep my skills up.

Oh, and on that note, all those suggesting working at home as a viable option to daycare, ever try and write an article or do some other "adult work" while 3 kids run around playing their kid play and arguing and fighting and such? Kinda hard to concentrate that way - even working from home, you still need affordable child care. Watching tv or working while a child naps? Maybe if you have one, but not 3, and what if they don't nap? And by the time they're in bed, I'm too exhausted from just keeping up with them and the house to be able to do quality work.

Sorry for the long post, but it is a touchy thing when SAHM's or SAHD's are portrayed as getting all kinds of advantages over working parents - "Sitting around watching soaps and eating bon bons" syndrome, I like to call it. I've never watched a soap, wouldn't know a bon bon if I stepped on it, and no one I know who stays at home does, either.

Posted by: SAHM | July 6, 2006 2:07 PM


> I don't expect anyone to give me a check, but it would be nice if Uncle Sam reduced the gross amount we get taxed on by that amount as a thank you for doing a good job raising future taxpayers.

What about single parents? The government today has a very strong and clear policy for them: GO TO WORK. You will not get government assistance unless you are out there working. Never mind that for low-skilled women, in particular, the amount they are likely to make working is eaten up by the cost of child care. I don't know how we would square a policy of tax breaks for married, middle-class families in which one parent chooses to stay home, versus the mandate that (mostly poor) single (mostly women) parents face to get working or else. Wouldn't these women be "doing a good job raising future taxpayers" as well?

I remember being at an event, many years ago, when "welfare reform" was first rolling out. Sen. Slade Gorton, one of the sponsors of the legislation, was asked how he reconciled the legislation with his own stated belief that children were better off with a parent staying home to raise them. It was the first evidence I'd seen that you could actually stop a politician from talking.


Posted by: Brian | July 6, 2006 2:13 PM

Criticizing someone's decisions about childbearing is a touchy business, but I think almost anyone would find having three children under seven (and soon to be four children under eight) a challenging enterprise.

How about fewer kids? However harsh it may sound, the world doesn't need more kids, especially American kids, who, like all the rest of us, overconsume the world's resources relative to people from other countries.

Posted by: Wearing flame-retardant suit | July 6, 2006 2:15 PM

L in Alexandria: The fact that you are able to avoid being "worn out by childcare and work stresses" and that you have "the resources to hire excellent childcare and live a bit of life for myself, my husband, and my child" when so many can't means that you are spoiled. Don't get upset when people point that out. Just enjoy it. Do you deserve to be spoiled? Who knows and who cares?

Posted by: BEN | July 6, 2006 2:16 PM

"I have no desire to be worn out by childcare and work stresses, so I am grateful that I have the resources to hire excellent childcare and live a bit of life for myself, my husband, and my child. Given the option, isn't that what most people would do?"

I don't think so, and I'll tell you why-- I like my responsibilities. If I didn't have people counting on me, I'd find some other task where I was needed, or I'd be bored. I'm confused about something you wrote-- how does hiring childcare allow you to "live a bit of life for myself, my husband, and my child.?" I can understand that it give you and your husband more freedom, but your child?

Posted by: WiSAHM | July 6, 2006 2:16 PM

"Oh, and on that note, all those suggesting working at home as a viable option to daycare, ever try and write an article or do some other "adult work" while 3 kids run around playing their kid play and arguing and fighting and such?"

I was just trying to make a suggestion and be helpful. I am a writer and it works for me. I only have one child and I only plan on haivng one more. To each their own.

Posted by: Scarry | July 6, 2006 2:16 PM

"It was the first evidence I'd seen that you could actually stop a politician from talking."

Great line, Brian!

Posted by: THS | July 6, 2006 2:17 PM

Well written SAHM! The frenetic pace in your prose reminds me of my house. We have found that things seem most managable when none of the kids are two, and nobody's pregnant. Makes us laugh when we think how busy we thought we were with one kid. Amazing how little darlings destroy a house aint it? I think my wife is already praying for school to start.

Posted by: Fo3 | July 6, 2006 2:21 PM

Unlike most nanny-location websites out there, http://www.dcnanny.com/ will help you find a good nanny for FREE!

E

Posted by: WJE | July 6, 2006 2:24 PM

Yes, having fewer kids would have been another option, but sometimes it IS completely out of our control - I don't think I know anyone who is married who is celibate, and sometimes birth control just doesn't work. Surgery is next up on the list for us, for both my husband and myself. We had planned to stop at 2, and while I don't plan to go into sordid details in what is a very private matter, what happened happened and we now have to live up to the responsibility of that.

I don't criticize those who choose to have no children, or fewer children; I just wish there wasn't a societal perception that SAHM's have it easy. We don't. It is hard financially, physically, and emotionally. Yet if we are going to even maintain our society in this country, there need to be more people, and good ones, too. I know enough people who have chosen to not, or cannot, have children of their own, to more than account for my two extras in terms of replacement value population maintenance.

Posted by: SAHM | July 6, 2006 2:28 PM

I have three kids with one on the way. I don't have any time to myself. Do you see the problem here.

Posted by: give me a break | July 6, 2006 2:28 PM

Leslie, are you saying that nannies should be more affordable? I agree but the market dictates otherwise... As long as there are parents who can afford $100K nannies only two income highly paid career couples will continue to be able to afford it. I don't think that those families who could afford to pay for a nanny even at the lower end of the nanny salary scale, would suddenly switch to daycare. In fact, they consciously chose NOT to go daycare route to avoid a 12-hour days since they probably have to work long hours to afford that nanny............

Posted by: also from dc | July 6, 2006 2:30 PM

poster at 1:49 -

SAHMs do not get to choose when (or even if) we are going to take a break while someone naps and do the work later. Many people do get a lunch break and perhaps a break at some other time of the day. I'm not trying to say either works harder, but it always bothers me when people think a SAHM gets huge chunks of time whenever we want.

Posted by: mwh | July 6, 2006 2:32 PM

Looking at the posts regarding being a SAHP being a hard "job," it seems to me that how you feel about it will depend in large part on your personality and that of your child and the type of work you do. My husband and I both found being a full time SAHP to be harder than being a working parent. I am extremely lucky to have a great job that I find challenging and fulfilling. I enjoy my time at work (though of course there are days that it makes me crazy, tired, cranky etc), and I enjoy the time I spend with my son in the mornings, evening, and now at lunch as I can work from home most days.

When I was a SAHM, I found it to be draining in so many ways and not challenging enough in others. I loved the closeness with my son but I was much more exhausted and cranky at the end of the day than I am now. My husband had the same experience (though he did it for a much shorter time) and ended up going back to work part time as well. We've found a great balance now, and it's clear that both of us are more cut out for this situation than for a full time SAH gig.

On the other hand, I know there are lot of parents who have the opposite experience, like momof4, and find that being a WOHP to be much harder.

For that reason, I think it's pointless to argue about who has it better or worse or who is a better or worse parent because of their choices. It's just going to depend on the individual, as Fo3 so cleverly outlined.

Posted by: Megan | July 6, 2006 2:35 PM

I am a working mom because I chose to work. My husband makes plenty of money so I could stay home if I wanted to. I dont want to. For the SAHPs that have the talent to stay home, I give you a heartfelt applause because I cannot do it. I dont have the patience amd understanding to deal with my 2 wee kids. Dont get me wrong -- I love them beyond all recognition, but I recognize that I am not the best resource for my children at these ages. Does anyone think that sending your kids to school for 8 hours a day, plus after school activities (soccer, scouts etc) means that someone else is "raising" your kids? If not, why is it different not to be the only one around your child from birth to 5? I think SAHPs who are good at it (knowing that everyone has weak poitns) should absolutely stay at home. I am just not one of those people. And to head off the argument that I just should not have had children . . . I dont agree (obviously) but then we get into the abortion issue because my son was a beautiful surprise.

To tie this into today's post -- we have a wonderful nany who is amazing with our children and is like a member of our family. I woudl pay her whatever I need to to make her happy.

Posted by: Marie | July 6, 2006 2:36 PM

How many children did you have when you stopped working? One, or maybe two? I can't tell from your statement that you only worked for the first couple of years. While I always agree that it is not easy to be SAHM, I still think it is harder to be WOHM. If you added a full-time job to what you are doing now, it would be harder than just doing what you are doing now. It would still be hard to run errands and buckle seat belts and you would have to do it after your outside job. So maybe your life now, pregnant with 3 children, is harder than when you worked, but you can't really compare the two if you didn't also have 3 children when you were working.

Posted by: to SAHM | July 6, 2006 2:37 PM

Ms. Steiner - you paid your book advance to the 26 upper- and upper-middle class women who wrote essays for your book from your book advance rather than donating the money to a worthwhile cause or causes? Those women have more money than most in this country, and while I'm sure they were very grateful for the monetary appreciation, what a shame you did not choose to do something more meaningful with the money. I would have even respected you more if you had kept the money yourself, since your argument that you needed to go back to work to achieve parity with your husband in your relationship led you to write the book in the first place. Shame on you, Leslie. You could have done some good, but you chose to be indulgent instead. I will certainly not be buying your book, or encouraging others to do so.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 2:38 PM

I agree with the above poster who stated being a SAHM is a hard job.

I worked in the day care field, as I stated above, financially it would not make sense for me to hire out child care so I could go take care of someone else's children in a day care situation.

I do not go to the gym- can't afford it, I spend my days with my boys, playing, doing crafts, taking my oldest to school, helping with his fine motor skills etc.

Staying home is as hard a job, as a wohm.....it's just that our lives evolve around different job descriptions.

I also do not hire anyone to take care of my kids (although my littlest will be attending a Mom and tot playgroup in the fall for socialization), my hubby and I rarely go out and if we do my parent's or inlaws watch the kids.

I do not look at myself as sacrificing my role or my career- I am accomplishing as much as if I were to enter my day care career field again;

My day is devoted to raising my boys with morals and standards, my contribution to society will not be economically viable through the eyes of a financial analyst, but raising my boys to be decent and moral will be legacy and joy.

It saddens me that many do not respect my choice to stay home, many who ask why I do it....

I simply state, Why would I go to work in a day care centre to take care of other people's children, just to make barely enough money to have someone else take care of my kids."

Dollars and common sense here folks and instead of bashing stay at home moms, please know that this one does not consider my children, nor my daily household tasks a burdern....it is a daily part of my noble profession of being a "retired" Early Childhood Educator who provides child care for her own beloved children in a home environment.

Posted by: Mom in Canada | July 6, 2006 2:42 PM

One thing we need to remember when we talk about the flexibility or other pluses associated with SAHP is that not all of them have the same work load and I don't mean hired help or even an invovled spouse. I mean 3 children under the age of 7 is different than one five year old. Two in diapers is different than only one in diapers and a six-year old that likes to help. School age children vs pre-school children. High school vs elementary school age., etc. And it should go without saying that it also changes; those infants will someday be in school.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 2:43 PM

The idea that Leslie should donate the proceeds from the sale of her book or that the contributors should not be paid is ridiculous. Do we really want to lengthen the already long list of unpaid work that women do?

Furthermore, neither you nor anyone else here has any idea what Leslie and her husband contribute to charitable causes.

Posted by: THS | July 6, 2006 2:45 PM

To SAHM--I have no children and never wanted any for several reasons. And while I (intellectually) understand and empathize with a lot of the ideas on the various sides of the issues covered in this interesting blog, I have read very few opinions as persuasive and clear and beautifully expressed as yours. I've been a bit dismissive of SAHMs in the past, but you've convinced me otherwise. I think the Post should hire you to write a regular column...

Posted by: Observer | July 6, 2006 2:46 PM

Re: Uncle Sam

My point was not about doing a good job raising children. The point was about valuing (in an economic sense) the work that parents who stay at home do. The work does have a dollar value, as we all know, as it gets outsourced frequently. Why can that not somehow be reflected in our economic system?

And, why would it be better to take my skills and go make 100K being a caretaker to someone else's children, yet it's a waste of my skills to be home with my own daughter? It's a double standard.

Posted by: VAMom | July 6, 2006 2:46 PM

THS, I think you're being a bit too literal and not looking at the point in context.

As I have stated several times over the course of this conversation, I really cannot feel much sympathy for a SAHP who spends their day out to lunch, shopping, etc. while the nanny takes care of the child. Or even if the SAHP is taking care of the child themselves, I have a touch time feeling sympathy for them because it is something I cannot afford.

Leslie would like us to feel sorry for them. But as has been pointed out here and in the pages where her book has been reviewed, a far better cause of concern would be for us to think about providing that option to every parent that wants it, not just the ones that can afford it.

So it begs the very obvious question of what, if anything, Leslie is doing to make that happen.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 2:52 PM

To VAMom: Seems you want to be paid sooner rather than later, or rather, both sooner and later. Theoretically, the children you are caretaking now (for free) will be your caretakers (for free) when you are aged. From an economic standpoint, you may come out on top. The old-old are one of the fastest-growing segments of the population, so while you may need to intensively care for your children over a roughly 10-15 year period, your children may need to care for you for 20+ years. If you think it's difficult and expensive to hire a nanny, try to find a good and compassionate caretaker for the fragile elderly for ANY amount of money.

Posted by: Observer | July 6, 2006 2:57 PM

I guess I shouldn't have said couple - I worked until the youngest here was 1, so it wasn't all that long ago; I've been home just over a year now. The difference when I was working was that I could use my lunch time to run quick errands that now I have to tote extra people along, and the work itself combatted the isolationist/non intellectual side was well, so I was more patient with them when I did have to take them along. The primary reason I chose to stay home (and I'm very grateful I have the choice) was economic, as with commuting, ordering out or doing takeout, cost of work wardrobe and other related expenses, and the cost of childcare for that many people (my oldest just finished kindergarten due to a late birthday, and to tie in to today's topic, a good nanny, or even a mediocre one, wasn't something we could afford) we were spending a LOT more than I was making or could hope to make over the next 5 years or so, and I was a technical writer for a "beltway bandit". I have the greatest respect for single parents and those who don't have the choice to work or not - I know that we couldn't afford to live in this area if we had to move here now from somewhere else - we couldn't even afford to buy the house we live in now. We will have to move in the not too distant future since our 3 bedroom townhouse is getting too cramped, and I'm afraid we will have to move out of WDC altogether.

To Megan and Marie, I don't really think I have the talent or temprament to be doing this, but I do it anyway to the best of my ability because it is what is right for our family right now. We ALL make what we believe to be the right decisions for our families, and I just wish we could all be seen as contributing to society equally, because I really think we are.

Posted by: SAHM | July 6, 2006 2:59 PM

I think the Post should hire you to write a regular column...

There you go, a way to work from home! Make your husband watch the kids at night or on the weekends. Now you just need a catchy name.

Posted by: scarry | July 6, 2006 3:00 PM

Why is it that I can't seem to figure out what this blog is about--Leslie's message seems to change about as often as I change my kid's diapers (which is not as often as a SAHM, since I WOHM. Unless, of course, the SAHM has a nanny, and then maybe its as much, but not if the SAHM with the nanny has the dad change the diapers once he's home. But I digress). Sometimes, in Leslie's blog or in her responses, it seems like working moms are heros who make huge sacrifices, but other times, they are the villians who are harming their children. Sometimes its the SAHMs who are the golden ones and sometimes its the nannies. Sometimes she applauds the daddies, but other times the dads are presumed to be 'lesser' parents because they work or assume that childcare is the moms work. Day care is great one day, but far inferior to SAHMs on another day. And sometimes, the focus is on accessibility of childcare for the masses, and other days, focusing on elite CEOs and their elite fleet of nannies. I guess I'd like to understand what Leslie's overall view of the issues, when it seems like there's a 'point du jour' that is aimed at creating debate and controversy around a topic that has no universal answers because every family and situation is different. I'm not saying that these issues are not worth discussing, but I'm trying to understand if Leslie has a consistent message or point that I am missing. Anyone? Leslie?

Posted by: Confused, but perhaps just stupid | July 6, 2006 3:00 PM

"Ms. Steiner - you paid your book advance to the 26 upper- and upper-middle class women who wrote essays for your book from your book advance rather than donating the money to a worthwhile cause or causes?"


Do we ever say this about men -- you shouldn't give upper-middle class men more money?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 3:05 PM

I really do not understand how the government is supposed to help families have a SAHP. In most situations, whether a parent can afford to stay home is a matter of choices. As many have pointed out for some families having a SAHP is worth sacrifice. There are less expensive places to live, people can choose longer commutes, not go out to eat, etc. Exactly what would the government (or whoever) be subsidizing, the parents' standard of living when they get pregnant or some minimal standard of living? I am sure that no government program is going to provide enough to make up for my paycheck, nor should it. But if it is a minimal standard of living, it is not actually going to make it possible for me to stay home. I do not live in luxury, but I live in a nice neighborhood in DC. Because of that I have a good-sized mortgage payment and my husband and I make similar amounts. If what you are talking about is something like the existing child tax credit (which both working and SAH parents can take), it would probably be phased out by income and many not particularly affluent parents would not be able to take advantage of it because they make too much money.

Posted by: government can help how? | July 6, 2006 3:08 PM

WiSAHM, I have lots of responsibilities and I have people who depend on me and tasks that need to be done. I am never bored because I have many things to do, but I also don't have to be that "harried mother" that I see everywhere -- in real life and all over the media, such as here on this blog. How does it help my child and my husband if I'm continually frazzled by all I have to do each day? Our nanny does not "raise" our daughter. I spend lots of time with her each day. But when I have other things that need to be done, even laundry or vacuuming, it's a blessing to have childcare there in the home so I can focus on my tasks or get out the door quickly.

This whole thing started when someone mentioned that a women who didn't "work" and hired a nanny was clearly lazy and spoiled. I guess many people will say that I am spoiled, and if working hard to achieve my goals -- one of which was this lifestyle -- is being "spoiled" then that is sad. I thought we valued hard work and the rewards of hard work around here.

Posted by: L in Alexandria | July 6, 2006 3:12 PM

"To Megan and Marie, I don't really think I have the talent or temprament to be doing this, but I do it anyway to the best of my ability because it is what is right for our family right now. We ALL make what we believe to be the right decisions for our families, and I just wish we could all be seen as contributing to society equally, because I really think we are."

SAHM, all I can is kudos to you and amen to that. I think we're all trying to do the best we can, and arguing over their relatives merits of our choices only undermines our ability to choose.

Posted by: Megan | July 6, 2006 3:14 PM

Oh I see, so a SAHP is just a matter of choices.

I guess by that rationale I should NOT be following my dream of being a filmmaker, and instead I should still be mired in my old career, getting more and more miserable by the day, which was alienating my wife, my friends, everyone.

So, now that I am happier than I have ever been in my life, I shouldn't pursue my dream further by making documentaries because that's a choice.

Being happy and pursing a dream is NOT a choice. For me it is being a filmmaker, for others it is being a SAHP. But there are certain economic realities in this world that even make those dreams very difficult, if not impossible to achieve.

So why is it so crazy to think the government should step in to help? Wouldn't that make the citizenry happy, thus building a stronger overall country? Isn't supporting parents and family what the religious conservatives talk about all the time? I'd rather the government run up a deficit helping parents than fighting a war based on a dubious pretext.

But hey, that was a choice, wasn't it?

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 3:16 PM

First, with respect to $100,000 for a nanny - that would NOT happen in my area of the country. Do I think it means we value those who take care of children a bit more? No. Do I think its representative of a very few wealthy families with high incomes who want or need help with childcare and want that help to be highly educated? Yes. The average nanny in the US does not make close to that number and only in urban, very competetive markets would a nanny even come close to that number. Would I like to think it evidences a trend to value childcare work a little more? Sure, but probably not. I don't think the going rate for a highly educated, demographically ideal nanny is going to spill over to increase pay for day care workers, elementary school teachers and the average nanny.

Second, with respect to the complaints about how hard it is to be home with children and how hard it is to work after having children - yup, it's hard. Either way. Life changes, and we make lots of sacrifices and decisions that we hope benefit our families - either way, stay at home or return to work. But, let's get a little perspective here. It's for a relatively short period of time. My oldest is 12 and makes a point of telling me as often as possible how little he really needs me now (I disagree, but that's another story). The period of extreme 24/7 sleep-deprived, on call parenthood really doesn't last that long. If I can't put my needs and wants on the back burner for a few years, then I didn't think children through very well.

As for the comment that working parents have to factor in chld care, a gardener, household help etc... what planet are you on? Here's real life for most middle class families - we're mostly dual income, we pay a lot for childcare, we don't have a housekeeper, a maid or a cleaning service. We don't have a garden. We don't have home-delivery for groceries. It's two parents, three kids, one dog, one cat, a 2800 square foot house, a rather small yard, and life. We do it. And, we volunteer in our communities and at our kids' schools. We even manage to have hobbies (even the kids) and about 6 times a year I do get a pedicure. It's life. It's a balance. Some days it works, others it's really hard. But I love my children, have a happy marriage, and I really, really like my job. I turn 40 tomorrow, and when I look at my life, I wouldn't change a thing. It's hard, it's messy, it's over-scheduled and it's fun. And NO WAY would I pay a nanny that much money! It would be too easy to turn over too much of what I think I need to do to be a good parent if I had to justify paying someone that much to take care of MY kids. We minimize day care time and maximize family time and it works for us.

Posted by: SS | July 6, 2006 3:19 PM

How is "L in Alexandria" working hard by not working and also having a nanny? We do value hard work in this country, but she doesn't seem to be doing it.

Most people suffer through being frazzled by all they have to do all day, and it's quite frankly irritating to have L in Alexandria up on her soapbox and trying to convince us she has a valid reason for living the way she does. It's nice for her that she can make that choice, but I don't really care to hear about it!!

Posted by: Not | July 6, 2006 3:20 PM

Glover Park, great idea. You keep voting for those religious conservatives to run our country and maybe soon someone will pay you to live your dreams and take care of your children.

Why does the government owe you?

Posted by: Exasperated | July 6, 2006 3:23 PM

"Ms. Steiner - you paid your book advance to the 26 upper- and upper-middle class women who wrote essays for your book from your book advance rather than donating the money to a worthwhile cause or causes?"


Do we ever say this about men -- you shouldn't give upper-middle class men more money?

Yes, I do. If I feel like the author's message in the book and blog is that the people who most need the help in this country and world cannot afford it, but then the author chooses to brag about the fact that she or he gave his or her money to people who in fact did not need it, I would be criticizing that author, no matter what the gender. Hence, my criticism of Ms. Steiner.

There would be no difference in my outrage if Ms. Steiner were Mr. Steiner. There would be a difference if Ms. Steiner was not such a hypocrite.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 3:23 PM

Guess my first post didn't cause enough of a ruckus...

My problem with having full-time professional nannies is that, quite simply, they become the parents. If you're hiring a nanny to take care of your kids, you're no longer a "parent" in the meaningful sense -- you just pay the bills. What's more, you won't transmit your most important ideals/beliefs to your child -- the nanny will. Maybe this doesn't bother you, but as the recipient of this kind of upbringing I suggest it should.

This is true in my experience, and appears to be true in the lives of the many absent-parent, nannied rich kids I went to school with.

I can't think of one of these kids with a family of his or her own, except one who had a baby at 21 and a divorce at 22. They aren't interested in family, nor are my brothers, because they have the sense that family life is not important or meaningful or indeed anything other than a burden. Scratch "sense" -- they've told me as much. I blame our nannied upbringing. Conversely, my friends who attended public schools mostly have families by now. A few even stay home with the kids.

I would like to have and raise children with a deeper connection to their family than I had with mine. But I get no help from the women in my age group (late 20s). In my professional circle, every woman I talk to about "the future" says she expects a career and a family at the same time. Of course, this means a full-time nanny.

I would like a wife who wants to raise the kids. That way they'll like us and maybe turn out like us -- instead of the precise opposite. Is this asking so much? Are there any women born in the Carter or Reagan years who agree?

I am heartened to read from some of the stay-at-home moms on this thread, because now I know you exist! You must not live in New Jersey...

If you're reading this and actually have a decision about hiring a nanny, please understand I'm not talking about the teenage babysitter two nights a month or a neighbor who picks the kids up from school twice a week... I really mean the full time nanny who tucks the kids in and drives them to school. If you can afford the choice of hiring a nanny, maybe you're thinking you can have it all. Okay: You can. But I will tell you from experience: When your kids grow up, they may resent you for never being around and you may find you don't know them at all. And don't expect them to bring the grandkids around, or have them even.

My moral: We Americans throw money at all our problems. If you throw $100,000 at your nanny, does that mean your kids are a problem to you?

Posted by: Anonymous today | July 6, 2006 3:25 PM

Oops - I got carried away - we not have a gardener but we do have a garden. We did that work ourselves too. I guess I'm not as tuned into the rest of the country but here in the West, its kind of expected that you do what you can for yourself.

Posted by: SS | July 6, 2006 3:25 PM

Wow, laziness really gets a bum rap on this blog. I actually LIKE being lazy from time to time. Anyone with me on this?

Posted by: just curious... | July 6, 2006 3:26 PM

"And, why would it be better to take my skills and go make 100K being a caretaker to someone else's children, yet it's a waste of my skills to be home with my own daughter? It's a double standard."

Because, VAMom, they are your children. The benefits you reap from raising your own children are (supposed to be) borne from the reason you decided to have children in the first place. Why did you want to have kids in the first place? Presumably you thought about it and decided that they would bring joy to your life, do cute things that you can take pictures of, fetch you a beer, etc.

To summarize, having children is not a job. It's a choice that results in numerous benefits aside from money (unless you're selling them or making them work in a sweatshop).

On the other hand, caring for other people's children is most certainly a job.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 3:27 PM

Glover Park, you get a tax exemption for each child and can deduct some child-care expenses on your taxes. As a taxpayer, I pay some of the highest property taxes in the DC area to educate your children. And you want me to pay you to raise them as well?

Posted by: Observer | July 6, 2006 3:28 PM

Not, if you read all my posts you would see that I worked for many years and saved and invested my money because I had a PLAN. I am lucky and grateful for what I have and that my plan worked out. I'm basically responding to other people's comments or questions. All I was doing was offering a view that having a nanny doesn't mean I'm "spoiled" although yes, I'm aware it's a luxury. Don't you have any luxuries in your life, or any dreams of a certain lifestyle?

Posted by: L in Alexandria | July 6, 2006 3:29 PM

I was with you up until the last post. Really. But the government intervention that you and others refer to is just you, me, and other taxes. Sorry, I have no desire to subsidize, through my tax dollars, your family while you pursue film making, and frankly, even suggesting it sounds pretty selfish. You pursue your dream while others work in those "miserable" jobs to provide income to our families. And you expect part of my income to go to you? No thanks.

Posted by: To Glover Park | July 6, 2006 3:29 PM

It seems that more and more these days, it's all about what we feel we are entitled to (whether it's tax breaks for SAHPs, free or subsidized daycare, having a nanny when you don't have a job, or someone patting you on the back telling you it'll all be okay). This country was built on the idea that hard work is its own reward. I'm thinking most people wouldn't know hard work if it came up and bit them on the a**.

Posted by: Curious | July 6, 2006 3:30 PM

To Anonymous today - If having a parent raise those kids why is it so important to find a wife willing to stay home? You say that all the women you know want careers & a family - maybe then one of them can support you and you can be the full time parent who influences the kids. After all if you are working full time isn't your wife the true influence not you after all she will be the one "tucking them in and taking them to school".

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 3:30 PM

I'm glad you're lucky and grateful, "L", but I just don't understand how you justify having a nanny when you don't work. I did read the other posts. I still don't understand, and I think I'm getting in line behind a bunch of people when I say that.

Posted by: Not | July 6, 2006 3:36 PM

It's nice for her that she can make that choice, but I don't really care to hear about it!!

Here's an idea, only read posts you want! Only respond to posts you find interesting. She has the right to post, you have the right to overlook her.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 3:39 PM

Anonymous Today - I was born in the Carter/Reagan years and I disagree with you completely.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 3:40 PM

Someone needs to go back to grade school to learn basic math and common sense. There is no case for celebration when it comes to witnessing the increase in child care costs. I don't need or want a sitter with a BS, MBA, or PhD. I want a provider with common sense and good child care skills -- neither of which requires a formal education. If you want to push the low income futher into the finacial abyss, keep pushing for this kind of nonsense. Get a degree in economics.


Next, it will be a proposal that child care providers get doctorates o "professionalize." Just another cost we can't afford in this society.

Get real, most people can't afford child care as it is. The increase in costs means nothing to working families other than that the wealthy can afford to keep their jobs and the low income will just be stuck struggling. And a big part of the expense is the way we approach the provision of services. Everyone seems to thing they are worth a minor fortune in salary. They are not.

Posted by: Victor G | July 6, 2006 3:41 PM

Glover Park, I think the point about having a SAHP parent being about choices is that the question of how much is enough to allow one parent to stay home is totally subjective. Lots of people post on this board saying they cannot afford it. What that really means is they are not willing to give up the things they consider essential in order to do it. And what people consider essential really varies a lot.

I know a number of families with SAHMs who have decided to go this route even though it means that they cannot afford to buy a house, do not have health insurance, are on food stamps, have one old and unreliable car, and cannot afford new clothing for anyone, much less create savings or college funds. I know other couples who own their own home, have two new cars, gym memberships, take expensive vacations and say they cannot afford to have kids yet, much less have one of them stay home. It's all a matter of what your priorities are. So to that end, whether or not someone stays at home is about choices, and no one set will be right for all.

Posted by: Megan | July 6, 2006 3:42 PM

What kind of spouse do you want to marry? What kind of life do you wnat to lead? Will your life have stages? Education focus >> carrer focus >> dream focus >> family focus >> spirituality focus...? Or will your life be a balance with slight shifts in priority? Following one's dream, self fullfillment, monetary enrichment, fame, fortune, athletic achievement etc are difficult to chase all at once. In my case impossible. No regrets. My balance has become my dream. Some people think I am crazy, but only my wife know's it's true.

Interesting that after being brought up by a two attorney home that I had no interest in marrying a lawyer.

Posted by: Fo3 | July 6, 2006 3:42 PM

To Observer, Exasperated and everyone else who misread my comments:

This government's priorities are plain wrong. And when I read headlines in the Washington Post telling me that people who live on farmable land but are not farmers are getting government subsidies to the tune of $1.3 billion a year, then you bet you a** I think the government owes me something.

They need to manage their money (my money!) responsibly just like I manage my own money. I'm not advocating raising taxes, though I think that's a debate worth having.

I'm not suggesting that my wife should be paid to stay at home so I can make movies, but I have a fundamental problem with a government that claims to believe in the primacy of family yet does precious little to actually live up to the hype.

So would I prefer that the government spend time debating whether or not there should be a payment to SAHP's yes! Because this government is wasting its time and my tax dollars debating flag burning instead.

And for the record, I would bet that I am one of the most liberal participants on this blog.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 3:42 PM

I think it comes down to what does the nanny do .. . . whether you are a SAHP or a working parent. For example, my husband and I are both lawyers in downtown law firms. We work some odd hours (not all of the time). I tuck our kids in most nights (usually 5-6 nights a week). The nanny does: the kids laundry, starts dinner, picks the kids up from school (so they are not the last ones at daycare), errands (drycleaning, grocery shopping, shoe repair etc), packs lunches, keeps up with everything the kids need to take to school, makes sure permission slips are signed (updates the family calendar so we know when filed trips are), buys b-day presents for the million parties are kids are invited to, coordinates the handy man, etc. She does not raise our kids (I guess we can argue about the definition of raise). My daughter is just starting to ask questions about God and marriage and sex etc. The nanny and I talk all of the time (on the clock) about what the "answers" are or what our values are, and I field calls at work all the time about DD has a question, can you talk. And I do (as much as possible). As with everything, generalizations are bad. In our situation, the nanny is more like "mini-me." She runs the house and does the things that I just dont have time to do. That is how we do it. Everyone has to figure out what works for them and then do it.

Posted by: Marie | July 6, 2006 3:43 PM

Anon today - why does it have to be your wife that stays home? Why couldn't you? Believe me, my DH gets major points on the Respectometer because he is and always was willing to stay home with any children we had (I wouldn't have married him otherwise). I just stay home instead because it makes the most sense in our family. You say you are looking to have a closer relationship with your children than you had with your family growing up. Maybe you would have more luck if it was more obvious you were looking for an equal life partner. Just because a woman wants a career and a family at the same time doesn't mean a full time nanny. What if she wants to work part time? What if you do? If I hadn't had 3 kids, I would have kept working, and I never had a nanny watch my kids when I was working - just a loving, caring home daycare provider who is a mom, just like me.

Posted by: SAHM | July 6, 2006 3:44 PM

Anonymous -
The women you're talking about (the ones who want a career and a family) may not expect to have a full-time nanny. They probably just want to marry someone who will be as involved in taking care of the children as they are. If you have a reasonable number of children (say, fewer than 4), you can both work abbreviated schedules and care for your children without a full-time nanny. Seriously, people do it all the time. Some are even on this blog now!
Or why don't you stay home and care for the children, since you think it's so important?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 3:45 PM

Not, I do not have a job outside the home right now, however, I do plenty of "work", probably about as much as the average housewife. My nanny simply enables me to do what I need to do without having to worry about how to entertain or care for my child when I'm trying to get other things done. (Do you really want to take your child to the grocery store EVERY time you go there?)

I'm not justifying having a nanny because I don't have to "justify" my life to you. I was trying to give a view of what the life of someone in my situation might be like other than the stereotypical "spending her whole day shopping and getting pedicures". My nanny's duty is not to raise my child, but to be there when I need childcare.

Posted by: L in Alexandria | July 6, 2006 3:45 PM

What's with the harsh on "L in Alexandria"? She worked hard and saved her money for years so that she could afford NOT to be frazzled when she had kids. Who knows what sacrifices they made to get to that point? How the heck is it "spoiled" to plan, achieve, and then enjoy the fruits of your labors?

To me, "spoiled" means having an expectation that whatever you want will be handed to you without your actually having to earn it (i.e., the stereotypical gold-digger looking for a rich hubby to support her in the style to which she would like to become accustomed). That's worlds apart from setting a goal and working hard to achieve it.

Personally, I'd love to be in her position. I'm not, because I made different choices in my life, and that put me in a different place. But good Lord, why would that invalidate or undercut what she has accomplished?

Posted by: Laura | July 6, 2006 3:46 PM

Anonymous said "I would like to have and raise children with a deeper connection to their family than I had with mine. But I get no help from the women in my age group (late 20s). In my professional circle, every woman I talk to about "the future" says she expects a career and a family at the same time. Of course, this means a full-time nanny. I would like a wife who wants to raise the kids. That way they'll like us and maybe turn out like us -- instead of the precise opposite. Is this asking so much? Are there any women born in the Carter or Reagan years who agree?"

This is related to the topic of several previous work-life balance discussions here. Maybe there is more you can do to show that you'll be an involved dad and partner in the home --help them see that you want to help THEM maintain their careers AND have a family (you'll need some kind of child care, but that doesn't mean you can't both be involved parents too.) If you are looking in your "professional circle," you should start by not assuming that these women want to give up their "professions" to raise your children, and start working to find ways to promote balance. My husband was willing to not go the big-law-firm route (which would have paid him enough that I could quit, but meant that I would effectively be a single parent due to his insane hours) to work as a gov't attorney and be home for dinner every night, because this way we can both work at things we enjoy, both spend plenty of time with the kids, and neither feel like we are giving up too much on the career or family side.

Posted by: SWM ISO... | July 6, 2006 3:49 PM

You go L in Alexandria -- I have contemplated doing what you are doing -- and maybe in a few years I will. Good luck

Posted by: Marie | July 6, 2006 3:49 PM

I'll try this again:

If you have children in childcare, you get a tax break for the money it costs you to put them there.

To make up an example, say both parents work and make 50K a year. Childcare costs you 20K. Your tax burden is on 80K and not 100K because those expenses can be deducted (maybe not in total, I don't know, but please stay with me for the purposes of the example).

If one parent works and makes 50K, the couple pays taxes on 50K because there are no childcare costs to deduct. Is that fair? Why not have that couple pay taxes on 30K, to give them the same benefit that those who outsource childcare get?

I know that idea gets a lot of people up in arms, but, if we value a parent staying home to raise a child, and we can put a cost on it, and the government says that cost is deductable, I don't think it's asking for special treatment. That's asking for equity. Or, don't let the costs be deductable for anyone. That's also fine with me.

But let's not dismiss the fact that staying at home has a value apart from the opportunity cost of not working.

Posted by: VAMom | July 6, 2006 3:51 PM

"Staying home with kids is harder than being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company."

I've seen this sentimental drivel mentioned several times recently. Does anyone really, truly think this the case?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 3:52 PM

Laura,

I agree I think that most people are not talking about people like L. They are talkign about the super rich people who have nannies raising their kids, even then, it is America and they do have the right to do it.

Posted by: Scarry | July 6, 2006 3:53 PM

Just a question -- how does everyone define "super-rich"?

Posted by: Marie | July 6, 2006 3:55 PM

"Are there any women born in the Carter or Reagan years who agree?"

I remember the Reagan years. I remember sittng in a cold car while my dad stood in the unemployment line, which is one of the reasons why I work. Sorry I can't agree.

Posted by: scarry | July 6, 2006 3:59 PM

Yes, I think a SAHP works WAY harder than CEO.

Who is super-rich? Anyone who has more than I do. ;) (Just a little humor.)

VAMom, thank you for so beautifully articulating what I was trying to say.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 3:59 PM

How about this: L in Alexandria has the right to have a nanny but not work, but I don't think it is the right thing to do, and that's my right.

And if you don't want to hear what people think about you and your choices, don't post on this blog. I've learned that in the 3 days since I found it.

Posted by: Not | July 6, 2006 4:00 PM

maria,

I'm talking about people like Brittany Spears and Donald Trump. That's super rich to me.

Posted by: scarry | July 6, 2006 4:01 PM

So, VAmom,

Should "Uncle Sam reduced the gross amount we get taxed on by that amount as a thank you for doing a good job raising future taxpayers." only apply to those doing a good job. I know a lot of SAH's (and working) parents who are doing a down-right crappy job. Not to mention that working parents can do a good job raising future taxpayers too.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 4:01 PM

umm, not, you said you didn't want to hear about L's life, but then you respond to it.

Seems like an oxymoron to me.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 4:05 PM

But in a society that emphasizes family and a government that has no hesitation in using family as a political prop, don't you think that our 'leaders' should do a bit more than pay lip service to how important parents are?

Besides, a tax deduction is an accounting gimmick, designed to make you think your tax burden is decreasing while still taking 30% on top of the taxes that already came out of your paycheck (if one works, that is). I'd be happier with a tax subsidy, which is cold, hard cash that I get, or at least get to subtract from my overall tax burden. Now that would mean something.

But like I say, the governemnt, when the rubber hits the road, doesn't give a damn about family and parents.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 4:07 PM

You're absolutely right. What I should have said was that I don't care to hear her attempt to justify it!

Posted by: Not | July 6, 2006 4:08 PM

Marlo here-

I'm still confused about the problem with SAHPs having nannies. And what difference does it make where the nannies' salaries come from? Could be- individual savings, combined savings, inheritance, the spouse, the lottery.. Does it make any difference where the manicurist's salary comes from?

Posted by: Marlo | July 6, 2006 4:12 PM

"Yes, I think a SAHP works WAY harder than CEO."

Really? GP, you seem quite sharp - can you be more specific? Given what it takes to get to and stay at the top of corporate America, in what ways do you think being a SAHP is harder than being a CEO?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 4:13 PM

Thanks for understanding, Laura.
Good luck to you Marie, you can do it! And P.S., don't let other people's opinions make you feel bad.

Posted by: L in Alexandria | July 6, 2006 4:13 PM

"I would like a wife who wants to raise the kids. That way they'll like us and maybe turn out like us -- instead of the precise opposite. Is this asking so much?"

A reasonable question to ask?

Since its summer, I'll give you a tip. Hang out at the beach/park with your nieces and nephews. Get good at those really neat sand castles. See if its ok with tehir parents to take them to the water slide, play mini golf etc. Will be $$ and time well invested as you may find greater interaction with your potential kid loving, SAHM applicant pool.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 4:13 PM

More earnings estimates for child care workers (including nannies and workers in child care centers) can be found at
http://www.ocouha.com/oesa/a399011.htm

Posted by: Beri | July 6, 2006 4:14 PM

VAMom, I hear you now. That makes sense.

The only response I have to that is that clearly the kick back (or break, whatever) you get from taxes for daycare is not enough to make working worthwhile (or else we wouldn't keep hearing about women who stay home because daycare would cost them more than they would make at work).

Also, the government has as its motivator the millions it spends sending women to college. The government is very interested in seeing those moms get back to work and use their education that the government may have paid for. Ultimately, in this capitalistic society, the government wants more worker bees to make money that we can give back to the market.

So, ultimately, the government may not see staying at home as more beneficial than working, which is why they don't financially support it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 4:14 PM

I hink that the opportunity to be a stay at home parent is a priveledge. Sahps get to be their own boss and structure their lives how they see fit. Not only do they get to pursue their own personal interest, but they also get to experience the joy of everyday parenting. If they have the resources, they can drop their toddler off at daycare, go to the pool, make playdates with their friends, or what the heck, hire a nanny. Life is to be enjoyed, so go out and do what you want to do and enjoy it.

I can't understand why some stay at homers have to constantly toot their horn on how hard they "work" by doing dishes, laundry, vacuuming. It seems to me that the machines are doing most the work. Make cooking and cleaning fun. Play with your kids and enjoy your home made country club. Happiness is a choice, not an emotional condition that falls out of the sky into your life.

I'm all for increased tax credits for dependent children, but everytime the subject comes up in the political arena, I hear the anti-family talking heads tout "fiscal responsibility". Oh yeah, we should "Make the parents pay their share!", and we do! Now, when then last one turns 18, I may think a little diferently...

Curious, I like being lazy. I also like to pump iron at the gym during lunch, which is painful at the time, but makes me as dumb as a box of rocks by the time I get back to my desk to do computer stuff. Thats my goal - being stupid and lazy, unfortunately, it takes a lot of work!

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 6, 2006 4:15 PM

Not: Are you a man?

Why does everyone have to grind themselves down just because you seem to have to? I know several SAHMs who would love to have in-home childcare even one day a week just so they could do a few chores without their kids interrupting every 2 minutes and maybe, just maybe they would be able to see a matinee once in a while.

Posted by: Tanger | July 6, 2006 4:16 PM

VAmom says "To make up an example, say both parents work and make 50K a year. Childcare costs you 20K. Your tax burden is on 80K and not 100K because those expenses can be deducted.If one parent works and makes 50K, the couple pays taxes on 50K because there are no childcare costs to deduct. Is that fair? Why not have that couple pay taxes on 30K, to give them the same benefit that those who outsource childcare get?"

VAMom, you might feel better if you read up on the tax code and saw that it is already giving you benefits. For one thing, because of the higher marginal tax rate for joint returns ("marriage penalty") the 2-earner couple is paying more on the first $50,000 they earn than the one person earning $50,000--families with a SAHP do pay less in taxes, even on identical income. Plus they can only deduct $3,000 for the first kid and $3,000 more if they have more kids (no matter how many more), or $6,000 max, so they are paying tax on $94,000, not $80,000. And don't get me started on Social Security and Medicare, which non-working spouses can get. The government DOES subsidize SAHPs in lots of ways.

Posted by: Arlmom | July 6, 2006 4:18 PM

"I would like a wife who wants to raise the kids. That way they'll like us and maybe turn out like us -- instead of the precise opposite. Is this asking so much? Are there any women born in the Carter or Reagan years who agree?"

Are you serious? Where have you been? The trend now is to stay home. I was born in 76 (the Ford years) and I am one of the only WOHMs I know. Most of my friends my age that have had kids quit their lawyer jobs and now stay home. (Of course none of them live in DC.) If you want a wife who stays home, move to the midwest or the south. In NYC and DC, the cost of living is too high (for most people) to consider having a SAHP.

Posted by: another comment for Anonymous today | July 6, 2006 4:18 PM

Well, last I looked, all it took to get to the top of coroprate Americ was an uncanny ability to swindle stockholders, lie, cheat, and steal. (see Lay, Kenneth, burn in hell.)

Yes, CEOs are running companies and stuff like that. But SAHPs are raising children -- the leaders and CEOs of tomorrow.

If a CEO does a lousy job, shareholders get ripped off and the company loses money and jobs are lost. A profound, albeit short-term consequence. But if a parent does a lousy job, then a child may grow up to be an ax murders, wife beaters, etc.

No contest if you ask me.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 4:19 PM

4:01 pm: "Uncle Sam reduced the gross amount we get taxed on by that amount as a thank you for doing a good job raising future taxpayers."

Please focus on the actual point: which is that staying at home is not valued in the way that it should be. Period. And a very simple way to start to correct that is via equal treatment in tax deductions.

Like I said, I don't care whether the government helps pay for child care costs or not. Honestly. But, if parents who opt to work get to deduct those costs, why should parents who opt to stay home not also get to deduct those costs?

I'm only talking up to a reasonable ceiling (not 100K, though as a highly educated female that's apparently what I'm worth to some people).

OFF THIS SUBJECT, BUT RELATED TO THIS BLOG: Working Mother Magazine this month said 71% of all women returning to the workforce after taking time off to have a baby find a job within three months. I think that's good news.

Posted by: VAMom | July 6, 2006 4:20 PM

Arlmom, thanks. I still don't want to pay taxes on that 6K.

Posted by: VAMom | July 6, 2006 4:24 PM

I'm scratching my head over the millions (apparently) of SAHPs out there who have children who can't self-entertain for long enough for the parent to clean a bathroom or vacuum the living room. Or who haven't learned to multi-task well enough to just do both at the same time - clean the bathroom while the kids are in the tub. Let the kids vacuum the baseboards once you're done with the main part of the room, or get them a toy vacuum so they can vacuum right alongside you.

I'm also confused about the "wah wah wah, it's so hard taking 3 kids to the grocery store" thing....ummmm...yeah, it is hard. It's a major pita. But last I checked, grocery stores were open on the weekend and in the evenings. If it's too hard to take the kids with you, then don't torture yourself and find an alternative.

SAHM - have you considered joining or forming a babysitting co-op? Not being able to afford a sitter for 3 children so you can go to appointments by yourself doesn't have to mean you can't go to appointments by yourself.

Posted by: momof4 | July 6, 2006 4:26 PM

I have to concur with the findings of "Working Mother". I was out of the workforce (I almost typed "workfarce", hmmm) for 3 1/2 years and found a job within 4 weeks of sending out resumes. It is possible. I am making significantly less than I was at my old firm, but we're no longer in the DC area and what can I expect after taking so much time off? Most of the SAHMs I know who are having difficulty reentering the workforce don't seem to be willing to go back in lower on the food chain than they left or take a cut in pay, which I think is unreasonable (most of the time).

So to any SAHM out there who's wondering if it can be done, feel confident!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 6, 2006 4:32 PM

SAHM, I hope you'll continue to post in this blog on this and other topics. You have a unique and interesting perspective.

Also- I completely understand how you can say that your life would be less stressful if you were working. At least a the office you can take a 5 minute break, or use the bathroom by yourself!

Posted by: randommom | July 6, 2006 4:32 PM

To VAMom, But the marriage penalty works out to favor those with 1 income.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 4:34 PM

"I know that idea gets a lot of people up in arms, but, if we value a parent staying home to raise a child, and we can put a cost on it, and the government says that cost is deductable, I don't think it's asking for special treatment. That's asking for equity. Or, don't let the costs be deductable for anyone. That's also fine with me."

The key word here is "if". As many here have said, it's perfectly possible for WOH parents to raise healthy, well-adjusted children who are successful in school and in other ways. And, there are plenty of people raised by SAH parents who are not doing so well.

I'd like to see us providing more help to parents, but I feel that it should be handled in a way that's more like the way we support schools, i.e., we provide the opportunity for everyone to attend public school and people can make their own decisions about whether to use it. If they feel publicly supported childcare doesn't meet their needs, they can pay for private childcare or do it themselves, just as they can pay for private school or home school their children.

Publicly supported childcare doesn't have to take a "lowest common denominator" approach. As I've mentioned before, there are other countries who provide high-quality childcare for all children. Given the wealth of our society, there is no reason we could not allocate the resources needed to do this.

Posted by: THS | July 6, 2006 4:36 PM

SAHM are lazy. All they do is sit around all day and watch tv.

Posted by: SAHM are lazy | July 6, 2006 4:36 PM

VAMom - are you talking about the Child & Dependant Care tax credit? If so, the absolute most that they could claim is $6k - and that's only if they have two or more dependants, and don't get any childcare benefits from their job. If they have only one kid, they can claim, at most, $3k. More than likely, they wouldn't be able to claim even the maximum amounts.

Posted by: Clarification | July 6, 2006 4:37 PM

If we're talking about the deduction for child care, then it is nothing more than an accounting gimmick, as all deductions are designed to make you think your tax burden is decreasing while still taking 30% on top of the taxes that already came out of your paycheck (if one works, that is). I'd be happier with a tax subsidy, which is cold, hard cash that I get, or at least get to subtract from my overall tax burden. Now that would mean something.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 6, 2006 4:39 PM

"Also- I completely understand how you can say that your life would be less stressful if you were working. At least a the office you can take a 5 minute break, or use the bathroom by yourself!

Posted by: randommom | July 6, 2006 04:32 PM "


Can someone explain to me why children today need to accompany their mother's to loo? Really, it's an oft-repeated phrase and one that horrifies me.

Posted by: Childless | July 6, 2006 4:39 PM

Actually, despite your anecdotal evidence, stay at home moms are becoming less common. From yesterday's blog:

In 1984, women with kids were 20.4 percentage points less likely to be in the work force than women without kids. In 2004 it was 9.2 percentage points.
http://www.cepr.net/publications/opt_out_2005_11.pdf

Posted by: To Another Comment for Anonymous | July 6, 2006 4:42 PM

Childless, when your children are small, they will bang on the door, start fights, scream, cry, etc., if you dare to shut the door while you go to the bathroom. It's just the way it is. I find it more peaceful to keep the door open at this stage.

Posted by: LOL | July 6, 2006 4:42 PM

"Actually, despite your anecdotal evidence, stay at home moms are becoming less common. From yesterday's blog:

In 1984, women with kids were 20.4 percentage points less likely to be in the work force than women without kids. In 2004 it was 9.2 percentage points.
http://www.cepr.net/publications/opt_out_2005_11.pdf"

Sorry, I should have prefaced that. It is the trend among white, upper middle class, educated women my age. And no, I don't have statistics to back that up, I don't think they're available. It's just what I see with all of my friends, and their friends, and so on. It's been discussed on this blog before...

Posted by: Another Comment for Anonymous | July 6, 2006 4:46 PM

Childless, I don't have kids and I used to wonder the same thing, especially when moms would say "I haven't even been able to take a shower today." WHY can't a mom take a shower? I finally understood. When children are old enough to get around on their own, it is amazing how much trouble they can get into within seconds. Not minutes, seconds. You can have the most child-proof house in the world and the little one will find a way to harm herself.

On the other hand, when a small baby is in the little carrier thing, why can't a mom just bring the carrier into the bathroom and take a quick shower? If the baby cries, just sing for a few minutes. I don't have a kid and when I need to take a fast shower, it only takes five minutes, so I can't imagine an infant who can't "escape" could come to harm while mom takes a shower each day.

Posted by: Tanger | July 6, 2006 4:51 PM

"Please focus on the actual point: which is that staying at home is not valued in the way that it should be. Period."

Here again, there's a key word: should. Who says staying at home w/ children SHOULD be valued above other choices? If that's what you want to do, fine, but, assuming such basics as safety, it's not up to you---or anyone else---to say what form of childcare should be valued.

Posted by: THS | July 6, 2006 4:52 PM

I tried to start a babysitting coop, but most parents I know don't have this many kids, and so don't feel like they are getting their due when they watch my 3, and I turn around and watch their 2 or 1. I'm still working on it, though.

Multitasking is fine when the temprament of your kids works in your favor. My two oldest are great at self-entertaining, not so the 2 year old. But if I have to leave the bottom 2 to amuse themselves for longer than it takes to pee, someone will be bleeding, bruised, or otherwise screaming because they don't get along. I can leave the oldest and youngest just fine, since they don't fight like that. We bought the four year old his own small vacuum (really an adult vacuum, but small enough he can handle it) and he does most of the vacuuming, but really, that is such a small part of running the house. I can't let anyone "help" with dishes unless I want a bigger mess to deal with from the water. The laundry machines get a workout, but the folding is the time consuming part, and the oldest is just now learning how to do this. I realize it will get better as they get older, and more of them are in school, but for now, it is a substantial challenge.

I don't often get enough time to read this blog, much less post; today was a rare, rare day when DH took a little time off (aren't those baby appointments fun?). This was fun - thank you for a fun and lively discussion, and some "intellectual" time.

Posted by: SAHM | July 6, 2006 4:53 PM

"Most of the SAHMs I know who are having difficulty reentering the workforce don't seem to be willing to go back in lower on the food chain than they left or take a cut in pay, which I think is unreasonable (most of the time)."

I wish my best friend could understand this. She is wearing herself out trying to find a job that will give her a huge (~$30,000) increase in salary over her last job, the one she left three years ago when her child was born. It was a rotten job (CEO was a total crook) and she wanted to quit, then she found her child had a serious neurological disorder so she continued to stay home to care for her, but for the past year she has searched and searched for work, refusing to admit that she will most likely have to take a job that pays equal or LESS than her last position because she has basically (aside from some freelance work) been out for three years in a field that is highly competitive. She keeps saying that she "can't" take less than this amount she has in her head, but I feel privately that she should look for a good salary and excellent benefits that would help her child. (Her husband's health insurance is crap.)

Has anyone experience an actual jump in salary after an absence of 2-3 years? I support my friend but I think she'll have to face reality soon because they NEED her to work.

Posted by: DC and NYC | July 6, 2006 4:59 PM

Re going to the bathroom with help - in addition to the screaming and yelling going on outside as soon as the door is shut, it helps when it comes time to potty train if the child has actually seen what happens in the bathroom, and knows what to do when they get there. I am now finally to the point when I don't always have to have company in the loo, but I DO have to listen to "Mommy! You pooping in dere?" at the top of her voice when I don't take her with me.

I actually have always gotten a shower, just haven't had one to myself in ages. I put the kids in the shower with me so I know where they are.

Posted by: SAHM | July 6, 2006 5:00 PM

to L

and all other SAHM with nannies. I think that you are privileged, not spoiled. Whether you worked for it yourself, or afford it some other way, I still think it is a privilege. I say this as a WOHM who together with hubby makes less than 6 figures and will never be in a position to SAH with or without a nanny - maybe not the typical poster on this blog. With our circumstances, which I won't provide in detail, I would not be able to stay home, so I see anyone who can as being privileged.

As long as you are raising your family, and the nanny is just around to make things easier, I see nothing wrong with it. In your case, the nanny is similar to grandma, aunt, uncle, neighbor, teen, babysitting co-op adult, or any other person who might be utilized by another SAHM. Many SAH parents drop the little ones off to a relative for a day, or lunch hour or whatever. Some people just think that you are shirking all parental responsibilities if you have a nanny.

For Megan, I guess it is true that people make choices about staying home or continuing to work. But if the sacrifice that makes it possible for one parent to stay home is the other parent working two jobs or one of those 60-80 hour per week jobs, then I am not willing to make that sacrifice. I think that it is more detrimental to the family to live with one parent mostly absent than to live with 2 40-hour-per-week working parents who devote all non-employment time to their children and their marriage.

If you can work it, I think the ideal situation is one 40-hour-per-week parent and one part-time parent. Then both get intellectual stimulation and an opportunity to keep some of your own identity while being able to devote enough time to the family.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 5:02 PM

DC and NYC -- No one I know has gotten an increase in salary when returning to work after a SAHM absence. My old firm did offer me the same salary I was making 3 1/2 years ago when I left, but we would have had to move back to DC. Nothing doing. Still, I thought it was an extremely generous offer (and very flattering) considering I work in technology and hadn't bothered to keep my skills up while I was out.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 6, 2006 5:04 PM

Glover Park -please explain your plan for government subsidies.

I understand that in your world the US government (1) exits Iraq and (2) starts paying parents to stay home. Do you make a documentary about the shifting political tides as the US becomes a socialist country? Do you get paid if it is a huge success, or do you just live off the family stipend that the government determines is the right amount of money for your family? Do I have to give up my house when private property laws are eliminated, or can I continue to rent if my family stipend is large enough?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 5:05 PM

To Just Curious: I am completely with you. Laziness is getting a bad rap. It doesn't count as "balance" if there's not a least a little laziness involved...

Posted by: curious new mom | July 6, 2006 5:06 PM

OK, I was actually getting some work done but had the time to consider when I would actually believe a nanny (just those skills, not tutor or music teacher or special needs provider) would be worth $100k.

And, that would be if the nanny was the absolute perfect person, and he/she was presently being paid $99,999.99 in their current position, and $100k would make them come work for us. Then, they would be "worth" $100k.

Posted by: Ridiculous | July 6, 2006 5:15 PM

I said:
"Please focus on the actual point: which is that staying at home is not valued in the way that it should be. Period."

THS said:
Here again, there's a key word: should. Who says staying at home w/ children SHOULD be valued above other choices? If that's what you want to do, fine, but, assuming such basics as safety, it's not up to you---or anyone else---to say what form of childcare should be valued.

*****

Please note, I did not say staying at home should be valued above else. I only said it should be given an economic value, or at least the recognition that is has one. I'm not raising my daughter for free. I'm doing work that would cost money to replace, and a lot of families make the choice to pay for it.

Back to my original point in my first post, are we comfortable with the notion that caring for other's children is a career, and staying at home with your own for a while is a waste of your time, talents, and education? Isn't there some way we can value that the way capitalists value things?

Posted by: VAMom | July 6, 2006 5:15 PM

To Glover Park

"If a CEO does a lousy job, shareholders get ripped off and the company loses money and jobs are lost. A profound, albeit short-term consequence. But if a parent does a lousy job, then a child may grow up to be an ax murders, wife beaters, etc."

I'd say some bad CEOs (Lay and Skilling, for example) have done much more societal harm than some ax murders

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 5:16 PM

"As long as you are raising your family, and the nanny is just around to make things easier, I see nothing wrong with it. In your case, the nanny is similar to grandma, aunt, uncle, neighbor, teen, babysitting co-op adult, or any other person who might be utilized by another SAHM."

Thank you! That's exactly how I see it. Our nanny is a part of our family. She has her own apartment nearby (with a roommate) and her own car, but she's sort of like a younger relative in many ways. Her parents are friends of my husband's relatives. She is from my husband's country (her family came here legally when she was 13) and she is saving for college and taking a comm. college class now. Some days she stays home to study and sometimes she stays overnight in our home if we want a weekend getaway. She has traveled with us to California and to rural Kentucky. This has worked great for us, and yes, I know it's a great priviledge.

Posted by: L in Alexandria | July 6, 2006 5:21 PM

VAMom -- I finally see your point (sorry for being so dense). I understand and agree. But I think other posters have said it. There are incentives in the current system (marriage penalty) that provides incentives for one person to stay home (for whatever reason) -- they just dont call it the "stay at home parent incentive" --

Posted by: marie | July 6, 2006 5:22 PM

VAMom said:


". . . are we comfortable with the notion that caring for other's children is a career, and staying at home with your own for a while is a waste of your time, talents, and education? Isn't there some way we can value that the way capitalists value things?"

It's not that it's a waste of time. Clearly, it's not. The question is whether you should be paid to do it. I'm not tuned into the tax code, but other posters have pointed out that you are already being paid, because there are differential tax rates that reflect your contribution.

Beyond that, I'd repeat what I said above. I'd support taxation to pay for high-quality childcare for everyone, and people who wanted to make other choices could pay for them, as they do with schooling.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 5:28 PM

>>>Staying home with kids is harder than being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company

Anyone know whether Felicity Huffman has ever been CEO of a Fortune 500 company? No?

Then I could say that staying home with kids is easier than falling out of a boat and hitting water, and I would have equal credibility.

Since when is the hyperbole of the super-rich a foundation for serious debate about the lives of average people?

(BTW, she might be right I have no idea. But neither does she.)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 5:28 PM

Now that I read L's post, I realize that my SAHM had a "nanny" too. Actually, there were two young women who worked for us in turn. They were sisters. I grew up in Appalachia and they were from a very poor family (no indoor toilet, seriously). When one graduated high school, mom hired her to come work in our home each day, M-F. Mom was a "SAH" mother, but she had many responsibilities and activities in her life, as well as all the housework. Also, my younger sister was mentally handicapped, and although she was in school, sometimes it was a relief to mom to have extra people to care for her and keep her entertained. When mom needed to run out to do something, she could just leave the house because Debbie (and later Donna) was there with us. What is wrong with her doing that? She paid these girls well, I'm sure, and they were able to use the money for their college, just as L's nanny is doing. I guess my mom was "priviledged" but she certainly wasn't spoiled. And I can't imagine anyone thought she wasn't doing her job as a mother and housewife.

Posted by: A. T. | July 6, 2006 5:31 PM

SAHM -


Nobody should be expected to, or should have to, watch your three children in exchange for you watching their one child. Babysitting co-ops are operated on a point system where points are exchanged instead of money. The more hours of sitting done, the more points. The more children, the more points.

Smart Mom's Baby-Sitting Co-Op Handbook: How We Solved the Baby-Sitter Puzzle (Paperback)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0967874807/sr=8-1/qid=1152222039/ref=sr_1_1/103-2407797-9524661?ie=UTF8

(Amazon link provided for information alone - I'm not suggesting you buy the book :o) - my friends and I got it from our library.)

***
Re: taking a shower or going to the bathroom by yourself.....teach your children from a young age that bathrooms are places where people can go when they need privacy. We teach them to say please and thank you and to not throw food or hit their siblings - why is this any different? It's a common courtesy.

I can understand not wanting to leave an active 2 year old loose in the house while you take a shower (in which case you get up before them and take a shower, or after they're in bed, or at 6:00 when dad comes home, or whatever), but most toddlers can manage to not destroy civilization in the time it takes to go to the bathroom. This is just another one of those "wah wah my life is so hard my children won't let me pee alone" things for me.

Posted by: momof4 | July 6, 2006 5:48 PM

SAHM,

I would galdly watch your three children in exchange for my one. (she bites) You just have to find the right friend, who values you more than getting what's fair. And, my goodness, you aren't going out for days are you?

Posted by: scarry | July 6, 2006 6:01 PM

I think its really unfortunate to see posts being so critical of mothers who say they didn't get a shower or can't go to the bathroom on their own. Every child is different, just because your child was content to sit quietly in a carrier while you do something doesn't mean someone else's child is; and that difference is not necessarily reflective of bad parenting, its often reflective of the babies' different personalities.

One of the women in my birth class who I stayed in touch with had the mellowest baby I have ever seen. She could put him in one of those little seats and he would play with the toys happily for 30 minutes or more while she did whatever. My son started to scream minutes after being put down (which I've also seen in a lot of other babies). Not surprisingly, I found it more stressful to do things that required me to put him down for any length of time because I couldn't bear to just let him cry. Now my friend has a second baby who is totally different from her first; she's fussy and wants to be held and doesn't sleep as well. Same parents, same style, different baby.

Posted by: Megan | July 6, 2006 6:23 PM

Megan,

I agree, I had the mellowest baby ever. I could put her in her swing, do chores, do whatever. She's two now and after a long day of her being sick and me being exhausted my husband tried to watch her while I took a bath, she screamed, threw a fit and puked outside the door. You just never know

Posted by: scarry | July 6, 2006 7:02 PM

Scarry, that's funny! My son has mellowed out so much in the last six months or so, it's amazing. I look back at those early months and it's like a haze...they sure keep you on your toes!

Posted by: Megan | July 6, 2006 7:46 PM

To Anonymous Today, hey, I would love to stay home and take care of my kids, are you going to help me pay to do it? I have a BBA, my husband has a masters degree, we both make good professional salaries but in this area we can't even afford to buy a home let alone not work. We aren't extravagant, we have only one, used car between the two of us, but because our families couldn't pay for our education, we each have $25K in student loans, our families (unlike those of all the friends of ours who have bought homes in the area) cannot provide us with some or all of a down payment, and right now Alexandria City is trying to close down one of the few remaining places close to the city that is affordable to live. Gosh, I wish I had the problem of whether to stay home or work. Most American families, especially in this area, *have* to have two incomes, it isn't a choice.

Posted by: MEG | July 6, 2006 8:21 PM

We live in a small town in the mid-Atlantic. Many of my neighbors have one working parent, and one SAHP. They live, happily, on salaries in the 40s. We do too. We live simply-- used clothes, childcare swaps, no cable (gasp!) or cell phones. But we have free time, which is priceless. It's a choice that we have made. MEG, if you don't have a choice in this area, you could consider moving to another area. There are always choices.

Posted by: Living simply | July 6, 2006 8:32 PM

Err, wow.

To the Mommy Wars that broke out in this one - this is how I look at it: children need care during their waking hours. If I work, someone else has to watch my kid. If I stay home with my kid, someone else has to work.

So - the number of working hours are about the same. Granted, group daycare means fewer adults taking care of more kids, but then again when I left my last job they had to hire two people to do it, so - some people/arrangements are more efficient and some are less.

The work to be done remains about the same.

So why the acerbic stuff about who works harder? Frankly - your kid needs the same number of diaper changes every day whether it's mum, daycare staff, a nanny, dad, or grandma changing that bum.

If you don't think your daycare worker or nanny is sitting on their ass all day why would you assume SAHMs are?

And by the same token if the person in your household earning a living is working their butt off and raising your kids with you, why would a WOHM not be?

As to the nanny salary - well some people luck out in their profession, usually through a combination of talent, training, hard work, and knowing the right people and approaching them at the right time. I don't think that this will change childcare salaries quickly any time soon because, as people have sort of pointed out, there's a cap on what most people can afford to pay and it doesn't seem like the US goverment or state governments in the US are going to jump in.

I guess the other way salaries might go up is if workplaces begin to subsidize daycare, but it seems unlikely during the shift to global economies, because so much can be offshored and outsourced that the motivation to start providing extra special perks for people inside the US is pretty low - it's already perceived as expensive to hire those people.

Posted by: Shandra | July 6, 2006 8:51 PM

My children are teenagers and I'm not really around little ones anymore, but is there still such a thing as a playpen? Easy solution when it's time for nature's call or a quick shower. The children are safe and if you have more than one child, it's an easy way to keep them separated. I hated to hear my children crying, too, but I was able to learn which cries needed immediate attention.

My husband would use the bathroom with the door open. He decided it was time to close the door when our daughter, who was 2 or 3 at the time, said, "Daddy, Daddy, can I help? I can hold it for you."

Posted by: just wondering | July 6, 2006 8:53 PM

It is true that a SAHM is not getting a salary. However, the way I see it, she is actually getting 1/2 of husband's salary. I say this because my husband and I combine all income and it is for the use of the family - not his and mine separately. So 100% of the household income is for husband and wife, just as I believe that 100% of SAHM total household hubby's income is for husband and wife.

She most likely has a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, hopefully some savings and retirement contributions, health insurance, vacations, car, some spending money, etc.

If she were to leave the household, then expenses would be incurred, but it is possible that some of the things she does wouldn't get hired out. For example, a housecleaner might be hired, but it is also likely that the house wouldn't be as clean or the husband and/or children would do more of the cleaning. The same with grocery shopping. Dad would probably do it his own way, maybe daily stops rather than weekly. Also, tutoring, teaching, homework may just not get done. My husband would read to his girls daily and sing the ABC song and count, but probably would not spend as much time in 'learning' activities as I would (and they would be just fine).

I doubt that any working parent who lost the SAHP for any reason would be spending 50% of their income for someone to do what the missing parent is no longer doing.

Think of single parents. I think they actually have it the toughest of any parent. I don't believe that they spend 50% of their incomes for help with their children, homes, etc. They must settle for the best that they can get with the resources they have available.

Posted by: just wondering | July 6, 2006 9:19 PM

Here's a perspective I haven't seen in this humongous thread. Flame away. I'm a SAHM of one -- only one! -- preschooler, and I have a part-time nanny. Since we also hire several other people to take care of home-and-garden, my husband and I do very little work around the house.

I'm not even going to claim that our nanny comes over so I can vacuum or pull weeds.

Nope, when the nanny comes over, I go on hikes, browse antique stores or -- the biggest baddie of them all today -- I get my nails done while reading cheesy magazines. I love it.

I'm learning from a lot of these posts today that several, maybe many?, people believe that women who live this way are deficient, and more alarmingly, are possibly hurting their children. Why?

In all sincerity, would those of you who've said as much explain why that is so? Why is it bad, exactly, to leave your child w/ a sitter several hours a week if you are recreating, instead of working during those hours?

And, does the child feel the difference if her mother leaves for a few hours each day to chat with friends, rather than to meet with a client to go over a proposal?

Posted by: SeattleMom | July 6, 2006 9:37 PM

"After years of working and being a mom, I did the math and decided that, from a long-term perspective, my time was more valuable to my family if I invested it directly in them and not by working and paying for child care, etc. and investing it them indirectly. Our family income actually grew given the fewer expenses in the above, my husband being able to work longer hours in his private sector job (as opposted to my public sector job) as well as my having more time and attention to pay to family investments."

A lot of *I* statements here. Did your husband have any say in this? Does he regret giving more of his time to work? Does it cut into the amount of time he sees his children?

Posted by: bjt | July 6, 2006 9:52 PM

Seattlemom,

It is not wrong for you to carve out some time for yourself by leaving your child with a sitter/nanny for a few hours a week.

I think that there needs to be a distinction between SAHMs who use a nanny to free up their time for other household responsibilities and/or limited personal pursuits (recreational, artistic, etc) and those SAHMs who use a nanny so that they rarely have to attend to their own children and can heavily pursue their personal interests.

Posted by: bjt | July 6, 2006 10:03 PM

Seattlemom,

What would bother me would be if you said that being a SAHM is harder than a WOHM, but somehow I don't think that you believe that is a true statement for your life. ;-)

Posted by: bjt | July 6, 2006 10:05 PM

$100K nannies - these nannies may work 60-hr weeks and some holidays. I don't think that it is a matter of the nanny being worth the money for what they are doing. It seems to me more a matter of the employer wanting to keep the nanny happy and loyal in order to avoid disruptions in his/her schedule if the nanny must be replaced. So, the cost is 'worth it' to the select families who can afford it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 10:16 PM

The saddest thing of this entire topic is that CEOs, like Kenny Boy Lay, are clearly spoiled jerks who pay "six figure" salaries for someone else to raise their spoiled kids. They earn 100 times what they are worth, and corrupt "compensation committees" authorize it. It's a national disgrace, and the WaPo, of course, heartily endorses sloth, laziness, and greed of a desktop kid parent. (Here's the photo of Biff and Muffy and I at Aspen).

The greatest irony of Lay's heart attack was that he even had a heart. He dropped 200K on his wife's birthday (2nd wife) while defrauding his employees and stockholders. Wonder what his nanny was paid?

And this is progress???

What did Paris Hilton's parents pay to raise a vain, ignorant bimbo? It's pathetic.

And Seattle Mom, you are a one-kid yuppie wonder.

Wow, let's see, Special Forces Sergeants, college-educated, with genius IQs, are risking life and limb to protect your right to devote your time to a "Starbucks run". For $35,000 grand a year.

Wow, you make me proud, Seattle Mom. A true American.

Let's salute the military moms who raise multiple kids, often alone for long periods, for less than a half or third of the total income of the nanny of the money grubbers. They deserve "respect".

Posted by: GoArmyMoms | July 6, 2006 10:44 PM

There is something special a teenage girl has to offer to a toddler, and vise versa and I encourage all parents of teenage daughters to expose their child to the little ones, but not much more than a few hours at a time. Those toddlers will wear anybody out!

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 6, 2006 10:54 PM

"Hmmm ... How do I get that pay and benefits for raising my own child?"

Nannies get paid by the parents of the children they look after. You can get that pay and benefits for raising your own child by paying it to yourself (you know, like whatever salaries other self-employed people get).

Posted by: Cindy | July 6, 2006 11:13 PM

GoArmyMom, your jealousy is showing. I don't say that anyone who is in the military (my former stepson, bless him), anyone who works as a firefighter or an EMT, anyone who teaches our children, isn't a great American and doesn't deserve respect. Military moms who raise many kids deserve respect. (Of course, you could have stopped with one.) But why on earth are you so upset by someone like SeattleMom? Doesn't she have the simple right to live her life, just as you do? If you don't have what she has, well, many people on this planet don't have what YOU have. Accept that your life is what it is and don't compare women like SeattleMom to Ken Lay.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 7, 2006 9:42 AM

Just wanted to drop in and thank Shanda for her very reasonable, very well-written post.

Posted by: NewSAHM | July 7, 2006 9:54 AM

You guys are all posting too much. I don't have time to read every single post!-) I really liked the funny troll who posted that SAHM's were lazy. God, I remember when I my kids were little. Sometimes I didn't shower until it was afternoon. I didn't watch t.v. for years. But SAHM--I feel your pain. However, it IS temporary. And the kid who is almost 7 can certainly help, and if you have a three year old, rope them in. The best thing to do is go camping and see how easy it is to live without all the stuff. Funnily enough, I was an army mom! We only survived on one income because I worked part-time! Not that my husband ever gives me credit for that, but that is for another blog. Thanks to our scrimping and saving then we now have the choices most people want--a house bigger than we need, a peaceful life, and a parent home with the kids when they are home. As a teacher and a writer, I have to say that for all of us it is a journey of what-if's. I sometimes regret staying home all those years when the kids were little (well, I worked part-time, but nobody counts that, do they?) because there were times when they would have been better off in a pre-school environment. Actually, they did go when they were three, now that I think about it. We will all have regrets about the rearing of our children ('you raise corn, you rear children'--thanks mom!). And can we please talk about things that are more important to the mainstream? Really, LSM, this topic is just so marginal. Yet, it did generate many posts. I guess there really is no bad publicity!

Posted by: parttimer | July 7, 2006 10:38 AM

"A lot of *I* statements here. Did your husband have any say in this? Does he regret giving more of his time to work? Does it cut into the amount of time he sees his children?"

Now there's a big "duh". Of course we talked it out. We're a team. That's why it works.

Working longer was his choice. He'd been on the daddy track for years and wanted to take on roles he'd passed over because of the travel requirements. At a time when other men were going through mid-life crises he was energized and excited about what he was doing.

The hours and travel take him away more often than in the past but when he's home he's able to focus his time on the family.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 7, 2006 10:44 AM

$100K for a nanny is ridiculous! My nanny makes $1.50/hour and she's happy when I feed her the dog's leftovers. Of course, she would leave in a second if she could. However, I've hidden her passport and travel documents in my safe. Also, every once in awhile, I have a buddy dress up in uniform and run into my apartment screaming, "IMMIGRACION!!" Keeps the nanny on her toes.

Posted by: Lewis | July 7, 2006 10:50 AM

"In all sincerity, would those of you who've said as much explain why that is so? Why is it bad, exactly, to leave your child w/ a sitter several hours a week if you are recreating, instead of working during those hours? "

I'm not flaming you, even though I admit I don't "get" your lifestyle.

The difference for me is that a parent who leaves their child so they can work outside the home, or even so they can go grocery shopping or clean the bathrooms without interruption, isn't doing so for selfish reasons (usually. I do acknowledge that some parents work for non-financial reasons, just to get out of the house and have a break from the life-with-children.) But even if they don't *need* to work, they're still earning a salary which ultimately contributes to the family. Even if they're doing it so they can have nice vacations or 4 SUV's, they're still improving the quality of life for the entire family. If they're hiring a sitter so they can go grocery shopping or weed the garden, that's contributing to the family.

Going on hikes by yourself or to lunch with your girlfriends or having your nails done is done *only* for you. Yes, we all need personal time to ourselves. But I have a problem believing that someone needs *that* much personal time....and I have a hard time not being critical of it from a work ethic pov.


Posted by: momof4 | July 7, 2006 12:00 PM

If anyone is still reading the posts for this entry . . . .

I really think that Leslie was unfair to Glover Park. As I read his post, he was sincere in expressing his admiration of women who stay at home all day with their children. I do not think it was condescending at all. Also, though I reviewed these posts quickly, it seemed to me that he was advocating for some monetary recognition of what they do.

As far as hiring a nanny while staying at home, frankly, to me that seems a little ridiculous and I agree with momof4. But I also have to admit that I'm jealous and that's a big part of why I have that reaction. At the risk of overgeneralizing and stereotyping, it seems like SAHMs think that WOHMs have a significant amount of time to themselves because they have interaction with other adults during the day. But maybe those SAHMs are remembering their working life before they had children, and have not tried working WITH children. Yes, I occasionally have the slow day, or, like today, the day when I have a lot of work to do but can't focus because I'm too tired, during which I admit to looking at internet sites and, occasionally, posting a comment here. But by in large I have no social interactions with my colleagues and work non-stop from the moment I am here to the moment I leave because I have to leave right at 4:00 to do my one-hour commute and pick up my children at their two different locations so I can get dinner on the table at a decent time, with the hopes that maybe, just maybe, we'll have time for stories before they really have to go to bed to do it all again the next day. So while I do not know this for a fact, because I have not been a SAHM, I suspect I feel as isolated as a lot of SAHMs do. As a result, I have trouble empathizing with the SAHM who has a nanny watch her children so she can eat lunch with friends. I always eat lunch at my desk, never with friends, because I don't have the luxury of staying late to make up for it. And frankly, I don't want to stay late to make up for it.

And as far as whether being a SAHM is harder than a WOHM, again, I can't speak to this authoritatively since I haven't done both, but here's my opinion. During my working hours, being at the office is easier than it would be at home with two chidren under 5 years old. But the time outside the office, when you are trying to squeeze all your grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, etc. (I'm fortunate enough to have someone else clean the house) in evening and weekend hours, being a WOHM is much harder than a SAHM. I would love to have the whole week to fit the chores in so I could have some relaxing time with my kids without a huge to-do list in my head of everything I need to do to keep my children fed and in clean clothes. And yes, my husband does help quite a bit. So it seems to me that whichever one is easier depends on the day of the week and the time. Not to mention that I'm so tired, I get much crankier with them than I would like.

Finally, I strongly believe that life for the SAHM gets much easier in terms of workload when her children are at school, though I imagine I'd miss them all day if I were home alone.

My two cents for what it's worth . . . .

Posted by: SAHM wannabe | July 7, 2006 1:03 PM

"Going on hikes by yourself or to lunch with your girlfriends or having your nails done is done *only* for you."

Momof4, this is the reason I don't have kids. Because, yes, I DO need and relish that much personal time. And the work I do takes a lot of my time, so I don't have any for children. Some people say, "Oh you are missing out on the greatest thing in life." But when someone tells me that I don't really need time to myself and should devote everything to a kid, then I know I made the right decision.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 7, 2006 1:10 PM

The real Leslie did not comment on Glover Park's posts. That was someone masquerading as Leslie. Leslie rarely comments on this blog, and she doesn't make the kind of pointed comments that the fake "Leslie" did. Nor is she a poor speller.

Posted by: Daily reader | July 7, 2006 1:12 PM

Army mom,

While people respect people in the military, you shouldn't point fingers at someone else. As far as earning 35, 000 dollars a year:

1. you chose it, no one drafted you
2. you don't have to have more than one kid
3. you get free healthcare, discounted groceries, and housing

Posted by: Anonymous | July 7, 2006 2:12 PM

Whew, I was out yesterday and look what I missed!

Paying a nanny $100,000 is ridiculous in the same way that having a $30,000 bathroom is ridiculous. If you make a combined income of $100,000, of course you don't pay a nanny $100K. However, if you have a combined income of $5 million, then it might not be seen as ridiculous at all. I can imagine families who would think it was fine to spend $30,000 on a huge luxury bathroom and thus would not blink at paying a live-in, year-round nanny $100,000 to care for two or three kids.

Someone mentioned the super-rich moms like Madonna. I wonder how much she pays her security person/people? Shouldn't the nanny make about the same?

Wealthy people pay more for goods and services, even when sometimes the quality is the same. Designer blue jeans are basically just denim with a name on them, but some people pay $150 for a pair with a certain name because they can afford it and they believe the quality is better or they simply like the status symbolism of it. If a blue jeans company can make millions off of rich people, why begrudge any nanny $100,000 if she can get it?

Posted by: Jules | July 7, 2006 2:54 PM

"Momof4, this is the reason I don't have kids. Because, yes, I DO need and relish that much personal time. And the work I do takes a lot of my time, so I don't have any for children. Some people say, "Oh you are missing out on the greatest thing in life." But when someone tells me that I don't really need time to myself and should devote everything to a kid, then I know I made the right decision."

I didn't say you don't need time to yourself..obviously I feel that we all need it. And I completely respect the decision to not have children. (You're not Oprah, are you? ;o) )

Your post is exactly the reason why I think being a WOHM is "harder" than being a SAHM. As it is now, you have time for work and personal time...but if you didn't have work that took a lot of your time, you would have more time for children *and* personal time. But it's very difficult to cram all three things into a person's life and have it work well. Not impossible of course, but far from easy.

Posted by: momof4 | July 7, 2006 3:23 PM

"But it's very difficult to cram all three [work, children, and personal time] into a person's life and have it work well."

Not to mention time for the husband!

Posted by: SAHM wannabe | July 7, 2006 3:38 PM

You're right, Momof4. I never had the desire to give birth, although sometimes I'd like a child and so perhaps will adopt an older child one day. But I was very motivated for my career and so I have spent a lot of time on it. I can't imagine doing my work and also trying to keep up with a child. (I'm not Oprah! I'm just an artist, but I do make money from my art.)

It's really not possible to say if being a SAHMorD is harder than a working mom and dad. Depends on the situation. I've got friends from both worlds. I have to say that the friends who are working parents seem to be more weary and have less time than the couples where one parent stays home. (One set is a SAHD.) One SAHM spends her time baking vegan cookies and taking her two girls to the museums and to yoga for moms and kids. They don't have a huge income, but she has much more control of her own life than any "working" mom that I know. That if nothing else makes it easier to be a SAHM.

Posted by: Not Oprah | July 7, 2006 3:38 PM

Jules, you are exactly right. Nannies who make $100 exist because mothers and fathers who make $5 million exist.

And to address the second idea of the thread, I don't think that in any way reflects a change for regular nannies. Just because bathtubs that cost $8,000 exist does not mean that the price of all bathtubs is going to skyrocket.

There will always be the idea that you'll pay more for better quality, but when you get to the top of the heap, you're just paying more.

Posted by: Meesh | July 7, 2006 3:49 PM

Meesh, I hear what you're saying, but the bathtub analogy is off, I think. Most of us know that any old tub will get us clean, but I do think there's a general trend away from the idea that any old person with a clean record and some time will do for major childcare responsibilities (which pretty much was the attitude back when I was doing childcare for money, 10-20 years ago). I think it's of a piece with how much more protective we are with kids today.

http://momsquawk.wordpress.com/

Posted by: MommaSteph | July 7, 2006 3:57 PM

MommaSteph, I agree. My only point with the bathtub analogy was that there is a wide range of bathtubs. There are cheap ones that barely hold water (your 10-year-old neighbor who's already been caught smoking pot) and there are more expensive tubs that have drip-free faucets and lifetime warrenties (the graduate-degree-holding childcare worker who you trust). But when you get to paying $8,000 for a bathtub, it stops betting worthwhile for practical things (like, they may be solid gold, but they don't do the impossible like clean themselves). Same goes for nannies. A nanny who makes $100,000 can not be intrinsically better than one who makes $60,000. It's not like she can fly or do other things that other nannies cannot do.

But your point is made that people are paying more for nannies now than they were years ago because of the whole overprotection craze (which is not necessarily a bad thing).

Posted by: Meesh | July 7, 2006 4:25 PM

Gotcha. Well put, Meesh.

http://momsquawk.wordpress.com/

Posted by: MommaSteph | July 7, 2006 6:39 PM

what a sad notion, that child-rearing is a job, that it somehow has value because people who wouldn't deign to do it themselves will pay someone else a lot of money to do for them. being in momma's arms, getting mother's milk on demand, this is a child's birthright and not a job description. what a sad viewpoint.

Posted by: laurie | July 12, 2006 11:15 AM

Leslie,
A mom who gives to her children her undivided (as in not divided between work and them) attention is not looking for a pat on the back from anyone. LOL. This is something that is evidently NEEDED by people like you. Getting praise and a high salary does NOT by any standards make you noble. It may give you the warm and fuzzies, but it doesn't make you a great person. All you are is a fill in for any next person that can easily fill your shoes. Everyone gets one mom, never to be replaced. A job postition....people train for them daily and very easy to replace. You are not special by any means and if you decided to quit tomorrow, no one would care.

Posted by: Mom | July 18, 2006 6:29 AM

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