As much as being a stay at home mother (SAHM) is a privilege for those fortunate to be able to afford this luxury, there is a greater cost of being a SAHM than just the wage that the mother used to earn.
Choosing to be a SAHM of course means sacrificing a wage, but it also means losing out on superannuation (pension savings). It also translates into missing out on working experience, the ability to keep up with changing technology, it means missing the promotions that may have come your way had you stayed working and leaves you with a big blank space in your resume, making returning to the workforce challenging.
There is a wealth of experience, education and intelligence locked into a group of women where there is little opportunity to return to the workforce. Ideally there needs to be better working prospects that offer flexible, family friendly hours that allow a mother to be there to raise her children whilst still remaining relevant, useful and well remunerated in her chosen career.
Interestingly, becoming a parent doesn’t seem to affect the career prospects of a father, as he usually continues to reach new professional heights, gains added experience and in turn wage increases.
In the unfortunate case where there is a marriage breakdown, the man often has higher capacity to earn, better superannuation savings and better job security, whilst the woman struggles to find work and make ends meet, after sacrificing her career in order to raise their joint children.
In an ideal world, I think both parents should work part time, so they can each earn independently, can each be hands on parents to raise and bond with their children and can each have the ability to continue to feel relevant in their chosen career.
At the end of the day, someone has to take on the responsibility of raising children – whether it is the mother, father or a paid caregiver. The individual financial circumstances usually have a large role to play in deciding how this care is provided.
The cost of being a SAHM is often underestimated, but the pay off for this role can’t really be counted in dollars and cents, rather in hugs and kisses.
(Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)