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Rafael Ritter

Working moms happier than stay-at-home moms?

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I guess it depends on the mom. Though, in my experience as a child of a single working mother, I didn't have fond memories of it. She would come home and vent to my sister and I about her horrible days at work and pushed us to finish college so we wouldn't end up like her. (Of course, my sister accomplished Queen Mother's goal and is now a PhD student. I didn't, and apparently that makes me the scourge of the family. I'm a remote freelancer, which is something they don't know about since we're estranged.) 

I'm just one person, though. My mother would've probably been happier if she had a job she liked even though I'm not sure why she didn't bother to change jobs. What engenders happiness (or misery) varies from person to person.

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Hi @Rafael Ritter

The study is soo going to get decimated by reason and evidence imo that it'll be joyous to follow. (in my estimation)

I'll be going through it, thanks a million for your link and "batsignal"...

meanwhile the first inconsistency I stumbled upon (many more, I'm sure there'll be)

couldn't find the definition and "zero argument for happiness" or whether it is inclusive or dependent on the levels the children have...

also...

'The analysis found that mothers employed part time were just as involved in their child's school as stay-at-home moms, and more involved than moms who worked full time.'

... impossible to be true (or parenting is a weirdly defined concept here)Furthermore skewed standards were applied when comparing.

... gonna have to read it through.

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Note that it focuses on the happiness of the mother over a course of 10 years. So the negative effects of negligent parenting didn't really happen (I presume) for most if not all the women studied.

Also note it is happiness measured not whether or not it is actually good for the family (and you know how easily most women's perceptions of happiness can be altered with a few sweet poisonous words).

I think (as a total amateur) this study is worth considering since it doesn't appear to have any fatal flaws in its own intended purpose. Perhaps most of the women studied came from the same general area and perhaps the full time mothers felt generally depressed because of how they're treated by other women OR they are in general crazier and more likely to pick bad men in that area. Lots of little factors that might not be accounted for.

Also I would presume most lazy women would be happier to totally outsource child-rearing then actually have to mother during the initial years (especially if they have no idea what they are doing and beat their kids or yell at them) and I would assume good women would have the opposite effect (meaning a smart and moral woman would love being a mother because she's a Spock enthusiast--never read him but I heard he championed peaceful parenting and other things like that--who refers to a whole library of parenting books when in doubt). 

Strangely there's a lack of hard numbers (like how many worked part time versus full time mother versus full time wage slave) and also "part time" is defined as between 1-32 hours per week (which is a huge difference, especially if those hours are spread over 6 days rather than condensed into four 8-hour work days--assuming the high end for that example). The lines between a "full time working woman" and "part timer" are blurred a bit.

Therefore while this may be true for certain types of women from a certain geographical area I do not think it is true for all women everywhere (obviously but I mean "in general"). I don't think the study is particularly useful because "not-all-women" and all that. Some women are genuinely good workers and suck at being a mother while others totally suck working and would be better off committing to motherhood and then there are women who just suck in general at everything. And then there are really great women who are good at both work and home (though obviously they will suck if they try to do both at once). Not to mention the level of individuality and wisdom of a given woman is likely to affect her ability to be happy and effective in general at anything.

If I were you (@TC) I wouldn't bother debating with my girlfriend about a study but rather ask her why she even cares. I mean, isn't she a self-actualized woman or is she just a part of the borg? If she's a real woman then she ought to know what she wants (or at least admit honestly she doesn't know) and therefore studies of what women generally prefer ought not interest her. If she's a member of the borg... Well, I haven't watched that Star Trek episode so you'll have to watch it for yourself to see what happens when you try to assimilate into the borg.

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Hahaha...

1 hour ago, barn said:

'The analysis found that mothers employed part time were just as involved in their child's school as stay-at-home moms, and more involved than moms who worked full time.'

from the "study" :

'The percentage of mothers employed part
time was fairly consistent at approximately 25% of mothers.
Although not reflected in Table 1, most mothers changed
employment status over time.
The percentage of mothers
who were continuously employed part time across these
seven time points was 1.8%; comparable numbers for fulltime employment and nonemployment were 11.2% and
2.8%, respectively.
'

 

... are you kidding me?!

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9 minutes ago, barn said:

Hahaha...

from the "study" :

'The percentage of mothers employed part
time was fairly consistent at approximately 25% of mothers.
Although not reflected in Table 1, most mothers changed
employment status over time.
The percentage of mothers
who were continuously employed part time across these
seven time points was 1.8%; comparable numbers for fulltime employment and nonemployment were 11.2% and
2.8%, respectively.
'

 

... are you kidding me?!

Where did you find that exactly? I couldn't find it under "Materials". 

Edited by Siegfried von Walheim

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The paper does say that it's only when there's a preschool child that working mothers tended to be happier; once the child reaches school age the effect goes away. The authors suggest that the effect could be due to social isolation, so it would be interesting to look at that specifically, because social isolation wasn't one of the things they were testing for and it may be that if you control for that, the picture looks very different.

The non-employed mothers did also report worse health at all child ages; that's pretty vague so it's hard to know what to make of it. It might perhaps just be that spending most of your time at home is unhealthy for anyone unless you have a proper exercise plan.

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On 06/04/2018 at 12:48 PM, Siegfried von Walheim said:

If I were you (@TC) I wouldn't bother debating with my girlfriend about a study but rather ask her why she even cares. I mean, isn't she a self-actualized woman or is she just a part of the borg? If she's a real woman then she ought to know what she wants (or at least admit honestly she doesn't know) and therefore studies of what women generally prefer ought not interest her. If she's a member of the borg... Well, I haven't watched that Star Trek episode so you'll have to watch it for yourself to see what happens when you try to assimilate into the borg.

Actually, she sent me that study because I was arguing that being a stay-at-home mom is preferable and that they are happier in general. She disagreed and brought that up as counter-evidence.

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Just now, Rafael Ritter said:

Actually, she sent me that study because I was arguing that being a stay-at-home mom is preferable and that they are happier in general. She disagreed and brought that up as counter-evidence.

Well, if she knows what she wants, then why are you trying to stop her? Especially be referring to the borg? If I were you I'd sit down with her and talk about--practically speaking, day to day and week to week, what being a working mom actually means and how that affects the children. I'd prepare some data since some of it will probably require proving rather than just imagination and empathy for one's future self and children. 

If she truly believes she will be happiest as a breadwinner (because she can't be the active mother and the breadwinner at the same time--make sure she can do basic math to figure that out at least) then either, if you plan to actually marry her, you have to become the "househusband" (or stay at home dad) or you have to simply move on since she presumably knows what she's getting into and if you want a housewife as a working man while she wants a househusband as a working woman... You are not both going to get what you want. 

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16 hours ago, Rafael Ritter said:

Actually, she sent me that study because I was arguing that being a stay-at-home mom is preferable and that they are happier in general. She disagreed and brought that up as counter-evidence.

Interesting. Do you think she's read it through or that she understands more than just the summary and its implications? (genuine curiosity)

(because if not, it might be wiser to start with 'that,' meanwhile keeping a well-intended and curious approach.)

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I'd say this is probably due to social isolation... Being a stay-at-home-mom can be excruciatingly lonely and isolating, and it's a big struggle. I've often fantasized about going back to work just to be able to have an identity outside of my kids and to see people outside my home on a regular basis. We have no family where we are, and all of my close friends have moved away. Pre-babies I would have just gone out and joined a club or sport or found an activity to do so that I could make friends, but for the past three years I have been house-bound, excepting the grocery store (where I know all the cashiers by name and look forward to seeing them) and sometimes the gym. I have worked very hard to make friends with other moms in my own neighborhood, and this has become my lifeline in a lot of ways. 

Yes, part-time work has often seemed very attractive, and I know several moms that have gone back to work because they are so isolated and lonely. It is very easy to slip into depression like this, especially if it's in the immediate post-partum months and there's no one around for the mom to lean on, and if the husband is out making the money then he's not available for emotional support. Women are waaayyy under-prepared to be happy, mentally-healthy housewives. We prep and groom our whole lives to have a career, and then we're whisked away overnight from being a part of the world at large into an isolated bubble, and you can no longer participate in nearly any activity you once enjoyed (try reading in the library with two tiny, squirmy, handsy, demanding creatures), you can't do much of anything at all, and you have no one to share any of this with. There is no one to talk to, no one at all there, and everything is different. Many, many moms get depressed like this. 

Moms are happier loving on and spending time with and bonding with their children vs living with the heavy "mom guilt" that comes with leaving your kids in someone else's care. That being said, I think the self-abnegation that is required - especially during the infant years - is severely underappreciated and because of this a lot of moms are very ill-equipped to cope with the changes and isolation. They prefer to go back to work, where they have some semblance of a community and solid identity. 

 

 

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On 13/04/2018 at 12:28 AM, Siegfried von Walheim said:

Well, if she knows what she wants, then why are you trying to stop her? Especially be referring to the borg? If I were you I'd sit down with her and talk about--practically speaking, day to day and week to week, what being a working mom actually means and how that affects the children. I'd prepare some data since some of it will probably require proving rather than just imagination and empathy for one's future self and children. 

If she truly believes she will be happiest as a breadwinner (because she can't be the active mother and the breadwinner at the same time--make sure she can do basic math to figure that out at least) then either, if you plan to actually marry her, you have to become the "househusband" (or stay at home dad) or you have to simply move on since she presumably knows what she's getting into and if you want a housewife as a working man while she wants a househusband as a working woman... You are not both going to get what you want. 

I was trying to convince her that being a stay-at-home mom is better, since that's what seems more rational to me in almost every aspect.

I think it's hard to say that I am planning to marry her at the moment, since not only are we both very young (I'm 21 and she just turned 17 this month) and the relationship is relatively short (6 or 8 months, depending on how we count it) but we also don't agree on very fundamental things, and it's been kind of difficult to convince her of my positions. Also, she is my first girlfriend, so I don't think it is very likely that it's going to be the last one (not saying I don't like her and appreciate being with her, but you understand).

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On 13/04/2018 at 4:52 PM, barn said:

Interesting. Do you think she's read it through or that she understands more than just the summary and its implications? (genuine curiosity)

(because if not, it might be wiser to start with 'that,' meanwhile keeping a well-intended and curious approach.)

I don't think so, no. Yes, you are right, I agree with you.

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On 15/04/2018 at 2:07 AM, Elizbaeth said:

I'd say this is probably due to social isolation... Being a stay-at-home-mom can be excruciatingly lonely and isolating, and it's a big struggle. I've often fantasized about going back to work just to be able to have an identity outside of my kids and to see people outside my home on a regular basis. We have no family where we are, and all of my close friends have moved away. Pre-babies I would have just gone out and joined a club or sport or found an activity to do so that I could make friends, but for the past three years I have been house-bound, excepting the grocery store (where I know all the cashiers by name and look forward to seeing them) and sometimes the gym. I have worked very hard to make friends with other moms in my own neighborhood, and this has become my lifeline in a lot of ways. 

Yes, part-time work has often seemed very attractive, and I know several moms that have gone back to work because they are so isolated and lonely. It is very easy to slip into depression like this, especially if it's in the immediate post-partum months and there's no one around for the mom to lean on, and if the husband is out making the money then he's not available for emotional support. Women are waaayyy under-prepared to be happy, mentally-healthy housewives. We prep and groom our whole lives to have a career, and then we're whisked away overnight from being a part of the world at large into an isolated bubble, and you can no longer participate in nearly any activity you once enjoyed (try reading in the library with two tiny, squirmy, handsy, demanding creatures), you can't do much of anything at all, and you have no one to share any of this with. There is no one to talk to, no one at all there, and everything is different. Many, many moms get depressed like this. 

Moms are happier loving on and spending time with and bonding with their children vs living with the heavy "mom guilt" that comes with leaving your kids in someone else's care. That being said, I think the self-abnegation that is required - especially during the infant years - is severely underappreciated and because of this a lot of moms are very ill-equipped to cope with the changes and isolation. They prefer to go back to work, where they have some semblance of a community and solid identity. 

 

 

My girlfriend has talked to me about this social isolation aspect, but maybe I didn't see how big of a deal it actually is. Thanks for sharing you perspective, it was very clear and I believe it helped me to see a little better and with more practical examples some of what she was talking about.

That said, I really applaud you for being a stay-at-home mom, and I find it very admirable!

Now, I am a bit curious. You said that your husband is not available for emotional support, and that you have no one to talk to and to share these problems with, but couldn't he try to work a bit less in order to be able to give you the emotional support you need and be there with his child while he or she is growing up and you are taking care of the child?

Also, do you have any data on this correlation between stay-at-home motherhood and depression that I could take a look at?

Thanks in advance!

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47 minutes ago, Rafael Ritter said:

I was trying to convince her that being a stay-at-home mom is better, since that's what seems more rational to me in almost every aspect.

I think it's hard to say that I am planning to marry her at the moment, since not only are we both very young (I'm 21 and she just turned 17 this month) and the relationship is relatively short (6 or 8 months, depending on how we count it) but we also don't agree on very fundamental things, and it's been kind of difficult to convince her of my positions. Also, she is my first girlfriend, so I don't think it is very likely that it's going to be the last one (not saying I don't like her and appreciate being with her, but you understand).

I think I understand better. Man to man? I just turned 20 and I've never had a girlfriend and am of course a virgin. But I have had attempts at getting girls but I was very awkward and well... I suppose it was a good thing I was because I was really just thinking with my wick and I would have surely gotten it burned if I had the balls to actually go through with my teenage desires. 

It's important to break the ice for ourselves since we have to get comfortable speaking directly with and about important (personal especially) topics with women. However you ought to know you aren't dating a woman; you're dating a girl. That means you are most likely quite a bit mentally older and wiser than her and there's hardly a guarantee she'll ever catch up with you or even be moderately acceptable. She's at a point in her life where she pretty much has to become who she will most likely be for the remaining 60+ years of her life. Now depending on what kind of guy you are that could be good or bad. I lean towards the latter but I can make a case for the former.

The good: you can educate her and potentially "raise her" into a marriageable woman for yourself. This is really only possible if either she is uniquely intelligent and individualistic (i.e. she's humble to reason and evidence and is not a dogmatist; though you may have to put up with a lot of crap early on it may be possible to help her become a decent woman) OR she has/had a good father and mother to raise her in the right direction (thus you don't really have to do anything. She'll just become decent on her own). I would not bet on either of these things though; I'll get to that later.

The bad: you'll most likely always be wiser than her and if you're anything like me (I think I'm exceptional in this way but...) then you'll probably grow to resent her because she cannot ever be of help to you when you need her yet you'll have to be there for her nearly always. The relationship becomes both possessive and parasitical (and therefore unhealthy) when there is a significant knowledge/intelligence gap and that weak-spot is further widened when you both have different methods of getting your beliefs. If your's is reason and her's is peer pressure (or vice versa) then you two will surely crumble even if you agree in the moment (and I know you do not). 

Therefore I suspect that unless she's truly intelligent and reasonable (or at least was raised to be amendable to be that way) she'll just be nothing but trouble for you and God knows many a young man loses his youth to bad women.

I can't say whether she's peer-pressure or reason based because while she disagrees with you in terms of lifestyle (and probably by extension values) she does appear willing to use evidence to back it up (thus the article above). That's a promising sign, I think. I don't know her so I might be totally wrong but if she's willing to argue (that is with reason not with insults and threats or whatever) then she's capable of growth. If that's the case then you might have a keeper on your hands. If not... then I suggest you mentally take pictures of her behavior because it'll be a valuable learning point so you can spot unreasonable girls in the future. 

But again: she seems reasonable because she's willing to argue with data rather than insults or avoidance (but I don't know that: maybe she does that crap in your life but you didn't want to type it here or maybe not. Remember: I'm just some guy and I don't have the full picture) and if I'm right about her being reasonable then she could be the most outrageous Far Left maniac and still become a good woman because she's capable of being de-programmed and thinking for herself--and therefore she's capable of being of as much help and service to you as you are to her (presumably--I am assuming you're a decent guy who is trying to help her rather than use her or whatever). 

A final note: in general it is best to assume that if a woman is arguing with you it is not about what she's literally saying but something else that she isn't saying. I would argue such women are dangerous and too much trouble but... most guys would not agree with me. I am not saying your girl is like that but if that's the case you might want to take that as a red flag (meaning I'm saying you ought to think of what she might really be angry about or protecting--assuming she's doing either of these things rather than calmly sending you links and urls) for later dating. 

In all though: I pray you found a good and reasonable woman but do not let optimism or "your-first-real-girlfriend-buzz" blind you from seeing a bad one. 

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On 4/18/2018 at 2:45 PM, Rafael Ritter said:
On 4/15/2018 at 1:07 AM, Elizbaeth said:

 

My girlfriend has talked to me about this social isolation aspect, but maybe I didn't see how big of a deal it actually is.

I think we've sort of created it in modern times. I imagine that we had lived in clusters of agrarian societies, and the men would go out and do their stuff and the women were busy with all of the closer-to-home work, including childcare. In that scenario, the women had each other to share the burden or work and also conversation and companionship. Whenever I ask another mom to come over for an afternoon, I find it immensely easier to happily and productively do things around the house. 

 

On 4/18/2018 at 2:45 PM, Rafael Ritter said:

You said that your husband is not available for emotional support, and that you have no one to talk to and to share these problems with, but couldn't he try to work a bit less in order to be able to give you the emotional support you need and be there with his child while he or she is growing up and you are taking care of the child?

I don't think my issue would be solved by him giving up his work and free time to become a better support. I would still be unfulfilled, because I would be looking to him to fill up every deficiency in my emotional arsenal. He cares how I feel, and makes efforts to attend to my emotional needs and listens and acts on my requests, but the truth is that he is a guy, and has his own needs and modes of being, and I need a network of mothers and older women who understand what it's like to be me, in my position, and who are aware of the acutely spiritual and very real physical changes that motherhood demands of a woman. He is not a woman and can't give me the woman-to-woman connection that I really want, and I suspect that all mothers want. Plus, he has a low threshold capacity for interaction and conversation before it starts to exhaust him and wear him thin. He is a big introvert (I thought I was an introvert until I had to stay home) and spends the last of his outgoing energy playing with me and the kids before they go to sleep. If I'm having a very hard day he makes extra efforts to pay attention to me, and I will accept it, but I also need to extend him to same courtesy of considering his emotions and needs if I want him to consider mine. I really believe that the solution is to make more female friends of all different ages. I think this is something that used to be built into our lives, but now it's something we have to proactively work for. I don't go to church and have been fairly against church for years, but I've been strongly considering it just to be shoed in to a community of family-oriented people of all ages. Just one person, no matter how loving he is, could satisfy the desire for a community. 

 

On 4/18/2018 at 2:45 PM, Rafael Ritter said:

Also, do you have any data on this correlation between stay-at-home motherhood and depression that I could take a look at?

I don't. What I said was purely anecdotal and based off of my own feelings and what other women have told me about how they feel. But to be clear, it's not solely staying at home that makes women feel this way. It's staying at home with no pre-existing social support. My brother and sister-in-law live in another state, and they have her parents only 5 minutes away, her close childhood friends, her brother and sister-in-law, my father and step-mother, my aunts, uncles, and lots of older friends who weekly, if not daily, see each other and help with the kids. In contrast, my husband and I live several hours from any of our parents, moved to a city where we knew no one, and the close female friends I made here all moved away across the country right when I started having children. Those are two very different situations, and she and I have had very different feelings about entering motherhood. It just seems that, with the prevalence of how mobile most people are and how many people tend to leave their places of origin, it is not hard to imagine how this is a common thing to experience. But no, I have no data on this, just personal experiences of myself and those I know. 

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