Are You Hiding Behind Your Children?

by MommaSaid

Are You Hiding Behind Your Children?

In July 2008, the New York Times reported that the declining job market is causing women to leave work, some of them using their children as an excuse. Says one economist: “When we saw women starting to drop out in the early part of this decade, we thought it was the motherhood movement, women staying home to raise their kids. We did not think it was the economy, but when we looked into it, we realized that it was.”


Are women really using their children as an excuse to leave the workforce, or is there still a “motherhood movement” of women choosing to stay home for the betterment of their kids? Is the at-home mother an endangered species? (See New York Times article.)


The Times reports that layoffs, outsourcing, and stagnant pay are causing women to respond like men have “by dropping out or disappearing for a while.”


I didn’t know that taking two cranky toddlers to the supermarket on a Tuesday afternoon was “dropping out” or “disappearing.” Sure didn’t feel like I’d dropped out of anything, except maybe a land where grown-ups get to chat over coffee.


The article mentions that some women aren’t willing to take jobs at lesser pay after a layoff. While the Times cites the reason as a new parity with men when it comes to job loss, I wonder if it isn’t something else entirely.


Carolyn Maloney, Democrat of New York and vice chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, said that women bring home one-third of family income. If a new job would leave you bringing home half of that one-third and it costs more for childcare, some folks think it’s not worth it to work. But there’s no mention of that in the article.


Instead, one economist says we’re hiding behind our kids. She told the newspaper: “A woman gets laid off and she stays home for six months with her kids. She doesn’t admit that she is staying home because she could not get another acceptable job.” Men, she says, don’t do that.


And yet the article mentions one accountant who left her job because of stagnant pay. “For the moment, Ms. Call is home-schooling one of her two sons, falling back on her husband’s $70,000 income as a plumber, and looking for another job.”


Home-schooling is dropping out? No, it’s another job.


The article seems to dismiss the idea that many women have chosen to stay home with their kids—it didn’t choose them. Rather, it paints women as lazy for not having paying jobs.


About one woman, who took the opportunity to go back to school to get a better job, the Times wrote: “Just working, which she has done nearly all of her adult life, is unappealing, she says.”


Funny, I wonder if a man, like this woman, who realized his associate’s degree in interior design wasn’t recession-proof and decided to go back to school while his wife supported him would be considered a dropout. No, he’d be a family man. But have you ever heard of a family woman? Maybe she disappeared.