Within less than a decade, the number of children raised by stay-at-home moms has increased by 13 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Ivy League-educated women are rebelling against the work force. Highly qualified women are rejecting fame and fortune for the comforts of family life. They’re choosing children instead of career.
Fifty years after women swarmed the work force, they’re going back home, leaving experts to question if the feminist fad is out of fashion.
Indeed, support for working moms is falling dramatically amid “growing sympathy” for the view that women should be in the home and not the workplace.
In the US the percentage of people arguing that family life does not suffer if a woman works has plummeted, from 51% in 1994 to 38% in 2002.
Professor Jacqueline Scott of Cambridge University said the idea that support was steadily growing for women taking an equal role in the workplace, rather than their traditional role in the home was “clearly a myth”.
She added: “Instead, there is clear evidence that women’s changing role is viewed as having costs both for the woman and the family.
“It is conceivable that opinions are shifting as the shine of the ‘super-mum’ syndrome wears off, and the idea of women juggling high-powered careers while also baking cookies and reading bedtime stories is increasingly seen to be unrealisable by ordinary mortals.”
And it isn’t just more mothers that are staying home to focus on their families….more wives without children are staying home too!
Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Women,” says that stay-at-home wives constitute a growing niche. “In the past few years, many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home,” he says. While his research is ongoing, he estimates that more than 10 percent of the 650 women he’s interviewed who choose to stay home are childless.
Daniel Buccino, a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine clinical social worker and psychotherapist, says stay-at-home wives are the latest “status symbols.”
“It says, ‘We make enough money that we both don’t need to work outside the home,'” he says. “And especially with the recent economic pressures, a stay-at-home spouse is often an extreme and visible luxury.”
Stay-at-home wife Anne Marie Davis, 34, says that staying home allows for charity work and leisure: reading, creative writing and exploring new hobbies, like sewing.
It’s a lifestyle, Anne says, that has made her happier and brought her closer to her husband. “We’re no longer stressed out,” she says; because she takes care of the home, there are virtually no “honey-do” lists to hand over.
“If you told me years ago that I was going to be a stay-at-home wife, I would have laughed at you,” said Catherine Zoerb, 27. Yet after she finished graduate school in 2005, she found herself unemployed, childless — and strangely happy. With her husband’s support, Catherine decided to just stay home.
“I was able to clip coupons, do all the chores and make nice dinners,” she said. “I was much less stressed and tense.”
Catherine’s husband, Kirk Zoerb is a man who appreciates the scope and difficulties of managing a household: Kirk, 27, says he’s happiest when his wife is jobless.
“When Catherine stays at home, I feel the house is more together because she has the time to do things like in-depth cleaning and can be more attentive to the garden,” he said. “She also has more time to find good deals at secondhand stores, garage sales and at grocery stores.” As a couple, he said, “we have more energy and are generally emotionally healthier.”
What do you think? Is this a trend in your life and community?