Work and a family

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by Matt Deckard, Aug 4, 2005.

  1. CWetherby

    CWetherby One of the Regulars

    Speaking as one raised by a feminist... I enjoy my life--home with my youngun's, teaching them the 3 R's (and an awful lot of history...), trying to be a supportive wifey for the breadwinner. It nauseates me to hear people complain about their kids being home from school during the holidays. If your friends heard you complain about THEM that way, you wouldn't have any friends left! I hope my kids never think they have ruined my life by their very presence.

    Excuse me while I go hug my children!
  2. Lincsong

    Lincsong I'll Lock Up

    Shining City on a hill
    It's what happens when;

    Working wives is nothing new. Women in the "golden era" worked, but it was the lower classes who worked in clerical, secretarial, domestic etc. It wasn't until recently that women went into the professional occupations and wanted to be a lawyer, doctor, controller etc. and have a family. It's up to each couple to decide the level of comfort they want in their marriage. I don't think it's so much about whether a woman works or stays home but whether or not that woman can be independent if her husband should die young.

    That is the most important test. I like to look at the Golden Era Classic "Cheaper by the Dozen". This movie was way ahead of the curve. It was made in I think 1951? (1949?) But, took place in 1918. Both the husband and wife were engineers. She was a stay at home mother, (with 12 kids she ought to be) and he was an efficiency expert. At the end of the movie the husband dies, but the wife is very strong, takes controls of the house and carries on his work in efficiency. Every wife should be able to continue life when and if her husband should die. The same applies to the husband. Sure there should be mourning, but life goes on.
  3. Viola

    Viola Call Me a Cab

    NSW, AUS
    Both my grandmothers worked. Both *their* mothers worked too. So did my granddad's mothers, though one of those great-grandmothers was still pissed years later that her brother had to stay in school when he didn't want to and she had to drop out to take a factory job when she didn't want to.

    I think my grandmother felt slightly bad for women who stayed home.

    I kind of like the idea of staying home (my mom did in the 90's to mixed effect) but I do not associate it particularly with the Golden Age.

    Hey everyone! Sorry this is a weird first post. I do love this site and have been lurking a while.
  4. Welcome to the Lounge. I am sure you will find something of interest here. ;)
    My father's mother worked through the Golden Era. She used to say it was for necessity but she liked working. My father spent a lot of time with his grandmother while she was at work. Sometimes she would work two weeks days and two weeks nights. During the night shifts my father spent a lot of time with his father.
    I am not sure how well it worked out because he made sure my mother didn't have to work a day after she got married to him. ;) He absolutely hated coming home to an empty house when he was young. It made quite an impression on him. I think it has in my generation as well as it was much more common when I was growing up.

    Regards to all,

  5. Angelicious

    Angelicious One of the Regulars

    Rainy ol' New Zealand
    Firstly, I have to say how impressed I am that this thread is still going strong after my 2 or 3 month hiatus from the lounge... It's interestingly good stuff! :eusa_clap

    I can't actually think of anyone I personally know who has only been a full-time at-home mother (or parent) for more than their children's pre-school years. It's a little odd to realise that... [huh]

    Back to the thread; I can't think of any women in my family who were only full-time housewives in the Golden Era. As far as I know, all of them were required to work for financial reasons, so social and moral issues didn't even come into it.

    My maternal grandmother only worked part-time, but that must have been unusual enough for a well-to-do girl of her generation (she married "beneath herself" - yes, it was a shotgun wedding). The women in my maternal grandfather's family seem to have been mostly farmers and servants, so I guess it was a half-day on Christmas and Easter off for them, with every second Sunday afternoon if they were lucky (and that on top of raising a family!)

    All the women of my father's family worked their entire adult lives; it was a necessity, and from what I understand, fairly normal in working-class Yorkshire and Wales at the time.

    Interestingly, of the "appropriate feminine occupations" of the time (roughly, nurse, teacher, and sometimes secretary), none of the women in my family have filled those roles until the present generation (excepting nursing in WWII). I do wonder how much increasing access to education has to do with the matter, and whether the push for women's higher education (leading to careers rather than simple employment) has hit a bit of a peak currently, given the reported discontent of career mothers and fertility problems of couples over 30...

    (I hope the above makes sense; it's past my bedtime!) ;)
  6. JustJen

    JustJen Familiar Face

    Fort Worth, TX
    I work outside of the home...

    Interesting thread......I'll make this as short as I can.

    I am a mother who works outside of the home as does my husband. My salary is more than my husband's. That should give you an inkling of why we've chosen the situation that we have. My kids attend a daycare that we carefully screened and have since they were 3 months of age. For a short period after both boys were born, I desperately wanted to stay home with them but I did not. Some women are built to stay home and others aren't.

    Do I think I (my husband and I) am successfully raising our children? Yes.
    Do I think I am successful at my job? Yes, but not to the point of sacrificing my family. I work to live. I do not live to work.

    Working outside the home allows me to be a better parent. It allows me to have an identity other than someone's mom. It's not that being just a mom isn't satisfying, but I'm able to fulfill my needs as well. And well, I kinda have to work if we're going to pay for our kids' college. The result is that my kids benefit because I know I've got to make the time count when I'm with them. As someone stated earlier, it's about quality not necessarily quantity.

    My children are socially well adjusted, well behaved, and excel in school (well, if kindergarten counts). I'm not advocating either position over the other. Families come in all shapes, sizes, and schedules. It depends on the parents, the kids, and the situation as to which will work for them.

    I've seen just as many stay at home moms at Chick-Fil-A who don't pay attention to their screaming meemie kids as I have working moms who ignore their discipline cases.

    I've been involved in PTA functions where the stay at home moms all looked at me like I had two heads when I laid out a formal project plan for getting a school carnival done. In retrospect, I can see how overbearing it was.

    The sword falls both ways.
  7. K.D. Lightner

    K.D. Lightner Call Me a Cab

    Des Moines, IA
    Boy, this is the thread that keeps going and going... Good idea, Matt.

    Re: the article on feminism. Let me say this: I was one of those early radical feminists kicking over police barricades in the streets of NYC. We were reacting to a society that was restrictive on what women could do and be. If we were extreme, it was because we were reacting to an extreme and limiting situation. If we made one mistake early on (and I think Betty Friedan admitted this), it was that we de-valued the woman who chose to stay at home and raise children. Most of the early movement was peopled by middle & upper-middle-class, educated white women who did not understand or comprehend what it meant to be non-white or poor or lacking an education. Later on, we realized there was a larger society out there that we were ignoring besides the Tammy Wynette "Stand-by-Your-Man" crowd.

    We were out to prove that women can and did do anything, so many of my friends chose what were then traditionally "men's professions" or even "men's trades." Some of my friends because doctors, lawyers and politicians, others became carpenters, electricians and auto mechanics. And some movement sisters became college professors, teaching women's studies to college students. Many of us went into politics or into non-profit organizations to help people to have better lives. I worked for two decades as a social worker in welfare reform and was also a union steward in SEIU.

    When I was in school, women were steered away from the medical and legal professions, and, if you were going to work in the field of business, you'd better learn to type. I saw around me, as child and young adult, many bored, frustrated stay-at-home mothers who felt that there must be more to their lives than being a wife and mother.

    I wanted to take an auto mechanics course when I was in high school so I could better understand the workings of cars (in those days women got ripped off by mechanics and dealers). I was told I could not take the class because I was a girl. One boy in my high school had to petition the school board to allow him to take home economics classes -- he wanted to be a chef and felt the classes would help him in his career choice. A friend who became a nurse really wanted to become a doctor, but was "guided" away from that profession because of her gender. And forget in those days wanting to be an astronaut, scientists, philosophy teacher, classical musician (except for harp or piano), chef (cook, yes, chef no), or be in any kind of trade. And forget going to college on any kind of athletic scholarship.

    This angered me when I was growing up -- especially when all the boys in my neighborhood joined Little League, which started up when I was 12, and I was left alone because of my gender. Heck, I was a better ball player than half the boys who joined. That was the beginning of the anger and it smoldered for years in high school and college and finally condensed to the point of explosion in the late 60's and early 70's.

    Then, when out of school and into the job market, there were questions about when I planned to marry and have kids, legal to ask in those days. If it was thought you were soon to be married, it was also assumed your career would be short because you would quit as soon as you had a baby. I was told by the phone company in San Francisco that I was "over-qualified" to take a job in that organization, because all they could offer me was clerical work or phone operator. Meanwhile, they trained young men my age to be junior executives.

    So, when the women's movement came about, I took to it like a duck to water. We fought hard and long for societal change. I think our society is still undergoing change, and some younger women probably have a bit of the "grass is greener" syndrome. Would they be happier at home with their babies? Maybe, maybe not. Try it and see. But, don't ever force us to go back to the times when we had limited choices in the job market and were discriminated against because of our gender!

    Sorry this is so long. There is so much to say on this topic!

  8. Rosie

    Rosie One Too Many

    Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, NY
    I love that you said this. As a younger woman, I was what I would consider to be a staunch feminist. I thought when I got older and reached a certain height in my career, I would get married, have some kids (that's the way I thought of it) get a nanny and go back to work.

    As I am approaching the age (28) where getting married and having children is something I really want to bring into fruition, I don't want some stranger raising my children. I want to be a stay at home mom. I want to be there for my children and make a wonderful home for them and for my husband. When saying that out loud to people, I get "you want to be some man's slave". "You're just going to waste your education". "Why do you want to do that?" This is the way homemakers are seen these days, not as a loving mother and wife but as some woman who doesn't want to do anything with her life, it's just sad.

    A friend of mine had a child three years ago. She went back to work after her daughter was about 7 or 8 months old not because she wanted to or because she and her husband were under some financial strain but because (and she told me this herself), she thought her family would think she was lazy. She felt guilty and still does because her child goes to day care, why should she have to feel this way? It's a sad day when a mom who wants to raise her children and provide a loving home for her family is thought of in this way.

    Another thing, I've been called prissy, stuck up, all kinds of names which I feel are derogatory because of my femininity. It seems being a lady and relishing in the fact that you are a lady is also not in fashion. :(
  9. JustJen

    JustJen Familiar Face

    Fort Worth, TX
    I am so pleased to hear from someone who actually laid the groundwork for women to have ALL options available. Thank you!

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