Think Twice Before Using This Term To Describe A SAHM

Moms make it all look so easy, from running a household to raising kids to doing both while having a career.

Because every parent is in a unique situation, it is sometimes easy to forget that we all have to make tough choices for our families.

There is one careless term, however, that people seem to toss around about stay-at-home moms – and what is implied can be hurtful.

Luxury:  The state of great comfort and extravagant living.

This word has often been used to describe the lifestyle of a stay at home mom – by people who don’t understand the concept.

And for SAHMs who have heard this term from well-meaning friends and family to describe their situation, it can be incredibly upsetting.

Using “luxury” in this sense either means someone thinks your family is wealthy enough to have no problem living off one income, or that your kids take care of themselves while you sit and eat bonbons all day because you “don’t have to work.”

It is almost never the case that either of these scenarios is true, and however they mean the use of this term, it is pretty offensive.

For the most part, mom is the stay at home parent.  And the family has likely made some major sacrifices in order for her to be able to do so.

Generations ago, it was a given that mothers would stay home and raise the kids, and then continue to take care of the household and kids’ needs even after they started school.

Today in the U.S., more than 70 percent of moms are in the workforce due to the economic strain facing modern families.

The Washington Post reported:

“Long gone are the days when the majority of middle- and upper-income women stayed home to raise families full time,” the authors wrote. “Instead, in most families, either both parents work or the household is headed by a single parent.”

Forty-two percent of mothers in the United States solely or mostly pull the wagon, while 22.4 bring home at least a quarter of household earnings.

It’s important to note, though, that many women still opt out of employment after having kids, desiring to be the primary nurturing force in their children’s lives. Sometimes, however, the soaring cost of child care or a lack of paid maternity leave knocks them out of the workforce.

Some women absolutely cannot afford to stay at home full-time.  Others find the cost of childcare so high that they would barely break even by working.

All of these circumstances come with tough choices, and giving up time with the kids or a much-loved career is difficult either way – and the decisions and struggles are far from luxurious.

In fact, a recent USDA study found that households with two incomes earning the highest income levels in the country spend nearly twice as much to raise their children long-term.

This includes childcare and education, but the study also finds that these families are more likely to splurge on non-essential or “luxurious” items, whereas families living on one income often skimp and save, watching every expense to make ends meet.

While it’s not usually the case that both parents work outside the home because they want to fill their lives with material possessions, it definitely offers a bit more breathing room than living on a tight budget.

Allison Carter wrote in the New York Times:

Those who define me as a “luxury,” while enjoying plenty of luxuries we’ve sacrificed, frustrate me. Ours aren’t the choices for everyone. But can we agree that, for many of us, they are choices that are made possible by conscious sacrifices, not wealth?

On the other side of the coin, some close to us – or even other moms who work outside the home – describe being a SAHM as “living a life of luxury” because they don’t have to leave home to go to work each day.

But being a SAHM is definitely work; in fact, the hardest work there is.

And it is also a choice that requires sacrifices in many other areas.

While it is an incredible blessing to be home with your children, experiencing every precious moment, it is not without its drawbacks – and definitely not luxurious.

Consider this:  A stay-at-home works a 24-hour day every day of the year — with little or no time off and no pay — and usually goes without caring for herself in order to give her all to her family.

Does that sound like a “life of luxury” to you?

Allison Carter continues in the New York Times:

I do, indeed, hate it when the word “luxury” is used to define my role as a stay-at-home mom. But not for the reasons you might think.

I am not here to argue who works harder: a working mother or a stay-at-home mother. I stand firm on my belief that it is hard for everyone. What goads me are the financial and lifestyle implications this statement carries.

“Luxury” is a loaded word. Yes, it is absolutely true that my husband and I are lucky that he has been able to secure and keep a job that can pay for us all to live. I am aware that there are many families who require a dual income to successfully sustain their children’s basic needs. Raising children is expensive and on the rise and, for many families, the financial equation is hard.

So in some ways, yes, we are lucky that I can stay home. But a luxury is a non-essential item. An indulgence. What I do is essential, and certainly not self-indulgent.

In the end, we all make sacrifices to live our best lives – and give the best lives we can to our children.

Whether this is by both parents working hard to provide, or whether mom stays at home, there are often tough choices and long, tiring days.

As parents, and for those who know some hard-working parents, we should be building each other up in a system of support, encouragement, and acceptance for our unique circumstances.

While “luxury” may seem like a positive term, it can be an inappropriate and hurtful way to describe the lifestyle of any mom you know.

Unless we walk a mile in a stay-at-home mom’s shoes, it is best to avoid labeling them, instead recognizing them for the heroes they are!

What do you think of people who say SAHMs live “a life of luxury?”  Leave us your thoughts.

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