Macnair: The ‘luxury’ of staying home with kids

Tri-City News

In conversation with other parents, I’m often surprised to hear them express envy that my wife has been the caregiver of our two children for the past 12 years….

In our particular situation, the choice had been made for us by hard financial reality. My wife didn’t earn enough money for it to make sense that she go to work and also pay for child care, so she stayed home.

Over the past dozen years, I’ve heard her express quite the opposite opinion about this so-called choice to stay at home with our children.

It would be nice to have the “luxury” to be able to get away from the home for a few hours, for a few days, and do something or think about something else than the 24/7 demands of kids.

I suppose it’s a matter of perspectives. For the parent who has a $90,000 income, the luxury of forgoing that income in order to stay at home is one they can’t afford to lose.

But for the parent who would only be able to find a minimum wage job, the prospect of earning just enough to pay child care doesn’t exactly lure them into the workforce.

The luxury, then, is in having a choice at all. Low-income parents who can’t afford for both to work don’t have one.

The shame of it all is that, after a century of feminism and progressive policies that encouraged more women into the workforce, low-income women still suffer by the same, old economic barriers.

They’re still not recognized for the contribution and sacrifice they make to the economy by raising the next generation of workers nor are they rewarded in anything other than the meagre deduction they represent on their husband’s income tax filing.

In a country with a negative birth rate that constantly needs to fill labour shortages with foreign workers, you would think more could be done to support parents struggling to make that “choice” between going to work and staying home with the kids.

If a parent chooses to stay home because he or she really wants to, that’s fine. But if a parent stays home because going to work won’t help pay the bills, you’ve got to wonder if the system isn’t slanted in favour of the couples who choose to simply get a dog instead.