During a speech in Rhode Island last week, President Barack Obama made a statement some interpreted to mean he didn't want women to choose to be stay-at-home mothers, according to Lois Collins of Deseret News National.
"Sometimes, someone — usually mom — leaves the workplace to stay home with the kid, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that's not a choice we want Americans to make," Obama said Friday in his speech.
But don't worry, stay-at-home moms aren’t going anywhere, despite the debate over Obama's statements. According to the Pew Research Center, 29 percent of mothers don’t work outside the home, which is up from 23 percent in 1999.
And some stay-at-home wives have been commended for helping America become what it is today. According to The American Enterprise Institute’s Charles Murray, they promote social goods that help build communities and neighborhoods, like attending PTA meetings, promoting youth sports and ensuring the neighborhood is safe by “keeping an eye on each other’s houses when no one is home.”
Murray said working women often provide positivity and goodness, too, and they often get a lot of the praise since they’re balancing work and home lives. But stay-at-home wives, specifically, should be acclaimed for their continued efforts to keep their communities safe.
“I just want us to realize that stay-at-home wives are one of the resources that have made America America,” Murray wrote. “It is entirely understandable that some wives work full time, either for the fulfillment of a vocation or to make money — the same reasons men work full time. But when either partner in a marriage — and it will usually be the wife — chooses to devote full time to being a parent and neighbor instead, that choice should not just be accepted, but celebrated.”
While stay-at-home moms help the community, what else are they doing in today’s society to help their children and their families? Here are six things you should understand about stay-at-home moms.
Stay-at-home moms shape their children into who they are.
According to Focus on the Family’s Jill Savage, stay-at-home mothers create a stable home, where they teach their children to understand who they’re going to be in the future and what it is they value. Raising a good child begins in the home, and it’s the stay-at-home moms who create the environment in that home, Savage wrote.
“Home is where a child learns who they are,” Savage wrote. “Each of us is created uniquely by God. We have unique gifts, talents and temperaments. Home is the place those are discovered and celebrated.”
Stay-at-home moms are better off financially.
Stay-at-home moms are well-educated and have the potential to work outside the home, but would rather raise their children to help save on day care costs, according to a report from the Pew Research Center. Day care costs have risen so high that the only way to afford it would be for both parents in a household to work, Pew reported.
That’s why “in general, married stay-at-home mothers are better off financially than their counterparts who are single or cohabitating,” the Pew report found. The report said they make choices to save on costs that single people don’t make. And stay-at-home mothers are usually married to a high-earning husband who covers both of their expenses.
Stay-at-home parents make their kids smarter.
Stay-at-home parents make their older kids smarter, according to a study from the Statistics Norway Research Department.
The study looked at the effects of Norway’s Cash for Care program — which gave money to parents who wanted to care for and educate their children at home, rather than send them to early education — and how the beneficiaries’ children did later on in school compared to those who did not receive money from the program. The study ultimately found that children whose parents did the Cash for Care program — so, staying at home and raising their children — got better test scores and better GPA averages than those who didn’t.
Those same stay-at-home parents are often sources of counsel and insight for their children when they grow older, too, the study said.
“The results suggest that even older students in middle or elementary school could use guidance from their parents,” Eric Bettinger, the study’s researcher, told Quartz. “For years, we have known that parental presence is extraordinarily important in the very early childhood years. What we’re finding is that parents continue to be important much further along in a child’s life than we had previously thought.”
Stay-at-home moms are worth $117,000 a year.
How often does someone tell you that you’re worth six figures?
Well, according to a study cited by Fox News, stay-at-home moms are worth about $117,000 a year. The study looked at the pay of 10 different jobs that require workers to perform the same tasks as a stay-at-home mom — like cleaning, teaching and community building — and the total came out to be $116,805. When the same study was done on working moms, it found their worth to be $68,405.
"I think a lot of people think we sit at home and have a lot of fun and don't do a lot of work," said Samantha Russell, a New Hampshire mother of two, to Fox News. "But they should try cleaning their house with little kids running around and messing it up right after them."
Stay-at-home moms keep their kids thin.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota found that positive family dinners make children thinner. The study said this was particularly true in cases where fathers were present at the table.
But maybe mom should be there, too, since when mom works, children gain weight. That’s the findings of a study from the journal Child Development cited by CNN. The study found a slight increase in a child’s weight when both their parents worked. While this isn’t necessarily a widespread trend, the findings did reveal something about the potential eating habits of working families, according to CNN.
“Working mothers could be pressed for time, which could cause them to turn to fast food and restaurants,” CNN reported.
Stay-at-home moms are happier with their lives.
That’s right — stay-at-home moms believe they have more worthwhile lives, at least according to data from the Office for National Statistics in the United Kingdom. The Telegraph reported that the ONS found the people in Britain who reported being the happiest were mothers who stay home to raise their children.
The research said that stay-at-home mothers’ well-being is increased by their children, since they get joy out of raising their children and seeing them happy. Workers are concerned about the economy and their jobs, which increases their stress levels, the research found.
“This just goes to show that the idea that we are all at home depressed and unhappy looking after our own children — which a lot of politicians would like to believe — is simply wrong,” said Laura Perrin, a mother, to The Telegraph.