Not many years ago, the "all-American family" had a dad who went to work every day and a mom who stayed home with the kids.
But times change. Now, two working parents have become the norm - with many of those families considering two incomes a necessity for survival, not a luxury. Neighborhoods look like ghost towns during the daytime hours, and latchkey children come home to empty houses.Some families, though, are bucking that trend, resisting the "in thing."
It isn't always easy.
Approximately 44 percent of the current Utah (non-agricultural and non-self-employed) labor field is made up of women, according to February estimates from the Utah Department of Employment Security. That figure is up from 32.7 percent in 1970.
In 1900, about 13 percent of Utah's adult females worked outside the home. By 1940 that number had climbed to nearly 25 percent.
By 1970, 41.5 percent of all Utah women 16 years and older were either working or looking for a job, and today that estimate stands at 59.4 percent, said Ken Jensen, labor market economist for the Utah Department of Employment Security.
That's higher than the national average of 56.4 percent, a fact Jensen attributes largely to Utah's younger population. However, Jensen said the 1988 statistics of women in the labor force between the ages of 25 and 34 years old - the typical "mother years" - indicate that Utah has a smaller percentage of working women in that age group. About 66.2 percent of Utah's women fit into that category compared to the national average of 73 percent.
But most people don't need figures to recognize that society has changed in the past generation, particularly when it comes to mothers employed outside the home.
The Deseret News talked with seven local two-parent single-income families - three that are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and four non-LDS families - and asked them how they get by on only one paycheck and why they made the decision in the first place that one parent should stay home.
Their reasons varied, but all shared similarities as well. Each family stressed that there is no universal right or wrong decision concerning parents and the workplace. That decision, they say, has to be made on an individual family basis.
All said the decision was a difficult one, but for now, it's the right one for them. Their stories:
SARKIS AND MARY JANE EMRAZIAN, WEST VALLEY CITY
Sometimes friends and acquaintances ask Sarkis and Mary Jane Emrazian why they both don't work so they could afford a better car or new furniture.
Money, they respond, does not buy happiness.
"I wish they would stop feeling sorry for us because we don't have what they expect us to have," Mr. Emrazian said. "They want more for us than we want for us."
Others remind them of the possibility that he could get a night job, but the Emrazians balk at that suggestion as well.
"It would cost too much in other ways," said the mother of five. "The time that he is at home, he'd be so tired he wouldn't be able to pay any attention to the kids . . . and they would go elsewhere."
"(People with more money) are not any happier than we are. You have to wonder if getting a second job is going to improve your family life or just put more demands on that extra income," she said.
The Emrazians said that for them, it is more important to have a parent home at all times. But like most single-income families, that requires sacrifices and planning to save money.
In order to do that, they try to avoid all impulse buying. Purchases are planned and prices are closely monitored. Coupons are an important money-saving device and menu plans help stave off urges to buy unnecessary and expensive food items.
"You don't just look at the shelf and say, `That looks good,' " she said. "You also do good with things that break down. You just make do and try and repair stuff."
Although they admit to having a broken table and a "less-than-plush" automobile, those are not the important things in life, they say.
"Are they (the kids) going to remember the wobbly table or are they going to remember the places we went by saving money?" Disneyland, Yellowstone and Illinois vacations in a Volkswagen bus are fond memories for the family, even though the trips were not elaborate ones.
"I look back on that now and I laugh. But we had a good time," Mrs. Emrazian said.
Should all mothers stay home? The Emrazians said each family must make the decision that is best for them. But that decision affects every member of the family.
"The kids need to be in on that decision," Mr. Emrazian said, adding that if both parents work, it often means every family member will need to take on extra responsibilities. For their family, the decision was to have mother stay home.
Staying home and away from the workplace (at least for now) is also a sacrifice for Mrs. Emrazian, a former nurse who loved her job.
"Overall, I know that the price I pay is going to be worth it," she said.
GARY AND JEANMARIE SHINGLETON, GLENDALE
For the Shingleton family, living on one income has not been that hard. Not because they are rich, they say, but because they don't have a lot of extra needs that many people have.
"Our friends go out to eat a lot. We don't. That saves money," Jeanmarie Shingleton said. She and her husband, Gary, live in Salt Lake City's west-side Glendale neighborhood with their three children, ages 9, 6, and 2.
"I sew a lot. We don't buy a lot of clothes." Her sewing talent has allowed her to make clothing for her children - even styles that her 9-year-old daughter will wear and enjoy - at a price considerably cheaper than similar clothing would cost at the local department store.
Christmases at the Shingletons' are not as big as those of the two-income family down the street. "Ours are small, but we can concentrate on other things," she said.
The family does not take as many big family vacations, either. "But we do go camping. You can still get your outings and not go out of town."
Being a homemaker allows Mrs. Shingleton many advantages that she said she would not have if she had an outside job. "It's a benefit watching my kids grow and picking up on needs you might normally not pick up on."
"I have more time to do the things that I want to do, too. More time to read, make things for the kids and for myself."
But she admits that, like many other homemakers, she sometimes feels that others look down on her simply because she has decided to stay home and raise her children.
"I think a lot of it is the implication that `I have more education than you have and I have more to offer the world,' " she said.
"I work a full-time job, too, although I may not have the income to show it. I have an education, too. But that doesn't mean that I don't work as hard as they (employed mothers) do."
She said she doesn't sit around the house and watch soap operas - she simply doesn't have the time. There's always something, whether it's cleaning, caring for her children, cooking or sewing.
But that's not as bad as it sounds.
"I enjoy being home. I don't enjoy working as much as I do staying home with kids. I'm under a lot less stress by staying at home," she said - and she can set her own hours.
She does not envy employed women and sympathizes with those who are not able to make the same choice she has been able to make.
Occasionally her children say, "I wish you worked like so-and-so's mother."
"But they realize that the benefits outweigh the consequences because they'd rather have me here," she said.
Will she return to work in a year, or five years?
"That's a big might," she said. "Just because (children) reach a certain age doesn't mean they don't need their mother as much." As children get older, there are more and more choices to be made.
"Mom's a good person to bounce off thoughts," she said. "As I was growing up, my mother was home and that meant a lot to me."
Mrs. Shingleton wants it to mean a lot to her children as well.
JEFF AND LISA TABISH, HOLLADAY
Lisa Tabish's career before she took on her full-time mothering position was in music. She plans to return to that career someday, but for now it's on hold.
"I feel like women can have everything nowadays but you can't have it all at once," she said. For her, now is the time to be a homemaker.
"I think society doesn't value the woman's role as a mother because there's no income coming in." But she doesn't share that view. "It is the most fulfilling (opportunity) you can experience because you're watching the development of human beings.
"I never thought about it any other way. I look at that as my career now," she said. "I don't want anyone else to raise my kids."
The Tabishes do not believe that having a parent stay at home is a religious issue. While many LDS families have been taught that, when possible, a mother should stay home and raise her children, the Tabishes are non-LDS and insist it should be an individual choice.
"If a woman is career-minded, then that's what she should do. You have to be true to yourself," Jeff Tabish said.
Mrs. Tabish said the choice, for her, is partly instinctive.
"I think a couple should be allowed to make that choice," she said, "but when you bring children into the world, not everything's going to go your way. I think nature intended mother and children to be together in the first few years."
"Now that there's so much more that they can see and hear and at such a younger age, I think we need more parental guidance than before and not less," Mr. Tabish said.
Mr. Tabish, who owns a local china and crystal shop, said that while he was growing up, he was taught to be respectful, to work hard and to be disciplined - things that preschool teachers can't always teach.
"If we were both out of the home, how much discipline can you give them in the morning before work and late at night?" he said. "A lot of times you don't see the results of discipline and love at a young age . . . but without it, who knows what the kids would be like?"
Mrs. Tabish said being at home gives her a better opportunity to teach and raise her two children, ages 5 1/2 and 3, the way she wants to.
She said some parents believe they can make up time they might otherwise spend with their children by promising "quality" time. "But you never know when that quality time is going to come up and that's where the quantity time helps cover the quality time," she said.
"You can't say, `This is mommy and daddy's time with you - between 7 and 8.' That's not how it works. They need you there explaining at every corner they turn," Mr. Tabish said.
Mrs. Tabish believes that as her children grow, she will fit into their lives differently and she can become more independent.
"It's kind of cliche," she said, "But 100 years from now no one will even know whether I worked or not, but someone will be affected by the kids I raise.
"There's a lot of things I like to do, but to me, this is 100 times greater than any job can hold for me, so no, it's not a sacrifice."
Mr. Tabish said the decision to have only one income in the family was a mutual one.
"We'd give up everything. I would give up a certain lifestyle," he said. "There's a lot more pressure on me, there's no doubt about it. But it's a sacrifice for the family as well.
"My mother gave me good advice. She said to always live off of my income," Mr. Tabish said.
"That way, we never got used to my income and it wasn't a shock when I stopped working," his wife said.
PAUL AND JEAN HIBBARD, CENTERVILLE
While many other parents acknowledge the importance of being home with young children and grade-schoolers, Jean Hibbard believes it's even more important to be there when teenagers come home from school.
"If you're not there, somebody else will be there," she said.
"I think an open home is an open invitation . . . for sex, drugs, whatever," she continued, adding that youngsters of all ages tend to gravitate toward the home where the parents are gone. The lack of supervision can lead to trouble.
"I want to be the one that's there when they get home . . . and take the blame for all of it" if the children "don't turn out right," she said.
"If you're not the influence they turn to, they'll find that influence from someone else. Often parents are the last to know. If you're never there, you're never going to find out."
So instead of "sacrificing" their five children, ages 6 to 17, the Hibbards say they make other sacrifices - mostly financial.
A new vehicle, vacations and expensive clothing are often forced to take a back seat. Her husband, Paul, does his own automobile repairs and she bottles fruit and vegetables grown from their garden and also makes and sells dolls during Christmas. They laid down the wood floor and remodeled their kitchen by themselves.
"There are times it's hard," she admits. "But either you do without or make the sacrifice with your kids."
Mrs. Hibbard admits that there are times when she feels she should have a job outside the home to supplement her husband's income as an LDS seminary teacher, but the decision to stay home was one they made together and she will stick with it.
Her husband, however, said that the situation can be different in each household and the happiness of the spouse is an important factor that needs to be taken into consideration when such decisions are made.
"I don't have all the answers to staying at home," she said. "But we do it."
TOM DElISI AND ANGELA MASCARA, Salt Lake City
For Tom DeLisi and Angela Mascara, there are both disadvantages and advantages for a family that decides one parent will stay home. One disadvantage is that the mother's (or father's) world may sometimes begin to revolve solely around the children.
"I think it (staying home) gives her a narrow view," said DeLisi. He feels that his wife has started to believe that their 3-year-old son, Michael, is the only thing in life. "You have to do something else than stay with kids or you'll go crazy."
As a couple, DeLisi, who manages a camera store, and Mascara, a stockbroker, don't go out much. And DeLisi complains his wife hardly does anything without their child. Two more disadvantages.
"Even when she goes out she talks about kids," he said.
He also feels that children may gain fewer social skills and are not as independent as those who are exposed to other children and adults in day-care situations.
But the couple is quick to point out that for them, the advantages of a stay-home parent outweigh the disadvantages. That's why Mascara is a homemaker - at least for now.
Mascara said that when she became pregnant with their first and only child, she had originally planned to return to work as a stockbroker about two months after he was born. But after Michael was 2 months old, she kept delaying the decision.
"It was a continuous, `No, I can't go now. Maybe later,' " she said.
"I don't think we really knew until six months after he was born that she wasn't going to go back to work," said her husband.
Some of the advantages include the comfort that someone whose values you are certain of is taking care of your children, said DeLisi. "I think he (Michael) is more secure."
Mascara said she recently saw a mother dropping off a child at a day-care center and it made her feel good about the decision she's made. "They didn't look real warm or anything. . . . I had a pain in my heart and I just thought, `Why?' "
Being a homemaker is not a "Mormon thing" as many people in this area seem to think, they said. They see the need of having a parent in the home as an important tradition, rather than a religious dogma.
"We're not finding the religion basis for that, but the family heritage," DeLisi said.
"The way I approach Michael is that he is a job. He is in my care and I'm taking care of him," she said.
But many people, they say, do not share their feelings.
"At one time it was just accepted. You stayed home with your kids," Mascara said. Society had a difficult time accepting those women who didn't stay home.
Now the tables have turned and mothers today are trapped because they can't completely win no matter which choice they make, she said. "We have not formalized a way of accepting non-working mothers when before we couldn't accept working mothers."
Neither decision is right or wrong, she said. But for their family, their decision is the right one for now.
"It's a lot easier working (outside the home) than staying home with a child," she said. "I think it's one of the hardest things I've decided to do in my life. I just feel these years are time out to do something different."
JEF AND CONNIE DAVIS, SALT LAKE CITY
For Jef and Connie Davis, the decision to have one job-holding member of the family was a simple one. As parents, they feel they are much better qualified to care for their children than anyone else.
"I'm just not trusting of strangers. You can pay for good custodial care . . . but it's just not the same thing," said Mrs. Davis. "If the child had the choice, I think they'd rather be home. It's just more comfortable to be with those that love them."
Financially, however, the decision was more difficult.
"It was harder at first," said Mr. Davis, "because we were used to two very good incomes." He is a businessman and Mrs. Davis used to work for the government.
"We decided that no matter the situation, we can adjust to it," he said.
Mrs. Davis said staying home has helped her foster a special relationship with her three children, especially with her 7-year-old daughter, who often comes home from school to eat lunch because the school is just down the street.
"She tells us everything that's going on in school," she said. "Sometimes she comes home and is stressed out just like an executive. She needs me to be there."
Baby sitters or empty houses can't provide the love and attention - especially in the moment when it is needed most, she said.
"I have a real hard time with quality time," added Mr. Davis. "You can't cram all of the fun together between 7 and 9 at night."
"We have good communication. They know we care about them," Mrs. Davis said.
When she first decided to stay home, she admits, she missed seeing other people and often felt isolated. After awhile, however, she adjusted.
She said that many friends and relatives still cannot understand her desire to stay home with her children and have often thought the solution to any problem was to return to work.
"If I happened to be depressed, it was, `Oh well. Don't you want to go back to work?' They think it's just boring. At first it bothered me. Now I don't feel that I have to explain myself."
"A lot of parenting experts don't talk about the benefits of staying home because they are afraid of alienating many people. I think there are some harmful effects (of not staying home)," Mr. Davis said.
RICHARD AND LISA STATES, BOUNTIFUL
Lisa States, Bountiful, well remembers the feelings she had as a child growing up in an environment where her mother was often working outside the home. She doesn't want her children to harbor those feelings, and that's one reason her current occupation is that of homemaker.
"I just remember how I felt when mother came in one day and said she was laid off - how thrilled I was . . . and disappointed when she went back to work," she said.
"I really would have liked to have her around."
Although States doesn't blame her mother for having to work, she believes that had an effect on her and her life.
"I think I could have done better in certain things had she been around more," including schooling and emotional development, she said.
"I can remember worrying and being afraid when she wasn't around."
States, a mother of four, admits there are some days she envies women who work outside of the home. But it only takes a few minutes to realize what she would be missing if she were in the workplace.
"Certain things (my kids) do are some of the most important things" in life, she said. If she were in the workplace, her biggest "story of the day" would be something that happened to her at work "rather than something cute Patrick said or the time he tried to make a sandwich.
"When my kids are little, my biggest stories should be about them."
Richard States said their lives are based on the family unit, and having a parent at home is an important element to a family, when that is possible.
"Some people get married, and children are a byproduct," he said. "That's different for us. One of our goals was to have children, so we place the family first."
"What are we here for, anyway?" his wife said.
The Stateses admit that their strong belief sometimes places a financial burden on their family. Sacrifices must be made. The same car has sat in the driveway for 10 years, and family vacations are few and far between.
"I don't feel like we've been depriving our kids of anything," Mrs. States said.
"A lot of money-making is attitude. There are people who make $100,000 who can't get by," Mr. States said. "It just depends on where your priorities are."
The Stateses say they look back at previous years and wonder how they've been able to manage with only one income. But they say they can sometimes see a difference between their children and others who don't have the same kind of family life and for now, they're happy with their situation.
Trend is toward 2 incomes
Earners per family Percentage of families in U.S.
1 33.0 28.0
2 39.7 43.2
3 9.8 9.9
4 or more 5.0 4.2