Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Why Stay at Home

I'm inspired by Laura's discussion at 11D to write a little on my view of parenting. For me the decision to stay at home doesn't have much to do with research on child care. I stay home in part because I want to make a difference in how my kids grow intellectually and emotionally. I want to impart my own (liberal) values to them. Maybe I could do that if they were in daycare and I worked, but I'm not sure there are enough hours in the day.

This is a quote from Tim Burke's essay that Laura refers to:

. . . .our children will not be us. Modern middle-class Americans are more confused than most about this fact. We hope our children will be better than us. We hope that they will be us. We fear that they will be worse than us.
I don't feel guilty for wanting my kids to be better than me, and I am hopeful that my stay-at-home parenting can make a difference in that goal. I want them to be happier than I, more productive, better in relationships. I want them to make decisions that protect the earth - I want that to be second nature to them. I can identify the wrong decision, and then still choose it. My hope is that if I bring up my kids with enough connection to the earth, they will not be able to do that. I want my kids to be sensitive to issues of race and gender. I want my boys to grow up to be good boyfriends and husbands, and good fathers to both sons and daughters (even though they will grow up without a sister). I want them to be able to find as children and as adults the activities that are both fulfilling for them and useful to the world. I want them to be able to call on the feeling of being loved at any time, because it was internalized when they were small, and not ever feel as an adult so small and lousy that they are literally ready to crawl under a desk or into some other hole. I want them to be able to find answers to their questions in a reasonable amount of time - and I want their environment to be creating worthwhile questions in their heads about how the world is and how things work. I want them to be out in the world, learning about the world, and not inside all day in fluorescent light and a room that smells vaguely of pee and institutional food.

I also stay at home because my career as a technical writer can be done from home, part-time. I'm not doing much work right now, but as the kids get bigger I hope to ramp up a little. I do miss having my own money.

Staying at home is also a lifestyle choice. (I realize that we are lucky to have that choice since my husband makes enough to support the family). My husband can concentrate on his work, while I take care of the kids and the house during the week. If someone is sick (as long as it's not me - there's probably another post in that topic), then I stay home, just like always. I can shop and plan meals and run other errands. I think having one parent at home can ease the strains of everyday life, and as long as both partners are happy with the situation, increase the likelihood of a happy marriage.

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