Should Mothers Be Paid To Stay Home And Care For Their Children?

stay at home moms germany paid

Back in April, Democratic Strategist Hilary Rosen reignited the mommy wars for 72 frenzied hours when she said that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, had "never worked a day in her life."

Republicans roared and Democrats bristled. "My career choice was to be a mother," Ann Romney told Fox News. First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted that every mother "works hard." Even former First Lady Barbara Bush chimed in.

But there's one major difference between the job of motherhood and all other jobs. When it comes to the former, you're paid in fulfillment and gratitude. When it comes to the latter, you're paid in money.

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That doesn't have to be the case, however. The German parliament soon will be debating a proposed law for the second time that would send mothers a monthly check for 150 euros (around $184) if they decide to stay home with their infants.

Paying women who stay at home was once a feminist idea. In the 1970s, some American women called (rhetorically, for the most part) for stay-at-home moms to earn a salary for their domestic labor. After all, if people were paid for domestic labor, a family's personal income would jump an average of 30 percent, according to a recent paper. And since women do more domestic labor than men, many wives and mothers would win greater financial independence, as well as that sense of reward that comes with the confirmation that what you spend your days doing has economic value.

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But critics of the German law say that encouraging women to stay home is contrary to modern family politics. Incentivizing them to stay out of the labor pool also isn't the smartest idea, they say, for a country that's already facing a shortage of workers because of an aging population.

Germany's conservative coalition, helmed by Chancellor Angela Merkel, is pushing for the mom allowance, saying that it would give women more freedom to make the parenting choice that they want. Germany's ideas about motherhood are more traditional than most of its European neighbors, though: A quarter of its citizens believe that mothers should stay at home while their children are young, reports the Economist, and a majority of young Germans support the plan.

The law would also ease the heavy burden on the country's day care facilities, according to The Christian Science Monitor. Next year, German children will have a right to day care after their first birthdays -- and this surge of demand will lead to an estimated shortage of between 130,000 and 400,000 openings for them, reports Die Zeit.

More: 10 Careers That Fit Into Mom's Schedule

Paying women to stay home is an idea unlikely to take root in the U.S., since our nation's respect for work outside the home usually trumps our respect for work inside it -- as when Mitt Romney declared earlier this year that, as president, he would increase the work requirement for those on federal assistance -- even for mothers of infants -- so that they could have "the dignity of work."

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Almost half of employed women in the U.S. don't receive any paid maternity leave, and single mothers in poverty must work 30 hours a week to continue receiving federal aid. This partly explains why 8 of 10 new mothers get back on the job within a month of giving birth, according to census numbers. Developmental psychologists can tout the benefits of mother-baby bonding time, but for most mothers, full-time bonding is a luxury they can't afford.

That isn't the case in a place like Germany, where parents already can take up to three years off from work, and still have their job guaranteed at the end. For a year of that time they're also paid 67 percent of their salary, up to 1,800 euros ($2,824) a month. That means a serious pay cut for most German parents who choose to stay home, but much less than the pay cut that stay-at-home parents in the U.S. face. Their income drops to zero.




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Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

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rrgalvanjr

Uh.. No.

August 22 2012 at 1:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Winnie

Definitely NOT. The husband works, the mom takes care of the children. Live within your means, It can be done. What families want are new houses, new cars, vacations, eating out, luxuries. If they want those things, don't have children. Just think if one mom doesn't work outside the home, that's one job another husband can get to take care of his family.

August 22 2012 at 6:41 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
mittenkin

My vote is YES....I'm now on SS and its sucks! Because I was a stay at home Mom of 4 children I actually only get $234.00 per month....and $99.00 of that pays for insurance. My total income for the month is $134.00 ...I stayed home because that was my JOB and career....Staying home out weighs any other job. Of course we didn't have day-cares when my children were growing up. Although, even then I wouldn't have been able to afford the daycare for each. of them. Now I ask you. Wouldn't you rather stay home if you got paid for it? Children need to know their parents are close by if they are needed at school, or where they are....That is the job of being a parent! Today I'm broke!! But I wouldn't change one day of staying home...even my children respect the fact THEY WERE MY CAREER!! Think about what your children might be missingwith not knowing where your are all day!!

August 22 2012 at 5:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
forvr22

Gee, maybe make sure you can afford children before you have them. A novel idea, but wait until you are established, actually have a two parent stable home, prepare, then have kids.

August 22 2012 at 3:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sabra Bruning

I wish I had been!

Worked like a DOG.

And staying home destroyed MY social security.

He's got "his".

It is so very strange to have to explain the concept of
"half" to a perfectly grown man!

August 22 2012 at 2:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mecvo

Federal Government... You already do and you have been doing a miserable job for years!

August 22 2012 at 1:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Terri

Im a stay at home Mom...it isnt a paying gig but it certainly has its rewards. I have a beautiful 14 yr old daughter that but for the Grace of GOD would not have survived past the day she was born. I urge my fellow readers to visit www.giveforward.com/haleyssurger and read about her. Please pass the link on to all your friends if you feel so inclined. Have a wonderful and Blessed day

August 22 2012 at 1:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carolyn

To bad we can't be a society where one parent could afford to stay home - while the other supports the family and not the government - Unfortunately we are a society of immediate gratification - we have to have that car NOW - we have to have that expensive Iphone NOW - how often to do you hear someone saying, I'm saving for - Not very often indeed- How many people do you know who live within their means - even welfare - I see them with fancy phones - cars, etc - they can't pay their bills - but they can afford to smoke at $5 and up a pack - They now use their food stamps at McDonalds - That's why we can't have a parent home - it takes the pay of two to afford all the NOW stuff.

August 22 2012 at 1:14 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Carolyn's comment
Terri

Im sorry Carolyn...the thumbs down was from me but it certainly was not intentional. I agree FULLY with everything you said. I for one HAVE to save for everything. If I don't have the CASH to pay for it...I won't be getting it until I do. My SUV is a 2001 with 219000+ miles...its my baby and I will drive it till it falls apart...Im not a clothes hound and I don't buy anything because I "HAVE TO HAVE IT" nor do I let my child. I taught her the difference between "want" & "need" a long time ago. Thats a lesson that has been lost on many.

August 22 2012 at 1:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
barryaclarke

OMG! Not more free entitlements from the government. Maybe this is one of the reasons why some of the UK countries are so far into debt………….

August 22 2012 at 12:26 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
RAY RAY

Man or woman. Don't matter which stays home. SOMEONE must be home to raise the children. Staying at home and raising your own children is the most honorable job there is.

August 22 2012 at 12:21 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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