Money for Mom

I’ve been a stay-at-home Dad for the past few months, so Hilary Rosen’s comment about Ann Romney not working a day in her life grabs my attention. I was driving home from playing basketball last night and heard a discussion on the radio about the value of being a mother. The talk show host noted the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) informal study that puts a dollar amount on the things that moms do for their families. Though there are estimates from other groups that put the amount as high as $770,000, the government puts it at a more modest $79,000, according to this host. When I got home, I did quick research and found $61,436 as the estimation for mom’s efforts by the BLS in 2011.

While I understand the point of the study – to give people a clue as to the real value of a mother’s role to a family – something about it doesn’t seem right. I know it’s easy to be misunderstood on such an important topic. To avoid a Hilary-Rosen-type fiasco of my own, I asked Vanda for her reaction to the study. She’s not interested because it is meaningless for many reasons. Here are some that I came up with based on our discussion:

  • Motivation for employees who clean, grocery shop, watch children, cook, give first aid, or whatever else is to please the boss and get paid.  Mom’s reward is to provide a loving home.
  • Mom’s do their work because it is a privilege.
  • The dollar figure is arbitrary. Some moms are awesome cooks, cleaners and organizers.  Shouldn’t they get paid more?
  • All mothers are not the same. If it were easy, everybody would be doing it. Yet everyone reading this knows there are women who don’t value being a mother and put little effort into it. Are they worth the same as mothers who are truly sacrificial in their service?
  • The most valuable aspect is nurturing and forming the identity of your children. That role is too valuable to be given to someone else.

We live in a culture where women have a tough choice to make between being a mom and having enough money to provide for the needs of the family. Vanda loves working at the library and being a mom, so we’ve often discussed what she’d do if we didn’t need her income. For some, like Ann Romney, that choice is somewhat easier because she obviously didn’t need to make money, although I won’t assume she didn’t have career aspirations she gave up for her family. Either way, as Vanda’s comments show, nothing diminishes the value of what she gave to her five boys . . . herself. Nobody else could give that.

Vanda thinks that the real reason some women need this study is because of insecurity. “I don’t need to be told what I’m worth in dollars,” she says. Husbands tend to pressure wives to sacrifice motherly instincts for monetary security. It makes me wonder if this study is really aimed at men. This guy gets the picture.

As far as I’m concerned, if the government really believed the study they would offer us tax write-offs for the value of services rendered. That must be why it’s considered an unofficial study.  But, I don’t mean to be too hard because the aim is to point out the value of mothers. While it’s not bad to get a nudge elsewhere once in a while, it’s up to us men to make the study unnecessary for our wives. For mom’s without husbands? Church, it’s up to you.



12 thoughts on “Money for Mom

  1. They did a similar study in the UK a number of years ago and it too came up with an astronomical figure. All it did was make me feel worse because I already knew I didn’t deserve Vanda and Sam’s mum, I also knew I couldn’t afford her either. How priviledged did that make me?

  2. Well said.

    It’s astounding how few mothers actually value and covet time with their children. Not only do they send them away to school to be taught by strangers during the most productive and formative parts of the days and lives, afterward they send them elsewhere for every activity under the sun. When do they *ever* see their children long enough to influence them to become people of God??

    When it comes right down to it, personal time and fun money trump tots 1000 to 1. There are scores of Christian mothers and fathers who are wholly unwilling to sacrifice a nicer car, a new house, designer clothing, the opportunity to have their child in every sport and vacations for the sake of staying home with their children. Not to mention how few are willing to sacrifice *a* car, *all* sports and activities every vacation and every single day for them. When people say they “can’t afford for the mother to stay home” all I hear is “I don’t trust God enough to provide what I need from my husband’s income.” In the case of single mothers, I couldn’t agree more—the church is to provide so that they can be that they are called to be – mothers.

    • Lori, you make good points about the importance of being a mom and how it has been diminished for the pursuit of other things. But, what about instances where the Dad can’t find a job or he’s trying to support the family on an extremely low income or, say, high medical bills? What if they’ve tried to have faith but have found themselves in extreme debt as a result? Even mothers in biblical days would work in the fields and not be with children every minute for the sake of survival.

      Also, I believe it was the prophet Samuel who instituted what has become school outside the home. Do you believe home-schooling is always the best (even if the mom can’t teach well), or are you referring to tots who spend most of their days in day care?

      You are clearly passionate about this issue. I wonder if more women are but they can’t put words together like you do or are simply confused about the whole thing. I’m not saying I disagree with you on any of this, but as a woman your words hold more value than mine, and I’d like to hear more of your thoughts.

      • I believe Christians have liberty to do all things according to the convictions of their hearts as long as they do not oppose the clear teaching of the Bible. I don’t want to come across as one who makes legalistic mandates that go for all people everywhere in the area of family roles…however…I believe scripture is clear about the order of the family and what the Lord ideally intends it to be. That being: Mom and Dad are committed to God first, each other unto death, and men are called to be providers and protectors while women are called to be nuturers and helpers.

        Nevertheless, the ideals do not forbid a woman to work outside her home (I don’t believe) within the context of an extreme circumstance granted her children are being cared for adequately by the father. The issue we will find in saying that is one where everything becomes justified as an extreme circumstance and role reversal becomes the norm rather than the exception and you find what we see so commonly today where women emasculate men and shuck their responsibilities given by God to nuture and care for their own children and be under the authority of their husbands rather than other men (i.e. bosses) and men cower from women, and shuck their responsibilities given by God to provide, protect and lead and allow their wives to have the final say about how family life is to be conducted. Both trust more in themselves and their ways than they do God’s Word and we see the results of doing so saturating our culture today.

        Secondly, as far as homeschooling, again, I believe that yes, it is the ideal way to instruct and train Godly children, but I do not adhere to a strict legal mandate that says homeschooling is the *only* Godly way to instruct and train children. I believe each family has to evaluate the reasons they have for the choices they make and the ultimately the Lord *must* call each one to that which he deems proper.

        In this area, again, I believe MANY who profess to “not be able” to carry it out are simply making excuses and self-preserving. There is no one better suited to train a child than his mother…regardless of her intellect. It really isn’t about intellect and acadamics anyway. True wisdom comes with true love. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up…at least that’s what the bible teaches us about Godly wisdom. I’d take a child well-versed in the truth who can discern and understand life over a straight-A student any day. A Godly child has the tools to overcome every struggle while academic knowledge apart from Godly nuture and admonishion will leave him wanting, and often, aloof in the world.

        I believe younger years are more detrimental and should have the most parental influence while older children (depending on the child, perhaps anywwhere from 12-16 years and older) may be more independant according to how mature they are and whether or not they have biblical wisdom and discernment.

        Think about it this way…what sane person, if given a 10 carat diamond in the rough would hand it off and expect someone else to mine it out for them and be honest enough to give it back when the diamond emerged. Likewise, who, in their right mind, would hand over the object of greatest value they’ve ever be given charge over, and have the greatest responsibility to protect, teach, and care for, namely, their child, to strangers a week or two after they receive it never to diligently discover and draw it out themsleves again? Idk. Not me.

        Sorry I’m so wordy…I’m unteachable in this area I think. lol.

      • Lori, your passion is clear and well thought out. Over the past few weeks following your blog and responding to your comments on mine I’ve found that we agree on most things. On the few things we see differently I can appreciate your viewpoint because you base it on Scripture, experience, and, obviously, passion for certain topics.

        It is absolutely our desire for me to lead our household and provide for it financially – I just wanted to hear what you had to say about it first! I’m fully aware that people make excuses rather than live as he’s called us to.

        This whole life thing is really tricky. Thank God we have bloggers to work all this stuff out! (yeah, right)

  3. I agree with both of you – I do think that the ultimate goal of a mother is to oversee the spritual formation of their children. I think that ends up looking different from one family to another. We have never bought into the lifestyle of busyness for our family – I agree with lorirodeheaver, the best moments come about because your children are just ‘being’ alongside their siblings and parents. Dave – think of all the great lessons we have been able to teach our children because of a chance conversation or silly occurrence that happened because everyone was just hanging out and maybe a little bored! I need to work for now – perhaps because of the ministry choices we made earlier in our family life – I don’t feel like less of a mother for doing so. I know we always do what we believe God is asking us to do. I believe I am being obedient now – as I was when I stayed at home with our children. I really think that you have to go with what you know is right. . . even if it doesn’t look right to someone else.

  4. I’m just happy I haven’t been excommunicated from your blog yet…I’m sure if that was an option I’d be the first to go on many!! (I’m sure you see how many followers and comments I DON’T have!) Truly, though I appreciate your openness to discuss matters of truth and opinion. Most these days are neither prepared nor interested; neither tolerant nor peacable when they do.

    Our job as Christians isn’t really to evaluate everyone else’s life for rightness anyway…it’s to evaluate our own. I apologize if I came across too strongly. I’m a creature of habit…well…bad habits that is. One day gentleness and kindness will find their way into my speech…maybe… =)

    • I agree that a large percentage of our government officials think that way. But, this study puts a high value on being a mom and it’s produced by the government, which would at least suggest the opposite. So, this just adds more confusion for moms. After all, it’s hard to believe our elected officials can say one thing when they actually support another point of view. 😉

      Thanks for commenting, Jill.

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