Validating the value of stay at home parents

Society needs to place a value on stay at home parents.
By Tonya Yancey
Recently, I was at my monthly Bunco meeting and a fellow female player mentioned she put in an application at the local school district.  She was a stay at home mom of a senior in high school, an eighth grader and a preschool-aged child, but now was headed back into the working world of the 9- to 5-ers. 

“Oh that is going be so difficult,” I said.

“Thank you,” the woman said. “You are the first person to say that to me.”

As stay at home moms, we know the challenges that every working mom faces, whether they are in the working environment or “just” a stay at home mom.  We moms all understand that parenting is a verb; it is active 24/7.  There are no breaks and there are no vacations, unless you pay someone else to monitor your children.

Where and when did we get so far off track, in that our value is based on whether or not we have earned income?  Someone has to raise the children. If it isn’t you or your spouse, then you will have to seek out proper, paid child care.  It seems to me that raising a child is the most valuable job position anyone in any society could have.  Perhaps, I’m wrong.  What I do know is that parenting has most definitely been my most challenging job.  Not just the physical challenges, such as feeling as though I had chronic flu the first trimester of my first pregnancy or the sleep deprivation headaches I got for the first five years of their precious lives, plus the added pressure of the fact that I was raising little sponges who absorb everything I do and say. 

All of my behaviors have a direct impact on how my children will perceive themselves and then be able to relate to others. Marianne Williamson says, “If hours of active mothering were calculated even at minimum wage, then mothering would be the largest industry in the world.”  So what is this idea or perception that being a stay at home mom or dad has little value?  The idea may be that the stay at home parent is just lounging about on the couch eating bonbons, when the reality is the stay at home parent just wants to be able to use the bathroom before their bladder burst and alone would be a treat if not a mini-vacation.

What all stay at home moms and dads want, the one thing they really, really, want is validation. They want to hear that the job that they do, the hours spent diapering, feeding, cleaning up something or someone, endless piles of laundry, driving someone to and from, getting up at 3 a.m. to clean up someone’s vomit, every hug, kiss, smile given and received, matters.  It matters and is honored.  And when the stay at home parent at a social gathering is asked the inevitable question, “What do you do?” and when one replies, “I’m at home with the kids,” honoring them with a response of gratitude and a simple “thank you” would be so healing and gratifying.

We stay at home parents are in service for our families and ultimately our communities and no amount of earned income can ever buy back these priceless years of childhood.                                                                    

Find out the salary a stay at home mom would earn here


  1. I agree wholeheartedly! It took me many years to be able to feel pride that I stay at home. I think stay at home moms and dads are viewed more positively in other countries. We are one of the only developed nations that doesn't give mandatory paid vacation time. Even the Chinese workers making our cell phones at minimal pay get at least ten paid vacation days (I believe its a law) Yet we Americans place so much of our value on work and Many are scared to take time off cuz they may lose their jobs here in America. This is the price of capitalism, and now that our wages haven't increased with inflation, we younger generations strive to succeed as previous generations did, but in order to make comparable wages, say similar to the '50s, two parents need to work instead of the one. This forces us to make the difficult decision of working to supply benefits for our kids or staying home and sacrificing our material needs a bit. My opinion is kids need to feel supported, monitored, and secure, and I believe the best person to do that is the parent, whenever possible. But this comes with some sacrifices. My husband and I don't buy many gifts, we need a newer car, and we do many free activities. We don't have a savings account, but we are rich beyond measure with love, we know our kids early life experiences, our kids trust us and know we will support their needs. I think this is a treasure, and I know my kids have a stable beginning. But I know some amazing moms who had to go back to work and are able to trust others to care for their kids. They have selected their kids caregivers carefully, and they do a great job as well. But our value of money over all else is causing our communities to deteriorate, our teens feel lonely and need parental guidance. I think our teens lack guidance and this is a main reason why so many teens are depressed. I think our society is beginning to recognize this, especially when we compare our country to others such as Sweden. Three cheers for the stay at home parent! That said, I have to go back to work once my son is a first grader, or we would have no college fund and too little retirement, now to find a job with a school so I can have a similar schedule to my kids. I wish I could afford to stay at home.

  2. I couldn't agree more! We need to honor all of the work women do, from a job to running the house to wiping butts! Thanks so much for sharing Mellow Mama!