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Working vs. stay-at home parents: Who can save more for their family
Few families have the choice of whether a parent should stay at home or not. But those who can choose have to weigh their options the best they can. - photo by Matthew Jelalian
Most decisions arent as simple as good or bad. In many cases, it's a matter of choice, preference and necessity.

New York Magazine recently reported on the discussion of working moms and stay-at-home moms and why some choose to make a salary while others decide to work full-time raising their children.

Motherhood, for all its well-documented joys, has become a flash point for envy, resentment and guilt, the article stated. "Everybody struggles, and everybody envies what the other has, says the stay-at-home mother of a 9- and a 14-year-old. The working mom wishes she had more free time to be available to her child, and maybe have coffee after drop-off. And the nonworking woman would maybe like to have something that's a reflection of her as an individual a label that says she's a capable, creative person who knows about more than just baby formula or after-school programs.

To be sure, some parents have a choice whether or not one of the two spouses should stay home with the children. But there are others in certain circumstances, usually economic, that force the choice. In one case, childcare may be too expensive to justify staying in the workforce, and in another situation the bills are too expensive for a parent to forgo work.

Stay-at-home parent

Steven Nelms wrote a viral blog post entitled Fathers, you cant afford a Stay-At-Home Mom for the Christian blog WeAreGlory. He did some number crunching to estimate how much money he would have to pay professionals to do the work his wife did at home.

He came up with a $73,960 annual tab, which is on the lower end of the scale. estimated that the economic value of a stay-at-home spouse could be as much as $112,962.

When someone cooks, cleans and cares for children, that saves money spent on eating out, cleaning and childcare.

One economic challenge of a parent staying home is the challenge of getting back into the workforce when the children are grown. But there is help for parents who exit the career track to raise children and then want to get back on.

The Washington Post offered five suggestions to babyproof a job interview, while US News explained what stay-at-home parents need to know before re-entering the workforce. showed how to sell soft skills acquired in parenting, US News suggested relearning important players in your field of work and thousands of other sites have suggestions to help stay-at-home parents re-enter the workforce.

The Gotham Gazette reported that New York City Council members Ben Kallos, Laurie Cumbo and Robert Cornegy are trying to pass an ordinance to help parents reenter the workplace.

Working parent

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that for many families, two working parents provide economic stability, despite the cost savings of staying home.

Given high unemployment, inflationary problems and slow growth in real earnings, a working wife can increase household income and relieve some of these pressing financial burdens," reported the BLS. "By raising a familys standard of living, a working wife may bolster her familys financial and emotional stability.

Despite the economic benefit, there are downsides to a parent not staying home with the children. According to, studies show that children put in childcare centers end up with higher levels of stress and aggression later on in life.

One mother who pays for her children to go to a private school told New York Magazine she has a hard time meeting the demands placed on parents because she works.

"'They're really aggressive about you doing safety patrol,' says another working mother, 'without thinking what your life is like and if you're working. It's almost competitive, as if you're made to feel you're not giving enough to your child.'"