To work, or not work. That is the question.
Well, not for me anyway. I’m not going to be a stay at home dad, though I respect those who make that choice in a society that doesn’t always approve. Try to make money, that’s the path I’ve been on and will be taking.
There are a number of people out there, however, who have most definitely made the choice to leave the workforce and be stay-at-home parents. Usually, but not always, these are moms rather than dads. Many of these people are highly educated, skilled, talented people who willingly choose to give up a career to take on another role.
Some people want to be at home to take care of the family, as they genuinely think the household will run better with someone at home. Usually, from my experience, this seems to revolve around the lives of children – which makes complete sense to me. In some cases, it’s for the individual’s desire for that type of lifestyle and not totally for the need of others. In yet other cases, it may be due to other reasons – perhaps their own health, need to take care of an elder, etc. But ultimately, the common theme here is that these are individuals who can work and have been doing so, but voluntarily quit to do other things at home.
A funny thing happens, though. Some of these people want back in, later in life. An interesting, lengthy New York Times article discusses the concept of how some women who have opted out of the workforce try to get back in a number of years later. Interestingly, it appears that things don’t always go the way they want them to.
After being out of the workforce for many years, many people find it shocking how they simply can’t find a job comparable to what they had before. If they happen to land one, it might be for a lot less money and responsibility.
I think this is something that many people, female or male, should accept before making a decision to give up a career. Not that it’s a guaranteed bad move to do so, as it probably works well for many families. But the reality is that employers do not care about how a person managed a home, volunteered at PTA meetings, and so on. As noble as those sorts of activities are – and beneficial to the overall quality of a family’s life – the value doesn’t translate over into the workforce.
The longer a person is out of work, the harder it can be to get back in. Additionally, the more out of date one’s skills and market knowledge can get. Whether one is voluntarily taking on a non-employed role with the family like a stay at home parent, or involuntarily unemployed, employment gaps can and do impact one’s career.
One way to re-enter the workforce is to consider a work-from-home job. Most industries now allow some employees to work from their own homes, as advancements in technology have made it possible. Even the medical field, which is generally a very hands-on environment, has work-from-home positions available. Those with a BSN degree can become a telehealth RN. Those who hold this position can work at home while monitoring their patients via telephone and a remote monitoring system. Other work-from-home careers include medical writer, medical transcriptionist, medical coder, home-based radiologist, and even home-based physician.
The article is an interesting if long read, but the bigger thing in my opinion is that people make such decisions with the knowledge of what it means. While often times there is a lot of emotion involved, the cold realism of things should be remembered too when choosing to exit the workforce. We generally can’t have something for nothing in life, and leaving he workforce to be a stay at home parent means that we trade-off career prospects. Not entirely at all times of course, but there is no doubt a price to be paid.
As a parent of two young kids, I think of such things in the context of how the world is today and how things are trending in the future. I especially consider these things in light of having a daughter.
My Questions for You
What do you think of the notion that actions have consequences, and a career price will be paid for exiting the work force to become a stay at home parent?
In what cases – if any – would you be willing to take on such risks to leave the workforce?
Are you, or anyone you know, a stay at home parent? If so can you share how you came to the decision to do so?