Achtung Baby Or The Stigma Of The Stay-At-Home Parent

10/07/2011 15:48 | Updated 22 May 2015

How many stay-at-home parents feel an irresistible urge to justify their decision so to do? And does the view of parents who stay at home differ from country to country?

When in the UK, despite my inner voice screaming that I have no need to explain, I find myself doing just that. Informing people that I 'm unable to work due to ill health and am registered disabled here in Germany. That I have solved the problem to some extent by working part-time from home. Most importantly that I am a mother and consider the upbringing of my child to be the most important job in the world.

Whilst all that is true, I suspect not insubstantial number of people would read this, roll their eyes and mutter yadda yadda yadda. That's okay by me. Accusations and ill informed prejudices drip off me like water off a duck's back. Honest!

In Germany, it's an issue less likely to come up.

Most schools finish at lunch time, meaning one parent simply has to be at home every afternoon. It's an antiquated system, derived from the Nazi era and receives sporadic (justified) criticism. In the current belt-tightening climate, surely the return of millions of women to the work place makes economic sense. Not to mention the extra educational benefits for our children from a full day at school.

Be that as it may, there is one advantage to the system here. Only in very rare cases do I feel the need to support my reasons for staying at home with Finje. There is very little, if any stigma attached to stay at home parents here probably because so many others are in the same boat.

Just recently, in a cafe in Hamburg, I got to chatting with an elegant woman sitting next to me. As I kept one eye on Finje, who was striking up her own conversations elsewhere, I listened to my fellow coffee drinker. It turned out she was a serious high flyer in the world of banking. And she was spewing out apologies as though she were in the confessional. Not, as would be understandable, for being a banker, but for the fact that she had a nanny and more often than not only sees her two children on weekends.

Staring at her Armani suit and Jimmy Choos and thinking about the pile of housework waiting for me at home, I struggled to suppress a wry smile.

Whichever path you choose, or are forced into, you just can't have it all can you?


Achtung Baby
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