Should Stay-at-Home Parents Be Paid?

Should Stay-at-Home Parents Be Paid?

Find all our Student Opinion questions here.

Have you ever had a parent or guardian stay at home to care for you or the other children in your family? If so, what kinds of chores and responsibilities were involved? Do you think it was difficult, valuable work?

Today, stay-at-home moms and dads account for about one in five U.S. parents, with over 80 percent of them mothers.

Do you think that the economic value of domestic labor should be recognized?

In “Stay-at-Home Parents Work Hard. Should They Be Paid?” Claire Cain Miller writes:

It’s not uncommon in the United States for two parents to spend long hours working hard — but the one who works outside the home is paid for it, while the one who does housework and child care is paid nothing.

Now, several Democratic presidential candidates are proposing that parents who stay home to care for children are paid, too. It’s a twist on typical family policies — like paid leave, subsidized child care or the right to work part-time — all of which make it easier for parents to have jobs outside the home. Instead, this proposal would make it easier for them not to.

It’s an idea that blurs partisan lines. On the left, there have long been calls to recognize the economic value of unpaid domestic labor by paying for it. At the same time, many on the left fear that paying at-home parents — who are most often women — would reinforce unequal gender roles and set women back in the labor force.

On the right, proponents appreciate that the proposal supports traditional families and allows young children to be home with a parent. Yet many on the right resist the expansion of government benefits, especially without work requirements. …

Democratic presidential candidates have proposed some type of payment that would benefit at-home caregivers of young children and other relatives.

“The question is: What do we mean by work?” Andrew Yang said on The Daily last month, and gave as an example his wife, who stays home with their sons. “I know my wife is working harder than I am, and I’m running for president. And right now, the market values her work at zero. So we have to think bigger about what we mean by work and value.”

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

  • Did a parent or guardian ever stay at home, instead of working outside the home, to take care of you or your siblings? If so, how did that experience shape your views on this debate? If not, do you think your family could have benefited from a stay-at-home parent?

  • Some critics worry that policies to support stay-at-home parents might lead to greater gender inequality. Are you concerned, that however well-intentioned, proposals like the American Family Act of 2019 might end up hurting women?

  • The article concludes with a quote by a political scientist who has studied these policies: “It’s not just supporting working mothers,” she said, “but it’s about investing in children broadly.” Do you agree? How else could we invest in children?

  • In what ways do you think having a stay-at-home parent is desirable — for parents and for children? In what ways might it be problematic? In the future, do you think you would want to be a stay-at-home parent? Would the possibility of pay for the work affect your decision?

Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.