The myth of “opting out”

Earlier today I wrote a popular series of tweets on the cost of motherhood in America, inspired by the recent New York Times article on moms who “opted out”. You can follow me on twitter at @sarahkendzior.

This is what I wrote:

Here is what it is like to be a mother in the post-employment economy.

You have a baby. From 2004 to 2010, cost of childbirth rose by 50%. Average out of pocket costs: $3400. That’s with insurance. Most pay more.

Now you decide whether to work. Average cost of daycare is $11,666 per year. You have two kids, pay more for childcare than average rent.

If you keep working, you’ll lose money now. If you stop working, you lose money later, b/c financial desperation viewed as “opting out”.

You think, I’ll compromise, work part-time. Most part-time jobs have no health insurance. Paying out of pocket costs more than salary.

Mothers with high-paying jobs go back to work to earn money for kids. Mothers with low-paying jobs quit to save money for kids.

Mothers who work full-time for terrible wages and cannot afford daycare are called “lazy”. They are told to “work their way up”. But how?

All mothers are sacrificing. No one is “opting” to do anything. Choices made out of fear are not choices.

American mothers are not “leaning in”. American mothers are not “opting out”. American mothers are barely hanging on.

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15 Responses to The myth of “opting out”

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  4. Pingback: More on the ‘opting out’ myth | Sarah Kendzior

  5. Hi Sarah. Thanks so much for writing this piece. Really well done. I worry so much for today’s young Moms. Having been a struggling working mother and single mother for long stretches in my life, I know a woman’s options are getting worse, where they should be getting better. You’ve tapped a raw nerve here, and I’m glad you did. As unpleasant as it is.

  6. andre malkess says:

    Mothers with high-paying jobs go back to work to earn money for kids. Mothers with low-paying jobs quit to save money for kids.

    Mothers who work full-time for terrible wages and cannot afford daycare are called “lazy”. They are told to “work their way up”. But how?

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