August 8, 2007

Money Changes Everything

This thread in the Livejournal Feminist community is not really about the cost of daycare and who bears it when both parents work outside the home, and neither is this comment. However, the writer reminded me of something that burns me up whenever I think about it.

It also works because good daycare in my county runs $1500+ a month. When you add up that, gasoline, lunches, work clothes, and other expenses related to full-time employment, I might clear $200-$300 a month. That's not empowering in the slightest. That gives me no power. My power has to come from other places (and fortunately, it does).

This, of course, is the hoary, outdated, insulting and sexist expectation that if the wife works outside the home, her salary should go towards paying the childcare.

That is patently ridiculous. If both parents work, the husband should contribute at least half the cost of daycare out of his check. If he earns more than his wife (which is still the case a great deal of the time) he should contribute proportionately more. Either way, the wife should not pay for daycare completely on her own. It seems to me this is a subtle form of punishment: dare to be anything but a mother, suffer the consequences.

I think issues like this (and at the heart of it, we're really talking about the division of power within the home) should be worked out long before children enter the picture. As in: If you don't help out, there won't be any children, ever. I think some things are worth issuing ultimatums on, and this might be one of them.

Now playing: Donna Summer - She Works Hard For The Money
via FoxyTunes


Macht said...

Perhaps the problem is that some married people think in terms of his paycheck and her paycheck, rather than our paychecks.

Unknown said...

I don't quite agree with that. I think even after marriage, a husband and wife should still control their own money. I think what should happen is that a separate checking account is set up strictly for household expenses, and each partner deposits an agreed-upon percentage of the paycheck. All household expenses--mortgage, daycare, utilites, et cetera--are then paid out of this account. The leftover money remains in each person's control, and neither one tells the other what to do with it.

Matt M. said...

I agreed with PJ, when my wife went back to work I asked her to pay for daycare and I pay for everything else (mortgage, cars, insurance, food, etc.) Our daycare is 1100 per month, but she really can't complain since I pay a significant amount more than her a month in bills. If she made more I would ask for a larger share of all the expenses to be paid for by her, but in this situation I want her to have some money left over. PJ's solution is the completely fair solution.