Family life

Should stay-at-home moms receive a salary?

Celebrity mom Jenny McCarthy suggests SAHMs deserve a salary. Here’s what Canadian parents and our SAHM blogger think.

By Jennifer Pinarski
Should stay-at-home moms receive a salary?

Photo: damircudic/iStockphoto

“Let’s be honest, how many of us would continue to go to work day after day knowing we were not going to earn a paycheque? I know I wouldn’t.”

— Jenny McCarthy

Last week, celebrity mom and Chicago Sun-Times blogger Jenny McCarthy asked readers if stay-at-home moms should receive a paycheque to recognize the 24/7 job that is laundry, cooking, cleaning, diapering, protecting and nurturing children and marriages.

Admitting that salaried stay-at-home moms is an idea that most people think is crazy, McCarthy says that a little financial recognition would go a long way to making SAHMs feel valued. McCarthy is spot-on when she says that, for SAHMs, buying new shoes or clothes is trumped by groceries and other household expenses (I’m guilty of that one — are you?). But is cash the way to reward mothers who opt out of the workforce to raise their children and, most importantly, where would that money come from?

On Twitter, Facebook and comments left on McCarthy’s post, parents were divided on the issue, with most moms leaning towards some sort of payment for parents who stay at home.

Here is what some of them had to say:
Yes, we do deserve a salary but I just can't see how we could ever find a practical way to get one. Seems fiscally impossible. — @fawntress via Twitter

Stay at home moms do need to get paid. They are the hardest-working people in the world. — @smetcalfe85 via Twitter

Babysitters get paid to watch kids. Nannies get paid to watch kids. Teachers get paid to teach kids. Housekeepers get paid to keep the house clean. A stay-at-home mom does everything and then some. It is a thankless job  a great job  but a thankless one.  Carolyn West via Splash Chicago

It would be nice! I take care of my one-year-old and go to school all from home. I never have a dirty house and everything is always done. My kid has a normal sleep schedule thanks to me busting my butt to get her on it. My husband comes home and he’s tired but watches TV.  Sonia Clevenger via Splash Chicago

I'm a SAHM. It's a FT volunteer position I'm committed to everything the job demands & more. ?— @THE_REAL_LOUISE via Twitter

As much as I would like to see such a thing, it will be difficult to sell. Our society is very much based on a commodity/trade system, and the care of children is always an expense. Until we are able to demonstrate clear quantifiable impacts of child care options on society's ability to generate commodity, then this issue will never be resolved.  Allison Smith Killins via Facebook

I noticed parents in favour of salaried SAHMs did not suggest where the money would come from. McCarthy suggested vigilant budgeting and expense tracking with money left over from that exercise. Government subsidies were bandied about but, in my opinion, raising dairy unicorns and selling their milk for pocket money is more likely to happen.

Here’s what parents on social media thought:
The blog seems  to be more suggesting an "allowance" from the spouse's income. Which seems so 19th century. — @M2BB via Twitter

There is a tax break — if your spouse makes less than somewhere around $8000, the working spouse claims them as a dependent. I understand better how my parents did so well on just one salary (other than being very frugal). My dad "hired" my mom as his bookkeeper/secretary/someone who did everything other than the electrical work. And she was able to work from home until we were all in school. — Terri via Facebook

The dependent tax break is negligible and demeaning. What grown woman (or man) wants to be classified as such? I wish the government would allow income splitting, now that would be a huge benefit to our family. — Cara via Facebook

A salary isn't necessary, but income splitting would be nice. The fact is, one spouse earning $100K isn't treated the same way tax-wise as two people in a household earning $50k each. Yes, I am a dependent deduction but that doesn't make up for the higher tax bracket entirely or the child care deductions. — Kathy via Facebook

Anyone who owns a business or is an independent contractor can income split. It's most beneficial for families who earn more than $120k annually, because it drops your income tax rate from 47% to 11% or thereabouts.  Danielle via Facebook.

What bothers me the most about the concept of paying a stay-at-home parent that it treats us like employees — either an employee of the government or of our spouses. When our first-born was in a home-based daycare, the relationship we had with our provider was professional. We paid her to keep our son safe, feed him balanced meals and take part in age appropriate activities. Teaching values and nurturing his soul fell squarely on our shoulders, as it should. But by putting parents on a payroll, you strip away that essential part of parenthood. Besides, there's a very good reason why they say money can't buy happiness.

Should a stay-at-home mom be paid to raise her children?

This article was originally published on Feb 08, 2013

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