Friday, September 17, 2010

17 September 1956 “Mother’s Are Needed At Home!”

I would like to share this article with you from one of my Better Homes and Gardens Magazines. It deals with rather or not a Mother should stay home with her children. A discussion often happening in the 1950’s.
Many people today think that the 1950’s were simply a series of mindless woman, dressed in pearls and heels, waving goodbye to hubby in a sea of endless modern ranch homes. She would cook, clean and wait for hubby with pipe and slippers and children home from school. This was true (minus the mindless bit and possibly the pearls and heels) for some women.
Yet, we must remember that we are only a few years away from the war years. Women were, even more so than during WWI, in the work force that had once only been for men. Many women chose not to leave these jobs, though many felt it was right and their duty not to give these jobs back to the men. Not because they thought they should stay home and have children, but because it was right that the men, who had gone and fought for our freedoms, deserved the chance to return to the work force.
Yet, even as late as the mid 1950’s, there was still debate about the ‘stay at home mother’. This article sort of sheds light on the fact that some middle class women who did not necessarily have to work, might do so for more money or possessions.
I think this article is worth our reading and discussing. I will share it over the next two posts. (Simply click to read full size version)
I know I have shown this film again, but I thought it would be nice to go along with this article.


  1. Look at our world and our children.
    Look at the state of marriage.

    Don't you think it would be better if ONE parent stayed home? I do.

    The problem is, economically, no one can any more.

  2. Barbara-it is so true. I wonder what we can do about it to make it so. In exchange for all the cheap goods we buy at walmart and the Gap we have an economy that does not support the middle class through small business. We also have an inflated and false real estate economy. IN the 1950's a house might cost one year's wages. Even in Mr. Blandings, the upper middle class, when they end up building their home it costs $15,000 that is what he makes in one year. Sure, he will have a mortgage, but a realistic one. Also the money spent on new cars (two needed at least per family) and the excessive amount spent on 'easy food' (i.e. premade frozen and eating out) all adds up. I think some families might be able to swing one parent at home and not realize it because we have NO education for saving or being thrifty. Our public schools train consumers not workers and homemakers. Sad, really. I do wonder, what can we do. Any ideas ladies?

  3. Yes, this was a good post.

    I remember female school teachers who had quit their profession to get married and raise a family being BEGGED to come back to the schools and teach, due to the overcrowded classrooms and teacher shortage that were a product of the 1946-1964 baby-boom.

    So, that brought a lot of women out of the homes and into the work force, because they were begged to return to the classroom. I also remember a nurse shortage.

    I loved home economics. I remember as late as the 1970's colleges teaching a home economics major. Many young ladies majored in it, not just to teach in in high schools, but so they would be good homemakers, wives, and mothers, when they stayed home; they also were in college to find a husband who was "going somewhere." Not necessarily to have a career.

  4. I will be interested to read the rest of the article. I do think it possible in many cases for there to be one parent at home. If you make that your number one priority and every decision you make supports that goal from the town you choose to live in, whether you rent or buy a home, to all the small things like growing some of your own food, making some of your own clothes, stressing home made fun rather than paying for expensive entertainment I think in many cases it is possible. And remember your children aren't home for ever, even if you can only manage to be have one person home full time until the children are in school and then find a suitable part time job or do something from home it must be better for everyone than having to put small children in long day care and having two parents always running faster to keep up with life.

  5. TWUS-That is so interesting and I of course, with the increase in children, their would be an increased need for teachers. It must have been hard to make that decision between returning to work for the money but also staying home with your children.
    Another aspect the 1950's family didn't face was the insane cost of education at college level. A middle class bank manager or insurance man could realistically send his children to university without it costing an insane amount. Again, although I know others see it as political, it is a crime what debt is being perpetrated on young American college kids these days.
    Jenny-certainly day care is a cost that could be erradicated. Also here in the USA, as I know you are in Australia, the cost of health care for your child can be ruinously expensive as well. Sometimes the extra income might go just to pay for that. How sad is it that the middle class family of today has so many MORE burdens than 1950's. I don't care if anyone thinks I am being too political, it is not right that we could once manage to have the country as it was in the 1950's and yet now have so many more costs with such odd increases in the major elements of living. And we are all dulled into thinking it is a fair trade off since we can buy so many 'goods' cheaply.

  6. Donna, Can I just ask a question - Why do women have children if they are NOT going to be mothers to them? What is the point? You could get a dog. Being a mother is the highest job that you can aspire to. If Doing and Being that isn't worth it to you, than why have children? I seriously DON"T get it. Like you say there are many ways to swing staying at home, if that is your priority.
    Why not make it so?
    Julie in WA

  7. I think with the Women's Movement of the 60's and 70's, with equal pay for equal work, what happened was that companies simply started paying EVERYBODY what was a woman's wage (men and women). And companies felt it was ok, because, "his wife can always work," and lost the commitment to pay a man a living wage. I think we shot ourselves in the foot with that one.

    Kind of like the law that employers have to provide health care for all full-time workers, so they just hire people 37 1/2 hours a week to circumvent that.

    I think a lot of female teachers felt it was their civic duty to come back to the classroom due to the teacher shortage.

    The 50's was certainly a time of great change. I remember the 50's, in the N.Y.C. area, anyway, as being a decade hurtling toward modernization, making our country ripe for what happened in the 60's.

    There was also the Korean War (the forgotten war), and Americans were then sick of war. There was actually anti-war protest during WWII, and it came back again in the 60's during Vietnam, only much bigger.

    Here in the midwest where I now live, things were quieter and many of the old ways retained: the gardening and caning, etc.

    Kind of a dis-jointed comment, sorry.

  8. For many staying home is unattainable, nor is it a desired one.

    My "career" prior to being a stay at home mom of two beautiful boys, was working in school age child care.

    I could have remained in my career as an Early Childhood Educator, but it never made sense to me that a day care teacher puts their children in day care just to go care for another's child.

    I witnessed the ramifications of institutionalized care first hand, after seven years of caring for children I decided to "retire" from my chosen profession.

    I have experience in an infant room, where the babies made strange with their parent's upon being picked up, I was often called "Mama."

    I even had a young boy of 5 once say to me, "Miss Terry, I wish you were my mom, and day care was my home."

    Well that pretty much decided the future and reality that I wished my children to be raised in.

    My boys have been raised "by hand", when I work my mom (mostly) and my MIL babysit them.

    For myself, it's a question of priorities and common sense.

    I carried these boys for nine months, invested time, love and energy caring for them personally.

    Why would I wish to pay someone to do my job?

    My boys are now 9 and 5 1/2, I have cherished every minute I have had with them.

    My oldest loves the fact that I pick him up for lunch from school and my youngest is the only one not to eat lunch at school in his class.

    At lunchtime, I serve them nutritious lunches, my boys have time to eat them and we catch up on what happened in the morning portion of school.

    Suppertime is eaten together, and it really makes my time with them precious. Being able to have them home for lunch, is a great way to break up their day and to provide a safe harbour from the riggers of school.

    As you can tell I am passionate about this, working with children ages 3-12 years of age in the past enabled me to decide how I want my own to be raised.

    Many children just wanted to be home, regardless on how great the program was, it was really disheartening.

    And some of these parents, rushing off to work or rushing to pick up their children with bags of cereal in hand to take them to after school activities, truly did not realize what effect it was having on their children.

    A sad state of affairs indeed.

    I agree with the article, and look forward to seeing the other part of it.

    Mom in Canada

  9. Julie in WA-That is a very good question. I suppose we all have children for different reasons, or even perhaps we are unprepared when the even arises. For me and my hubby we were so concerned about what we need for the future child that here I am rather old and still no child. Do I regret our decision thus far? NO. For us, it really is a matter of the child's future. I believe Love is very important to a child and I would not do it unless I could stay home, but I also think that choices are important to a child. That means enough money for a good education if he/she chooses it. If not, then that money could be used as money towards a home or some solid future investment. I just don't want to make another walmart employee or another poor child who might want to study the arts but can only do so with a huge college debt at the end of it and know real way to pay it back in the beginning. If one is to be a doctor, then even a large loan can still be a doable situation, they can eventually pay it back. Yet, most other professions or even a child who decides something different, to start their young adult hood straddled with debt is silly.
    We always joke if we lived in Canada or France, we would most likely already have a child. The woe of education and healthcare happily aided for us. Yet, that is not the case here and so we are childless.
    I think we must all have our own reasons for children. I hate to think of anyone having a child to fill the emptiness of the modern world. I know that might sound silly, but I could see how that could happen. Before my project, I often had a sort of empty ennui that I was not quite aware of. It just sort of sat at my peripheral vision. It wasn't until I really started to look at my life and what was important and how I could really MAKE a life, that I began to see it. I dread to think of what type of mother I would have been pre-1955, it makes me shudder.
    Some people, probably, are born mothers. They just want a child as they know they need to nurture and love it. I hope such women always find good providers as husbands, as their job, a very real job, of being a great mother is important and quiet honestly it needs funding.
    I find it another example of how strange our culture has come that so much money is available for young unwed mothers with children yet couples who chose to make an honest decision to really make a new happy human, have almost no help. I know, I am getting political again, but quite honestly, the politics of simply living today are merely wanting to put people and families before money.
    I think I have gone off tangient a bit, but I think many people don't think before they have a child. But, I suppose if they didn't we would have many less people on the earth.

  10. Mom in Canada-How wonderful that your children get to come home for lunch. A great way to make sure they are eating properly as well. Another issue we have in our country in our public schools is the state of the food. It is really rather bad and not very nutritious. It seems as the norm is now two working parents, there is no natural watchdog at home any longer. Mother's are probably stressed and so busy with outside work that their children's lunch or education just can't take a priority. It is too bad. I think we are going to need both a new form of education mixed with the perception of 'women at home' and some new realisitc laws in our country to allow a larger quantity of mother's to choose to stay at home. Right now it is not seen as the right thing to do and in many cases families can't afford or think they can't afford (we can't live without 70 dollar a month cable or multiple cell phones or three different video game systems or our shopping or going out to eat) so the money just isn't there. I do wish more families could enjoy the simple life, to understand they do not need to buy and have all the latest gadgets and then, maybe, it would be the right move to more people staying home with their child.

  11. The only time I've seen a family function well when the mother worked was with an old friend and her family. It worked well because of 2 things: her husband is VERY involved (sometimes more than she, which can cause other problems for her as she feels she is missing out on raising her children) and her in laws are VERY involved. My friend works a lot of hours and sometimes has to travel for work but either dad, grandma or grandpa is there. Her husband works for his family's business so even though he works very hard he has more flexibility than he would at a big corporation.

    I love to be home for my children and my husband but in an ideal world I'd consider working outside the home if it didn't mean giving up what is important to me. As it is my husband has to miss a lot of things and sometimes I feel like his work is the "mistress". He's a good father and hubby but his job, for which we all depend on for income, takes a big chunk of out of our lives.


  12. The thinking for many women in the 50's up through today is that once the kids are all in school full time, they can go back to work. The problem for these families is that there is no one at home when the kids get out of school, which is where the term "latch-key kid" came from. My mom was one of those kids and so was I as a teenager, along with my brother and sister. Although we had chores assigned to us, homework to do, and both parents made frequest phone calls to make sure we were doing what we were supposed to be doing, there was also lots of bickering and ways to get into trouble. In my opinion, it's not just small children that need adult supervision, it's all children in the home.

    It's interesting to me that the stereotype of the mother at home in the 50's in pearls isn't how everyone lived. Loved this article!

  13. it can be done..but a lot of people these days cant live without all the little extras in life. my husband works, and i stay at home with our 7 children. we make about 24,000 a year.and no, we dont live in a cheap town. its hard, ill admit but there is nothing like being there when the kids come home from school, and to be there to greet the husband after work..i wouldnt trade it for anything!!!


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