This post is Janet’s fault.
In a (probably futile, given what’s a comin’) effort not to offend, I’m going to call the two parties involved SIFs (single income families) and DIFs (dual income families).
Here is why it is better for SIFs if the people who have a choice choose to be SIFs instead of DIFs:
(1) All other things being equal, SIFs cannot compete financially with DIFs. That means that the more DIFs there are, the crummier homes (and, therefore, schools) the SIFs end up in.
(2) The life of the primary caregiving parent in a SIF is easier if there are more SIFs. If you are the only SIF on your block and you send the kids out to play at 4pm, there will be no one to play with and no other eyes monitoring them. If everyone on your street is a SIF, there are playmates and other adults on guard. The problem is much worse for the 2-4 year old set, for whom there are very few playmates from DIF families available during the day. I have heard many SIFs complain that they feel that they have to send their kids to preschool or the child will have no one to interact with. This is yet another expense that is harder for the SIF.
(3) It isn’t just the kids. Being the only adult on your street at 10am stinks. There is more support (of both the emotional/social kind and the ‘I have a doctor’s appointment, can you watch my kids for an hour?’ kind) when there are more SIFs.
(4) It can be a problem at church, too. If everyone on the Enrichment Cmte. is a SIF, the work tends to be divided more evenly than if you have 4 DIFs and one SIF because, hey, she’s home all day . . . she should do it!
(5) Most any group will operate at a norm of time and financial obligations that are comfortable for the majority. If you are the only SIF in your extended family, you will be the only party poopers who ixnay the reunion trip to Hawaii because you can’t afford it. If you are the only SIF in your daughter’s Girl Scout Troop, you will be the only one who cannot afford the trip to the capitol. Etc. And etc.
In your comments, please remember that the premise of this post is people with the choice to be a SIF or a DIF. Situations without that choice are not relevant to this particular discussion.
Also, this isn’t my condemnation of DIFs as evil. If you feel inspired to be a DIF, more power to you. I have no argument with you or your decision and, if you are so inspired, what I outlined above should have no bearing on your decision. The purpose of this post is to dispute the idea that we make our choices in a bubble, without affecting one another. In fact, being a SIF in a world full of DIFs is a much different experience than being a SIF in a world full of SIFs.
However, there is one way in which it is much better to be a SIF in a world full of DIFs: it is clearer to others and, more importantly, to yourself that you have made a choice.