Are we in financial denial?
Leslie Bennetts' new book "The Feminine Mistake" has generated a lot of controversy and discussion. I expected to be the last person to defend her, as I was personally offended by Bennetts' overly critical characterization of stay-at-home Moms. She operates with a sledgehammer rather than a scalpel, but her core message is unmistakably important: A man is not a financial plan. Every woman needs to wake up to this reality. The cost of being caught without a personally-constructed safety net is a stiff penalty.
I am not surprised that a book as polarizing as "The Feminine Mistake" has generated a lot of love-it-or-hate-it reactions, but I have been taken aback by the willful financial denial voiced in some of the Amazon.com reader reviews. A woman calling herself Starbaby says....
"Ok...so being a SAHM is probably one of the riskiest financial and emotional decisions a woman can make. but look at it this way, it's also a sign of trust. Yes, women should have some sort of education and training 'just in case' but why constantly be paranoid that the worst is going to happen all the time? It could become a self-fulfilling prophecy!"
Another reader says, "[Bennetts] doesn't point out a husband can still wind up dead WITH YOU working and then you have to do it ALL by yourself anyway!, (daycare, mortgage, all of it). Bottom-line: I'll cross any financial hardship if I ever get to it (hopefully NEVER) when I have to, why all the FEAR Leslie??? It's called life insurance, alimony, child support etc. and if you are smart enough for an MBA you should be smart enough to pick a decent man to have a family with. If you didn't then you should keep your day job and a private bank account and follow Bennets advice."
I get really worried when I hear women claiming that living without independent financial means is a sign of trust in their relationships. This is as reckless and foolish as deciding not to wear seatbelts because that kind of "paranoid" thought might bring on a car crash.
This wishful thinking is dangerous for all Moms. This denial is what allows us to separate ourselves into various factions divided and weakened by "the Mommy Wars."
The truth is that there are no "Other Mothers." One day any of us could find ourselves needing to rely on maternity leave that allows us to preserve our paying job; open flexible work options; excellent childcare; health care; realistic wages, or sick days. I wish we'd unite to work for these core MomsRising issues out of a sense of solidarity for all mothers. But if that's not enough, at least open your eyes to know that these policies could mean the world of difference to YOU someday.
I know I am probably preaching to the converted here. My question is, how can we come up with new ways to get this message out to all mothers in a form they will respond to?