This one is going to be a quick list of brief points because each small point could easily be a post of its own (and probably will be a few months down the road).
Simply put, it is wrong for conservatives to encourage young naive Christian women to marry and set up as SAHMs without any understanding of the financial issues involved. What follows are just a few of the big deals that conservatives ignore when they say things like “avoid college, girls!” and “marry young and stay home and have kids, so long as he has a job!”
- No paying into Social Security. Housewives are protected if the marriage lasts, for as long as it lasts. But if it does not, well, now that SAHM is out of luck and at best dependent on her adult children and church/local community. And that is also not nearly as common as it ought to be, just as divorce/abandonment of conservative Christian SAHMs is not as rare as one would like.
- Risk of outliving husband (all states). This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but having no ability to earn a living and a husband who doesn’t have a pension means big problems when his steady paycheck or his own Social Security check disappears because he’s dead. This is further compounded by the pressure of some conservative subcultures to have men be self-employed without bothering to explain the financial ramifications of that choice.
- General risk of divorce/abandonment at all (varies by state). This varies not least by whether a state is community property or not (and the difference is really, really, really important from a risk management perspective). It also varies by what I note last, what kind of husband a woman ended up with.
- Discouraging real vetting of husbands, which is what makes the divorce/abandonment problem an especially major one in the modern era. By this I mean that women are encouraged to simply marry a man with a job who attends church regularly, regardless of whether he is disordered in important ways that can affect his ability to provide for and maintain a wife and children. Mostly what is embedded here is a sort of residual expectation of paternalism/tolerance of flaws towards a “hardworking family man” that simply does not exist anymore as some sort of widespread norm in workplaces. Women can’t afford to SAHM with a guy who is constantly getting fired for anger problems just because maybe thirty years ago he would have been shunted off to a back office because “he’s got a family to support, man”. They also are really in for it if they marry a “self-employed” man who bounces around from scam to scam, never really able to put together a real earnings path for his family. And there is very little mention of this issue when conservatives promote early marriage and no college for young Christian women.
It is not easy street and financial security if you just marry at 19 and start having kids. A lot of young and middle aged SAHMs are finding out the painful way that there are financial risks nobody warned them about and which nobody will help them with when they hit.
Some conservative family values, eh.