The Famous Swabian Hausfrau

I was delighted to find an article in the February 1, 2014 edition of The Economist dedicated to the mindset of the Swabian Hausfrau. The article links the economic mindset of this stereotype from Germany’s Southwest to the economic mindset of Germans within Europe. It is a deftly created argument and the article is surprisingly detailed in its research of the origins of the Swabian mindset. Unfortunately they weren’t as thorough in their research into the origins of Maultaschen, and were duly called on their sloppiness two weeks later in the Letters to the Editor.
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What, you work full time?

Both Jane and I have mentioned the concept of the Rabenmutter, which is defined in the Wikidictionary as “A raven mother, a loveless, heartless, cruel, unnatural, or uncaring mother; a bad mother who does not take good care of her children.” Now no one has dared ever call me that directly, but I have most certainly gotten that vibe off of various mothers in various schools that my children attend, and even from people who themselves aren’t parents! For the most part, I shrug it off. Everyone makes their choices and every person should be able to raise their family the way that works for them. But sometimes, it gets to me.

The last time I got this impression was from a woman in her late fifties that is a sort of acquaintance of mine. A good friend sometimes meets up with other women for a Stammtisch at the Greek restaurant she owns and she often invites me along to spice up the evening (these ladies are not always especially stimulating). This person does work and I am not sure whether she worked when her child(ren) were small, but as soon as I told her about my new job — which I love, by the way, and which is full time — she said, “Was machst Du mit den Kindern?” (What do you do with the kids all day?) That ruffled my feminist feathers. It sounds like I am sending them out into the street while I am being selfish and going off to work.

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Finding Childcare in Germany

I mentioned in my previous post that spending the first year of baby’s life with him or her at home is common and expected in Germany, at least in the west. On the other hand, it isn’t so easy to go back to work within the first year or before age three because of the limited childcare options. While finding a Kindergarten (KIGA) in your neighborhood should be possible, finding one with a Kinderkrippe, translated to day care center, is harder. Even if you were able to get a spot for your three-year old at the KIGA that is walking distance down the street, if it doesn’t have a Krippe, you might have to drive your one-year old across town to one, that is if you got a spot and that is, if your town, city or village is big enough to have one at all. Continue reading