We did it tough and had no help – then vs today’s parents 943



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The paid parental leave scheme has been scrapped but it really makes one wonder why it was proposed – we come from a generation where we had housewives and the choice of a baby was ours alone…there was no government program available for us to lean on. Do we really need to pay mothers more to make them feel valued and validated in work and in motherhood?

Parenting has changed so much; the big plan (now scrapped, but may be replaced) to give mothers a six-month wage replacement seems so far away from what us baby boomers knew when we had babies. It would be a dream to us then but in this day and age, how can we really justify this in our country’s budget? Is it a necessary expense when there are cuts to our health and education sectors?

It feels as if mothers today have this expectation that the government will and should support them while on maternity leave – what ever happened to those who were doing it themselves and budgeting for a baby? When we had our first children, there were no such policies. Having children was a choice we made knowing full well we would have to factor in the expenses either by working ourselves or having our partner taking an extra job and/or taking more hours.

3875 Mrs Gunn Knightsridge

I know my own 1950s housewife mother never worked as she had 6 children from age 20 til 40, but I understand those were different times. She received support from her mother and father to raise the children and even when we had kids, our family was there to step in when we needed it. So does this mean that new mums nowadays have a more independent motherhood and thus need government support in the absence of a babysitter grandparent?

When we had children, our parents were free all the time. They were the hands-on grandparents who were always available. Fast forward to now, as grandparents ourselves, we aren’t anything like our own parents or grandparents – we’re busy travelling, seeing friends, volunteering or even working. We aren’t the type to retire at 55 or 60 and sit inside doing crosswords and babysitting. But is it our fault that our children’s generation are asking for more money to support their baby and lifestyle?

It makes me wonder, with all this role changing and working parents, are our grandchildren going to be okay? The paid parental leave scheme looked like a solution for income earners who want more than the standard amount provided by Human Services, but was that really that bad to begin with?

Having a look at the current parental leave payment of $641 per week, it soars above the average weekly age pension of $380 for a single. We live off this much yet there are some who are crying poor when they are receiving the minimum wage when they give birth – so should we be asking for more when the government, until recently, were willing to match employer wages for up to six months? Who is more worthy?


Should there be a revised parental leave scheme or should parents budget for their babies and deal with the minimum government payment already in place? Was it better raising a baby 30 or 40 years ago?

Photo sources: Greg Kucera and NewtownLivingstone

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. My sentiments exactly…. When we had children it was our responsibility to make ends meet, no government handouts or childcare…. But sadly these days, the more people are given, the more they want….

    25 REPLY
    • That’s why they want the labor back, freebees.

      1 REPLY
      • The Public Service have paid parental leave. They have a sense of entitlement – we are better than the rest. By voting Labor, they are sure of getting all these perks.

    • I AGREE!!! when I say that , I get shouted at from the fooftops! ,my daughter is in South Africa, I was born there, and to this day, YOU HAVE CHILDREN, YOU FEED, PAY FOR SCHOOL, UNI, AND ZERO GOVERMENT HELP !! so everybody appreciates what they have, everything you have you have worked for, !!, and you pay taxes.

      1 REPLY
      • I agree Winnie. I was also born in South Africa and my daughter was born there and we had no financial help from the Govt. Australians are really very fortunate with every bit of help they get!

    • I think this is one issue we can all agree on, all Governments give these young people way to much and it is vote buying, they are all to scared to stop it in case they are voted out, stop it first before they attack the pensioners and disabled

    • do you all truly want to go back to those times ??? I was 18 ( married ) when we had our first child, born 3 mths premature and as it turned out metally handicapped . No monetary help anywhere it was hard VERY hard – I would NEVER want that for any one. Wake up and be happy that we as a society CAN and WILL help . Enjoy your day 🙂

      1 REPLY
      • Jonna your situation was a special case, you definitely had it tough and should have had some assistance. However if you and your children are healthy, there is no reason why the govt (taxpayers) should pay for them. Don’t have children if you can’t afford them yourself. The money saved can then be applied to others who actually really need it, such as those trying to support children with disabilities who require a lot of expensive assistance and special equipment.

    • wake up jana Soumar..you have voters here other than Liberal voters who are saying they get to much.. we can’t can’t control the Government and Howard started all this Baby bonus rubbish

    • We survived the trials of rearing our children and educate them to acquire employment . Plus buying our home & budgeting to make ends meet and we appreciated & were proud of our acheivements. The Gimme Gimme more days that exist to day have to STOP The younger generation have to take responsibility for them selves & their families .. let them get off their butts . switch off the TV & computer . and take a long hard look at themselves . life was never meant to be easy .

    • That’s easy to say when (Back in your day) the average home loan was twice your yearly salary, now it is 6 times the yearly salary. Yes, your interest rates were higher, but I’d own 10 homes by now if that were still the case. I grew up with 1 parent working while my mum stayed at home. People had appliances and vehicles that could be fixed at home by anyone with half a brain, todays throw away society prohibits this, thus costing more. There are so many differences between then and now!! I agree that people should look after their own children and provide, but in today’s climate, you need 2 parents working to make ends meet. We now essentially have forced health insurance, our house repayments, insurance cost, and general living expenses account for the vast majority of my wage. Yes, move into a smaller house, cheaper area, well our house is the average price.

      2 REPLY
      • Thank you, Neil, for pointing out how things have changed with accommodation – renting and buying – necessitating 2 incomes. More affordable housing is needed. Young people need some help if they are going to have children but wage replacement is pie in the sky.

      • Houses were twice our salary? Crap! For all of my working life, houses have been between 6 and 7 times the average annual wage. I bought my first home (in a country town) in 1974 and it was 6 times the AVERAGE annual wage for a run-down 30-year-old 2 bedroom 1 bath weatherboard with leaky plumbing and rotten windows, and interest rates were 7%. Interest rates skyrocketed to 18% and were never less than 7% in the 30 years I was paying off a home loan. Plus furniture, household appliances, clothing, linen, etc. were hideously costly by comparison with today (relative to wages). Juniors and women were paid a pittance, and there was no help to pay for childcare.
        The young have a very distorted view of what life was like and many reports just lie outright. We hear all about how hard it is to buy houses today, but all my 30-year-old neighbors bought brand new 4 bed, 2 bath, brick and tile fully landscaped, carpeted, and with swimming pools and all have investment properties. It’s possible to buy a modest house in a low-cost area for two-year’s wages today. It’s actually much, much easier than it was when we were struggling to buy our first home. I get very sick of people peddling these untruths.

    • That is garbage Neil, you don’t NEED two parents working to make ends meet. This society wants too much. Compare the houses we had then to some of the monstrosities build now with all the latest mod cons and every gadget available in them. And a huge mortgage! Often they have two cars as well and a variety of credit cards. One wonders if they know what budgeting actually means.
      Young ones are paying monthly for the internet, mobile phones which we did not have. What’s that, approx. $150+ month.
      The governments and the banks are taking, or should I say have taken control of our lives, handing out money and more money, and of course when the govt tries to cut some of the hand outs to pay our country’s burgeoning debt, there is a massive backlash. Then in come the socialists and hand out money willy nilly, a vote and people buying exercise.
      Sadly it will not end good.
      “The things you own, end up owning you” Tyler Durden.

    • but isn’t it true too, that we the older generation do not want to give up our pursuits to help out like grandparents do. back then often g/mothers often looked after children to enable mothers to go back to work… i think we all feel much more entitled to ‘have our own lives’ and have less time for each other.

    • Young ones need to learn to live within their needs. If you can’t afford something, go without. Don’t start at the top, start at the bottom, work upwards as you can afford things.

    • It is not harder today. The same need to provide is still there. If you can’t afford a mansion, buy a smaller home to start and move up. Have children when YOU can provide for them, don’t depen on the State And Child Care. Child Care is expensive, if you can pay for it, YOU not the Governent, then go for it. Be more independent and SaVE don’t get Debts. The Mortgage and the car is all the debt needed, the rest will follow in time.

    • Jane Soumar be be fair the Libs wanted to hand out to the wealthiest mothers instead of being happy withe the basic wage they should be grateful for that.my husband and I reared and educated two children on one moderate wage and no handouts

    • I enjoy watching my children enjoying the fruits of my generation’s labour – good luck to them – old ones just die whinging !

    • I thought we were supposed to get smarter with age. Good on you Paul for having some sense, the rest of you sound like a bunch of Ill informed teenagers who jump onto some bandwagon where they generalise and bad mouth a particular group.. Like bully’s!! The world has changed mostly for the better. You’re forgetting the bad stuff. Act your age! The age that brings you wisdom!

    • Had 6 children. Did it all myself. Most young dont spend it on the basics anyway. My daughter had a baby very young got 5,000 in bonus in payments. Saved every cent and bought a car for her and her son. So she could work and he could go to daycare 3 days a wk while I had him the other two. Everything else was bought and paid for out of her own pay.
      So in this case the car was the means for her to still be able to work and look after her child.

    • Rob when I started work as a first year apprentice I was on $110 a F/N which went up to $190 a F/N when I finished my apprenticeship so around $5000 P/A not long after that my first child was born. No benefits and by the time I had a job that paid better, yep $11000 a year I couldn’t get a loan to buy a house. We made do, most houses were 6 times that then. Guess what now earning $100,000 AND houses are still about six times that. Didn’t own our first house until kids were leaving Primary school and built it myself. Still hard yards saving the deposit, but you guessed it no hand outs. You tell me what has changed?? Yep that’s right hand outs, so you should be able to make do easier, don’t blame others if you can’t live within your means.

    • Why should you get paid to have a baby if you can’t afford to stay home until the child goes to school don’t have one and maternity leave is a burden on a business stay home and let someone else get
      Your job

    • Home loans and houses might have been cheaper but wages were a lot less too, but we still managed… And the interest was way up…anything up to 15-18% and if you were lucky it might be reducible, but not very often…Today young people don’t want to wait and save up for their things they want it straight away….We’d been married 5 years before we could afford a car, and we were not close to public transport either. Had to walk at least a 20 minute walk to the bus and two toddlers hanging on to your hand…No supermarkets either, I can remember the first woolies that opened in Swansea, near Newcastle, separate trips to the grocer, then the butcher then the green grocer….Oh come on, they have it too easy today…the only help we got was child endowment….@ $2.oo per month….wow!

  2. We budgeted for when we would have children .we saved for a deposit then moved into a very modest first home then had our children .My mother always worked so I didn’t have back up to any extent. When I went back to work I took any job I worked night and my husband worked days . We could not afford child care .so we worked round the ours we had .Slow but children had a parent looking after them not a stand in so I could have my time. I know it’s harder today but is it because we expect to get everything we want know and not wait till we can pay cash for it ?

    13 REPLY
    • Yes and now they go for the luxurious houses and furniture – we made do with whatever we got. I went to part time work after my 3rd child went to school, so I would be home before and after school – not dump them into child care…..

    • when we first bought our house in East Geelong they left all the furniture we made do.. I used to have $12 week for food that was in 1967 and he worked driving a truck .. my house was always clean and tidy.. had 2 children then sold there and came to Melbourne… I like many others knitted and sewed and made cheap meals until he told me he .. would only eat steak .and pork .. never lamb chops or ordinary snags.. thank goodness hes now my x…I got child endownment and with that I clothed 3 children and myself…paid council and board of works rates..rego for my mini and also had to put xtra money in for food as I would never be given enough for food.. but he wanted his 2 pkts chocolate covered biscuits just FOR HIM… haha I used to buy my children their own also.. far too many ppl today want all the latest mod cons and larger houses and new cars.. I had no one to look after my children so I stayed home..

    • We had 9 children between us I worked nights till the kids were older and then worked days we bought an old housing commission house made it very comfortable till we sold. I had at one time 1 child going to teachers college 5 kids going to high school 2 going t.o primary school. It was not easy we had a nice home plenty of food. Things were tough sometimes but we did not drink did not gamble we made do. The kids today have it rough in some ways but think they are entitled to everything without putting the hard yards. Some people tell me how lucky I am . The more work hours we put in the luckier we got. Life is good

    • So true. Every young couple expects to have material things as of right. When we moved into our first home we had bare floors, a couple of cane chairs and an old TV (we felt lucky). No garage or landscaping….that had to be done when we could afford it and with the labour of friends and ourselves. It took several years and we freeholded the property by the time we were 35! We didn’t have a huge family though so that helped…have what you can afford to bring up.

    • Our first home a modest 3bedroom home when went back to work I work by day hubby worked by night my mum looked after the kids while I was at work if you want extra things for the kids you worked over time no hand outs

    • I don’t agree that they have it hard these days. As a matter of fact they have it easier it’s just they want the best of thing straight away. Old saying “champagne taste on a beer income”

    • we moved to the Northwest of W.A we were kids with a baby I was 18 years old my husband 21 years old, we had no family support up there, our families were in N.S.W and it took awhile to get to know people. We had a 12 month old baby, my husband worked dayS and minded the baby at night while I worked

    • The more they have now the more they want. Kids get everything these days, we only got things at xmas, birthday and Easter and were so much more appreciative. I also think we were happier as well. Just my opinion.

    • My kids don’t get everything just silly season and birthday and then not much. Never owned a new whitegood. Gone without. Only born in 1974 myself. I think there’s a great range of ways ppl approach child rearing and they each have their reasons I think,

  3. Yes I agree, and what gets me these young mothers get special parking for prams and babies. It hard to find a seniors parking anywhere some Westfield have a few, but the prams have dozens.. They are young we all had to walk some didn’t have cars. Have a great day.

    16 REPLY
    • I also just park in the parents with prams spots if there is no other parking spaces.

    • My pet hate. I understand they need wider parks but why at the front door. They are not disabled.

    • Totally agree Rhonda. Parents with prams are usually young and fit, yet they get prime parking spots reserved for them. What about the elderly, with walking frames etc? Nothing. They too need extra room to unload their walkers, or manoeuvre stiff, painful or unsteady bodies into and out of the car. I cared for my parents in their later years, I can’t tell you how frustrating it was driving past all the parents with prams parking spots at Westfield while looking for somewhere, anywhere to park with a frail aged parent on board. I had a disabled parking permit I could use for Dad, too – still nowhere near enough disabled spaces at the big centres, and often the parents with prams spaces were closer to the entry/exits than the disabled spots.

    • That is the question I ask as well. Why do parents with prams get special parking? Maybe we should lobby shopping centres for more seniors parking

    • And I thought it was only me who disliked the”Parents with Prams”special parking areas!!!(grumpy old woman strikes again!!)
      There are hardly any”Seniors”parking areas…..and by the time I reach the shopping centre limping along with my walking stick I’m too knackered to enjoy my shopping experience…..

    • Park in these spaces..I prefer them to the disabled spots as they seem to be closer to shop entrances and wider.

      1 REPLY
      • Didn’t have a car so no need to worry about parking. Three children husband working 6 days a week with paying off a house on one income. It worked then in the 70’s, and it will work now if you sacrifice and budget. I have no sympathy for parents today.

    • I think they realise the young with prams spend more than a senior. All decisions nowadays are based on the almighty dollar.

    • Yes that irks me too, they are young and healthy, I had to walk a mile and all uphill with pram an three children in all British weathers 4 times a day to school and back plus food shopping which was carted in a tray under the pram, until I got my drivers license at 26.
      I never complained in fact today I still like walking. Best health excercise there is.
      Perhaps obesity today wouldn’t be so bad if mothers did walk everywhere with their prams.

    • I have checked this out at a few shopping centres and have been told the disabled stickers takes over when parking in a pram area if there are no available disabled parking, because they do have more pram parking than anything for obvious reasons, they want the mums to spend moe. I was once hit by an angry 4wheel drive big lady because I parked in a pram spot, I had witnesses to how she came over to me abused me profusely and then hit me, she only stopped when another driver stopped her, she had two teenage children in her big vehicle no pram but felt she was entitled to that spot! I didnt take any action against this lady but got it from shopping centre management that disabled are entitled to a pram spot, so there you are

    • Could so with seniors parking spots up in FNQ! Never seen any, disability parking not for seniors. Lots of assistance for parents with prams.

    • Maybe because young mums are trying to safely access shops – the spaces r closer and larger to assist mums with bubs. Perhaps some kind compassion and support for young families!! – disgraceful attitude displayed here by seniors – maybe be a little kinder!!

    • As inconvenient as the parks may be, were there car seats in your cars when you were all wrangling your kids.. NO! The reason these spots have become available is to make it easier for mothers to open doors up wider than the average space to enable taking your kids in and out of the car without hitting the car next to you… I must say it is very difficult to try and squeeze your toddler into the car seat when parked in a tight space.. I agree Cathy, pretty miserable attitudes in this post!

  4. We had no assistance whatsoever when we had children it was very tough but we got through, there was no government handouts but we got through, I had nobody to assist me whatsoever but battled through and would do it all again the same way

  5. I can remember my parents got a small child endowment every couple of weeks sometimes they were hanging out for it as they were battlers but these days i agree Lynda Beddoe they have there lifestyles to worry about as they want it all ☺️

  6. Women were forced to stay with their abusive husband as there was no money to live on if they left and nobody to mind the kids for them to work

    9 REPLY
    • My mother could not work as she had 3 children one of whom is severely disabled. She left her abusive husband who nearly throttled her to death without hardly a cent to her name. She got no assistance from the government and had to rely on family until she eventually remarried putting a burden on everyone. If she stayed she would be dead. Agreed there is a lot if handouts given but I would prefer that then to have the death of someone in a domestic violence situation on my conscience. Just saying….

    • How about those of us who were left with no means of support, hundreds of miles from home. I had to be rescued by my parents and they shared their last crust with me and my 4 kids (2 of them preschool) for 6 months until I could claim the “deserted wife’s” pension. No preschool for my lot. There was never any money for that, but they did have me 24/7 which taught them about the importance of family.
      I was aghast when the widow’s/ deserted wife’s pension was extended to single mothers. Within 6 months, there were pregnant teenagers everywhere. Up until then, girls got to make one mistake and their family & friends helped them out, but now, it is open season on child production without financial responsibility.

    • well my mums first husband was abusive, only to her and in those days there was no where for a young mother and 4 children to go. No help like today but she’s a tough cookie. and I’m sure a lot of nasty wives/ mothers out there who’s poor husbands had a terrible lives.

    • Norman Whittaker this statement is not sexist. Statistically, far more men abuse women than the other way around. Please go ahead and google domestic violence statistics and you’ll see many papers on the subject. Personally i’ve not heard of any stories of men fearing their lives if they leave their wives and sadly i’ve heard far too many stories of women being murdered because they left their abusive partners. There is no ‘two sides’ when it comes to abuse of any sort.

  7. I had two children a very sick husband and a job I coped with no assistance from the government except for what they called the endowment which originally was 50c a forthnight until they increased it $36 a month for two children.I had no family here and my husbands family lived in the country so I had to soldier on by myself.

  8. I got $2 a month child endowment in the 60s ! Waited at letterbox for cheque so I could cash it at post office to buy food

    8 REPLY
    • Absolute confirmation of how tough times were. Even so $2 could buy food 15d 20c for a loaf of bread.

    • I remember that clearly..we had just moved to W.A and had problems with the car breaking down ect and had to pay for that and accommodation..things we never accounted for and with a 12 month old baby. We were flat broke and paid fortnightly so we had to wait 2 weeks for a wage..I cried with joy when that $2.00 arrived and spent it on food

    • I admire your resolve. Our Mum used to save the $2 until she had enough to buy four of us a pair of new shoes. We were so excited and GRATEFUL which today often seems taken for granted.

    • I did too dot. That £2 was a lot of money in the 60s and I sweated on it every month these days the mums get paid every fortnight for their kids money. We had to wait a month. It’s a lot easier now than in the 60s.

    • I remember it well. Our weekly wage was $34 which was night shift. My hubby worked nights because day shift was only $32. Oh the difference $2 made back them.

  9. So true, we raised four children on a single labourers wage and yes it was tough sometimes but we managed… And those now adult kids look back and realise they didn’t miss out on much. Way too many handouts which our government cannot afford nor should they… Our kids our responsibility not the taxpayers!

    1 REPLY
  10. The more we get, the more we “need”. I left work to have my baby. The government gave me about $30 maternity benefit & $2 per fortnight in child endowment. We found a way to make it work without assistance from family or taxpayers. Just the way it was …

  11. We had $2.80 per fortnight child endowment as it was called then & thought we were rich! We all managed then-because we had to!!

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