The Stay-at-Home MilSpouse Economic Expert

You’ve no doubt heard by now of the political flack over a comment made last week about presidential candidate Mitt Romeny’s wife’s decision to be a stay-at-home mom. The storm was raised when Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen questioned Mrs. Romney’s authority on economic issues based on the fact that she “never worked a day in her life.”

I can’t speak for Romney, but I do know this:

If Rosen thinks stay-at-home wives and moms don’t know about economic issues, she clearly has never met a military spouse.

We in military spouse land know all about the economics of the decision to stay at home. We know that it comes with a lot of pressures.  We know that it is not always an easy choice.

And we know, more than anything else, that it’s not always a decision we make for ourselves.

In fact, military spouses are downright experts about certain economic issues because they stay-at-home. We have to be. Think I’m wrong? Let me showcase our wisdom.

We are experts on the job market. Spouses know that desirable jobs go to the most ideal candidate, and that all the good qualities in the world will not make up for the perception among employers that military spouses are flaky because they may need to quit and move elsewhere.

We are experts on underemployment. Many of us have college degrees but find the best job we can land is stocking shelves at the base exchange, a job that will not cover the cost of childcare. So we stay home instead.

We are experts on opportunity cost. If those of us who are parents decide to take that shelf stocking job anyway, there’s a good chance we are leaving our children to fend for themselves. Deployments, long trainings and other needs of the military virtually guarantee that our significant other won’t be a reliable option for homework help, meal making, sock folding or boo-boo kissing.

What other economic issues are you an expert in because you are a stay-at-home military spouse?

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