Trust and support
Chen Yiyun, a marriage researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, suggested that before they wed, couples should discuss whether the wife will become a stay-at-home mother, and that such a decision must be made on the basis of adequate mutual trust and support.
Mothers said the husband's attitude plays a key role in whether the wife can be truly happy with her new role at home.
Zhang Song, whose wife has been a stay-at-home mother in Shanghai for six years since the birth of their son, said that it was a joint decision for her to give up her job at a bank to be with their son as much as possible.
"I fully appreciate her diligence and dedication to our home," said Zhang, 37, an accountant. "I don't want her to feel insecure because she no longer has an income. It took me three years to prepare to start my business, during which time she footed the bills. That's how a family works," he said.
Chen Yiyun said the main concern of stay-at-home mothers is the difficulty in resuming their careers, and called for more legal protection for them.
"In some Western countries, such as Denmark and Sweden, there are laws guaranteeing that new mothers can return to their jobs within a certain number of years after taking a break to care for their babies. When seeking new jobs, they are also given priority among applicants with similar qualifications.
"That's how a society recognizes the social value of such mothers, who dedicate themselves to raising the next generation," she said.
Tao, the playwright, who was a stay-at-home mother to two children for six years, said she recently talked to three such mothers in the U.S., and each appeared very confident and positive.
"They all told me that their family and friends, especially their mothers who were full-time mothers themselves, favored their decision. This is rare in China," Tao said.
She hopes that one-day stay-at-home mothers in China, like their counterparts in the U.S., will win widespread respect from society.
Tao, who graduated from Fudan University in Shanghai with a major in journalism, returned to work as a copy editor in April.
"Stay-at-home mothers either won't have a pension or just a low pension if they stop working. This is also a source of their sense of insecurity," she said.