This is all very well, but ignores the deeper problem. Two deeper problems, actually.
The most basic one is that governments have allowed the gap between prices and incomes to grow to such an extent that it is no longer possible for many families to manage on a single income. Quite simply, that is a situation which the ‘free market’ in its endless search for cheap labour and high profits, has deliberately created. Studies have shown that kids who have a parent at home full time do better in many, if not all, areas. But it seems that it doesn’t matter which parent it is. At the same time, many women have far higher career or economic potential than their other half, while many men have better child-rearing skills than current narratives of masculinity would have us believe.
All it requires is that governments actually do what they are supposed to do- take care of their people. That means forcing companies and corporations to pay decent salaries and not allowing them to over-price non-luxury commodities -they won’t do it themselves, you have to hold a gun to their heads! It means generous tax benefits for single-income families, and a decent child allowance.
The second problem, which is marginally worse, is material greed. Some families, even nowadays, could manage perfectly well on one partners’ earnings. But they still both work. Why? Does a family with two kids actually need a five-bedroom house, a weekend cottage in the Cotswolds and a holiday villa in the Algarve? Is it absolutely necessary to have two new cars every two years? Are the latest smartphones, tables, laptops and high-end white goods really essential? Is it so vitally important to jet off abroad twice a year? Not to mention the private medical insurance and private education covenants when we have the NHS and there are decent state schools all over the place! My parent’s generation accepted the fact that when you have kids, you can’t afford luxuries until you get a pay rise, and even then, you have to wait until they leave home to really indulge yourselves! That’s another thing. They had their kids in their early twenties, when they were still resilient enough to survive harder times and still young enough when the kids left home to actually do the things they had always wanted to do.
I hate to say it, and in most ways I’m all for progressive ideas, especially around equality, but in some ways the old days were better!