“How many hopes and fears, how many ardent wishes and anxious apprehensions are twisted together in the threads that connect the parent with the child” Samuel G. Goodrich
Call to Action: Jungle Jane Meet Zack
Is your husband a Stay At Home Dad (SAHD)? If not, would you consider being the sole breadwinner in your home and have your hubby become a SAHD? I was sitting in a comfy chair at the hair salon today, a regular ritual I enjoy with my teen twins, chatting away with my friend/stylist Lorna, when a man in his mid 30s strolled in with a toddler in tow. Actually the toddler, about 20 months old, was curled up in a stroller with the big toe of his right foot stuck firmly in his mouth.
Dad, whom we shall call Zack, had arrived for his bi-weekly haircut and his stylist, Walter, welcomed both warmly, asking when Zack’s forever traveling executive wife would be returning from her latest business trip. “She’ll be back by Wednesday!” he replied. Dad and son seemed quite happy exchanging the occasional smile and gibberish banter only a parent is expected to understand. Now if, like Jane, you are looking for an Alpha male/secure Beta Male instead of the average Beta Male as per an article in Marie Claire, this arrangement might not be for you. Read on.
Zack is Not an Anomaly.
According to another recent article I read in Marie Claire, the recession has created an unlikely boon for women in the workplace. There are more of us working outside the home as the family breadwinner while our hubbies are home with the kids. The article doesn’t mention that while more of us are working, we are still earning less than men in the workplace; about 77 cents to the dollar… The stats below are quite revealing and while it shows women increasingly running households with dependent husbands, it is hardly indicative of a national trend in the
or a global shift. USA
“Three men lost their jobs for every one woman that did, and as a result,
this year, for the first time ever, women make up the majority of the
workforce. Four in 10 mothers are now their households' primary
breadwinners, and an estimated 143,000 unemployed fathers of children
under 15 are caring for the kids full time while their wives work.”
The article points out that SAHD (Stay At Home Dads), not to be confused with single dads or work from home hubbies, have their own website - At Home Dad - to help dedicated house husbands through their trials, tribulations and triumphs. A quick peek at the site showed that the topics/sections of conversation were similar to what women discuss in their parenting groups; on parenting, relationships, culture & entertainment, humor, hobbies, sports and more… Even macho dads need a place to vent, share tidbits and learn about new foods and better pricing. Kudos are in order.
"Most American children suffer too much mother and too little father." Gloria Steinem
The Professional Dad is PC
When I clicked on the site's Forum, Culture & Entertainment and Everything Else had the most posts - indicative of what? That stay at home dads or the more politically correct terms “involved fathers,” “the professional dad” and “modern men” are finding plenty to discuss about child rearing outside of DIY and Sports? What did we expect? contrived discussions on penis size like the guys did on Episode 1 or is it 2(?) of Bravo’s Housewives from DC? I don’t know. What I do know is that it takes a man, read - a community - with an open minded attitude about non traditional roles and a pretty healthy ego to willingly trade in the suit/work clothes for a diaper bag and Gymboree classes.
Before you protest, I know that there are exceptions to the rule and that there are men who cherish the opportunity to care for their children while the wife goes to work outside the home. I am all for equal opportunity at parenting for men, however, the societal norm is that having clearly defined roles for men and women is fundamental to what we all know as the Institution of Marriage. Is this belief eroding in modern society? Slowly, I think … and it’s a good move.
Four years ago, I commuted between LA and NY after being relocated by my company. My kids stayed home in NY with Dad and he bonded with them in a way that would not have been feasible had I not taken on the demands of a grueling job. It was an important sometimes challenging transition for us but we all grew from the experience. No regrets.
Below is a video clip from MSNBC on the subject.
The Power Dynamic Shifts
Below is a video clip from MSNBC on the subject.
The Power Dynamic Shifts
Why is there so much talk about this anyway? Because as more women return to work and more men lose their jobs, it creates a workforce dynamic, a power shift that many, on both sides of the gender divide, are not comfortable about or even ready to accept. After my twins were born, I joined the local Gymboree group; juggling part-time work hours, with a baby sitter and a husband who doted on the twins. There were no public forums or magazine articles on what it all meant. I worked at home and outside the home. Most moms, even those of us who return to outside work after our 3-6 month maternity leaves, don’t dwell on the subject because we planned to take care of our little ones; with or without help.
It Takes A Village...
More revealing on the AtHomeDad site were the blog posts under a range of reading sections with titles like: Daddy Dialectics, Hopeless Cases, Daddy Forever, DadBloggers and other relevant, related subjects including a title that made me chuckle “Daddy Does the Dishes, Mommy Makes the Muhla.” Each section had several articles addressing issues of concern; childcare issues that were discussed at length and we can all relate to. I was reminded again that it takes a village to raise a child and the input a child receives from all the loving people in his/her life carries tremendous currency.
Raising a healthy child demands an all hands-on-deck approach and is a very challenging job. Perhaps this is why I never liked the term “Working Mom” because it presupposes that “Stay At Home Moms” don’t work. Personally, I prefer the terms “Outside Work Moms” and “Work at Home Moms.” Ask any mom, it’s all work both inside and outside the home. What do you say we propose a new term? What do you suggest?
"Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence." Plato
Imperative: A Positive Attitude and Open Communication
One point the article brings home is that this is not the revolutionary, permanent shift in gender roles that some would like to imagine. It is a shift requiring much sensitivity and the recognition that even in progressive societies, the level of expectation of male/female roles have not necessary changed to meet what some are declaring a role reversal triggered by a sluggish economy. There is danger in assuming that the transition will be easy-peachy. It won’t. A healthy attitude and constant communication is imperative.
From what I read, after the initial adjustment to who brings home the bacon, the bigger danger for a couple comes not just from a diminished libido, but from our insecurities/attitudes and the attitudes of those around us; Seriously, how many of you have family/friends who would readily accept this role reversal in their households? Or a reversal in yours?
Welcome to Modern Parenting
Honest, open, communication is still a crucial way to make this work. Seeking the help of a qualified professional might not be a bad idea if needed. As PJ, one of the dad’s featured in the article says to his wife during a moment of frustration, “I don't know if I'm man enough to be a woman.”
Much later, after a powwow session and time to reflect on the arrangement again, PJ declares "My wife is the only one who matters. As long as she can look at me and realize that I'm doing the best for our family, it doesn't matter that some random guy (or gal) thinks I'm less of a man." That’s right PJ; you are a Work At Home Dad and I applaud you. Welcome to modern parenting…
What are your thoughts on the subject? Would you switch roles? If yes, how soon after your baby is born? If not, why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts.PHOTO CREDITS:
All photos ~ courtesy of Google Images Free
Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©