BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Is Having A Stay-At-Home Dad the New Status Symbol for Working Women?

Posted by egehl on August 12, 2010

Times certainly are changing.  While stay-at-home wives have historically played the main role as caregivers for their husbands and families, a societal reverse is happening as more professional women are depending on their “house husbands” to run the household.

It’s increasingly evident that more husbands are staying at home to take care of their children and do the everyday chores while their wives or partners are at work.  A number of factors can explain this growing societal shift and it’s working well for many families, even if it still raises eyebrows and bucks “the norm”. 

In the recent recession three men lost their jobs for every one woman that did, and as a result women now 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.  As a result of these shifting factors families have had to rearrange their lifestyles and schedules to accommodate the spouse who has a job, or a better paying one.

For a driven, career-oriented woman having her partner stay at home to take charge of the children and household can not only be a godsend, but also make her feel quite empowered.  Not only does she become the breadwinner with a great job, but she’s also got this highly evolved man in her life—a feminist, father, and husband who dismisses historic gender roles and stereotypes.

As more women are needed to enter into the workforce and climb the professional ladder, the qualities women value in a partner will shift to meet these evolving demands.  And for a working wife and mother, a husband who’s willing to take up the lion’s share at home is an appreciated lifestyle option.

However while this shift may be welcomed by women, it still can be a tough transition for men to go through.  As men become better-rounded at home with daily chores, cooking and taking care of the children it does change the dynamics of relationships. 

Despite the increase of enlightened viewpoints and congratulatory comments from hip, modernized peers, the stay-at-home dad can live a life filled with big existential questions about his family role and face tiny daily indignities like shrugging off incredulous looks at dinner parties.

Many men exhibit doubts about the new situation they find themselves in however often it happens for pragmatic reasons.  Men may grow to hate their job, get laid off or make less money while their wives not only love their positions, are making more money, have better benefits or overall have a more stable career. While the decision may be easy and clear on which parent should take on which role, the adjustment can be hard. 

Experts agree that when switching roles, as with any relationship upheaval, communication is paramount.  Couples should evaluate things as they progress and monitor how the role reversal is unfolding.  Most couples will adapt and many men feel great rewards for playing such a large role in their children’s lives.

There’s no doubt the 21st century will continue to bring more shifts and surprises to the modern family and more adjustments will need to be made.  However that’s not a bad thing, especially for working women who love their careers and are open to a role reversal in their relationship.  As long as lines of communication stay open and both parents feel empowered this new stay-at-home dad set up can work well for everyone.

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2 Responses to “Is Having A Stay-At-Home Dad the New Status Symbol for Working Women?”

  1. Venita Garvin Valdez said

    I am not sure about the terminology status symbol being used for stay at home dads for working women? Seems like the term stay at home mom has not always been viewed favorably or as a status symbol by men and sometimes working women. However, I feel it is important that couples do what works best for their family and continue to keep the lines of communication open regarding the needs of their family and if that means that the husband (or mom) stays at home to take care of the children and their household, I fully support it. While I do not have a stay at home husband, I do have a husband with an occupation that does not dictate the high demands that mine does as far as travel that is involved and numerous hours for command performances as it relates to work beyond what might be deemed traditional work hours. I am very grateful that he is able and desires to be extremely involoved in the care of our children and home while I am away. I think it is an important message to raising children that both parents have enormous responsibility for the overall well being of the family and their lives together.

  2. […] impacts everyone, not just women, because flexibility is important for the family as a whole.   And nowadays with more men leaving their jobs either for a short-term break or to stay at home to ov…With the burgeoning trend of “house husbands”, men need to equally care about how the labor […]

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