We have often discussed whether it would be appropriate for me to work and for my husband to stay at home with our children. My husband’s job has not always offered firm job security, and we had to really face the facts that he could easily be laid off. Fortunately we have not been forced to live off one income, but we at least wanted to be prepared. It would still be extremely tight without his income, but his income is secondary to mine. Without getting into the “you could cut back if you wanted to” discussion, I thought we could share any experiences or suggestions concerning dads that stay at home.
We were very open to the idea, but we were also very open about our expectations….mostly mine. I think it is fair to expect an increase in housework and meal preparation, personally, but not at the expense of being there for our kids. However, I think it is important to be reasonable. Ladies, men see the whole picture generally…not the dog hair on the floor or the dusty baseboards. A successful day to him might be having the kids dressed and getting to the grocery store to buy bread. Ok.
Communication is essential. Mom still needs to be included in a lot of the decision making and child rearing. This is different, in my opinion, than entrusting a hired caregiver to make many of the decisions. On the other hand, you are also going to have to extend grace to your husband. Your opinion is certainly valuable, but you are going to need to give him room to be the parental figure while you are at work.
Another issue I have seen is the isolation factor. Men are very used to having co-workers, colleagues, sports teams, and adult conversation. Let’s face it, there are not many playgroups that cater to dads. I have heard that this is hard for a lot of dads to have limited interaction. It’s just not natural for a lot of guys. My husband would love it. He is introverted and laid back and simple. He would love being at home every day.
I do think there is a stigma with women providing the sole income. I think it can be done, and I think it can be the right option for some families. I do think the dad needs to put in a lot of work at home, and I think parents will have to re-evaluate whether it continues to be the best option. I think supporting each other and providing for your children is more important than getting caught up in role reversal.
Does anyone have personal experience with this? What are the most important keys in making this successful? What are the benefits of having dad stay at home?