It’s a movie that’s almost 30 years old, and from what was a different era. In this movie, a guy loses his job and ends up staying home with the kids while his wife keeps working. Okay, that part might actually sound very much like a common scene today. However, what struck me in watching that movie was how the stay at home dad was seen as a bumbling idiot around the house, totally inept and ill-prepared to spend his day caring for young children. That’s such a 1983 perspective!
Or, is it?
I would like to think that people are more open-minded to the idea that in a relationship, a man can stay home with the kids if a couple chooses to do things that way. Clearly, there are some people who have this arrangement, and it works well for them.
However, while the practice is obviously becoming more frequent and accepted, there are some very traditional views on gender roles out there. This came to mind as I recalled a conversation with someone who talked about a woman with whom he worked. The woman was apparently going through a divorce. She had done well in her career and was a senior executive. Her husband, apparently, was a stay at home Dad.
The guy I was talking to, discussing the unfortunate news of what was happening, remarked something to the effect of “You could see that coming. Can you blame her?”
The unstated comment was: he wasn’t making any money, while she was making a lot. Therefore, of course she would get frustrated with her husband and her situation.
The guy said it in such a matter of fact manner, as if it was an obvious conclusion. It was one of those very infrequent times where I was totally taken aback by what the guy said. Not because I was then (or am now) a stay at home father. Rather, because I thought the guy’s view was so, well, 1983.
My own opinion about the subject is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with couples who choose to have the guy stay home with kids, or be the secondary earner. If that’s what works for them, who can argue?
Now, clearly there are some people who are better than others at being a stay at home parent. Frankly, as a guy, I can admit that there are some guys I know that would truly be inept and clueless in terms of caring for a young child. Utterly clueless. However, that’s just some guys. Many guys are totally capable of being fantastic primary caregivers, and really value playing the role of SAHD and putting forth all the work involved with it.
Like I said, I’m not a stay at home father. However, I think it’s absolutely time to stop negatively perceiving those men that take on this role. Also, it’s time to stop critiquing women who play the role of primary breadwinner in these relationships.
Of course, I realize that many people do believe strongly in strictly traditional gender roles, and might completely disagree with me.
What Do You Think?
- When you hear about a situation about a man being at home while a woman is the breadwinner, what are your initial, instant thoughts? Please share your immediate, unfiltered impressions!
- Do you think that it’s time that perceptions of these arrangements should change?
- Would you embark on a life journey with this arrangement?