Are Women Becoming the New Breadwinners?

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Over the past 50 years or so, our society has established an ideal role for marriage and raising a family. The recent debate about same-sex marriage has brought those ideas to the forefront in order to confront and change them. The traditional model of how married people raise children is based, primarily, on the idea that men go to work and provide financially for the family, while the wife takes over the responsibility for child rearing and tending to the house. In the 70's, this model was changed as more and more women entered the workforce. As they left the home, these women were told that they could have it all. Their children were placed in child care or with a trusted adult relative, and after work, they still bore the majority of the responsibility for cooking, cleaning and raising the children.


Economic necessity has caused men to take over these responsibilities but, like in the old movie, “Mr. Mom,” men have been portrayed as reluctant or incapable of handling chores and children. These days, that has changed – and in a big way.


According to the 2009 BLS statistics, almost 40% of women today are out earning their spouses. An article in Elle magazine reported on these changes and wondered if men who have lost their title as breadwinner and/or have found a new calling as stay at home dads felt emasculated by their professional wives. The article did a great deal of speculating and seemed to work from the assumption that “of course they do.” However, looking into the lives of stay-at-home dads shows an entirely different story.


Men who have decided to stay at home to raise children or who have put off their career goals in order to have more responsibility for their families aren't struggling with which way to put on a diaper. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, many of these men aren't bothered by the fact that their wives out-earn them, and what's more, they are proud of the work they are doing and are fulfilled because they have the opportunity to be more involved and engaged with their children.


During the current economic recession (or "mancession," as one dad calls it), the hardest hit industries have also been the most male-dominated ones, like manufacturing and finance, leaving a large number of men out of work. For those men, taking more responsibility at home provided their wives the opportunity to pursue their career goals. At first, these full-time dads were hard to find, but now, reports estimate that over 150,000 men have decided to stay at home and raise their children.


Stay-at-home dads might not fit the traditional model, but studies show that children who have a close relationship with their fathers have better long term outcomes. It's good for the kids, it's good for the wives and it seems to be good for the dads as well.


What do you think about this shift in the traditional family model? Would you want to stay at home to raise your children? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Image Source: MorgueFile


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  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Thanks @Jenny! I think you're right, it is a good opportunity to re-examine traditional gender roles. But yeah, I don't think the ladies are going out for a drink with the girls after work and then demanding dinner when they get home. They still have a large share of the housework and child rearing.
  • Jenny G
    Jenny G
    I think more female breadwinners creates an opportunity for men and women to step out of traditional and potentially constraining roles and instead craft the life they want, whatever that may look like. It gives men the chance to spend more time with family and pursue new career choices and women the freedom to aspire to new heights in their career. To make this work communication is critical, as well as not bowing to societies assumptions of what you should be doing. The big challenge for women in this is looking after their physical, spiritual and psychological well being as they often still do the lionesses share of the housework and caring while being the breadwinnerJenny G

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