You've come a long way, Mommy. But guess what? Daddy has not.
A new study suggests that while attitudes about working moms have evolved considerably, dads who aren't the breadwinners and who instead decide to stay at home and raise the kids are under tremendous pressure. The study, reported in a recent issue of the American Journal of Sociology, shows that a married father's lack of employment predicts divorce more than unhappiness in a relationship.
Numerous Circle of Moms members have shared experiences that confirm the report's primarily finding, which is that when dads don't bring home the bacon, both they and their wives are more likely to leave: "For a man, not being employed not only increases the chances that his wife will initiate divorce, but also that he will be the one who opts to leave. Even men who are relatively happy in their marriages are more likely to leave if they are not employed."
"It's still unacceptable for men to stay home and take care of the kids," says Liana Sayer, an associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study, as reported by the American Journal of Sociology. She adds that the study was designed to show how a stay-at-home dad's employment status influences both men's and women's decisions to end a marriage.
Welcome to the 21st Century?
When her husband was laid off, Circle of Moms member Elizabeth M. shares that "We decided that it was much more cost effective as well as better for our son if he stayed at home instead of returning to work. Our problem is that there are many members of both of our families that are angry about it. My family thinks that we made this decision because ‘he is a bum and doesn't want to work.' His family says that ‘I am only doing this to maintain control of him and make him need me.'" This pressure from their families has added a lot of strain to their relationship, and as Elizabeth laments, "I don't really know how to make our families understand this. They are very old-fashioned. The man makes the money; the woman takes care of the house. How can I welcome them into the 21st Century???"
While Elizabeth feels the pressure from her family, in other cases, the belief that fathers should be breadwinners lingers among many Circle of Moms members, too. "I am a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) and I sort of feel like a woman shouldn't have to work that she should be staying home attending to the kids, house, etc., and the man should bring home the bacon," says Lindsey F.
Families Should Do What Works for Them
But other Circle of Moms members suggest that if society cared less about which parent supported their family financially as opposed to staying home, the pressures on relationships, and ultimately divorces stemming from them, would be significantly abated. "If the woman wants to work, then go ahead," says Titania. "We are fortunate that I can be a SAHM and it doesn't affect our financial situation, but some people just can't afford to do that and that's OK too. It doesn't make a dad any less of a man just because his wife works. My husband would love to be a 'house-husband,' but in order for me to bring home the same amount of money he does, I would have to go back to work in my geeky electronics world and do work that I just hate, so he works and I stay home. Society shouldn't put this stupid pressure on dads who want to stay at home and play a role in raising their kids. Families should do what works for them."
Many Circle of Moms members whose partners stay at home while they work say that though they don't question the results of the study, they and their peers respect and support their husband's decisions to be stay-at-home-dads. Says Jennifer R., "I work and go to school full- time and my hubby is ‘a stay at home daddy/husband.' He's wonderful. He cooks, he cleans, and he takes care of me and the kiddos. It's fabulous!!! "
Others also feel strongly that not only should stay-at-home dads not be criticized, they should be supported in that choice. "After spending the last three years at home, I went back to work this summer and my husband is a self-described "house-husband" (he hates being called a SAHD (Stay At Home Dad) because he does more than just be a dad at home," says Mary S. "He does Gymboree, story time at the library, shopping, everything, with our four kids. As far as I know (and I've actually asked him about it), he hasn't heard any negative comments, other than his friends who tease him that his wife earns 2x what he does. He's met a rather surprising number of other "at home" dads over the past six months too."
Janelle S., another working mom whose partner stays at home, says stay-at-home dads and house husbands should not have to deal with such tremendous social or internal pressure to be the family breadwinner. "What matters is that it is working for you and your family."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.