Introducing Rebeldad

My name is Brian Reid, and Leslie has been nice enough to invite me on board to be a regular guest blogger. My official charge is to look at work-life balance questions from a dad point of view, and I'm thrilled at the prospect. The wonder of On Balance is the readers ... and the aggressive and thoughtful and passionate comments that flow after every post.

I've written on the subject of work-family balance in the past -- some of you may have visited my blog at rebeldad.com -- largely from the point of view of an at-home dad with a bad freelance journalism habit, a juggling act I performed, with varied success, for the better part of three years. I remain incredibly interested in guys who make the choice to stay home and the way that society shapes their choices (and the way, in return, those pioneers then shape society).

But both work and family have shifted radically for me in the past three months, and I'm suddenly coming at the challenges of balance as the primary breadwinner. I've jumped into a new career in public relations, and I hope to make a mark on that industry and remain close enough to my daughters -- one newborn, the other about to start kindergarten -- to see all of the tiny leaps that constitute growing up. I don't know yet if that's possible, but I'll keep you posted.

I'm excited about bringing fathers into the discussion on balance partly because I think that work-family balance for men is important on its own and partly because the obstacles to work-family that everyone faces can only be overcome if women and men are part of the solution. As Ann Crittenden has pointed out in her wonderful book "The Price of Motherhood," women suffer in the workplace from the assumption that they are always and forever caregivers first. And men suffer from the assumption that they are "ideal workers," who can and should put family concerns aside whenever work insists.

Those stereotypes subtly and powerfully reinforce gender roles and make balance that much harder to achieve. It's hard to chip away at one stereotype without attacking the other -- if women want a fuller set of work-family choices, guys have to be a part of the revolution as well.

By Brian Reid |  July 27, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dads , Guest Blogs
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I too, balance a writing live with a SAH base (approaching 23 years; one child nearly launched with one in college and the other in junior high). Do have the same catbird-seat experience? My downtown-suit friends see me as at-home with a hobby; my yoga-pants friends see me as working in my pajamas. This hybird position has appeared before on this blog, especially in comments. (Underexplored perspective here). But my comment is really this: both friends hold some of their conversation in reserve, since they don't want to tell me the full story since I won't understand. So the suits say all is well. And the yoga-pants say the same. I know the benefits and drawbacks to both sides AND the switch-hitting life. How is your interaction with hybrid moms AND hybrid dads?

Posted by: College Parkian | July 27, 2006 7:20 AM

"if women want a fuller set of work-family choices, guys have to be a part of the revolution as well"

Very true! And I think, to a large extent, that guys are involved. With the obvious exception of single mothers, most women are married or have a life partner with whom they communicate about life decisions. Men are involved everyday in making the right choices for their family.
Just as important as asking your boss for more time off is fighting your own set of stereotypes in order to do the right thing. Many of my friends have had to get over what they've been taught moms and dads "should" do so they can do what is best for the family. A lot of that growth has involved extensive debates with their partners. At the heart of those debates is usually "will I be okay if I'm not the typical mom or dad?"

So the best thing we can do to encourage each other to think outside the traditional parental roles. Once you can do it at home, you will be able to do it at work without excuses. Instead of just asking your boss for time off because "your wife is sick that day," you will say "I have to be home on these days because that's when I get to be with the kids."

Posted by: Meesh | July 27, 2006 9:05 AM

"I hope to make a mark on that industry and remain close enough to my daughters -- one newborn, the other about to start kindergarten -- to see all of the tiny leaps that constitute growing up. I don't know yet if that's possible, but I'll keep you posted."

Geez, women (and many men) have been doing this "balance" successfully for years. That comment is rather pessimistic. Like you expect that you might fail. Sounds like you need a mother with a career to mentor you through this.

Seriously good luck.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 9:14 AM

YOu're the one who used to work in the WHite House as a big hotshot, aren't you? I gotta tell you, I saw you in an interview awhile ago -- you were changing a diaper and CNN was on in the background in your house, and you said, "I used to be giving White HOuse briefings and now I'm changing diapers. . . " And I wondered if it occurred to you that many of the women you encounter in the park have that EXACT SAME reaction. Many of us were also successful important people.

I hated that piece. It was so worshipful of you and the BIG sacrifice you were making. You know what, a lot of us women make the same sacrifices and nobody interviews us on CNN and tells us how great we are.

Posted by: Aren't you that guy? | July 27, 2006 9:16 AM

Even us single mom's need the involvement of the men. My ex is OK about taking his share, but many men look at it as the mom's issue. The whole dynamic behind what is really meant by joint custody, what happens to the mother who had been at home and now has to enter the workforce, etc. So my challenge is to the dads who are divorced (or never married the mother of their child(ren)) are you taking your share of parenting responsiblities? It is in your child's best interest if their mother can achieve a reasonable balance and her career has a reasonable level of success (it is easier finacially on the children and she is less likely to be bothering you for money)

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | July 27, 2006 9:20 AM

To Aren't you that guy:
I didn't see the CNN thing, but if what you say is true, this is just another example of sexism and differing expectations in our society. I have a saying: "A man does one thing for his child and he is father of the year. A woman misses one event and she is a rotten mother."

I'm just wondering if this guy didn't "give up" his big shot career for other reasons. Maybe he was fired. Maybe he really wanted another type of career (writing didn't work out so now public relations). Fishy.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 9:21 AM

Four posts in and we're attacking Rebeldad for being too successful or too insightful or getting too much recognition. Back to the topic please! Let's talk about how great dads are! Let's talk about how there's a great dad behind every woman who hasn't lost her mind trying to maintain balance.

For you stay at home dads, here's my question: how did your parents (and your wife's parents) respond to your decision to stay at home? I know we're adults and it doesn't matter what our parents think... but what did they think?

Again, many thanks to Rebeldad.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | July 27, 2006 9:24 AM

Not the same guy.

Bruce Reed = former white house hotshot
Brian Reid = journalist, dad, nice guy

I do think there's a real point to be made about how dads are applauded for doing things that moms do routinely. But I also do think that gender roles make it harder for men to do those things.

The last comment exemplifies that point -- when a woman quits a job to take care of kids, no one is surprised, but when a man does the same, people make snarky comments about how he couldn't hack it professionally.

I'm glad Brian's going to be blogging here, and hope he has a thick skin.

PS. I'm a working mom with a SAHD husband, and write about these issues on my blog (http://www.halfchangedworld.com)

Posted by: Elizabeth | July 27, 2006 9:30 AM

Hey, I'd rather read Fo4's stuff. Why wasn't he the dad rep? He's a better writer.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 9:31 AM

Welcome Rebeldad! It will be nice to see a consistent male point of view. Will you and Leslie be having joint blogs where both of you answer one question (like Gene Weingarten and the lovely Gina?).

Good luck and don't let the overly negative comments get to you! That's just the super-high-powered-Type-A D.C.-ites trying to prove how cool and intelligent they are by pointing out every little human flaw you might possess.

Posted by: not a parent but... | July 27, 2006 9:31 AM

With more men opting to stay at home, the CNN sinario will become a thing of the past. Ditto, when more women break through the glass ceiling, articles about successful women (CEO of Southwest for example) will not be written merely because they are women. You know what I am talking about, the "isn't it amazing that....."

I have to say, I can't picture droves of men opting to stay home, most of the men I know just don't have the desire to do so. My husband would be nuts if he was home all day with small children and he is a wonderful dad...comes home on time, cooks dinner, is involved with his kids etc...

Posted by: SSB | July 27, 2006 9:35 AM

"I do think there's a real point to be made about how dads are applauded for doing things that moms do routinely."

I agree with dads being applauded for doing "mom work," but once dad does one of these routine tasks more than than two or three times, he's taken for granted, just like mom.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | July 27, 2006 9:38 AM

Arlington Dad has that right.

Because my wife has a 45 minute commute and often works late (after 9:00 pm), I decided I'd begin cooking supper so it would be ready when she gets home. After some disasters I'm now comfortable with fixing meals and am getting pretty good at it.

One thing, though; my wife never thanked me for taking on this job in addition to the yardwork, carpentry (we're fixing up a library and a nursery), washing the dishes, putting away the clothes, doing the shopping after work, dealing with the mail and vacuuming the carpets. One evening while I was cleaning up after dinner, I pointed this out to her and mentioned once we had a child the work wasn't going to get any less. She apologized and said she had noticed how much I was doing around the house, and that she did appreciate my help. Now she helps cleaning up after dinner and assists on other jobs too. Guess now I know how a woman feels about being underappreciated!

Posted by: John | July 27, 2006 9:53 AM

I echo the welcome messages and echo that you'll need a thick skin. As you can see, the "you're nothing special" attackers have already come out of the woodwork.

I'd like to offer a differing opinion. You ARE something special....to your daughters. While you may not now be there for every little event of their lives, hopefully they can recognize and remember the example you set by disregarding nonsensical gender-based roles that society pressures you to fill.

By having been a SAHD hopefully you can garner their appreciation, b/c in today's climate your destiny may be to endure general puzzlement from clueless guys who could never do what you did and the "you're nothing special" attitude from many (most?) of the ladies.

You're a hero to your daugthers. Maybe one of them will run for President.

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 27, 2006 9:54 AM

Hey Brian --

Your former Bloomberg mates miss you!

Posted by: Dad of Kids from A-Z | July 27, 2006 9:55 AM

"I'm just wondering if this guy didn't "give up" his big shot career for other reasons. Maybe he was fired. Maybe he really wanted another type of career (writing didn't work out so now public relations). Fishy."

I'm a working mom and my husband is a SAHD. This is a common assumption that we suffer from-- that my husband must be the SAHD because he is somehow unemployed/unemployable. Maybe this person didn't mean it for everyone, but it's SO common. If you think about it, it's also a form of sexism-- that children are not a good enough reason for a MAN to put his career on hold, and any man who makes that choice must have an ulterior motive or somehow not be able to "cut it" in the workforce.

This is far from the case for us. My husband could make more than twice my salary. But 1) I had my turn as a SAHM for 3 years; 2) he worked so hard for those 3 years that he didn't know his daughters very well; and 3)he was successful enough in his career that he could afford to take some years off and still return to find something interesting and remunerative later.

Posted by: Ms L | July 27, 2006 9:58 AM

I'm glad to see the acknowledgment that men should be part of the revolution to improve work-family balance. That was something that seemed missing from the whole Linda Hirshman debate which seemed to revolve around it all being women's fault that the workplace isn't more family friendly. Fathers and mothers, we're all in this together.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | July 27, 2006 10:03 AM

"I'm just wondering if this guy didn't "give up" his big shot career for other reasons. Maybe he was fired. Maybe he really wanted another type of career (writing didn't work out so now public relations). Fishy."

Uh, as a former co-worker of Brian's, I can attest that your suspicions are mis-guided. He was doing just fine at Bloomberg, and if you Google, you'll find his stories in the Health section of the Post. Journalists in many ways make better stay-at-home spouses, strictly economically speaking, if their spouses have high-earning professions such as lawyering. This is because the freelance income a journalist makes can be earned at any time of day (i.e., a few interviews while infants are napping, writing at night after kiddos are asleep)...

Posted by: Dad of Kids from A-Z | July 27, 2006 10:05 AM

Hi Brian, so you're not the hotshot from the White House -- you're forgiven for that -- keep doing what you're doing -- I have a great dad and my parents jointly raised us and I agree that any conversation about successful parenting must include both parents/guardians, especially when they're married. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Single but learning a lot from this blog | July 27, 2006 10:09 AM

I am stunned but amused that some posters-especially 'Aren't You That Guy'- are attacking Brian for being on CNN. I saw that segment, and I thought he was cute...I mean, a great dad. My kids' dad often cals in his parenthood via cell phone. Go Brian!

Posted by: Unthreatenend Mom | July 27, 2006 10:15 AM

I say practically every day to my husband and almost anyone who will listen how great he is. We have an almost-two-year old daughter, we both work full-time in busy law firms, and I'm in law school at night three nights a week. So he does a lot of the household chores in addition to leaving work "early" (at 5:30) quite frequently to pick her up from daycare. And he's big on making sure I get a girls' night out every once in a while, too. No WAY could I do it without him!

Posted by: PLS | July 27, 2006 10:20 AM

Brian, I think it is great that you are staying home to take care of your kids. I am sorry that so many SAHDs get flack for this. I guess society has a way of placing a double standard on both men and women. As to the guy that said his wife did not thank him for cooking dinner, I think she just over looked it. It is easy to get blind sighted in this hectic world and take people for granted. I do wonder with all this jog sharing and tallying up what he does and she does is something that comes along with kids. Before I had my daughter, my husband and I never had any arguments about who was doing more. But with the addition of my daughter and both of us working, I do find myself thinking I am doing more. Maybe I am not. It is really hard to know. But the reality is it should not matter. But somehow, when we get overloaded it is easy to point fingers and say I am doing more. It reminds of a work seminar that told me that people should stop worrying about what is fair in the work place. Because the reality is it is hard to know who is doing more work etc. Just because Mary left early today, does not mean she did not get her work done or work later another day. Or because Steve skipped a meeting doesn't mean that he is not a contributing member of the group. Their advice was basically a kindergarten lesson, spend less time worrying about the other guy and more time getting your work done.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 10:20 AM

Brian raises good points - there are negative consequences for men who want to be involved fathers. If my husband wants to take off or leave early for a child's event, he is greeted with some disapproval. That disapproval contains an implied question of why I, the mom/wife, can't do that instead. His employer knows he and I have equivalent positions with essentially equal pay and hours yet expects him to the "ideal worker" and me to be "mom first, employee second." He definitely feels pressuer to shove off the parenting responsibilities to me. Fortunately for our family, he does not do so and we really strive for the partnership and sharing of child care responsibilities. It does seem that I can talk about and work toward "balance" but he's expected to be solely focused on work.

Posted by: SS | July 27, 2006 10:24 AM

My husband was a stay at home dad for awhile (before that I stayed at home with our son). Now we both work. I think its a good exercise for ever family to participate in if they can. For example once we switched roles, I think we were both more aware of how the oter felt. When I came home after work, he understood that I was really tired, and I understood how tiring it was watching a child all day. Not that it was perfect, but it allowed us to walk in the other person's shoes. Now we both work but both on the "parent track" which allows us to keep our son in daycare for as short a time as possible. I have to admit though, its harder for him because even though he gets to work at 7am (co-workers come in a 9), he still gets comments about getting to leave early to pick up our son. They don't realize that instead of relaxing, he has to tend to a child during his "bewitching hours" and start dinner, until I get home later. I have a lot of respect for what he does.

Posted by: newtodc | July 27, 2006 10:24 AM

Keep up the good work there Brian!

I applaud any man that launders his own panties.

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 27, 2006 10:27 AM

Brian - Kudos to you and all the fathers out there (including my husband) who make their family a priority. Too many men don't and that is sad. Truth is, kids love it when their dads are involved. When I was younger I just couldn't understand why my mom had to do EVERYTHING even though she also worked so it's great to see more guys now sharing household work and childraising with their wives.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | July 27, 2006 10:34 AM

"the CNN sinario "

Posted by: Use Spellcheck | July 27, 2006 10:35 AM

My husband definitely pitches in so much around the house, I wonder how my mom made it through with three kids and zero help from my dad all those years. He tells them at work that his kids come first, routinely taking time to go to performances, special stuff at the kid's school, etc. He's part of the solution, I think - as more and more dads at work do those type of things, it will become more accepted in the workplace.

Posted by: atlmom | July 27, 2006 10:36 AM

Oops - the he is referring to my husband, definitely NOT my dad...

Posted by: atlmom | July 27, 2006 10:43 AM

Hello Brian, I have been off and on friends with a sahd for several years. He has three kids and has worked part-time here and there, but mainly he is with the kids. His wife does not want to stay home with the kids and works quite a bit and does a good job supporting them. What I observed in him is a condition that I was once afflicted with: the no-one-can-take-care-of-my-kids-as-well-as-I-can syndrome. He home schooled for awhile, tried a couple of different schools. The kid was not unhappy, a bit bewildered, but seemed to be fine. The biggest thing, however, was that he was so competitive. When the parents would get together with the kids at the park or pool, he would push his kid more in a jumprope match, etc. He just seemed like he desperately needed a job to give him back an identity. I guess he was really rather like one of the sahm mom's we like to gripe about--the ones who do it all at school and so on. Diving down into the morass of fulltime sahparenthood can strip you of your identity for a time. Sometimes you get it back, sometimes you don't. I had wanted children so much that once they arrived I found it hard to leave the bubble. They were the ones to leave first! Good luck, and don't feed the trolls.

Posted by: parttimer | July 27, 2006 10:54 AM

Get Spellcheck, are you the school Marm who corrects everyone's spelling on this blog. What a hoot you must be in real life!

Posted by: SSB | July 27, 2006 10:59 AM

Brian, keep it coming. The more this subject is written and talked about, the more accepted it will become for Dads to pursue balance as well as Moms. Apparently it's not going to be smooth moving into this realm (it's sexist, it's their fault, yada yada yada) but we will keep moving.

Posted by: Ringer | July 27, 2006 11:05 AM

I'm so glad to see you here, Brian! As a former stay-at-home dad who is now a go-to-work dad I have to say that I think this is a really key point that you've mentioned : And men suffer from the assumption that they are "ideal workers," who can and should put family concerns aside whenever work insists.

I think the biggest challenge is one that's come up in this comment section already: the need for society, and each of us, to recognize the value of caring, and the importance of our relationships with our kids.

What I found out when I stayed at home full time was that those relationships are a lot more important, and fulfilling, than much of the work world. And as a result, when I went back to work I think I had a much better perspective on things. Result: much more time with my kids, downsized career expectations and status. Well worth the trade-off.

Posted by: Chip | July 27, 2006 11:12 AM

No SSB, I've never commented on anyone's typos. But your spelling effort was pathetic.

Posted by: Use Spellcheck | July 27, 2006 11:26 AM

It's not just coworkers that husbands helping their wives out at home have to deal with. One of my neighbors knocked on the door recently while I was cooking dinner and vacuuming the floor. He was quite surprised to find out that no, my wife wasn't home and yes, I was doing both chores right then! He had heard the vacuum running and could smell supper cooking after I opened the door, but he had trouble that a --MAN-- would actually DO such things!

To which I answered, sure, why shouldn't I do them? They needed doing and I was the only one at home at the time!

Posted by: John | July 27, 2006 11:32 AM

Hooray, Rebeldad! And hooray to Leslie for bringing him on board! *Now* we'll have some "balance."

Posted by: kittkicks | July 27, 2006 11:46 AM

To "Aren't You That Guy": Nope. I'm not that guy. And I don't want extra credit for parenting. The fun of fatherhood isn't the applause of the media, it's the glory of seeing your kids grow up.

To Elizabeth: Thanks for clearing up the confusion with Bruce Reed. I'm waaaay less famous than Bruce. And I'm sure there will be a post to come about dads getting credit for stuff moms do routinely.

To "Not a Parent, But" and "Proud Papa": My skin is plenty thick, but I appreciate the pep talk.

To "Dad of Kids from A-Z": I miss you guys, too.

To "PLS": Thrilled to hear your arrangement is working -- sounds like you have a special marriage.

To "Father of 4": Is that what the "delicates" cycle is for?

To "parttimer": I love the deeper point -- the perils of at-home parenthood transcend gender.

To Chip: I agree -- there are all kinds of hidden benefits to stepping off the career treadmill for a moment or two and getting a fresh perspective. Some people mediate. I hang with my kids. Same effect.

Posted by: Rebel Dad | July 27, 2006 11:57 AM

wow, Rebel Dad comments, that's great. Leslie just writes something and disappears for the day.

Posted by: experienced mom | July 27, 2006 12:09 PM

We've managed to find balance balance in our household (wife and I both work and we have two kids under seven). I go the extra mile to make sure it's this way, because of the unbalance in my house when I was a kid. Mom was a homemaker, Dad worked 80-100 hours a week running mainframe computers and debugging stuff. He would often come home in the morning as I was getting up for school, and missed a lot of my activities.

I didn't like that, so I vowed to be different when I had kids, and I am. Right before my first was born, I left a consulting job that required 40 hours of billable work a week in addition to proposal and marketing work. I started with a non-profit that had normal hours, but the additional commute required me to be away about 10 hours a day, plus frequent travel. After 10 months there I went into freelance work and did that for 4 years. Last year I started as an employee at another nonprofit where I negotiated a telework arrangement so I can work from home 3 days a week. Each of those decisions was guided almost fully by what was good for the family. Salary was important, but I traded money for flexibility so I can be close to my kids' daycare and school and available for appointments and activities. And I feel richer than I did before.

Throughout all this, my wife kept the same job that she likes well enough. She has a 45 minute commute each way and frequent travel. That means I do day care drop off, doctor appointments, and stay home with the kids when they're sick or on school vacations about 75% of the time. Thankfully my wife has flexibility as well due to a family-firendly work environment. Others have tried to poach her with offers of more money but she has resisted, mainly due to the flexibility she currently has.

The extra $1500 each of us could be making every month would be nice, but we're doing ok as it is and don't want the additional stress that would go along with it. We manage to save for retirement and college, and enjoy life along the way.

The point of all this - that we think we're lucky to have found this balance, but also smart enough to have managed to get and stay here. We figured out what we wanted and then looked for opportunities that would provide that. I know everybody doesn't have that luxury though, and I feel for those that don't. We often have friends of our kids over when their parents (a couple are single parents) are in a bind, for dinner, play dates, or on school holidays.

Posted by: SJR | July 27, 2006 12:12 PM

Geez, louis, you all don't read posts carefully! With regard to my comment that maybe this guy was fired or something, it was directly related to the previous poster's assertion that he was someone who was getting publicity on CNN for "staying at home". Geez, I didn't mean it of all stay at home fathers. It's just that 1) I thought he was in the Bush administration and as the news has shown lately, people leave for all kinds of selfish reasons or are forced out 2) he was supposedly getting publicity so that was why I thought it was fishy. You know to help with a public relations or writing career.

Now that it is determined that this is a different person, another comment. It sounds like he is not "staying at home" the way many women do (only do car pool, feed the kids, go to the park, etc). It sounds like he wanted to start a writing career which can be done from home. There isn't anything at all wrong with this. I think it's brave of ANYONE male or female to take the risk of quitting one career to work on another, but is this the same as a father who decides to let his wife have a career and to totally be the home caretaker without taking on another career even at home?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 12:13 PM

You people are silly for having your emotions swayed by the stories aired in the TV News media.

Seriously, get some self confidence.

Posted by: Boffo | July 27, 2006 12:22 PM

Funny story that John might appreciate. My dad was a little "ahead of his time" (or completely obsessive/compulsive, take your pick), and used to do washing/vacuuming/grocery shopping. One day when my little brother was about 9 or 10, he had friends over on the day my dad did grocery shopping and washed the kitchen floor. The friend surveyed the groceries on the table and my dad washing the floor and said, "Hey! What does your MOM do anyway?" to my brother. Any my brother, who I guess at this point been socialized and thought this was totally normal, shrugged & said "not sure, let's go play baseball." My mom had a job, but the exchange was just really funny.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 12:23 PM

You would think after your "i don't like what i saw on cnn" blast, you would pipe down, but no, now he's not "qualified."

just shutup moron

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 12:29 PM

Hmmm...feel vindication building up inside.

After being trashed a bit by Fof4 for mentioning this topic before, you can see the varied types of negative comments as well as annoyances that face SAHD in our society. And just think, this comes from the more "enlighted" contingent that reads this column.

Just so there are no further misunderstandings, I applaud all SAHD for often putting up which much more than a woman making either choice (SAH vs. WOH). You dudes are truly doing the trailblazing now.

And before the ladies come down on me, it's not that SAHDs are doing more work than women have done, but that they face those burdens of "can't hack it in the work world" and varied other attempts at emasculation. These little jibes come from every direction, and clearly are a harbinger of even more similar thoughts that aren't said publicly.

I know about this first hand because I've intervened when hearing comments (often from women) behind the back of a SAHD that I know well, and who is miraculous with both his kids and other's kids. In fact he is becoming PTA President at our Elementary school this year. Frankly, this attitude has always disgusted (and saddened) me. But before Fof4 accuses me of living in Neanderthal land again, I humbly suggest to you that the above is not uncommon in many parts of our country. And it doesn't count those additional people thinking un-PC things that they won't admit out loud, but think anyway.

So Fof4, I suggest this is not projection on my part, or just a regional difference. That's reality. And unless DC has changed entirely in the ten years since I left, I submit such attitudes persists even there. In fact, it is more likely up there--where everyone is judged so completely by there careers and power levels. Whether they speak it out loud or not doesn't change the point.

Until recently men were given a very small box of acceptable life choices as laid out by society through taboos large and small. This is finally changing, but very slowly.

So SAHDs have my respect and best wishes...you are making that box a little larger for all of us guys. And that ultimely helps all parents.

So now you can fire away. (I think I can just hear the cannons rumbling from here.)

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | July 27, 2006 12:29 PM

Rebeldad, I read your blog, pretty neat. I'm assuming that you will post as "Rebeldad" and not "Brian" in the future.

As far as stereotyping goes, which I feel has advantages as well as disadvantages in society, the term "Stay at Home" botherss me a little. When you mix volunteer activities, work from home, freelance, business trips, outside part-time work,soccer coaching, childcare,..., it takes the "stay" out of the "stay at home". The term is misleading. I've never ever met a "Stay at Home" parent that actually stayed at home.

Now the big question Rebeldad. Ever eaten a Bon-Bon?

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 27, 2006 12:36 PM

OK, call me silly but I have heard more men give SAHDs negative jibes then women. Most women either applaud it, wonder quietly why?, or just simply go about it. I may be wrong but I have heard lots of guys make comments that a SAHD is some what less then a "real" men. The only negative comments, I have heard women make about SAHDs is to imply they still don't do as much work as SAHMs or WOHMs. Personally, it seems as if there are a lot of good SAHDs and a few bad ones. Just like there are probably a lot of good SAHMs and probably a few bad ones too. Am I right, or am I just seeing it from a women's point of view?

Posted by: lieu | July 27, 2006 12:39 PM

We've both had full-time jobs outside the home. We've both worked reduced hour jobs, in and out of the the home. We've both been primary caretakers. And let me tell you, we've both gotten nasty comments for every choice we've ever made. Gendered comments. Not gendered comments. Comments from strangers. Comments from family. We just try to do what is best for our family. If someone things our family dynamic is toxic, so be it.

One thing that constantly bothers me is the whole who-has-it-worse debate in terms of lack of appreciation or lack of socital understanding. Women and Men both get undercut when they try to break of traditional roles. Ranking oppressions does no good and distracts from problem solving. I always hope to hear creative solutions to these issues when I read a blog.

Posted by: RebelMom | July 27, 2006 12:46 PM

I'm glad to see your statements and outlook, Rebeldad, although there are still young males with a 50's attitude. A 35 year old guy in my office is 6 weeks away from having a baby, has no clue about them. He freaked out when a woman on maternity leave brought her 3 month old in. He thought the baby should be sitting up, kept saying "WOW" at everything she mentioned (mostly about crying and fussing, being sleep deprived and tired), had no idea what jaundice was, or why babies get it, etc, etc. I'm just amazed at his lack of knowledge this close to his babies birth. He calls his wife every afternoon and just can't figure out why she isn't feeling well. And he whines about having to go to baby class, instead of going home and watching TV. Oof. This guy's wife is going to have a difficult time of it. I can only hope someone in the family steps up and lets this guy know he has responsibilities with his child, and to let go of the gender stereotypes (he routinely calls women "girls"). You sound like a gem - would you clone yourself? Lots of us would love you around the house.

Posted by: Glad I can support myself | July 27, 2006 12:57 PM

Amen RebelMom. We too have both had the different roles and have gotten the nasty comments either way - with SAHM or SAHD or WOHPs. Often from the same family members. There's no making everyone happy and we don't try. We do what's best for our family, children and marriage and try not to pay attention to the people who are going to criticize us either way. We figure happy, successful children, and a happy successful marriage is our best "revenge." For families in which it is a SAHP, mom or dad, let's respect that for them. Similarly, with our choice to both WOH and stagger our schedules to minimize childcare, and yes, sometimes negatively affect our careers, I hope people will back off and quit judging us too. I think the comments and judgments stem from the fact that our generation is basically navigating new ground and trying to find our ways as individual families with more choices, and in doing so, many folks seek to justify their own choices by criticizing any other choices, particularly those that may actually be different but working for another family.

Posted by: SS | July 27, 2006 12:59 PM

Like many posting, I really liked this article as well. I think what I'm hearing from the blog is that gender stereotypes, like the workaholic dad and the stay at home mom are confining and can be bad for persons of BOTH gender. In a certain way, I think that naming the antidote to this situation "feminism" or focusing on "working mothers" undermines the ultimate goal of making things better for everyone. You can't challenge the patriarchal order without redifining the way society sees men as well as women. Thus, a more appropriate way of talking about the issue is by discussing "working parents" (b/c all parents work) instead of "working mothers" and thinking in terms of "humanism" not "feminism". My 2 cents.

Posted by: Rita | July 27, 2006 1:00 PM

Hey Brian! So glad you've joined us on a regular basis. Great comments. Can't wait for more from you --

Posted by: Leslie | July 27, 2006 1:00 PM

RebelMom, were you saying that this blog has been "ranking oppressions" today? Maybe I've missed something-- I haven't noticed anyone talking about "who has it worse" on this blog yet today.

Posted by: Ms L | July 27, 2006 1:06 PM

Glad I can support myself - is your example guy really a 50's mentality (wants to maintain the societal status quo)? Or is he just a clueless guy who probably should be doing more research?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 1:31 PM

Lou, my experience of gender attitudes toward SAHDs is completely different from yours. Sure us guys will rib one another for just about everything, but that just what guys do. Females are different. What women perceive as an act of aggression or disapproval is what men see as an term of endearment.

As reported on this blog several months ago, a SAHD reported that he was more or less shunned on the playground by the other moms. My personal experience of a stay at home dad, who lived across the street from me for several years, that the treatment he received from women was nothing less than vicious. The Child Protective Service was constantly knocking at his door for the most trivial reasons, none of which was ever substantiated. (He live with his 3 kids & working wife) One time, he cut his daughters hair short because she began developing that habit where kids pull their hair out. Another time, the pre-school teacher of his son called CPS on him for light bruises on his son's back, which turned out to come from the seat on a ride-on car at the pre-school itself. I could go on...

At the playground, the mothers gathered in circles and pointed their fingers at him and his kids. the movie "Dumbo" comes to mind.

I asked one of my female neighbors why he wasn't liked. the answer: "There's something that's not right." Hardly an excuse for not waving back to your neighbor.

His kids were just fine, but I got flack from other mothers from letting them play with my kids.

Once again, I'm not sure if these attitudes are indigenous to the women who live in the DC area. I even get looked down upon by married women with kids because I let the children of the single women play over at my house.


Posted by: Father of 4 | July 27, 2006 1:36 PM

Wonderful post, Brian. Thanks for writing it and sharing all of your thoughts and insights. I hope to follow in your footsteps one day, though as a filmmaker and not a journalist. (There's a little too much Hunter Thompson in me for that to work out well for anyone.)

As for the wry smiles and the like that SAHDs get, I can't help but wonder if those smilers are a little jealous that the SAHD is comfortable enough with himself to get out of the rat race and raise kids instead. Perhaps they wish that they too had the cojones to do what a SAHD is doing.

I'm also very heartened to see RebelDad's participation on this blog. It's nice to get some continual give and take with the author.

Posted by: Glover Park | July 27, 2006 1:38 PM

And maybe the SAHMs are threatened. It's been my experience that many SAHMs are very protective of their sphere - and make it clear that their husbands are not capable of doing all the things they do. So, if a SAHD CAN do those things, what makes the SAHM so special after all? Doesn't the whole idea of "only a mother's love is best" fall apart if the dad is equally able to tend to the children? Times don't seem to have changed much since "Mr. Mom" in the 1980's.

Posted by: SS | July 27, 2006 1:43 PM

When mom works hard, she is being an aggressive, go-getter modern woman. If she stays home, she is being a good mother.

If dad works hard, he is being neglectful. If he stays at home, he's a sissy or worse yet, a 'kept man'. "What's wrong with that guy?" is the judgment, spoken or not.

My advice to men these days is to stay single and definitely do not father children. I am mucho happier for doing so myself, comparing my life with those of the poor married sots I know. It's also much easier to sleep at night knowing you do not have someone with the power to take your kids, house, and car on a mere accusation or filing of a piece of paper sleeping right there next to you.

Posted by: SWM38 | July 27, 2006 1:47 PM

I think SWM38 should have signed his posting "single and bitter" instead...

Posted by: Glover Park | July 27, 2006 1:49 PM

This is not meant to polarize anyone. I just wanted to run this up the flagpole.

When we talk about SAHDs being "trailblazers" or "pioneers," I have to slow down. Men have always had the option of giving up their career to stay home. This is not a newly granted right for them--no one had to fight to be able to do this. The stereotypes of them, however misdirected and wrong, do not prevent dads from staying home. And, on the plus side, SAH dads are more in vogue now than they have ever been!

However, I think we can all agree that both men and women have to work for flexible conditions in the workplace. In the workplace, there are stereotypes against both genders. Taking time off and returning to work is hard for both because the stereotypes of other people (their bosses) threaten their jobs.

So, in that sense, it's funny to me that some people on the blog are applauding the male "voice" in the discussion. Aren't we all in the same boat? Aren't we all, men and women, trying to work less so that we can be with our kids?

Posted by: Meesh | July 27, 2006 1:53 PM

"...expects him to [be] the "ideal worker" and me to be "mom first, employee second."

This is yet another stereotype that people won't let go of. Had it occurred to anybody that the employer's agenda was just to get the work done and that the employer is paying you to be at work and not at home?

I'm a big fan of taking time off for my kid and family. I'm a big fan of SAHM's too. But not every issue that happens to involve either a man or a woman at work is about sexism.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 1:53 PM

I'm glad you have a thick skin, Rebeldad, because the venom came out early this morning. It's funny how the ladies who attacked because they thought you were getting too much credit only because of gender stereotypes played into gender stereotypes themselves by assuming that you became a SAHD by default since you were a man. Men do however have to sacrifice their pride in order to stay at home (I don't mean work from home; I mean become a househusband.) That's probably why they are applauded.

Posted by: dcp | July 27, 2006 2:01 PM

My wife and I had a decision to make 3 months ago when our second son was born...daycare for him and our then 1 1/2 year old son, or she could stay home. Unfortunately, I make more money as a than she did and could at that time so there was no chance that I could stay home and be a SAHD. I would of done it in a heartbeat if I could have without the least bit of shame, or a feeling that I need to explain my decision to anybody. Fortunately, being a government attorney gives me lots of time at home and affords me a flexible schedule. I revel in my day off every two week and gladly go around with one kid in the baby bjorn and the other leading the way all the while with my own, not my wife's diaper bag on my shoulder. It is frustrating to hear that there are still all these stereotypes out there that most men would rather work long hours and put work first rather than raise their kids. I know many fathers who shar the same attitude I do and I hope that with time people will realize that times have changed.

Posted by: Wish I could be a SAHD | July 27, 2006 2:29 PM

Brian, thanks so much for your comments. Your comments really seem to echo many discussions that my husband and I have. And, I think this issue even goes beyond working parents. Let's face it, everyone could use good work-life balance since everyone, parents or not can have ailing parents of their own and interests beyond the workplace. I'm looking forward to your future blogs!

Posted by: cali | July 27, 2006 2:37 PM

It cracks me up that the name of this blog is "On Balance." Clearly, many of the most "opinionated" regular posters are unbalanced...!

Posted by: BigTex | July 27, 2006 2:55 PM

I too wish I could stay home with my future children, but there's no way we could survive on only my wife's salary. I do know since my commute is a fraction of her's, I'll be the one "on call" once our child is in daycare, and I'll probably be the one to go for checkups as well. Fortunately I work state government, so while the pay isn't super I have a very flexible work schedule and an understanding supervisor!

Posted by: John | July 27, 2006 3:01 PM

"It cracks me up that the name of this blog is "On Balance." Clearly, many of the most "opinionated" regular posters are unbalanced...!"

Being unbalanced is stressful. Hopefully they'll learn something from the more reasonable posters...

Posted by: To BigTex | July 27, 2006 3:01 PM

Gee, in reading over today's posts, not one seems to me to be "unbalanced." Struggling with some issues perhaps, and even experiencing frustration at times, but certainly not unbalanced or unable to balance. On the contrary, today's posters seem to have achieved a much greater degree of balance.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 3:06 PM

For men who want to be or try-out SAHD-hood, would it be possible to go "part-time" whatever that means to your field? My husband & I were struggling with kid-care questions, who can/should stay home, and we realized that we were always considering ME going part time since my salary was less, but since his salary is so much higher, he still makes more PT than I do at full time (and we can keep my benefits at FT). Just something (kindof obvious) to consider that took us months to figure out!

Posted by: Just a thought | July 27, 2006 3:06 PM

SWM38 you obviously have not witnessed any healthy marriages. It is unfortunate that you take such a negative view of marriage and family. The love of my supportive family sustains me even through the darkest times in my life. I would gladly take the loving support of a family, even if it means having to making sacrifices and put other before myself.

Posted by: Cristina | July 27, 2006 3:11 PM

"For men who want to be or try-out SAHD-hood, would it be possible to go "part-time" whatever that means to your field?"

OK, I'll say it: What if I fail? Suppose I cut my salary in half and my kids are brats and I appreciate them less because they drive me nuts? The kid'll hate me. In-laws will never respect me again. Work won't take me seriously. Wife will see me as an incompetent domestic engineer. Hell, what if she really likes what macho-ness I have left at this age, and she sees my SAHD role as immasculating? I might do something rash like take up smoking ;-)

I know the women chafe at this but the reality is that for men to go SAH, the risk is in that decision itself. Women incur most of the risk when they try to reverse the decision (e.g., go back to work full time).

Brian I don't know if I have the guts to choose your path. Go 'head with your bad self, though.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 3:23 PM

To SJR about part-time...

I'm going part-time beginning the last week in August and my wife will remain full-time. For us, the decision about who wasn't based on salaries (we both make similar salaries). Instead, we decided that the part-time route would lead to more balance, and I was the one who wanted to do it. I'm more patient with the kids, I "get" them more than she does, and I'm better at planning doctor checkups and activities (my wie says so herself). I also have an easier commute so it's easier for me to get home.

One child will be in 1st grade, the other in pre-school, and I'll be home every day by 2:45 when the bus comes home.

Work was very supportive, and our health benefits are covered by my wife's job. I'll do this for a few years, because our goal was to be there for our kids when they come home from school as they get older (we each remember too many times we got in trouble after school when our parents weren;t around). We just decided to start earlier to make afternoons and evenings easier for the fam.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 3:25 PM

Facinating, I wonder what the salary disrepancy is between the husbands and wives posting to this blog? I have seen many posts which indicate that the Dad would have liked to stay at home, but his salary is greater than his wife's. I wonder is this a matter of education, years in the workforce, better positions, more promotions? Or is something else going on? Do women actually short themselves when negotiating salaries? Do employeers automatically offer male candidates a higher salary because they embrace the traditional ideas about the man as bread-winner in the family? Alternatively is it that women gravitate towards lower paying jobs in the non-profit and service oriented industries like teaching and health-care? Just curious.
Please feel free to prove me wrong.

Posted by: curious | July 27, 2006 3:27 PM

to continue with curious's question or do we conciously or unconciously select mates so that the man is the higher earner?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 3:29 PM

To Curious

I work for the Federal Gov't where a mand and woman working the same job get paid the same thing. I am a lawyer and my wofe worked for a non-profit. Therefore the salary discrepency was almost 2 1/2 to 1. You can see why there is little choice in that situation. Idon't think we need to get into the ins and out of why men seemed to be paid more and do women choose certain types of jobs that pay less. That is a sociological inquiry for another forum.

Posted by: Wish I were a SAHD | July 27, 2006 3:33 PM

Wow, welcome to wp.com rebeldad! I love your blog and your sanity. You are a voice to trust in this debate.

Terrific move, wp.com producers!! What an excellent Thursday treat to look forward to.

Posted by: Hoosier | July 27, 2006 3:34 PM

To Curious - my husband & I were making the same salary, then my "dream job" came along for less money, so I took it. I expect in the future to switch jobs to a higher paying one (which will be fairly easy to do in my industry), so he can go to a lower paying, but perhaps more satisfying, "dream job." So to answer your question, I guess it just depends on the couple.......

Posted by: Just a thought | July 27, 2006 3:36 PM

Well, in my case I'm making roughly 2x what my wife does. It's my fault as well; I married her while she was partway through college and she didn't get her degree until just a few years ago, long after we married. The ironic part of all this is, she's more indispensable to her office than I am to mine.

Posted by: John | July 27, 2006 3:36 PM

Curious: I actually make more than my husband. I have to admit, when we met in school he was pursuing a Masters degree and I was in undergrad. I assumed that he would make more than me because he had the Masters degree. But I took a more direct career path right out of school, whereas my husband has taken a while to find his niche.

Posted by: Cristina | July 27, 2006 3:39 PM

Just curious -- how easy was your re-entry into the workforce? How did you explain the resume gap? Could be helpful for countless others (SAHD & SAHM) who decide to re-enter the workforce.

Posted by: DCMom | July 27, 2006 3:42 PM

I married my wife while she was in law school. 3 years ago I made 3x her salary, now I make (only) about 35% more.

When she passes me (2 yrs?) I'm going to Vegas to celebrate. (On her.)

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 27, 2006 3:50 PM

My husband and I both graduated from law school at the same time. He's not a litigator, I am. I took the firm job and the long hours, he opted for a less intense and more family friendly position. I make about 30% more than he does. We share household and child care duties about 50/50.

To the 1:53 poster who said:
"...expects him to [be] the "ideal worker" and me to be "mom first, employee second."

This is yet another stereotype that people won't let go of. Had it occurred to anybody that the employer's agenda was just to get the work done and that the employer is paying you to be at work and not at home?"

Guess what? MY employer is paying me to be at work too. If my husband's employer expresses unwillingness to have him take time off (not just leave work) for a family-related committment because that employer thinks I should do so instead, because I am the woman/mother, then YES, it's sexism and gender bias. It's not a stereotype, it's a fact. And it's improper. And as much as I should not be expected to be the only parent who takes time off to tend to child-relatd issues, neither should he be penalized for doing so.

Posted by: SS | July 27, 2006 3:51 PM

Proud Papa: I'm with you on celebrating. More power to you and your family!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 3:54 PM

Men are, in fact, half the parents so it's great that Brian will be an encouragment to men to enter the dialog.

Some other positive things about today's blog: Efforts are being made to provide useful information - "how" rather then "why/why not". Some examples today so far have been form "newtodc" at 10:24AM and "SJP" at 12:12PM. Useful info.

If most posters will try to limit their comments to what really worked/didn't work for them relevant to the day's topic, it would provide lots of great solutions! Then the problems wouldn't seem so big and no one would have to re-invent the wheel when they start a family.

Posted by: granny | July 27, 2006 3:56 PM

To curious: when I first met DH, I made almost 2X as much as he did. I worked in government and had a masters degree and he worked for a small private company with a bachelors degree. Now we both make the same exact salary working in government. Again in govt, men and women make the same money at the same grade level. In a few years, DH will probably surpass me in salary. He is going back for an MBA and when he graduates, I suspect he will get promotions. I doubt based on the gov't pay scale, he will ever make 2X what I make but he should be making substantially more in a few years. I can't wait till he does. More money for our family!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 4:06 PM

30-something female here. I make $60, husband makes $45. No kids yet.

Posted by: DC | July 27, 2006 4:09 PM

Today's postings have been very informative, but not much fun! Something is missing..........

Does it have anything to do with the recent Bar exam?

Posted by: Marlo | July 27, 2006 4:13 PM

You either have a marriage partnership that works, are willing to work to create such a parnetship, or don't/won't. If you're in the last category, you're SOL as are your spouse and kids.

Conversely, I may be interested in renting you my basement.

Tom

PS Is this the same guy the post hired to be a "red-state" blogger?

Posted by: Tom Canick | July 27, 2006 4:15 PM

To curious - When my husband and I married I made significantly more than him. He was government, I was a mid-level associate with a private law firm. Since then I switched to government and then lowered my hours to 32 a week, so I now make signficantly less than him. Our salaries would be about the same if I went back to full-time. I wasn't looking for a large salary in a spouse, though I admit I did want to marry someone who could keep a job (unlike the man I dated prior to my husband). When we discussed my wanting to be a SAHM, one thing that came out in the discussions was that he had liked the fact that I was a career woman and could help support the family. I think he saw my desire to stay home as a bit of bait and switch. He was fully supportive of my switching to government, which I did before we had children. He was somewhat less supportive about my working part-time, but that was our compromise. Now I think he values the fact that I have another day off. I'm happier spending more time with the kids, my son loves to be home from day care on that day (although he's happy in day care also), and it helps my husband because, although he stays home his share when the kids are unexpectedly sick or schools are closed for snow, I take care of almost all the home repairs, planned doctor's appointments, etc. on my day off.

Posted by: Sam | July 27, 2006 4:15 PM

DC Mom: My reentry into the workforce was after a year of being at home after the birth of my son. It also coincided with my husband accepting an IT position which allowed him to work three days a week, (three long shifts with five days off). His job did not offer a high salary, but it was with a large company and provided an extensive cafeteria plan, health, dental, life, retirement, flexible spending accounts etc... This allowed me the flexibility to pursue a more risky position with a startup. Since I was relatively young when I exited the workforce, only 5 years out of college, and we were still in the boom of the pre-dot com era busts (2000), I was easily able to negotiate a much higher salary than my previous position. I was taking on a more demanding position than my former job. I am not sure if you can call me the bread-winner, but I do bring more home in my paycheck, though we could not afford to live without both my husband's salary and benefits. The important part of this story is that the flexibility of my husband's 3-day a week job allowed him to stay at home with our son and have a chance to bond with him. This has been invaluable since my son has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. We have both had to take time out of work for doctor's visits, OT sessions and IEP meetings. My husband has taken equal responsibility as a care-giver, and he and my son have formed an incredible bond. I hope that this offers the insight for which you were looking.

Posted by: Curious | July 27, 2006 4:19 PM

BTW - part of our partnership is that my wife gets a day off a week - she works four days, I work five, and junior daycares five.

However, we are late 30s/early 40s with one young kid. Not everyone is in a similarly fortunate situation.

Posted by: Tom Canick | July 27, 2006 4:19 PM

First to Cristina--amen! If I was married and childless at this point in my life I would be trolling the net for a partner, or maybe bitter like the swm38 or whatever he called himself. Sounds like he is REALLY enjoying life! I love being married, being a mother and wife. My husband is a happy man. Men are simple creatures, so it is easy to make them happy. I like to think we are usually balanced, because the biggest problem we have us usually "WHAT did that scale say?" Then again, I work part-time, take care of the house and kids, and make one seventh of what he makes. But he is completely overpaid, which is good.

I agree with the poster who said that some sahm don't like to share the sphere with dads. I HATE it when my husband tries to do something in the house. That's MY job, buddy. Go grill something. I wonder if I am too controlling? Nah. He can grill however he likes, as long as my dogs are the same color all over.

Granny--what was the topic again?

Posted by: parttimer | July 27, 2006 4:19 PM

oops. make that 'the biggest problem we have is" and "some sahm's. Sorry for the typos.

Posted by: parttimer | July 27, 2006 4:23 PM

I make significantly more than my husband right now, having been at a large firm for the first couple years out of law school and then making a lateral move to a boutique firm that doesn't have lock-step pay. However, my husband is out of law school longer than I am, so I anticipate (gd willing) that he'll make partner and get a big bump up in pay right around the time our first (hypothetical) baby is born. I plan to keep working, but it sure would be nice to have the freedom to take a 6+ month maternity leave, maybe with a part-time nanny so I can finish writing my first book. In an admittedly unlikely best case scenario, I hope to find "balance" between home, kids, intellectual stimulation, and Linda Hirschman's somewhat valid point of not fading into the wallpaper after a very expensive education. Plan B is that if husband's career starts to stagnate, he'll stay home with the kids and I'll continue as a litigator. Will that make me bitter? I don't know. Previous posters say it's wrong to assume an SAHD has had career issues, but there must be some families who came to this solution where two started out equal and the wife rose faster...Any women who want to weigh in on this circumstance?

Posted by: Young Woman Associate | July 27, 2006 4:44 PM

addendum: I only asked the salary question, because as you see with our family we found a way to get around the, "My wife make less than me issue." Granted it took both my husband and I rearranging our jobs in order for my husband to free up some time to stay at home with our son. Though he is not a full-time SAHD, we found a workable solution for our family. This way my son only spent two days a week in day-care (and one day with my Mom) and I was able to broaden my career options.

Posted by: curious | July 27, 2006 4:44 PM

I think not only are SAHDs criticized for "not cutting it" in the work world, but their manhood is often questioned also. For instance, "You're a grown man who can't get out and work?" or "You want to sit home and let a woman work for you?" I've heard variations of those statements. My personal view: if both parents agree that Dad stays home with the kids, then okay, that's their choice ane their business. But some couples have issues where the husband WON'T work, and work put in his fair share with house work or child care. He's just there. And there are some people who confuse the two situations. So, to me, SAHDs get some bravery points.

On the other hand, I've heard men say they want their wives to "go to work," mainly because the men don't want to or don't feel confident enough to support the whole family financially. That's a sticky situation too.

Posted by: momoftwo | July 27, 2006 4:56 PM

I work and my husband is a SAHD/student. It worked out that way because when we married, my biological clock was ticking but I was making a good salary at a job I loved, and I did not want to leave it all behind. It just so happened that my husband was not too happy with his career at the time and wanted to go back to school. So we decided he could stay home with the baby and take some evening classes. He only took a class or two at a time at first because the baby was a very busy baby, but he is about to finish is degree in another semester now and is going full time. We are thinking about another child right now, so he may end up at home for another few (3 or 4) years with maybe a part time gig to keep him mentally stimulated. It just worked out because neither of us thinks that the woman needs to raise kids and the husband needs to work. In a way, I think it is just a wondeful accident that our personalities complement one another and let me work while giving him the flexibility to stay home and raise our son and go back to school, which is a busy schedule on its own. I am better in a structured environment like work, and he is more laid back and able to deal with a less structured and changing schedule. It does help that I make enough for us to leave in reasonable comfort even though were are by no means wealthy. As long as we don't trade in our small home for a McMansion, we do fine. In the end, I have found that what makes us happy is time with each other, and activities we enjoy. Things seem to have fallen into place easily for us, but sometimes I think that is just plain dumb luck.

Posted by: Rockville | July 27, 2006 5:11 PM

Oops. Meant to say live in reasonable comfort....

Posted by: Rockville | July 27, 2006 5:13 PM

I've known plenty of women that would be appalled at the idea of their husbands staying home to raise the children.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 5:22 PM

To "Father of 4": I hate the "stay-at-home" moniker, too. Find an alternative, and I'll make you a rich man. And I believe the gender-stereotypical couch diet of the soap-watching at-home father is beer, not bon-bons, but I haven't watched "Mr. Mom" in a while.

To "lieu": The guys who make comments about SAHDs are generally jealous, methinks.

To Rebel Mom: I love you.

To "Glad I can support myself": Hope that guy figures it out, and soon.

To "SS": Maybe I'm not that impressive of a parent, but I don't think I've met an at-home mom threatened by me :)

To "SWM38": Interesting perspective from the single side of things, but, as a parent, it doesn't match the reality I've seen. I can assure you that the father working 85-hour weeks doesn't get funny looks. The mom working the same hours does.

To "Meesh": There still exist gender stereotypes in the workplace. Not for every worker and not in every company, but it's still there. I swear that when those barriers fall, I'll stop talking about the need for a male "voice" in the discussion and post only about gender-blind policies.

To "Just a thought": Part-time is a great solution ... for the guys who can afford the pay cut and the loss of benefits. I wish there were policies to make that an easier choice, like law professor Joan Williams' proposal that workers get porportional benefits -- not zero benefits -- for a cut in hours.

To "curious" and those who responded: Thanks for the insight. A few years ago, Newsweek ran a cover story (it wasn't all that great a work of journalism, don't worry if you missed it) called "She Works, He Doesn't." According to the story, the woman is the chief breadwinner in 3 in 10 marriages, and significantly outearns her mate in 1 in 10. I think the old idea that men are always the chief wage-earner is slowly changing. Of course -- as the posters who followed your query have made clear, where there is a will to stay home, there is almost always a way. (As to the male/female wage gap more generally, that has been discussed elsewhere in great detail, and I can't possibly do justice to it here.)

Posted by: Rebel Dad | July 27, 2006 5:23 PM

I've known plenty of women that would be appalled at the idea of their husbands staying home to raise the children.

Well, I can tell you that my mother was appalled. She objected to my having to support the family, but I told her as kindly as I could that this was none of her business. A few years later she seems fine with it. My in-laws were also appalled that their son was somehow a kept man. A few years later they don't mention it anymore either. It's funny. We have seen siblings in both our families get married and divorced in the 8 years my husband and I have been together, and they all did it the "tradtional" way where the husband worked and the wife stayed home. Actually, those wives are now working also because they are single mothers.

Posted by: Rockville | July 27, 2006 5:26 PM

'Child Protective Service was constantly knocking at his door for the most trivial reasons'
that is very strange that moms would do that, something must have happened that made them suspect something, or maybe one of the moms is really mean and vindictive and he's totally innocent.

we have numerous stay at home dads in our community, and they are accepted and applauded. They contribute many hours of voluteering at school, and are friends with the PTA moms. I have never heard of anyone shunning a stay at home dad. Even when they pretend to be consultants!!

Posted by: experienced mom | July 27, 2006 5:42 PM

Leslie,
I would be interested in a blog where the topic is the decision whether to have more children, how to space them, that sort of thing. It struck me during the Russian orphan blog that deciding on the number of children to have in a family is part of the balancing act. Just a suggestion.

Posted by: Rockville | July 27, 2006 5:56 PM

"Now that it is determined that this is a different person, another comment. It sounds like he is not "staying at home" the way many women do (only do car pool, feed the kids, go to the park, etc). It sounds like he wanted to start a writing career which can be done from home. There isn't anything at all wrong with this."

It's even better than "traditional" SAHParenthood. Being an unemployed SAHM often means you're one man away from welfare (look at what happened to Terry Hekker) and I doubt being an unemployed SAHD who's one woman away from welfare is any less risky.

"I'm just amazed at his lack of knowledge this close to his babies birth."

I'm just amazed that he's having a baby at all. Why didn't he use condoms or get a vasectomy if he's so uninterested?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 6:12 PM

Father of 4 says, "I've never ever met a 'Stay at Home' parent that actually stayed at home." Well, I have never met a mom that wasn't a working mom. All moms work, it's just that some do double shifts. So why do you use the expression 'working moms'? Perhaps someone has commented on this before but I don't always get around to reading all the comments.

Now a confession. I sign in as Older Mom because that is what I am. I am more than a generation removed from those who post on this blog but I find Leslie's introductions and the comments that follow very interesting though I don't always have time to read them all.

You younger women don't really know how lucky you are if your husbands help out even a little. The first time my late husband offered to do the dishes 'for me' the condition was that I dare not tell anyone about it. He never understood why it took me so long to clean the apartment. He could do it in half an hour--and did so--to his own satisfaction. As for helping out with the kids, well he did teach them to swim and to ride a bike...

Of course my generation took this for granted. I am so glad the situation has changed for the better. Good luck to all of you.

Posted by: Older Mom | July 27, 2006 6:20 PM

I make a lot more than my husband. My folks think this is great, Dad has a cool son-in-law, Mom lives vicariously through me. My in-laws don't mind it -- I gave them an incredible grandaughter and I take wonderful care of their son. He, in turn, takes fantastic care of me. He cooks, cleans up (sort of), reads lots of Daddy Stories, does it all when I travel, AND lets me sleep in whenever he can. We lucked out, we compliment each other on strengths and chores we're best at (tho neither one of us is any good at actually putting away the clean laundry).

I do know I could do it all alone, but it would not be nearly as well, nor would it be as fun. I like the balance of knowing I could and knowing I don't want to do it without him. It's all about balance and communication. And laughing a lot together. And taking a lot of really long runs together.

Posted by: Military Momma | July 27, 2006 6:42 PM

'laughing a lot together'

That might be the secret to happiness!

Posted by: experienced mom | July 27, 2006 6:50 PM

A very interesting and lively discussion. I'd love to be a SAHD, but at this point it would be harder financially for us on my wife's salary. I think this is often the case for a couple of reasons. The average age of a man when he marries is older than the average age of a woman when she marries. Those extra few years often are the reason that a married man will make more than his wife.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 7:06 PM

I once read that to be successful (as in generally happy and sane), a working mom needs (1) good quality childcare, (2) a supportive "partner in parenting" and (3) a supportive work environment. Remove one leg of the stool and it all falls apart.

I have all three, and can attest that all three are equally important to BOTH me and my husband. That my kids are thriving in a wonderful, loving daycare means we can go to work with peace of mind and focus on our jobs. The fact that my husband and I are equally involved in raising our kids and managing our household means that things run smoothly and no one feels resentful or overburdened. That we have flexibility in our jobs to leave for child-related reasons and that our bosses trust us that the work will get done (sometimes late at night or on weekends, but that is ok) means that we can pursue careers we love and pay the bills.

What doesn't matter one whit to us is what society, the neighbors, family, etc. think about our choices. To quote Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, which I just reread (yes, I even have time to read novels!) "I am only resolved to act in that manner which will, in my opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me."

Posted by: happymom | July 27, 2006 10:06 PM

Holy crap, it's a guy guest blogging! And . . . with the male blogger comes male childfree rants? Interesting, since this blog by and large gets female childfree rants.

Personally, I think it's fine if a man gets praised for being a SAHD - it's still a relatively rare occurrence, and it's needed in order to balance out the "You're not a real man if you don't provide for your family" messages that are so prevalent in Western society. It sucks that women don't often get positive messages for our choices, but that doesn't mean that men should suffer the same way.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 27, 2006 10:13 PM

To the poster who wanted info on spacing: the problem is EVERYONE thinks that they did it right. A year apart? Playmates! Five years? A helper! 7 and above? A separate family, so you can concentrate on each one! My personal view: 2 years or so. Not three. Unless you are having more than 2. Then a year apart and get a nanny and don't quit work. Seriously. Work is the GREAT ESCAPE and all of us working moms and dads know it. I think you can be a better parent that way, especially if you have your own office and can take naps. Move to the outer suburbs on the train line so you can sleep on the train. Martinsburg isn't really that far away! Parenthood=sleepyparent. Except when you can't sleep.

Posted by: icantsleepsowhyamIhere? | July 28, 2006 12:14 AM

Rebeldad, I have a sneaky suspician that now that we have a "Vacation Daddy" as a guest blogger to balance the seesaw with the "double-shift Mommy", Leslie, things may get a little more fun around here.

Of coarse, It's fine with me to call me a "double-shift" Daddy, but we need to find a better term for "Vacation Mommy", women, you know, get offended at things like this. Maybe it's worth a blog.

I would also like to thank you personally, when I made a crack that challenged your masculenity, you came back with a much more clever remark than I could have thought up. Yep, you passed the "real man" test with flying colors.

I'm still gonna tease you about it though, I'm a little bit jealous...

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 28, 2006 7:54 AM

I've always like the term 'fulltime mom' since that's what I do full time. But apparently many working mothers think it's offensive because it implies that they're not committed -- or something.

Personally, I think 'full time dad' is more descriptive than 'stay at home dad'.

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