Quitting is Not Fitting.

by Leslie Morgan Steiner

 

Would your husband quit his job if you earned more? Would you if he did?

 

In a 2005 Career Builder survey of fulltime working dads with children under 18, almost 50% answered yes.

 

This year, only 31% did.

 

Are dads less enthusiastic about staying home, because more men have tried it now, and know the drudgery involved? Or does today’s lower percentage reflect widespread financial insecurity? Perhaps both.

 

Like a lot of husbands, mine fantasizes about staying home. About once a year the subject comes up, usually because of a lull at work or some frustrating situation there. When I push and ask what he imagines his days would be like, his answer always goes something like this: well, I’d work out for two hours every day and play tennis 3-4 times a week. I’d see my friends all the time. I’d read more.

 

Hmmm…is my consistent answer. Because not once does he mention reality: doing laundry, fixing our three kids the delicious nutritious organic homemade meals he fantasizes about, teaching reading and math skills and helping with homework…driving them to endless playdates and basketball practices…settling 500 petty disputes a day.

 

In other words all the stuff actual stay-at-home parents actually do.

 

What my husband means (and perhaps some of those dads surveyed) is this: if I had more resources I’d quit my job. If we were more financially secure I’d pursue my dreams and hobbies. But that is not the same as staying home to care fulltime for children.

RedGal
08.04.09

I know my husband realizes how hard it is to stay home and appreciates how hard it is. However I don't think a lot of men do. I posted how apprecaitive my husband is on the truucinfessions site once and I did not get very many "me too's" which was quite telling.

miteypen
07.15.09

Well said.

Ellen
www.femagination.com

Janelle
07.09.09

This is so interesting. Three of my husband's long time and best friends are stay at home dads (two he has know since middle school, one since college). He used to talk often about joining their ranks. And then I got a job that took me away in the evenings leaving him with 3 kids under the age of 5 years old. Soon he was no longer wishing to stay at home all the time. Even better, he was also no longer complaining about the housework left unfinished. He was doing laundry, he was washing dishes...he finally understood that I wasn't lazy, I was busy raising our kids to be respectful, creative, honest and self-sufficient.
Now that I don't work those hours, I just need to retrain him to help when we are both home.

leslie morgan s...
07.06.09

Leslie Morgan Steiner

So true! I think every man -- especially anyone hiring, promoting, firing or making laws that effect mothers -- should be required to spend five days at home with three children under age six with no assistance. Mandatory sensitivity training!

westchestermom
07.06.09

My husband does not want to stay home. This came up last year when I was offered an opportunity to double my responsibilities and be a global manager. This would have required extensive overseas travel. He told me that he likes his job and he just doesn't have the patience to stay home full time. I appreciate his honesty.

AmyF
07.06.09

I've heard men at work talk about staying home if they could and the conversations rarely involve what they will do with their kids while they are pursuing their hobbies. I always find it offensive, since it implies they don't respect how hard it can be to take care of children full-time (a job that is mostly done by women), especially when the ones who talk like this have wives who stay home full-time with their kids. I always want to call their wives and invite them to a girls' only weekend, so they can leave their kids home with them for the weekend.

When I was on maternity leave with my first baby, my husband commented one evening about how it would be nice if I could tidy up our apartment before he got home. The following Saturday I had to take a class all day and left him with a couple of bottles of pumped breast-milk and the baby for the day. When I came home, he said "I don't know how you get anything done." He was still in his pajamas. It was so satisfying.

Amy
Mom to 3
www.sofiabean.com