The Odd Couple? Can Stay-At-Home Dads And Breadwinner Moms Work?

May 24, 2013  |  

Do some women have a complex for earning more than their husbands—or even being the sole breadwinner? Dr. Peggy Drexler, a research psychologist, writes in Forbes, “As more and more women enter—and remain in—the workplace, an increasing number of them have found themselves the primary earners for their households.” In fact, Pew Research Project reports that the number of wives who make more than their husbands increased from four percent in 1970 to 22 percent in 2007. And the report found husbands still want to be the primary breadwinner.

Another study in the journal Sex Roles discovered that even the younger generation of men tends to be more accepting of women’s work roles, they are reluctant to accept her role as co-provider, reports Drexler. Because of this, she notes, women start to downplay their financial contributions and even feel guilty about it.

And men get depressed. Drexler cites Breadwinner Wives and the Men they Marry by Randi Minetor who writes that many “unemployed or under-earning men feel wounded by what they see as their diminished status.”

Still there are some stay-at-home dads and breadwinner moms whomake it work. “Men today are now reporting higher levels of work-family conflict than women are,” Stephanie Coontz of the Council on Contemporary Families told NPR. The men are “not just pressure, but the desire to be more involved in family life and child care and housework and cooking. And at the same time, all of the polls are showing that women are now just as likely as men to say that they want to have challenging careers.”

NPR even put out a Facebook query looking for breadwinner wives and stay-at-home husbands and found that overwhelmingly the families were united and happy. Some did admit the “role reversals” could  cause difficulties in a relationship. Chris Bublik of Orlando, Fla., wrote to NPR that he has been a full-time father for six years and that it has given him an opportunity to shape his children’s lives. Dr. Drexler theorizes in the Forbes article that this switch in roles can wreck havoc a man’s self esteem. Bublik added, “But there are real impacts to us as men, impacts that none of us expected as we reveled in those first few months of sweats and grubby t-shirts, and not shaving… and the 4:30 dash to clean up the house so our wives won’t think we’re completely useless (you stay-at-home daddies know exactly what I mean). Feelings of inferiority, loss of self-esteem, self-respect.”

Do you think we’ll ever be completely comfortable with stay-at-home dads?

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