Free-for-All: Dads Just Want to Stay Home

My husband likes to joke that he'd love to stay home with our kids. He does not mean he wants to play Candyland, make their lunches, ferry them around town to basketball/art camp/computer class/speech therapy, grocery shop, and try really hard not to scream at them at 6 p.m. What he means is he'd love to skip work, see the kids more, work out at the gym, take a nap every afternoon and occasionally play golf, while someone (me or a babysitter) actually took care of our children. For him, "staying home" is code for "goofing off."

Perhaps I should take Perry's banter more seriously. Richard Castellini, senior career adviser for CareerBuilder.com, reports that the company's recent "Working Dads 2006" survey showed that 40% of working dads would stay home with their children if their spouse or partner earned enough to support their families. The survey included more than 225 men, employed full-time, with children under 18 living at home.

According to Castellini, three out of 10 dads say they spend less than two hours per day with their children after work; 10 percent spend less than one hour. Forty percent of working dads report that they bring work home at least once a week. Fifty-eight percent missed at least one special event in their children's lives because of work in the last year and 19 percent missed five or more. Not surprisingly, 28 percent of working dads say their job is hurting their relationships with their children.

Fewer dads than moms said their companies offer flexible work arrangements, 40 percent to 53 percent.

What do you see and experience? Are dads worse off than moms in terms of balancing work and family? Does it depend on the type of job? Are dads penalized for asking for flexibility? Is it somehow less acceptable for men to want to trade career success for kid-time?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  June 30, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dads , Free-for-All
Previous: Celebrating Daycare | Next: Single Mom Seeks Playdates, Blind Dates


Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Hey, Leslie, before I read the column today, what gives with posting so late in the day? It says, at the top, "Posted at 7 AM" on June 29, 2006, but clearly you didn't post at 7 AM.

So, why can't things actually mean what they say on your blog?

Posted by: Charleston | June 29, 2006 10:00 PM

LOL I was literally about to post the exact same thing. I wish I could set the clock back 15 hours on MY client deliverables!!

Posted by: Scratching head on Capitol Hill | June 29, 2006 10:28 PM

I know that us men wanted a chance to express our opinions but gees Leslie, sneaking one in in the middle of the night isn't fair. Hopefully this will still be up on Friday.

By the way, I'm too tired to offer any meaningful comments tonight.

Sleep tight.

Posted by: LC | June 29, 2006 11:49 PM

My ex-military, childless, workaholic supervisor caught on long ago that I only call in sick during the summer when the weather is good. But hey, where was he during the basketball tournaments of March Madness? No where to be found. Cool! I didn't have to worry about him just popping in my office and busting me on the blog.

I figure that lying about being sick is a form of mental illness, therefore it justifies taking a day off to treat the disease. right?

And to all you semi-competent co-workers who finally put in an honest day at the office picking up my slack, if you didn't screw me up and create more work for me to undo, I'll take you out for a few beers. I've already cleared it with the wife. After all, I did take care of the brats on top of being sick yesterday. And I swear it's not sunburn you're looking at, I must be a little flushed!

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 30, 2006 6:44 AM

I was the stay-at-home mom for the first 3 years. My husband was extremely swamped with work for the first two of those years, and didn't interact all that much with our daughter. By the time he had more time, she was a Momma's girl (with, perhaps, a Freudian complex) and wanted nothing to do with him. He was really hurt by that and became very involved with our second daughter, who adores him.

In keeping with our plan of having one-stay-at-home parent while the kids were really little, he quit his job when the girls were 3 and 1 and I went back to work. We did this, even though he makes more money, so that he would have time with the girls and I wouldn't spend too much time away from my career. He still works part-time for his old firm occasionally so there will be no "gap" on his resume.

The choice to have him as a SAHD has been wonderful for our whole family. He is very close to both girls and they have all kinds of in-jokes and fun together. He's a better housekeeper than I was. Because my job is a lot less stressful than his was, we have much more time together as a family (though less money, for now). Even more interesting is that since he's been the SAHD he's been able to drop his high blood-pressure medication and his cholesterol has gone from marginal to superb.

Posted by: Ms L | June 30, 2006 7:35 AM

I don't think fathers (or mothers) have to quit their jobs to become closer to their children. My husband is an attorney and after we had our first child, he realized that the law firm route was not family friendly and he couldn't stand the unethical things he was asked to do anyway and so found a job in another sector. I work in a somewhat flexible field. Even though we've made sacrifices with regard to compensation, etc, both of us are highly paid professionals who love our jobs AND we make time for our kids. Neither my husband nor I can imagine "staying at home"---my husband wouldn't and he wouldn't let me (he's right, I'd go crazy and I think it's ok to say that). Men know that they have it great--no one critisizes them for having high powered careers, they get respect and promotions AND they get to be a parent. This is why so few stay at home (the only ones I know lost their jobs, didn't quit).

With regard to you husband---any father that thinks staying home with young children is playtime is mistaken. Leslie, call his bluff and let him do all the childcare during a 2 week vacation or even an entire weekend. That will change his attitude.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 7:53 AM

My husband always used to say that he'd love to be a stay-at-home dad. But then, once we actually started planning for a kid, he realized that he didn't want to. I believe his exact words were "whatever you want to do is fine with me; the only option that I wouldn't be happy with is staying home myself." At the time, my salary was approximately double his. But I stay home, because he doesn't want to and we both agree that it's easier for us at this point to have a SAHP. Now, when he spends a lot of time with the baby, he tells me that he doesn't know how I do it -- he'd go crazy home with her every single day. But for weeks at a time, he'll get home from work after the baby's in bed, and so he gets to see her only for a few moments in the mornings. I think I'd go crazy not spending time with my daughter every day.

I do think dads get the short end of the stick when it comes to balancing work and family. From what I've observed, there is no balance, and dads are expected to just be ok with seeing their kids only on the weekends, or just long enough to kiss them goodnight during the week. And this is viewed as normal, even laudable. I sure don't envy these guys.

Posted by: NewSAHM | June 30, 2006 8:00 AM

I actually snorted when I saw this post. I've been away for the first week of my new job for training at orientation at our firm HQ, and my husband is holding down the fort at home. (I was previously a SAHM.) He called me last night and said "you can have this job back whenever you want it. I don't know how you do it." He is exhausted and said that HE will need a few hours to himself on Saturday to recover. He said the house is a mess and he hasn't gotten anything done he wanted to. It was like hearing an echo of the things I used to say to myself.

He is a wonderful dad and was always very supportive of me as a SAHM, but there are lots of husbands in my neighborhood who act like their wives eat bon-bons and watch Oprah (ugh, but NOT the View) and get upset when the laundry doesn't get done. Men who think that being at home with the kids is tantamount to being on vacation aren't spending enough time alone with their children. Ladies, start making your plans now for girls' weekends, Bunko nights, or whatever it takes get these jokers to see the light.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 30, 2006 8:10 AM

Hold on righ there Leslie, that's crossing the line! Goofing off properly takes years of training and precise execution, so if you are not going to do it right - DONT do it at all.

Fo3's Guide to Goofing Off:

Exercise: If you are going to play catch, shoot baskets etc... to get exercise, make certain that at least one child is accompanying you. More convincing if the other children are outside in your field of vision. Toddlers strapped safely into playset swing within arms length facilitates the ADVANCED move: Puller Legger combo with catch.

Cardio workouts: Easily accomodated on bicycle with little one on the back, and bigger ones coming along9all in helmets or PENALTY). At the pool older children may be bribed to supervise less older children with lolipops (cheaper than popsicles at that over priced snack bar). Children must be placed at the end of the lap lane you plan to use and must be able to tread water for 30 seconds before this allowance is triggered. Have them count your laps. Time limit is controlled by lolipop sustainability. Ice-skating is great for cardio year round (awesome in summer! when rinks are empty)and I suggest building a side yard rink in Winter: (see nicerink.com to facilitate home skating)
Running, bicycling, spinning, swimming, skating alone incurs Penalty.

Penalty = 2x time spent hard labor, ie weeding outside in 90 degree heat =) pretend it is a sauna! Painting, shopping (without purchase discretion), bathroom cleaning...

Weight Lifting: Children provide ideal variable weights for lifting. Avoid the clean jerk, but curls and presses are easy to accomodate. Advanced: Squats with varying numbers of progeny on your back. Keep your head up and knees over toes. If your weights get bored or bruised: Penalty

Sports Viewing: If watching the game - one child on lap is mandatory. Penalty if caught w/o child on lap = must fold laundry, dust, vacuum or wash dishes to view remainder of game and child on lap pass is forfeit for rest of weekend.

Golf: Warning FOR Experts only! and EXPENSIVE. Like working a finesse in contract bridge you must balance the time consuming sport of tiny ball whacking with child supervision or other fatherly duties. Access to golf can be smoothed by playing as early as possible in the morning but still be prepared for doubletime in the penalty box unless you can complete one of the following: Take the eldest with you under the pretense of ettiquette training, cart driver education etc..., or play with spouse (pay for sitter, promise not to comment on her swing), or spouse plays during the week (again pay for sitter). Any excessive golf triggers working double time on honey dew list and voids "Child on Lap" pass for watching sports.

Goofing off ideed! Have a nice weekend everybody.

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs... you're a good parent.

Posted by: Fo3 | June 30, 2006 8:33 AM

Whenever I traveled for work and my husband "stayed with the kids", I came home to a house that was close to being condemned by the Board of Health!

His "meal planning" consisted of piling the kids in the car for fast food or his Mother's cooking.

Posted by: June | June 30, 2006 8:39 AM

I just listened to this great podcast that is dealing with this subject. Martha Burgess knows how to generate positive energy -- the kind of energy that gets you through your work and life.

It made me feel different being a stay at home Dad.

I can recommend the podcast at http://worthwhilemag.com/media/marthaburgess.mp3

Posted by: Stay at Home Dad | June 30, 2006 8:40 AM

I do think that in our society dads get the short end of the stick in matters of staying home and that's a shame. If the father wants to stay at home with the kids full-time (or perhaps do a part-time SAHD thing if he enjoys his work), he should be able to do so without other folks looking at him like he's grown two heads. It's all about choices and what works best for individual families.

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | June 30, 2006 8:41 AM

As someone who's done some job-hopping the past 10 years, I'm glad to report that things seem to be improving for us Dads. In my opinion, gradual increasing acceptance of working moms seems to be paving the way for more a more realistic understanding of a Dad's responsibility to his family.

I think this tends to be applied with your direct boss and not at the corporate policy level. For example, it's known that some of the Dads in my group need to leave at 5pm on certain days to pick up their kids from daycare. We do NOT give our work to others, but rather we have the flexibility to begin working again after the kids go to bed. Technology is largely to credit for this, as laptops and home networking and VPNs are now more prevalent.

The point though, is that while we were once expected to be at our desks until 7pm every night (if for no other reason than face time) there is now such a thing as "Virtual Facetime", where if you're finishing your stuff up and emailing it out from home at Midnight, that's no less impressive.

Posted by: Proud Papa | June 30, 2006 8:47 AM

Have a feeling there's going to be a heated contest today to see who can come up with the most amusing post, Fo3 or Father of 4, the winner being rewarded with a pat on the head by Leslie :)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 8:48 AM

"Fewer dads than moms said their companies offer flexible work arrangements, 40 percent to 53 percent."

Um, do moms and dads work at different companies? Do companies have different sets of rules for moms and dads (and wouldn't that be illegal)? Or do the dads just not know what flexible work arrangements are available to them?

Posted by: CV | June 30, 2006 8:52 AM

>>>"Men know that they have it great--no one critisizes them for having high powered careers, they get respect and promotions AND they get to be a parent."

Not a fair statement from Anonymous poster above. There's even a conflicting statement above it from Ms. L, where her husband worked so hard his kids barely knew him. I wouldn't call that 'hav[ing] it great'.

Posted by: Not | June 30, 2006 8:55 AM

Leslie wrote, "For him, 'staying home" is code for "goofing off.'"


This may be the case with Leslie's husband, but I *really* hope this isn't going to be used as a generalization for all men. That isn't fair, and it isn't right. I think anyone who stays home and thinks they can just goof off soon realizes that isn't the case.

SAHD already get a lot of nonsense from too many people about their decision. Why make them out to be slackers just looking for an opportunity to play at home on top of that?

Posted by: Bethesda | June 30, 2006 8:56 AM

"What he means is he'd love to skip work, see the kids more, work out at the gym, take a nap every afternoon and occasionally play golf, while someone (me or a babysitter) actually took care of our children."

Wow, this hit home for me. My husband has been home all week due to flooding at his office bldg. I asked him to pitch in with housework and the laundry has been sitting in the dryer for two days now (he forgot about it!) He goes to the gym and drops our son of late and picks him up early from the nanny share. It's an ideal life, today I think he might golf...

Seriously, he would love to spend more time with the baby, but he is not cut out to be a SAHD. He would be miserable. I accept that. It's a balancing act in the marriage, too.

Posted by: Arlmom | June 30, 2006 9:09 AM

My husband has always has a somewhat flexible job. Mostly he just had to be sure everything was running smoothly. Sometimes being able to squeeze in extra time with the kids sometimes working nonstop but it was pretty good. Now he is on a project whose project manager is an older, childless, ex-military gentleman who is so resentlful of parents that he makes my husband's life miserable. My husband has been asked to work three Sundays in the last 6 months, Easter, Mother's Day and Father's Day. No other weekends at all. On each occasion my husband offered other days to work either late or to come in on Saturday. This was not acceptable. The project manager states that he does not beleive in those holidays and that just because you have a family does not mean you should not be committed entirely to your job. We have been parents for five years and this is the first time either of us have encountered this level of hostility. Some of the days my husband worked others we just had to say no. I cannnot imagine this happening to a mom but then again I could not imagine this happening to a dad before it did. Luckily, this is a short term project.

Posted by: Tulip | June 30, 2006 9:19 AM

"Fewer dads than moms said their companies offer flexible work arrangements, 40 percent to 53 percent."

When I read this, what I wonder is whether there is a confounding variable, i.e. are moms specifically looking to work at companies that offer more flexibility. So it may not be so much that dads are offered less flexible work arrangements than moms but rather that dads may be more likely to work at less flexible companies because it wasn't something that they took into consideration when they took the job. Just a thought.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | June 30, 2006 9:32 AM

Both of my parents worked full-time (my mom was a teacher - now retired - and my dad was a government official in annapolis - he's since moved to another arena) when I was young. I'm glad they both worked because it gave me a chance to explore after-school activities that I might not have otherwise taken part it, and when I was really young, I went to a day care service where I made some great friends who I'm still in touch with today (I'm now in college). The double income contributed to many great vacations and my parents feeling comfortable enough to take a few days off here and there (albeit, my mother was off during the summer with me and my brother, since teachers don't work during the summer). I'm glad they both worked and I'm sure they are too.

Posted by: son of working parents | June 30, 2006 9:34 AM

What Leslie wrote about her husband I could have written about mine. We both work and our work loads are "normal" which in DC means being out of the house at least 9 hours at day (including commute). However, when I get home I have another full time job, while he just comes home to unwind. He does participate in the bedtime routine (we have two small children and an extra pair of hands is soo helpful) but I constantly have to ask him to come and help me with this or that (in other words -- nag). If I left him alone his evening would look like this: come home, hug and kiss the kids, read for 30 min in the bathroom, check out something on the computer, eat dinner, change, come and check on the kids. He just came back from a business trip and when I had mentioned it to him how hard it was for me he said that I should stop acting like I am some kind of a hero and if "single mothers of four manage why am I complaining". The irony is that my husband's job is a lot more flexible than mine -- he could work 6-3 or 7-4 or 10-8. He could telecommute part of the day and work from home late at night. I know that there are men at his office that do that and it is totally accepted and not penalized.

Posted by: also from dc | June 30, 2006 9:38 AM

Before we decided to have our first child, my husband always said he wanted to take over half of the childcare duties (we both work odd hours with somewhat flexible schedules. His job is the most flexible of the two; basically an involved daddy's dream.), so we could avoid putting the baby in daycare at least for the the first year. Now that the kid is on the way, he "changed his mind," and started working a regular schedule at his far-away home office and signed up for grad school M-Thurs evenings in the fall. Nice move! Now we have to hire a nanny to cover MY hours at work, and I get the responsibility of the baby the entire rest of the time. Who knows when the baby will even see his/her dad? This doesn't seem to upset him, though.

And lest anyone suggest that I just stay home with the kid, and shove the financial responsibilities off on him in exchange: I make an excellent income at a career I love, and the last thing I would want to do is make myself -- and my child -- financially dependent on someone who apparantly thinks so little of his committment to us.

Of course, he wonders why I have been so depressed throughout this pregnancy, and have pretty much already decided that this will be the only child I will have. With him at least!

Posted by: Momsville | June 30, 2006 9:52 AM

"For him, "staying home" is code for "goofing off.""

As others have said, this just made me roll my eyes. Maybe her man thinks this way, but no man I know does. Do they lack a full picture of what being a full-time parent means? Sometimes. Do they know that it actually means a lot of work and running around, stress and energy? Of course. If this guy thinks that staying home means goofing off, I can only assume he's never had to watch a kid for a full day, ever.

Way to generalize about a gender from one guy's apparent thought process (probably cherry picked remarks and jokes anyway). How is that helpful, useful, or good journalism?

Posted by: M. | June 30, 2006 9:58 AM

Men don't "have it great." Maybe those that want to bury themselves in work and be the Provider have the ability to do so w/o a lot of criticism, but these men are the exception nowadays, at least in our wide circle of friends.

Working dads who want a lot of flexibility for family reasons have so much in common with working moms. There's tension between expectations and reality, worry about career advancement and office perception, hesitancy to take management positions because they would reduce flexibility, worry that the next review will be "satisfactory" rather than "excellent" and worry that the accompanying raise will be 2% instead of 8%. In short, it's a tradeoff decision.

SAHD's also face the same concerns that SAHM's do. The only difference is that society hasn't yet accepted SAHD's, and is barely accepting of working dads that want flexibility.


Posted by: Not Great | June 30, 2006 10:07 AM

M, I don't know that it's a generalization. I think things are getting better, but I've met plenty of fathers/hubands (especially since we moved further south) who seem to think their SAH wives don't do a whole heck of a lot all day. I mean, I've heard women talk of their husbands giving them an "allowance" and things which make me wonder if I've stumbled into a time warp. Seriously. Most men I know are much more enlightened, and thankfully I'm married to one of them, but the neanderthals still exist.

Posted by: Sad but true | June 30, 2006 10:13 AM

My husband was surprised at how positive reactions were to his choice to quit his job and be a SAHD, especially from his colleagues. He was a VP in a 350-person company, and the CEO and other high-level men in the company spoke admiringly of his choice and said they wished they had done something like that when their kids were little. They are still willing to work with him on a part-time basis, when he's available.

I think some people do still think that SAHDs were failures in the workforce. I'm sure they think that of my husband until they get to know him (he started his own company, then successfully sold it to a a larger company and became VP of that company). In fact, he feels like he's accomplished most of his career goals and can work on other life goals for a while.

He's had a harder time getting acceptance from some of the SAHMs. We live in a small town, and some of the SAHMs viewed him with suspicion for the first half-year or so. It was isolating, but he's dealt with it.

Posted by: Ms L | June 30, 2006 10:21 AM

It's one thing to be a stay-at-home parent to small children and another to be a stay-at-home for school-age children. Those parents really do have plenty of time for bon-bons and golf...

Posted by: Kevin in AK | June 30, 2006 10:23 AM

While my hubby and I are still waiting for our "bun in the oven" to finish cooking, we have already explored and discussed this issue. Both of us have to work once the baby comes (which is fine!!!) but we have--in theory--worked out a way for both of us to get time with her every day. He will get her up in the morning and take her to daycare and I will get her at night after work, and we both get the added time in between. But even better, once he gets home from work, we will both get her ready for bed.

Obviously there will be adjustments to our intended Utopia but what makes me so happy is to have a man that wants to be part of our daughter's life, all of it, as much as possible.

Do we have the high-powered careers? No. But we do well and have good bosses who are understanding and flexible. This is what has kept us where we are. Do we want the major money? No. Life is about being with family and the ones you love. Work is just a method of getting to where you need and want to be. What we do might not work for everyone but it works for us.

Posted by: Soon to be Mom | June 30, 2006 10:25 AM

I really give a lot of credit to my mother-in-law, who brought up three sons under the principle of "selfish parenting" (her words). She taught all three of her boys to do housework, cook meals, and be generally self-reliant domestically. She had a husband who expected her to do all the housework and cooking (and even does so now, when her husband is retired and she still works). She brought her boys up to be feminists even though she herself is not married to one.

I have only girls, but I'm curious about those of you who have sons-- are you bringing up your boys differently from the way your brothers were? If so, in what ways?

Posted by: Ms L | June 30, 2006 10:31 AM

Leslie, why do you have to rip on your husband in public all the time? Does it boost YOUR self-esteem? And if he is such a clueless slug, why do you stay with him? So you have someone to push around? And PLEASE stop using him as your notion of what "men" are like. Even if he really is the clueless doofus you and he make him out to be, most of the rest of us aren't.

Posted by: wihntr | June 30, 2006 10:32 AM

Soon to be Mom - Wife and I use that system. It works.

Small issue with her commute to/from daycare taking longer (heavier traffic) than mine, so days where we both have late meetings it is easier for me to yield and go get the little guy.

-Pp.

Posted by: Proud Papa | June 30, 2006 10:32 AM

I think it is defiantly harder for men to have flexible working hours and to receive a little understanding from their bosses in some cases. My husband had a boss who was very rigid and every time he had to call off or request vacation time to care for our daughter for whatever reason, the standard reply was" can't your wife do it."

He tried to explain that his wife worked too, but the boss just didn't seem to care. He has a new boss who never questions when he has to take off for our daughter and has a wife who works too. Sometimes it's just the luck of the draw.

Posted by: Scarry | June 30, 2006 10:32 AM

FO3 & FO4 - You guys are far far better than yoga, group therapy or marriage counseling. Don't know how you make it all so funny. Thanks..

FO4 How was the vacation?

Ms. L and WorkingMomX-- loved your stories. Tell us more...

Posted by: Leslie | June 30, 2006 10:35 AM

Slow Friday - I'm posting way too much.

Folks I really don't think Leslie is attacking Perry. It seems their relationship is healthy enough that she can bust his chops a little in public and its no big deal.

As long as she can take it as well as dish it out (Hey Leslie, the litter box is full) it should be no big deal. Wife and I have the same style. She tells people I buy too much crap, I tell people we could afford the crap if she'd stop crashing her car...

Posted by: Proud Papa | June 30, 2006 10:35 AM

Staying home = goofing off is not just the code for men. There are a number of mothers of school-age children in my middle-class neighborhood who have "sacrificed it all" for their children and spend their days shopping, playing tennis, taking yoga classes and overseeing their housekeepers.

Posted by: ATL Mom | June 30, 2006 10:37 AM

My wife works Sun-Thur, so Sunday is "Dad day" every week at our house. Friday is "Mom day" and Saturday is "Family day." This has worked out well for us, for the most part. I really enjoy my one day a week by myself with the littluns--we get to spend loads of quality time together.

At the same time, I wouldn't want to stay home full time. I love my job too much, find it too fulfilling. Fortunately, it is also reasonably flexible, so I don't miss "events" and am always home for dinner.

I like my goof-off time as much as the next guy. I have my "me" time at night, after everyone is in bed, and play golf about once a month (not recommended as a way to improve your game).

On another topic, one reason that fewer men than women say their employer offers flexible work arrangements might be that the men simply don't know about them--they've never asked.

Posted by: Brian | June 30, 2006 10:38 AM

"I have only girls, but I'm curious about those of you who have sons-- are you bringing up your boys differently from the way your brothers were? If so, in what ways?"

Well, I never had brothers, but I'm trying to teach my son the things he'll need to know later on in life: basic cooking, laundry separation (good for preventing inadvertant tie-dyed underwear), and simple cleaning. Granted, he's only five and none of it is sinking in yet, but I figure if I keep showing him, eventually it will take. That worked with spot-checking the eggs in the grocery store; I showed him numerous times that we look at the eggs before buying them and now he crows "Check the eggs!" before I put them in the cart. :D

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | June 30, 2006 10:39 AM

My nephew has been a SAHD for several years now and loves it. He and his wife didn't plan for him to stay home; he was a construction worker and injured his back while the youngest son was a baby. Since Nephew had to stay at home anyway, they figured they could at least save on daycare.

I don't know how good Nephew is about housework but he is a very good cook and has done a lot of remodeling and repairs around the house. He also does a lot of volunteer work with the Boy Scouts.

Posted by: wma | June 30, 2006 10:49 AM

My husband was a SAHD for three months and he did learn how hard it is, and now appreciates my position of not wanting to be at home full time. It was fun, and we did see the humor in it, to switch our roles. On the weekends, after a week at work, I wanted to stay home and have family time. He wanted to get away from home and GO do stuff. He acknowledged feeling isolated, bored, frustrated, and exhausted after being on dad-duty all day. I think the experience has made him much more understanding but also much more willing to step in and take on quite a few child-rearing roles. We have close to a 50-50 partnership (probably more like 60-40 with mom doing the 60) since we work the same hours. My only gripe is that dad gets praise and glowing comments regarding how great he is to be so involved. When will that just be expected/accepted? If I take off for an hour to attend a school function, I need to make up the time and basically apologize. If he takes off an hour, it's lauded and he's given pats on the back for being such a great, involved dad. If he travels on business (or when he was in Iraq for 4 months) it was expected that I cope and handle the three munchkins. If I travel for business, even one night, at least 2 family members and a neighbor will call to make sure he's doing alright. I'd call it a strong cultural and social double standard. Fortunately for the marriage, we have been able to laugh at his need for a round of applause for changing a diaper. Like Leslie and her husband, we can banter (even publically) and find the humor in the situation in spite of the uncomfortable truth that may be underlying it. Lighten up folks - change with humor is still change, even at a snail's pace.

Posted by: SS | June 30, 2006 10:53 AM

My clueless husband "hides" at work. Monday, July 3 is a perfect example. My Fed office is closed, his Fed office is open. We talked about this months ago and I asked him to put in a Leave Slip so the family could do XYZ. A look of terror came across his face and he mumbled something about "can't get away from the office..."
He CAN slip out of the office with his cronies for baseball games, etc.

He also moans about how his job is "killing him.." I met him at his job and I know EXACTLY what goes on there (including banging me on his desk).

When my youngest goes off to college, I will become a statistic. He is clueless about that, too.

Posted by: Marlo | June 30, 2006 10:58 AM

I'm a dad working in the academic world. My wife is a stay at home mom, but I do most of the kid-watching in the evenings and weekends, while my wife gets a "break" by shopping/running errands/cooking dinner (although I prefer to cook). Most dads I know work just as hard in their free time doing child care as the moms, so I find the general perception that dads are slackers to be annoying.

I think that in some work situations the dad has it hard. I have a job I would normally like, but it demands a 50+ hour work week which I try to fit into a 45-50 hour work week. As a result, the job is stressful and I'm always behind in my work. When things get too piled up, I forego sleep and come in even earlier. That way I don't miss out on seeing the kids (1 and 3 yrs old) and giving my wife a break.

I work with a lot of baby boomers, and in general, it seems my older male colleagues expect me the put work first and family second. One boss even told me he wouldn't hire another person with young kids (he liked to have us work until 11-12 pm). Some of the women I work with started in the field when things were quite sexist, and they made the deliberate decision to forego having kids to further their careers. As a result, they're not terribly sympathetic when I say I was up with the baby all night or skip out on a out-of-state meeting because I don't want to leave my wife at home with the kids for 3-4 days on her own. At the same time, my current job is temporary, so I have the stress of trying to do a real good job to become permenant and the worries of finding myself as the only income owner suddenly out of a job.

Posted by: newdad | June 30, 2006 11:03 AM

I am a man with two 5-year-olds and a 19-month-old who works fulltime. For working fathers who truly want to be a significant part of their children's lives, it is possible, but challenging.

I'm very involved with my kids in the limited time I have. I usually feed the youngest at dinner time. I am usually first up with the kids and give them their juice and morning snack that I have prepared the night before. I give them their baths, read them bedtime stories, and sit with them until they fall asleep.

About 50 percent of the time, I do office work on my laptop after they have gone to bed. I do my share of the chores, too. It is difficult to do all this and keep up with "guy" stuff that needs to be done on the house and in the yard as well, but I would rather spend the time with the kids. So all that gets done in that area is the minumum, plus a little extra from time to time.

I feel it is extremely important for me, the children, and my wife to spend as much time with our kids as possible, and I have no desire to leave them to go out with the guys or stay at work late. For me, being with my family is the good life.

A lot of fathers there feel and act the same way -- let's hear from you, guys!

Posted by: Daddy Mike | June 30, 2006 11:17 AM

We're currently a "traditional" gender-role family. I don't think my husband, or most fathers for that matter, are in any way "slackers" or even "clueless". He generally knows what I do and appreciates it, even if I occasionally want more proof of that fact! I think that most fathers fall into that category.

However - I find that what does often go unnoticed and unappreciated is the little details that moms tend to stress over. Making sure everyone goes to the dentist, gets signed up for activities before they're full, has their permission slip in for the field trip, and the hundreds of other things that I have in my head cluttering up my brain. I realize that SAHDs and parents who both work also have those details, but I do think that in any work/home situation mothers *tend* to obsess about them more. It becomes even more apparent every time we get ready to go on vacation!

I know many SAHDs - I think it is more common here than in some other areas of the country. Last spring, a wife of a SAHD told me about when she was out of town for work and her daughter's school music program came up and they (dad/daughter) realized that night that she didn't have a dress to wear that fit her. It caused much grief and turmoil for the daughter - and dad was, well, clueless as to what the problem was. Even though he'd been a SAHD for *years*, this small detail still got past him, and would have been the mom's problem if she'd been in town. I have a hard time imagining this story happening in reverse!


Posted by: momof4 | June 30, 2006 11:19 AM

Maybe it's just me, but I think that if my daughter brought home a boy and introduced him to us and explained that she was planning on marrying him and that actually she made more money and he probably wouldn't work and would raise the kids, I'd be disappointed and embarassed. It's kind of like, if it worked out that way, I'd probably accept it. But I think if it was presented that way, I'd feel like he had no ambition or drive. And like he couldn't hack it. How would the rest of you react to that situation (daughter's new hubby doesn't work).

Posted by: Just a Question | June 30, 2006 11:22 AM

"Not a fair statement from Anonymous poster above. There's even a conflicting statement above it from Ms. L, where her husband worked so hard his kids barely knew him. I wouldn't call that 'hav[ing] it great'."

Sure is fair. I have a saying "A man does one thing for his child and he is father of the year. A mother misses one event and she is a bad mother". If you look over the posts over the last week, it's all about how superior stay at home mothers are (they must love their children more), about how much mothers who breastfeed are better, etc. A woman can't do anything right. But a father who spends any time with his kids, he's a hero.

Society has a double standard when it comes to jobs and families. There is no equality in the workplace nor at home. There ARE benefits to both parents having fulfilling careers that are worth the possible downsides to the children. Until business, the workplace, childless workers, etc. accept that it's ok for mothers to be in the workplace and that there may be times where a father or mother needs time to care for their family, we'll be having these stupid discussions.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 11:25 AM

Rockville Mom made a good point about how perhaps some women choose workplaces that are more flexible and often men don't even think to check this before they take a job. I think our pal Linda Hirshman mentioned this in one of her writings, that women sometimes choose jobs based on things like flexibility and maternity benefits and thus wind up with less intense jobs but also lower-paying jobs than their husband's might take. She said something about women being more choosy about jobs when men tend to take the best salary offered and worry about benefits afterward.

Posted by: JJ | June 30, 2006 11:26 AM

Working Mother magazine has a yearly Top 100 employers issue and I've noted that many are pretty high powered employers listed.

There are two ways to think about it. If smart, talented women choose these family friendly companies and the other companies notice a brain drain, they too may offer these benefits. Or another way, if smart, talented women who want families worked at these less than family friendly employers, they could pressure for changes within. I recall being the first pregnant person in a place where I used to work in the 90s. Sent everyone into a tizzy. Well they had to deal with it and it made life better for those who came after me. My husband was the first male employee to take paternity leave at his firm. It was a policy no one ever had the nerve to take. Well, he did, became partner and all is well in the legal world. We need to push these people into the 21st century.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 11:33 AM

My ex-husband was self-employed. While we were married, I worked part-time until our daughter was two years old, then I took a full-time job in downtown DC. My days were no less than 11 hours long, so he became the primary caregiver for our daughter. He enjoyed that role very much. However, it was difficult for me to be away from my family so long each day, so I took a job close to home and gained back roughly two hours a day that I no longer spent commuting.

So, some dads are able to get that flexibility, but I beleive there is still a bias in the workplace against this.

ATL Mom: You are correct! How I wish I were a yoga mommy....

Posted by: single western mom | June 30, 2006 11:33 AM

Another issue with workplace flexibility, there still are male dominated professions (enginneering) and female dominated professions (elementary school teacher). I would imagine that the female dominated professions tend to have more flexible work places because it has been asked for and possibly have had to adjust because more of their employees need it.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 11:34 AM

"I would imagine that the female dominated professions tend to have more flexible work places because it has been asked for and possibly have had to adjust because more of their employees need it."

Isn't it amazing that if you ask for it, you may get it. We need to demand it more. Companies/employers CAN develop more family friendly policies if they want to. Even law firms, the medical profession (which has already changed under this pressure) and other sweat shop type professions.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 11:37 AM

I've had a unique perspective on this very quandry for the last two months. I was the primary caregiver for 2 year old son--husband was involved, but basically gone from 8-8 M-F. One broken ankle later, and he's had to step up to being a single parent while I sit on the sofa and convalesce. After two months, he's absolutely spent--he's a zombie--but it's gotten done. The main problem he's had is squeezing a 60 work week into a straight 40. He's up working till 2 am 4 nights a week. I don't know if he's putting the pressure on himself, or if it's really from his bosses, but it's definitely there.

Posted by: PTJobFTMom | June 30, 2006 11:38 AM

And, it doesn't just benefit people with children. I was director of a department and single employees articulated that they too wanted a better lifestyle. These family friendly policies benefit EVERYONE.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 11:39 AM

I still think we are fighting expectations. Women are expected to be the competent ones, while the men get the fun time and aren't expected to really be competent parents. Women "let" the men have their i llusions of parenthood and then gripe when they have to "do it all."

And yes, if you think it's hard for a mother to balance- I don't think it comes close to how a father handles the expectations. Yes we have a problem in that the women are expected to handle so much that they cannot possibly do well in all domains. But until we let go of ALL of these irrational and repressive expectations, no real progress will be made.

If we actually started expecting parents to do the work and SHARE the responsibilities, we could teach men what they needed to know, rather than just sighing, rolling our eyes and saying "Men!" and stop trying to be martyrs and act like women are the only ones who can possibly do the right job.

Posted by: Liz | June 30, 2006 11:39 AM

"...are you bringing up your boys differently from the way your brothers were? If so, in what ways?"

My son learned to cook starting at 7. He would help me cook on a regular basis and was up to planning and producing a full-fledged dinner by 10. Some nights, I (single mom) wouldn't feel like cooking and he'd say: "Mom, you relax; I'll cook!" Of course, I was no more than 30 feet away, but I specifically remember baked pork chops, with sage, pepper and some random condiment, green beans, and sauteed squash. He even served milk and washed dishes!

At 13, he does laundry, but isn't so great with folding; he vacuums, sweeps, cleans the litterbox, washes and vacuums car, and many other cleaning type chores. When I do remodeling, like carpentry, electrical or painting, he is usually there helping, so that he can lend a hand AND learn that he is fully capable. I credit him with helping me install an outlet and microwave over the range.

When we fostered kittens, he took full responsibility of cleaning the litterboxes a couple of times a day, checked food and water bowls and socialized them.

I know I don't give him enough credit, but I am very lucky to have the person he is living with me!

Posted by: SR | June 30, 2006 11:40 AM

"Working Mother magazine has a yearly Top 100 employers issue and I've noted that many are pretty high powered employers listed."

I worked in HR for one of those companies, one that consistently ranks in the Top 20. We worked hard to get the forms and information to Working Mother magazine (and others that compile these lists) so that our company would be included. The high-powered employers on these lists want very much to make these lists and so the HR departments are tasked with making sure they do. It doesn't mean they don't offer the great benefits touted, but keep in mind that other employers might not have time and resources to get their companies on these lists.

Posted by: Karen C. | June 30, 2006 11:40 AM

Maybe it's just me, but I think that if my daughter brought home a boy and introduced him to us and explained that she was planning on marrying him and that actually she made more money and he probably wouldn't work and would raise the kids, I'd be disappointed and embarassed. It's kind of like, if it worked out that way, I'd probably accept it. But I think if it was presented that way, I'd feel like he had no ambition or drive. And like he couldn't hack it. How would the rest of you react to that situation (daughter's new hubby doesn't work).

I can tell you what happened to me. My parents freaked, and asked me what kind of life that woud be for me, without a man to support me (gasp). Luckily, I am not bullied easily, and I went ahead and married this guy, with no regrets 10 years later. We get along. It's as simple as that. He's a great dad, and he takes care of me in ways that matter to me. As for the money, we have enough. I just feel sorry for people who are stuck in gender roles regardless of their personality and desires. How limiting it must be for them.

Posted by: rockville | June 30, 2006 11:40 AM

Still, my husband spends far more time with our children than my Dad, or his Dad ever did.

Life is full of lots of different types of people and people in different roles. 'Goof-around Dad' prepares kids to deal with varied situations.

Many a kid knows to hit Dad up for allowance before he goes out golfing or right after payday. When you grow up, and are working on your boss for a raise that kind of thinking is strategic.

Posted by: RoseG | June 30, 2006 11:41 AM

Wow, great posts today.

We have a situation similar to Ms. L - I was SAHM while finishing law school for the first 13 months or so, and my son was totally mommy focused during that time. My husband's job wasn't especially stressful or time consuming, which was great, but I was always basically the "default parent" even when we were both home. When I finished school and we moved to Colorado, we had a couple months where we were both home while looking for jobs, and that was wonderful. Then I got a job that was enough to support us, so my husband was going to be the SAHD.

After the first week he was completely wiped out. He was so funny, because he never gave me grief when I was home if the laundry wasn't done or the house was a mess, but after his first week he confided that he had never understood why I couldn't do all that stuff before, but now he did! After about 4 weeks as full time SAHD he said he just couldn't do it. I think it was a combination of it being exhausting, him being stir crazy to do adult and challenging things, and also feeling weird about not being a breadwinner. He's always had a dream of starting his own business, so we decided we'd put our son in day care half days and he would do his business part time and be with our son the rest of the time. This has been working out really well for us.

The nicest thing about the switch in roles is that my husband and son are so much closer now. That extra time has allowed them to build a fantastic relationship, and now really neither of us is the "default," we share things very equally and our son turns to us both. I love that when our son wants us to do something, he takes BOTH our hands instead of just mine now.

I do think it's harder on men still in some ways because of the societal expectations. Like the point raised by Just a Question, some people still see it suspiciously (including my husband's parents!) when a man decides to stay home. But I think that will only change the more men do it. So rock on to all those men out there changing the way society thinks about them. They deserve as much credit as the women who were pioneers in entering the workforce.

Posted by: Megan | June 30, 2006 11:45 AM

I forgot to post the contrast of my brothers. My brothers are 14/16 years younger than I am (mom/step-dad) and were raised with very different expectations.

Brothers didn't have to do chores aside from occasionnally putting their laundry down the chute and putting away the folded laundry that mom did. They didn't clear the table, wash dishes or even set the table; they don't know how to this day!

On holidays, everyone is to contribute a few dishes so that no one person is doing the bulk; they have only started within the past couple of years (23/21 years old) and only sporatically.

Now, as 'adults' (21yo lives back at home on a regular basis) they are trying to learn how to do the things they should have learned LONG ago, to the detriment of live-in (roommate/girlfriend) relationships.

Posted by: SR | June 30, 2006 11:51 AM

For the poster who wrote: "Maybe it's just me, but I think that if my daughter brought home a boy and introduced him to us and explained that she was planning on marrying him and that actually she made more money and he probably wouldn't work and would raise the kids, I'd be disappointed and embarassed." If my daughter brought home a guy who WOULDN'T do that, I'd think he was a deadbeat.

Posted by: Just a thought | June 30, 2006 11:56 AM

Anonymous 11:25, your statement is still not reasonable:

>>>"Men know that they have it great--no one critisizes them for having high powered careers, they get respect and promotions AND they get to be a parent."

Well, the folks on this board may define 'parent' differently than you. You seem to be saying that Fathers can work tons of hours and get disproportionate credit for taking 1-2 off here and there to tend to the child.

I think that you can see from the tenor of today's posts that lots of us fathers do not feel role would satisfy our best definitions of "parenting."

And I think the tone of your post ("have it great") seems to imply that men want it to be this way and would rather hide from their families and pat each other on the back for doing the same. Again, I think you can see from today's posts that while some of us feel like we bear a responsibility to support home and office concerns every moment we're not sleeping, that's a form of pressure that is no more enjoyable than feeling unsatisfied as a working or SAH mom.

Posted by: Not | June 30, 2006 11:56 AM

Megan,
That's great! I like your family story. If we were to reverse the parents and you said that you were going stir crazy and wanted adult time, I bet you'd get slammed by other SAHM. I think situation's like yours help women and help to change expectations of men and women as parents.

And to Karen C., thanks for bringing up what is a common practice, "gaming the system". A lot of companies do this very well and spend a lot of time on PR. But it shows that they want to attract smart working mothers to their company so that in itself is a good thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 11:59 AM

I agree that at least these high-powered companies see that they must give competitive benefits in order to attract the best and brightest. We can only hope that other, smaller companies follow their lead and eventually all these things will be routine offerings at even the smallest companies.

Posted by: Karen C. | June 30, 2006 12:01 PM

I think some men have a lot more options than they let on. Again, my husband's job (engineer, defense contractor) is plenty flexible. He just decided to stop taking advantage of that flexibility now that it could be a big help in childrearing. Apparantly, it was only good for hunting and fishing trips. (The other men in his office DO use this flexibility to hang out more with their kids.)

I'm hoping he changes his mind once the baby is actually here, but I'm not holding my breath.

Dads out there, am I missing some alternate, more noble explanation as to why he's suddenly wanting to spend all this time at his office? I feel like he's done a complete 180 on me. And yes, we've talked about this.

Posted by: Momsville | June 30, 2006 12:03 PM

Not,
I stand by what I said. You and the one or two other men on this list may be different, but a man does one thing for his kids and he is praised up the wazoo. My comments are not about anecdotes. Society's expectations are that men work, rewards them for their focus on work and women make the sacrifices. A woman with similiar focus on her work is "different". I see this attitude daily when talking to my kids teachers, when discussing the issue with friends and at work. Who do you think school calls first when there is a school issue? Whose name goes first on those forms (Mom's). It's reality and good for you for trying to break through these expectations.

And let's look at the other side, I am a women who "has it all". I really do. A great career, respect in my field, great kids who are proud of me and do well in life. And yet as I've progressed up the ladder, I've hit the "glass ceiling". I am not viewed in the same way as men with SAHM/PT working wives. I've been told by mentors that if I were a man, I would be at the top of my field. This is reality and the expectation of male/female roles need to change.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 12:07 PM

Ms. L, what a great post about teaching boys the things that people only used to teach girls.

As a feminist, I wanted to marry a partner, not someone who expected me to be a maid and cook. While the man I fell in love with does share in some household chores, he leaves a lot to be desired (I guess you can't help who you fall in love with, best intentions be damned :) When we were first married, it astounded me that he simply did not know how to run a house. His mother never taught him how to cook or clean (not shocking coming from a woman who, upon finding out that my husband was vaccuuming, said "You've got two women in the house and YOU'RE cleaning?" about my mother and me).

So when I'd ask for help with laundry, he'd say "how?" When I'd ask for help with cooking, he'd say "I don't know how to follow a recipe." It made me wonder how he survived in college. I've since taught him a few things that make our lives a lot easier. He's thrilled because he's learning something new. And I'm thrilled when he shows me how to fix a toilet.

If we decide to have kids, I will be sure to teach my sons about housework, cooking, and laundry and my daughters about repairing the house, changing the oil, and mowing the lawn.


Posted by: Meesh | June 30, 2006 12:08 PM

Just came across this article while reading the Chicago Sun Times this am about how Deloitte & Touche (who are way ahead when it comes to family flexibility) allows for up to 5 years unpaid leave while still keeping workers in touch and trained and its not just for women.

http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-fin-sab30.html

Posted by: Dlyn | June 30, 2006 12:09 PM

I would like to point out that the term SAHM/D is very limiting, based on the general expecations, societally (if that is a word).

SAHM/Ds, so often, are: parents, spouses, housekeepers, laundry service, chefs, taxis, accounts, social directors, decorators, contractors, gardeners, etc.

Based on some of the above posts, it would appear that the above "add on services" are expected of both M/D but the Ds don't pull it off as well. Being a SAHM/D doesn't mean you sit at home, staring at the child; watching him/her grow. There is much more to it.

Also, it is very rare that I see single-parents, who are BOTH the M/D in both roles, 24 hours/day. It would be nice to hear about their balancing acts.

Posted by: SR | June 30, 2006 12:12 PM

Here's how much progress has been made.
At the big family cookout this weekend:

Each of the adults work outside of the home, but the women do ALL of the prep, clean-up, and child care work. The men get to play with fire - grills and fireworks!!!!!

Posted by: June | June 30, 2006 12:23 PM

"SAHM/Ds, so often, are: parents, spouses, housekeepers, laundry service, chefs, taxis, accounts, social directors, decorators, contractors, gardeners, etc."

Yes, but so are the working parents. It's like trying to quantify and assign a dollar value to the SAHM/D's work when working parents still have the same obligations in addition to work.

Posted by: SS | June 30, 2006 12:24 PM

Momsville,

I feel for you. I can only say that pregnancy can be a major stressor for both the husband as well as the wife, and maybe he hasn't worked through some of his feelings about impending dadhood. Once you have the baby things may change-- though of course it's not guaranteed.

There could be a lot going on there, like depression, if this is a big switch from how he used to be. I'm just throwing things out and don't know the situation, but you may want to get couples counseling or urge him to get it alone if he needs it. Some hospitals also have "new dad" classes or support groups that may be helpful as well.

Good luck and we'll be thinking of you!

Posted by: Ms L | June 30, 2006 12:31 PM

I do believe a lot of the issue lies in expectations. My husband and I both grew up with professional, WOHMs, and so we both expected that I would have a career. We both also expected him to be an active dad who was equally responsible for the kids. I go through my work life expecting to be considered just as valuable as anyone else; and he goes through his work life expecting to take time off to deal with family concerns.

I'm not going to say that our expectations have always been met (his current employer thought it was "generous" to give him 3 days off when our son was born). But when we've run into roadblocks, we have changed the situation, not the expectations -- if a company is going to gratefully accept the free overtime when a project needs to be done, and then quibble about taking 2 hrs off to take the kids to the doctor, that's just not where we want to work.

But frankly, those situations have been rare (and ironically, something that I've faced more than him!). There is definitely some significant truth to the saying that it's better to ask forgiveness than permission (he responded to his company's "generosity" by basically taking the time that we needed -- and he got his work done, so his boss just didn't care). If you have already proven your value, you can often get a lot more than you might think.

But first, you have to think to ask -- it has to be something that is within the realm of your expectations. My husband is constantly getting one of his friends in trouble with his wife, because the friend and wife both grew up in much more traditional roles, so the wife is always amazed to hear about all of the things my husband considers part of being a dad ("you mean your husband actually took your daughter to a birthday party?"). And this guy is an absolutely great guy and great dad. But what are the odds he'd even think to ask for more than 3 days' paternity leave (or just take it)?

And then, of course, you also have to want what you're asking for. I know some folks do use "the office" as an excuse to avoid taking on obligations they would prefer not to have. Heck, sometimes I'll say I need to get into work early, when really I just want an extra 15 mins. by myself to read this blog. :-)

Posted by: Laura | June 30, 2006 12:34 PM

Laura and Meesh,
Right on!

And funny story about using work to escape. Our family joke was when our 2nd was born, we fought over who would go back to work first...me, no me, no me!! Staying at home 24/7 with a baby is really hard. I don't envy SAHM (I do respect the choice though).

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 12:45 PM

"Based on some of the above posts, it would appear that the above "add on services" are expected of both M/D but the Ds don't pull it off as well."

I don't think the assumption that the Dads "don't pull it off as well" is justified on the posts here. I think a lot of men and women have posted about the contributions that fathers make. In our situation, my husband is a much better housekeeper than I was, and also handles the bulk of the other tasks mentioned. He's not as good in the kitchen, but is keen to learn. And I'm not nearly as good as he is with a lot of it - gardening and fixing things, etc. I'd say in our household right now the split is around 40/60 with HIM picking up the 60.

Sure, there are some men who are never going to step up to the plate and take on household tasks, but I think that those men are slowly becoming a minority, and its not fair to generalize based on them.

Posted by: Megan | June 30, 2006 12:50 PM

"SAHM/Ds, so often, are: parents, spouses, housekeepers, laundry service, chefs, taxis, accounts, social directors, decorators, contractors, gardeners, etc."

This kind of comment always makes me cringe, SAHM's are not any of these things any more than a working parent is, driving someone to a soccer match does not make you a taxi driver, please give it up. Would a SAHM realistically list all of those job positions on her resume as she gets ready to head back to work? No.

The only thing that is difficult about staying home or for that matter living with small children (I have two but I work) is that you never really have time for yourself and you are always tired. That is it. Your life is superceded by the lives of small people for a few years.

Posted by: SME | June 30, 2006 12:54 PM

"SAHM's are not any of these things any more than a working parent is, driving someone to a soccer match does not make you a taxi driver, please give it up. Would a SAHM realistically list all of those job positions on her resume as she gets ready to head back to work? No."
to
"SAHM/Ds, so often, are: parents, spouses, housekeepers, laundry service, chefs, taxis, accounts, social directors, decorators, contractors, gardeners, etc."

Are we talking about duties around the house, duties for raising kids or family duties? Resume? What does THAT have to do with it? If you are a SAHM and don't do any of the other things, are you going to list on your resume: change diaper, sing nursery rhymes, clean barf from shirt, clean feces from sheets, diapers, onesie? If you have a point make it; yours makes no sense.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 2:58 PM

I think some men have a lot more options than they let on. Again, my husband's job (engineer, defense contractor) is plenty flexible. He just decided to stop taking advantage of that flexibility now that it could be a big help in childrearing. Apparantly, it was only good for hunting and fishing trips. (The other men in his office DO use this flexibility to hang out more with their kids.)

I'm hoping he changes his mind once the baby is actually here, but I'm not holding my breath.

Dads out there, am I missing some alternate, more noble explanation as to why he's suddenly wanting to spend all this time at his office? I feel like he's done a complete 180 on me. And yes, we've talked about this.

Posted by: Momsville | June 30, 2006 12:03 PM

I'm not a dad but here is a possibly more noble explanation. I can't cite anything in particular but I know I have come across articles in expectant mother magazines and maybe on babycenter.com that talk about the different things that expectant fathers vs expectant mothers tend to stress about. One of the big ones for fathers was the finances and feeling overwhelmed by the level of responsibility inherent in having a child. Personally, I think most mothers worry just as much about the finances but I guess if we're going by the traditional societal expectations... So my point is, even though his company may allow flexibility, he may be caught up in stressing (worrying, being afraid) about his breadwinner role and feel like he needs to take his job more seriously, or put in more time to get ahead to support his family or something of that nature. But maybe as he gets more adjusted to the idea of a child (and the actuality of one), he'll get over it. Just a thought.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | June 30, 2006 3:05 PM

All the Dads leave to play golf today?

Posted by: ? | June 30, 2006 3:06 PM

If there is one little thing I wish my husband had done when our kids were small it's this: Greet the kids with a big smile and hug and maybe a few happy minutes of play or chat. Even if he was dog tired. Even if he was starving. Here's why:

Our little kids used to run to the door, yelling "Daddy, Daddy!" He seemed to be the highlight of their day! Then they stopped bothering? Why? Because their dad usually arrived home without a smile, distracted by hunger and fatigue (at least he had a short. easy commute), and paid scant attention to their greetings.

One day, the kids still quite young, my husband mentioned that he really missed the kids being excited about his arrival! He thought they maybe had "outgrown" that. I had to tell him he had killed the excitement. And that our older son had even asked why daddy was so sad when he came home!

I guess I made excuses back then for his behavior but since the details obviously still come easily to my mind, I wish I had pushed my husband to put the kids first for those few minutes after work. He didn't know what he had until it was gone.

He was really a very good dad, especially when they reached school age where he felt more comfortable with them!

Posted by: granny | June 30, 2006 3:18 PM

"Are we talking about duties around the house, duties for raising kids or family duties? Resume? What does THAT have to do with it? If you are a SAHM and don't do any of the other things, are you going to list on your resume: change diaper, sing nursery rhymes, clean barf from shirt, clean feces from sheets, diapers, onesie? If you have a point make it; yours makes no sense.
"

I think the point is probably that SAHM's often use all those other things in their "job description" when in reality, those of us who work do all the same things, AND put in 40-50 (sometimes even more) hours on top of that into a career. Not to minimize the contributions that SAHM's make, but my house is still clean (most of the time), we still eat, I still pay bills, I still drive my daughter around (and will a lot more when shes older than 14 months), do the laundry, etc...

Posted by: Jolie | June 30, 2006 3:22 PM

Thanks, Megan, for your post at 12:20 P.M. Too many folks give dads a bad rap. Remember the days when men openly derided "women drivers" and muttered condescending sentences like "don't worry your pretty little head?" Unthinkable, for good reason, to say such things today. Maybe the tide will turn one day and the phrase "clueless dads" and similar sterotypical declarations will - for good reason - be regarded as silly things to say. As a very involved working dad who even goes out and buys his daughter clothes on occassion, I get tired of all the negative assumptions regarding the parenting abilities of fathers.

I am man, hear me roar!

I bring home the bacon, and fry it up in the pan!

Have a great July 4th, all.


Posted by: Daddy Mike | June 30, 2006 3:25 PM

A poster asked if parents of boys were raising them to be self sufficient in the domestic arena. I am certainly making sure that both of my kids have the same basic skill set. None of this, son takes out trash daughter does laundry nonsense. They both are learning to do it all.

But I firmly belive that this is a case where we should lead by example. My father-in-law does everything right along side my mother-in-law. There are no set rules. If there is wash to be done one of them does it, dishes to be washed he stacks the dishwaher while she washes the pots. My husband can recall no bitternes or arguments about anything domestic. Truly amazing and we try to emulate this. Versus my parent's discord of the martye mom and the easy chair dad.

If it needs to be done then generally on of us just does it. If we do not want to do it we ask the other person. If it is really awful (the days of the diaper genie come to mind) we flip a coin. Step two is the key. If I feel put upon I just have to ask that he do some things. Truly, this seems to work.

Posted by: Raising one of Each | June 30, 2006 3:31 PM

Great post, Raising one of Each.

Posted by: Daddy Mike | June 30, 2006 3:35 PM

I have a question for those of you with domestic help, housekeepers, lawn servies, meals prepared etc. Does this help the marriage. Do taking away these takes mean you argue less about getting things done or is there still a feeling of unbalance in handling the tasks that are left? Also do your children still have household chores and responsibilities. Obviuosly, I am on the fence about hiring some things done. But I worry will me kids think that a house gets clean when a group of Hispanic women come clean it. I worry about them not learning to take care of things themselves and learning a little bit about classism. But I really think I need to stop giving my free time to the toilets and floors.

Posted by: Curious | June 30, 2006 3:39 PM

CV writes:

" 'Fewer dads than moms said their companies offer flexible work arrangements, 40 percent to 53 percent'...Um, do moms and dads work at different companies? Do companies have different sets of rules for moms and dads (and wouldn't that be illegal)? Or do the dads just not know what flexible work arrangements are available to them?"

And I say -- yes, of course that kind of discrimination is illegal, but I see it all the time. And sometimes it is self-imposed. Moms feel okay about taking maternity leave, but dads feel like taking paternity leave will single them out as less committed. At one company where I worked, paternity leave was available but had never been used. Then one fearless man took it. He enjoyed it so much (and it helped his wife tremendously because he took his month during her first month back at work). Within a year all the new dads were taking it.

Posted by: Leslie | June 30, 2006 3:41 PM

My comment refers to the poster who suggested that SAHM's wear all these professional hats in the course of their daily lives at home. I don't disagree that SAHMs run their kids around, organize social events, balance household accounts and putter in their gardens I just don't agree with those SAHMs who suggest to others that they are Accountants, Horticulturalists, Taxi Cab Drivers etc... . As a working parent I do all these things as well but I don't tell people I am an Accountant or a Landscape Designer as that is laughably untrue.

Posted by: SME | June 30, 2006 3:45 PM

For Curious - one way to counterbalance having someone help you and your husband clean the home w/o sending the wrong message to your kids is to have a housekeeper clean the house but NOT the kids' rooms. And not to oversimplify, I don't know about the cooking, etc., but hiring a housekeeper to come once every two weeks has entirely eliminated arguing about household duties. We still expect children to do daily chores - taking out trash, washing dishes, etc.

Posted by: Just a thought | June 30, 2006 3:49 PM

>Working Mother magazine has a yearly Top 100 employers issue and I've noted that many are pretty high powered employers listed.

My company makes a big deal out of making this list every year. It's a crock. If you're below a certain salary range you might be able to use flex time, etc., but above that, the managerial pressure to keep in step is enormous. And the company is well aware of it.

Posted by: fract'l | June 30, 2006 3:50 PM

We have a lawn-mowing service that allows me to spend two or three hours more per weekend in the summer with the family, so that's good. That's all we have except for a nanny who also cleans on the two days a week that my wife works and our three little ones are at home. Services definitely help if you can afford them but at the same time I wonder, too, whether kids then grow up with these expectations (i.e., get spoiled). When my kids are old enough, however, maybe they'll mow the lawn! I suppose you can have these services but still require your children to do basic chores -- like cleaning their rooms. If a housekeeper cleans once or twice a week, your home is not likely to stay clean until the next visit, giving the kids ample opportunity to chip in.

Posted by: Daddy Mike | June 30, 2006 3:52 PM

Curious - We find that being lucky (hardworking?) enough to have these luxuries means that we can still feel like a couple. We budgeted in for this stuff so that we could stop feeling like we were working sun-up to sun-down to keep the basics done without having time for each other.

Early in the baby's life, marriages can sometimes suffer. But, we made a concerted effort to avoid that. This is just one way to do so, but it works for us.

As far as using manual labor to teach kids discipline and values, mine aren't old enough yet but I certainly intend to. Because you're never to good to clean up after yourself. An alternative would be volunteer work. My buddy's parents used to take him to volunteer with them at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving morning before they had their own dinner. It made quite the impression on him I think.

Posted by: To curious | June 30, 2006 3:54 PM

I just have to say this: I SO admire modern parents (not just the dads!) who share the housework, childcare, and breadwinning, seemingly without score-keeping or resentment.

I would guess it's because now most women DO work regularly outside the home and gender does not give anyone a lock on a particular lifestyle. It's what the "women's movement" was really all about. (Hey, we won!)

I am envious that it wasn't yet that way 30 years ago, for us! But my married son readily does stuff for his baby and wife that his own dad would not have ever volunteered for and that never even crossed his grandad's mind!

Posted by: granny | June 30, 2006 4:00 PM

Something else to consider is that different things work at different points in a child's life. My husband was not a "baby-dad" so we paid for daycare and preschool. Now that our daughter is middle school/high school age, they have a great rapport, are great pals, and can do a lot of things together.

I believe strongly that if you have to make a choice to stay home, do it when your children are in middle school. That's when they are starting to navigate adolescence, added homework loads and are often participating in activities that require a time commitment.

Posted by: One size doesn't fit all | June 30, 2006 4:03 PM

Curious, if a hired service does the yard or house work, it is done, so there is nothing to argue about. Hispanic women and men! clean my house every two weeks. My four children are expected to clear their wreckage so that the cleaners can actually clean the house! Every day the children make their beds, clean up their rooms, do the dishes, and help with dinner. Then they periodically take out the trash, clean the bathroom, weed, clean up the yard so the lawn crew can cut, etc. We talk about how hard Hispanic immigrants work at jobs others don't want, just like our Irish ancestors did. I don't think my kids are elitists, hopefully I have taught them that they are lucky to be born into a middle class American family and that they have a responsiblity to help others who are less fortunate.

Posted by: experienced mom | June 30, 2006 4:05 PM

This is a rhetorical question isn't it? You already know the answer to the question and are just asking it for effect?

Posted by: Barry Crook | June 30, 2006 4:17 PM

It's easy to characterize all men as dim enough to believe that staying home to raise children is nothing more than taking naps and playing golf, but unfortunately it's untrue, unfair, and insulting. If you want to run a blog that's simply a way for women to complain about the assumed stupidity of men, then that's as good a conversation-starter as any, but I suggest you raise the tone of the discussion.

Posted by: First-time Dad | June 30, 2006 4:18 PM

My dad grew up on a farm and was trained by his mother to do housework (after all, she worked in the fields too). It was very helpful when he went into the military; cleaning and cooking were not a surprise. When he married, he continued to help out around the house; he worked weekends and would do laundry, wash dishes, on his weekday off. He also took my sister and me to an auction, a farmer's market, and to the pool. He also managed to do housework efficiently and did not expect a medal. He enjoyed it as being part of his contribution to the household--my mother worked outside the house too. He knew she did not like being the ONLY one to clean and do other tasks that are menial and tedious, but that make a home really livable.

Posted by: Z | June 30, 2006 4:19 PM

I have read all the posts now and see that I was foolish to ask my question. Of course it was rhetorical -- it was just another device for the folks here to go about bashing those nasty ole men who are worthless, shiftless appendiges to life. When it is clear that women walk on water and men only drink it. Wow, what miserable marriages most of you seem to have, and an even more appalling view of men. How do you get through life?

Posted by: Barry Crook | June 30, 2006 4:22 PM

Granny, I agree totally. The one thing I make sure to do when I come in the house is to see what my son has done during the day and what he is excited about when I arrive. My wife pointed out to me a couple of times while I was looking through the mail that my son was looking at me expectantly after something he had done. It pained me that I had missed it. Mail now takes place after he has gone to bed.

Momsville, you should expect your husband to be excited, but not until after your child is born. Right now, he is worried that he has to hold on to his job and get the raises he needs to keep up with inflation. I was "let go" when my son was 1.5 yrs old and had to find another position. The pull of wanting to play with my son vs. needing to find a job was huge. Keep letting your husband know what your expectations are, but acknowledge his contributions as well. However, his contributions will not be what you think they are. They may not be cooking, laundry, cleaning the toilets, vacuuming, and other domestic persuits. He may not do those well. But those things he knows how to do will be done well and you might be able to teach him other things. No use getting angry over something he doesn't know how to do, or doesn't do well.

I wish I could be a SAHD, not because I think I could play all day, but because I miss my son every minute I am at work. It wasn't in the cards dealt to me and folding at this point is not an option.

Posted by: Working Dad | June 30, 2006 4:22 PM

First-Time Dad,

It is pretty well established in this blog that Leslie does not have her dream husband. The dads in here have been working on straightening her out; that her dream is more of a fantasy of her own choosing and she should open her eyes to the truth and reality of her relationship. I think we're making progress.

Her hubby chimed in with a column before Father's Day and he seems to fit the stereotype well. So she is speaking from what she knows. It's nothing that a whip couldn't fix. Some remedial husbandry courses might also fit the bill, if only so he can explain what his contributions to the household actually are. He sounds like a great guy with a good sense of humor, something we all need.

Posted by: Working Dad | June 30, 2006 4:44 PM

I was the original poster in reference to:
"As a working parent I do all these things as well but I don't tell people I am an Accountant or a Landscape Designer as that is laughably untrue."

I never specified SAHMs only; I said SAHM/Ds.

What I meant was that SAHM usually includes many other jobs like the ones listed. Geez! I wasn't saying all of those could be listed in the actual job description! BUT, you drive your kids places, you cook, you clean, you launder, you mow the grass, etc. Sheesh. I was shortening the terms to titles.

I am a single mom. I am a Master Gardener. I used to be an Architectural Designer and based on training and work experience, could be a professional electrician and carpenter. I have been driving for over 19 years with no accidents and one ticket, so I am sure I could get my chauffeurs license. Could I be hired as a maid? I have no doubt; could I be hired as a cook in a restaurant? Probably. I work full-time as a graphic artist/web designer. All of those 'titles' keep me, generally, pretty busy.

Posted by: SR | June 30, 2006 4:49 PM

ignore Barry Crook. Enough said?

Posted by: experienced mom | June 30, 2006 4:51 PM

"If it is really awful (the days of the diaper genie come to mind) we flip a coin."

Actually, I find that rock, paper, scissors works much better. Mostly because I usually seem to be able to read his mind when we play. :-)

On the hired workers: Yes yes yes, if you can afford it, lifesaver. We have a cleaning service and a lawn service. It frees up probably 5-6 hours a week to spend with each other and/or the kiddos, and removes two major potential areas of conflict/frustration.

I don't worry about it spoiling my kids (other things, yes; this, no). There's still a ton of day-to-day work that needs to be done (making beds, cooking/dishes, laundry, weeding garden, etc.). The help we have just makes the list manageable -- it doesn't exactly free us up to lounge around eating bon-bons with all our free time (I wish!). While my kids are still young, my 5-yr-old already sets the table, helps clear, makes her bed, and is learning to fold laundry. No matter how much money we make, they will always do a fair share of the housework, both so that they learn how to do it, and so that they don't start to believe in the cleaning fairy. (Now, if only they'd invent a laundry fairy. . . .)

Posted by: Laura | June 30, 2006 5:02 PM

I'm astounded by all the male-bashing I am reading here. My wife and I share responsibilities pretty equally and I expect that this will continue when our first child is born. My wife had plenty of time while we were dating and after we were first married to see if I was a layabout who expected her to do it all. If I was she could have dumped me. You're telling me that all these other women could not tell that there husbands would someday be useless when it comes to raising children? Come on.

Posted by: About to be a Dad | June 30, 2006 5:04 PM

Hey you, it's the mommy blog. If you can't stand the heat, get outta the kitchen.

Posted by: to about to be a dad | June 30, 2006 5:09 PM

"Society has a double standard when it comes to jobs and families. There is no equality in the workplace nor at home."

You're right. The women in my office get to advance despite working "flexible" schedules, which although technically available to all are clearly career suicide for men. And, it doesn't really matter what many men do at home, they will always be considered second class caregivers by the Mommy police.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 5:10 PM

I grew up with two working parents, including a dad that loved to cook and was much better at it than my mom. My father was a student and then a professer, so had much more flexible hours than my computer engineer mother. This was unusual back in the 60s and early 70s when I was a child. I (and both my sisters) inherited a love of food and cooking from my dad, and we are all the cooks in our families. The only cook we will really defer to is Dad because he is simply the best. Is this regressive?

I cook and clean the kitchen because I am better at it than my husband and I love doing it. Am I setting a bad example for my daughter (19 months old)? I hope she will love food and cooking as much as I do. My husband and I split lots of work around the house, but we do not keep track. I think that having someone come in to do the heavy cleaning every two weeks and having a lawn service really helps with this.

Posted by: Another DC Mom | June 30, 2006 5:25 PM

Hi, all you men!

I passionately hope, that despite this blog's having had it's roots in a book called "The Mommy Wars", Dad's will contribute their thoughts on family life as often as they can, even when the word "dad" isn't mentioned in the starter topic.

I like men and admire the special things they do. (Except for the solving-problems- by-waging-war thing, I guess. Alan Alda once called it "testosterone poisoning!) Men (mostly men!) build our bridges and roads and skyscrapers and houses, for instance. I don't mean design them - I mean actually construct them! So, thanks.

Please keep sharing your thoughts guys. Communication is the first step to understanding and will lead to more and better solutions for us all.

I know I am not the only woman who feels like we have just been talking to ourselves for thousands of years - about home and family issues and other important human topics. Welcome, guys!

Posted by: granny | June 30, 2006 5:28 PM

If a man wrote something like this about women, the Post would come unglued. Yet, you can away with writing this sort of nasty nonsense, bashing men and fathers, because....???? You are basically repeating the same sort of garnage spewed out by feminists and oter man/family hating twits since the 1960's. Please, for God's sake, grow up!

Posted by: Mike Brooks | June 30, 2006 5:31 PM

even this guy, I guess. sigh.

Posted by: granny | June 30, 2006 5:34 PM

I concur with Granny. I give my husband all the kudos he deserves. He has a dreadful commute but manages to spend quality time with his family. He is always there at games (if by the skin of his teeth) and he does laundry, dishes, always cleans up the dog barf etc...He is a gem.

Mike Brooks, not everyone is bashing guys, I personally think they are fabulous.

Posted by: working mom of two | June 30, 2006 5:37 PM

Go, Granny, go! "Man/family hating twits" -- wow.

(and you know, it just seems to me that if you're going to ask others to grow up, it might be a little more effective if you don't resort to 5th-grade namecalling)

Posted by: Laura | June 30, 2006 5:50 PM

I've read some of the other posts and I can see a lot of this is tongue-in-cheek. But I can see a lot of truth about my gender. It's always useful to be reminded that more can be done to share stuff. Willing to do my part. Just - for the love of God - please don't make me watch "The View". :)

Posted by: About to be a Dad | June 30, 2006 6:11 PM

"You're right. The women in my office get to advance despite working "flexible" schedules, which although technically available to all are clearly career suicide for men. And, it doesn't really matter what many men do at home, they will always be considered second class caregivers by the Mommy police."

Give me a break. That is not what I meant. Men have advantages at home and at work. Working women do most of the housework and are expected to make career sacrifices that men tend not to make. I say "tend not to" because there are always exceptions so no bashing for this. And in your workplace women with flexible schedules advance? What kind of fantasy workplace is that? I think in the 99.9% of other workplaces, women give up a lot careerwise if they work "flexible schedules" or part time. I work full time and "give my all", and I've still hit the glass ceiling because I am a woman and mother. And it's the vast majority of working women who have my experience. I go to plenty of career networking events with women like me and that is the #1 complaint.

So give me a break and cut out the anecdotes.

And who is this Mike Brooks jerk? Feminism is NOT about man bashing. You must be some idiot woman bashing cave-man. Feminism has gotten a bad name by the Karl Rove types---over and over again trying to convince people that feminism is bad, man hating, full of lesbians. Your types like women barefoot, pregnant, at home and on Prozac. Give me a break.


Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 6:38 PM

Laura: we do rock, paper, scissors, too!

The story about the dad coming home at the end of the day to excited kids made me think about my own father. He's a product of his time (b. late 30s), and lost his own father at age 5, which I think made him somewhat emotionally distant to me and my two brothers. He's even told one of my (now adult) brothers apologetically that he "didn't know how to be a dad."

However, I've had a good time watching him now with my own kids. He's opened up quite a bit. My 1-year-old daughter has him wrapped around her finger. Even though grandpa still doesn't know quite what to do when his effusive 3-year-old grandson shouts, "Grampy, I love you!" he gives a lot more hugs and smiles more than he used to.

And in terms of teaching boys household chores, yes, my son will be doing a LOT more than my brothers ever had to do! He clears his and others' plates--which I've never seen my own dad do--and even helped make us all pita pizzas for dinner last night.

Posted by: niner | June 30, 2006 6:52 PM

I definitely feel that in my marriage, marital harmony has definitely been helped by hiring a cleaning person (once every two weeks for 5 hours) and also a gardener.
And I have one very neat child, who cleans her room regularly, and one messy child, who cleans only when forced to. Our cleaning people won't go in to the messy room unless it has been picked up.
I was talking with a friend last night who also said that hiring a lawn care company was very helpful for her marriage; she had been driven nuts by her husband mowing just half the law!

Posted by: ES | June 30, 2006 9:40 PM

pjxny [link http://rnlv.com]test4[/link]

Posted by: John S | July 1, 2006 7:53 AM

I hit the submit button early yesterday, then the wife rallied the family for a day trip at the beach. Perfect day! funny how the wife pushes me, and the kids drag me out into the water while she chases the 3 year old around the beach. Usually she bumps into another mother with children and spends time with her as they both watch the littler ones. This time, baby boy wanted to go in the surf, so my daughters took turns holding him while I held my wife.

Ever get the wisecrack "Get a room" from your teenager when you and your spouse show a little affection?

Momsville, and to all expecting mothers, you get to bond with your baby 9 months before your husband even touches the little urchin. this puts him as the stranger in the relationship. What my wife did that was extremely effective in getting me involved with family life was to ask me to talk to the baby, and early on, built confidence that I would make a great father. She did this after the baby was born by handing me the baby, taking pictures with me and the baby, and she taught the baby to say "Daddy" first. I finally felt like a "real" dad when my wife started the vacuum cleaner and I felt a tiny head bump up against my shin as I sat on the couch. My daughter wailed with fear and had crawled over to me for protection.

I would share more vacation stories, but I hear the kids getting up and I want them to clear out the minivan before I have to drag them away from the TV to do it. Since I don't drive, my wife was behind the wheel for 7 hours yesterday and I want her to sleep in as long as possible before we go to a wedding. This wedding is a little different from any I've ever been to. The groom is 10 years younger than his bride, and before he would marry her, she had to prove that she could make a baby with him. She's now 6 months pregnant. The suggested attire for the guest are a pair of shorts and tee-shirt. Should be great fun!

One last thing. I work from home one day a week, so I know exactly what mommies do all day. In my opinion, you all do what you want to do, and if you have 1 or 2 kids, there's plenty of time to spare. So quit complaining about household chores, go have sex with your husbands, take time off from the family, leave the kids alone with their dad several times a week, and if you've trained him right, he'll like it.

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 1, 2006 9:32 AM

I don't know if anyone is still reading, but the whole housework affair is really simple at my house, especially since the kids are over 5. We all do a little bit, we change jobs weekly (i.e. kid A vacuums the family room while kid B takes out all the trash then swap), and we don't have a lot of junk/clutter around. We also have assigned areas we 'police' twice a day. The house is not immaculate, but we almost never have dirty dishes lying around nor a laundry back-up. I swear, I am a sahm all summer while my husband works, but he probably spends more time cutting the grass than we do cleaning the five bedroom, 4 bath house. I don't have any hired help, but it looks like it.

Posted by: Hey Laura | July 2, 2006 3:04 PM

I just stumbled onto this, and couldn't believe there wasn't a single post from a family like mine. We're the classic, "Leave it to Beaver", single-income, two boys family. Except! I'm the breadwinner, and my husband has been the full-time Mr. Mom since our oldest was born. He's now 14.

Mr. Mom is a great cook, but terrible housekeeper. Always has been. He was a successful professional before kids, and earned the bigger income.

We decided to do things this way based on our personalities, family histories, and a strong belief that our children needed a full-time parent. I'd have turned into a child-abuser, or ended up in a mental institution - with a room adjacent to my mother's - if I'd tried to be that full-time parent.

Yes, there was a lot of "discomfort" from friends and relatives, especially from my father, who felt his "little girl" was being taken advantage of.

The funniest comment was from friends who also have two children (he's 20 years older than she is, and retired, so their child-care arrangements are very egalitarian) between ours in age. When I was pregnant for the 2nd time, he commented to my husband that he'd have to go back to work now. We were both completely puzzled by this and asked, "Why?"

"Well, won't Sue want to stay home this time?"

"NO!"
"No Way!"

Turns out to have been the best possible choice for us and our boys. Our older son is a high-functioning autistic, and my husband had worked in a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed adolecents, so he knew all the ropes, and we couldn't have hired a better advocate for getting our disabled child all the supports and services needed.

It wouldn't work for everyone - obviously! But for us, it's just right. The boys are happy and healthy. I'm sane, and get to enjoy being the special, fun parent. We're all well fed. So what, if the house is always a mess. We love our lives.

Posted by: Sue | July 3, 2006 4:05 PM

I am a childless woman who works in a white collar profession, and here is what I have observed among my colleagues (for this and previous employers) who have children. If a woman stays home with a sick child, or takes part of a day off to attend a school event, the general attitude is that she should "choose" between her career and spending time with the kids, and that this is why women don't make as much money for the same jobs, etc. The general attitude (among both men and women, I might add) is that these women are trying to have it "both ways." What I find interesting/galling, however, is that when a man does the same thing, he's hailed as some kind of selfless hero who really has his priorities straight, and how lucky his wife is to have him. We have one man in the office whose wife makes a tremendous amount of money (together they make over a million a year), and he is the more involved parent. They have a live-in nanny, a housekeeper, and someone who handles all their bills and errands. Yet to listen to this guy, every day is a crisis and he's holding the family together with spit and bailing wire. I see all the emails that come and go from the office, and he spends most days hassling teachers and coaches about not showing appropriate favoritism to his precious spawn. A woman who carried on like he does would be pulled aside and told to get a grip on her home life or re-evaluate whether she should have a job outside the home. This man, on the other hand, is held up as a saint. It may be different elsewhere, but in my field, a man who makes even modest effort toward spending time with his kids is given much more slack than a working mother.

Posted by: Mary | July 3, 2006 5:27 PM

Personally I'd rather raise my kids alone than with some of the women in this forum. Sure, in that case we'd have mismatched socks, frozen dinners, tall grass and exhaustion but that's better than children being raised in an environment of bitterness and resentment. Open your mouth and negotiate if you're not getting what you want.

Posted by: Yet Another Dad | July 7, 2006 6:39 PM

To the people who like to wink at each other and snipe at mens' imagined caretaking incompetence: Until we as a society get over using this fiction as a crutch for personal prejudices, we will not have either equal co-parenting or an equitable home lives. Parenting and housework are clearly learned skills, and if you tell anybody that she/he is not competent at it, they will respond accordingly. Fathers can indeed work full time and run much of the household--matched socks, healthy meals and all. For mothers' choices and fathers' children, let's keep the "Daddy-Day-Care" vision in cinemas and not in our imaginations.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2006 1:47 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company