Who should be the stay-at-home parent? Mother or father? And why?
A good (girl) friend of mine has 2 very young children has just returned to work full-time whilst the children's father stays at home to care for them. As she earns a higher salary I can see it makes sense. It was going well until a nasty comment from a colleague left her feeling guilty. The comment was she should not have had children if she had no intention bringing them up herself. She admitted to me that she has started to resent her partner because he is at home and she isn't. She feels guilty.
I am in awe of her working to provide for her family but would like to hear your opinion?
The colleague is a bitter, spiteful person and had no role in making the decision of your friend. The decision belongs to the parents so that they can provide the best they can for their children. My husband and I were both the stay-at-home parent at different times: he stayed home when our son was born 12 years ago while he was looking for work, and I am currently at home for the past six years when my daughter was born and my husband had the income that could support the family. There may be resentment for that "free-time" the other has at home with the child(ren), but if the children are happy and have the best care that the parents can afford, then it doesn't matter who is the one watching over them.
When it comes to "stay at home" parents there still remains a "double standard" for some folks. Some people say being a "stay at home parent" is one of the hardest and unappreciated jobs. However if it's a (man) who is staying at home he's considered lazy and the woman is considered neglectful.
Even in the case of a divorce most people would frown on a woman who decided the children would be better off living with their father. Oddly enough she would have more (women) attacking her for her decision than men. A lot of men fight hard to win custody these days.
We will never have true "equality" as long as we insist that our gender dictate who should do which jobs.
If a couple can afford to have one person stay at home it makes logical sense that the one with the most earning potential should be the person working outside of the home. To my knowledge there is no scientific proof that says women are better parents simply based on their gender. Marriage is a partnership. No need to be bitter!
I have never understood the debate between work at home and stay at home mothers for this simple reason. Mothers work no matter if they are at a job all day away from their children or at home with their children.
I chose to retire from a professional well-paying career and stay home with my children. I felt I would be a better parent if I gave my children all of my attention as I had a high-demanding and very stressful career in law which took me away from home for 10-12 hours a day.
However, this doesn't mean that I think all mothers should do this. I think it depends on the family unit and what works best for each individual family.
I am re-married now to a lovely devoted man that had 7 children before meeting me. His children are all grown. I'm still raising mine. I honestly think and have told him as much that he would make a better stay home dad than I am a stay home mom.
Part of my problem is I'm high strung and have a need to do a lot of busy work. It was very hard for me to adjust staying home after working for so long and at such a wild pace in life.
I'm good at staying home and managing a home and family. I also created a business from home to help support the needs of my Autistic son. But I have known many people who can't stand staying home and need a consistent, structured day that staying home doesn't provide for them. Also, many people like the idea of having early education for their children in a structured environment with social privileges which may not otherwise be obtained if the parents stayed home. I am lucky to live in a neighborhood with lots of opportunities for social interaction and so that was never an issue for us before preschool.
I don't think it's appropriate to insult others though based on their decision to stay home or not. I've had many friends go back to work as early as weeks after a child was born and I've seen no evidence that their child lacks in any way from the parent working. And vice versa.
I've also witnessed families with stay home mothers that have children grow up to be nonproductive citizens, as well as working mothers that have children that grow up to be nonproductive citizens. So the argument isn't really valid because I think in the end it's an equal result.
Each family needs to make a decision based on what meets their needs.
As with anything, it depends on the individuals involved. My husband is the stay-at-home. I work from home, but I spend my work day in a home office and studio that's separate from the house, so he truly is the sole caretaker during the day. We get a TON of people saying, "Why doesn't he get a job?" Or, "Why do you spend so much time working instead of taking care of the kids?"
The thinking seems to be that Mom is the best with the kids and house, and Dad is going to make the most money. That's just not true in a lot of cases. I built my business based on my own strengths; while others can do it, none can do it quite as fast and efficient as I can. My husband is far older than me, less hire-able, and has a LOT more experience raising kids than I do. He's also a better cook and enjoys housework, where I'd be gritting my teeth to keep a semi-clean house and turn out edible meals.
So, yeah -- whoever made that comment is stuck in the world of double standards. Why comment about her not raising the kids, when fathers are just as much responsible for their creation, and should be of their upbringing? I say that with any household responsibilities, including earning wages and taking care of the kids, the tasks should be divided up according to the strengths of each individual, not what genitalia they happen to have.
Short and to the point, I agree with those who say it's up to the parents. As long as someone is there to take care of the kids, it doesn't matter what gender the person is.
Like most of the people here, I believe it is a question of mutual understanding among the couple. We talk about equality and expect the women to be stay home moms. This smells of hypocrisy. The colleague of your friend seems like a hateful and arrogant typical male from the last century. Firstly, he has no right commenting on others personal lives and second he must understand that it is not something that should be decided by gender but something that depends upon the mutual understanding among both the parents.
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