Gender Role Bias In My Community And Amongst Friends And Family
I am currently unemployed, I have not worked for over a year. My wife is a physician and earns the income for our family. I have been spending the past year or so staying at home with our two children and running the household. I am not embarrassed by my role, I am actually quite proud. There are a few things that I need to improve upon in regards to maintaining the daily household chores, but overall I am doing very well. My wife has no problem with me staying home because our children aren't being raised by strangers and it saves us around $1500 a month in child care expenses.
I am educated and have an impressive resume, there are those in our circle of acquaintances that believe I should be out working too. My poor wife should not be forced to be responsible for supporting our family. For instance, my mother-in-law keeps pushing the issue of me going to work, she even tells me about insulting job positions that she hears about or take the time to look up for me. After almost ten years of knowing each other, she still has no idea who I am or what I am capable of doing. She tells me that she thinks I am a good parent, but goes out of her way to point out everything she thinks I am doing wrong. She has on several occasions stated that my children would benefit from being in daycare while I worked, instead of being at home. My wife makes at least three times what I would ever hope to make in my profession. She is also very pleased with how I am raising our children in her absence. And last of all, the most important reason for our decision is that if she and I were to both be working in our designated professions at the same time, we would never have time for our children or for each other.
I can tell any man who reads this how he can avoid talking to conceited people at a dinner party. When they ask you what your profession is, just tell them you are a stay at home dad. People will immediately stop talking to you and act as if you are not there, especially if these people are wealthier and have more education than you do. When my wife was interviewing for her position at her current office, one of the office partners and his wife took turns questioning me for information about myself. When I asked them about their inquires about my professional career and education, their answer was that they were attempting to get a bette grasp of what kind of person they were intending to hire. Once they discovered I was not a doctor or a lawyer, they began to get increasingly condescending. They did not ask me direct questions that would allow me to present myself in a way that it did not look like my wife was married to a heathen ingrate. I allowed them to do this for about 45 minutes, before I had to tell them that they are not interviewing me, they are interviewing my wife. When the doctor got snippy with me and said he is interviewing me to see if my wife was worthy to be in their practice based on their perception of what my support for her would be and what I would do should she have to work long hours and holidays. My response was that they should just ask me those questions instead of trying to make me look like I am just some moron who got lucky and married a doctor. So I told them my education background, and my prior work experience to include my military experience. I gave them information they should have asked for directly instead of the insulting open ended questions they were asking. This same couple still turn their noses up at me because I am a stay at home dad. Then again it could be because I very politely put them in their place during my wife's interview dinner. I want to raise my children myself, I don't want a daycare worker or a school teacher to raise my children. Apparently to some of the people we are stuck hanging out with I am beneath them and that my unemployed status is somehow personally affecting them. I am just thankful that I have this opportunity to have a situation such as our family does. If my wife were not in her profession, we would both be working and our children would be in daycare all day.
Another gender issue I have experienced is when I take the kids to the playground or to the pool. Most of the time, I am the only man present and the mothers just sit and stare or whisper to each other. I don't talk to these women unless they talk to me first, I don't want be seem creepy or that I am looking for a relationship of some sort. I did make the mistake of speaking to a woman first, my son was having a rough time getting what he wanted to say out, so I relayed the information for him. It turned out that he likes the boy he was playing with and he was trying to ask his mom if her son could come to our house and play. Her response was that she was not interested, and that I should be ashamed of myself, using my son to pickup women. I was instantly angered, I could not help but to respond to her by telling her that she should not flatter herself, she was not even remotely desirable to me. And second, I was just telling her what my son was telling her, nothing more. He just wants to be friends with her son. Why am I creepy or a pervert picking up women if I talk to a mother while on an outing with my children as a parent, but when a woman talks to me I can't just automatically assume that she is trying to pick me up or that she is creepy?
So....with that said, a decision needs to be made. Which is more important having a strong family bond or being socially accepted? I would like to think that a strong family unit would be more important, but in my inner circle of friends and family members it appears that as a man I need to be out working and bringing in a paycheck rather than raising my children.