My wife and I know two families in which the wives are breadwinners and the men are househusbands. These are highly-functioning families where mom, dad, and kids are as happy as a modern family can be. It’s clear to me that becoming a househusband may be a great idea for many men.
It’s a fact that women outperform men in education and that traditionally low-skill, male-oriented occupations are being automated or outsourced in favor of fields that highly value skills that women offer as much or more than men. This means that there are more and more marriages where it makes sense for the husband to stay home and for the wife to be the breadwinner.
In low-cost areas where one income is sufficient, the woman will have increasing earning power. In more expensive areas, the insane cost of childcare alone may make it preferable for the husband to stay home even if he earns $50,000 per year ($50K equates to about $40K in take home pay, which is about $3,300 a month. Child care for two children can run over $3,500 a month. )
So in many cases, the most rational decision will be for the husband to stay at home. But how many will actually do so?
First, men must accept that being a homemaker is an important job, and they should be proud of it. Men are just as capable as women are of caring for children, and with significant training, can do a good job at taking care of the home. By becoming a househusband, they will be making a rational decision that makes the most sense for their families. What’s to be ashamed of?
Second, some househusbands will embrace the subservient role they will be taking on. Others will have to accept it, hopefully with support and direction from their wives. Their wives will control the finances, and will make the most important decisions, such as where they will live, what kind of home and vehicle the family will purchase, and how the children will be educated. The husbands don’t have to take all of their orders from their wives, but as they see the wives making the big decisions, they will probably realize it’s best to defer to them in all decisions.
Third, and most importantly, husbands must admit the huge benefits their wives would realize. Wives would be free to pursue their careers to the fullest, and would help close the absurdly large gender gap in salary. They would be confident that their children were in safe hands, and can return at the end of the day to a home environment that is welcoming, peaceful, and extremely fulfilling. I would personally love for my wife to tell her coworkers, “my husband stays at home taking care of the house and kids.” Many of her male colleagues have housewives, so why not her?
Alas, my salary right now is such that it doesn’t make sense for me to become a househusband. While I would relish the role of supporting my wife and spending all day at home with the kids, in the long run I’m more useful at work, collecting a paycheck. This isn’t such a bad problem to have, and as childcare becomes an expense for us, this may change. But for now, it looks like I’ll be in the workforce.
I just wonder how many men are out there working, when their families would be better off with them at home taking care of things.