No matter how comfortable a stay-at-home dad is in his shoes, sometimes there is no breaking free of traditional gender roles that have been reinforced forever. Arguably the toughest one for SAHDs to deal with is the wife as the breadwinner.
Although the notion is easing a bit – many reports have about a third of women earning more than their husbands – if there is something ingrained in men from the beginning of time it’s that they must provide for their families. So how does a stay-at-home dad and his family tackle the breadwinner role?Money Rules
As with any problem that can arise in a family, it is important to communicate about the issue.
On the surface this is a money matter, and you and your spouse should talk about finances often, daily if necessary. The more on the same page the two of you are on finances, the more comfortable you are going to be with the situation.
Know where the money is coming from, how it is being budgeted and who is paying the bills. Better yet, get proactive. If you create the budget, pay the bills and enforce money rules. That way you are having a big say on family economics, which can make you feel as part of the process as she is.Talk About It
Once you are on the same page with the hard numbers, discuss how you each feel about the situation. It’s probably not the first time the two of you have sat down regarding the role – it was certainly a big part of the decision to stay home – but it is never a bad idea to keep these feelings on the table.
That’s especially true if those feelings are migrating toward the negative. But if this all becomes too much to work through, don’t ever be afraid to seek professional help, especially if it threatens to break up the family.
Although chances are, if you and your spouse are open with each other and talk about the situation often, it is going to make you more comfortable with the role. Reaffirm that you play a vital role in how the family functions. Money is only one element of how day-to-day life pans out.Respect Your Wife’s Feelings
As a stay-at-home dad, you may not be the only one who is in a rut because of your lack of breadwinning. Your spouse is dealing with the role reversal as well, and possibly more often because she is out working every day in a professional pit of misconceptions.
As often as you get asked how you feel about being supported by your wife or if she is your boss, she is defending herself and you to those same people. She also might be feeling a lot of pressure to not let the family down and to make sure there is enough money to live on.
She also has dealt with a lifetime of ingrained gender roles, as well
Don’t dwell on your insecurities when she is having it just as rough. That can be selfish. And nothing good can come out of you both being in a dark mood because of your breadwinning roles.
A better idea is to defend her honor as well and team up on the doubters. Your unity in dealing with the situation could help you both get past your own issues with the reversed roles.Time will Work it Out
Have patience. This too will pass.
There are a lot of wide-ranging emotions when someone takes on a new role, especially one like a stay-at-home dad where most traditional views of fatherhood are thrown out the window. And even veteran SAHDs will have moments of relapse.
This is a period of transition. Don’t be surprised if once you have adjusted, it will seem like this is how finances always worked for your family.
Hopefully where the income comes from won’t matter as much as making sure the family is happy and healthy. It might even seem silly that you fretted about it, although you’ll still have to defend yourself to the traditionalists.