Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Yes, Vivia, there really are Stay-At-Home Dads

So I rarely blog.

So writing two blog post in as many days is crazy.

Writing two blog post in two days about the same person, fucking nuts.

But looking at Vivia Chen's twitter feed she shared another blog post she wrote on the same subject.

This one at the law jobs blog where she pontificates that maybe women lawyers just don't make enough money to have spouses staying at home.

I don't know if female Wall Streeters are more open about being the breadwinner in the family than their sisters in Big Law. But as I noted in Time, the arrangement "might be more palatable if the wife makes an outrageous amount of money." In other words, if the wife is an I-banker pulling in gazillions of dollars, maybe everyone will learn to make peace with the gender reversal.

"The problem might be that women lawyers aren't making enough money to feel they can justify having a househusband," one female lawyer explained to me. "Making half a million or even $1 million doesn't compare with what bankers bring home."

I don't know whether that means female lawyers can't afford stay-at-home spouses or that only the super rich have the freedom to break gender stereotypes.

Again, WTF?

My problem is not that she wants to talk about how gender roles play out in her social sphere. But it is like she doesn't even know there is an outside world.

This October I went to Denver for the 18th Annual At-Home Dads Convention. Yes, 18th annual. So while growing At-Home Dads are not some brand new invention of the super rich.

And I hung out with, learned with and learned from about 80 other guys who are the primary care givers in their families. Guys that change diapers, take the kids to school, cook dinners, do laundry and all the other things associated with running a household.

While sharing your financial records is not required for acceptance I feel pretty confident that most don't have wives making "gazillions of dollars." In fact there are several guys that were there on scholarship. The National At-Home Dad Network has a special scholarship fund to help guys who want to come but wouldn't be able to because they just can't afford it.

What Chen, and people like her, seem to miss is it isn't all about money.

Sure, you need money to live and function. For most, but not all, our wives made more or at least had more earning potential when we started having kids. Money is one factor in a list of things that led many of us to stay home.

But the primary thing was making a choice. Making a choice to have a parent stay home and take care of the kids and the household.

What Chen seems to dismiss is the sacrifice families make to have a parent, mom or dad, at home full time. Maybe it means giving up summers in Paris or living without cable. But somehow we survive.

So Viva (I hope you don't mind me calling you Viva. After two ranting blog post I feel we should be on a first name basis) it isn't just about money. It isn't about some magic number of dollars, like a gazillion, that we come to and say this is the point I will stay home with the kids.

Now I'm not saying your kids are ruined if both parents work. Each family has to make decisions on what works best for them. Just stop pretending that this is some choice left only for the super rich. Stop ignoring the reality of stay-at-home dads who wives don't make a million dollars. Don't be oblivious to the scarifies many families make to have a dad stay home to raise the kids and care for the household.

No, we may not have your net worth, but a lot of us are pretty fucking happy!

previous post: When Reporters Should be Embarrassed by Their Lack of Knowledge

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