Saturday, March 08, 2008

Opting Out, Staying Home, and More

There have been some very interesting discussions throughout my corner of the blogosphere -- I wish I had more time to contribute to these discussions and express my own point-of-view, but unfortunately there are not enough hours in the day for me to do everything I would like to do. But here are some highlights:

Much discussion has gone on about choices relating to being parents. Some professional women leave their well-paid jobs to raise children; others continue to work and rely on daycare during the day. Most professional men's days remain the same, while a few particularly brave men opt out of the rat race and stay home with their children. While I think it can be a good idea for one parent to stay home with the children, particularly if finances will allow it, fathers who opt-out are conspicuously rare. My family is exceptional -- I make enough money that we can easily afford for Jeff to stay home, and he chooses to do so.

I call stay-at-home dads brave because they face more discrimination in their chosen vocation than I do in mine. I've written about it before: when he leaves the house with our son, Jeff steps into a world where he is considered incapable of doing the job he loves and excels at. Strangers approach him and ask where the baby's mother is. Others give him unsolicited advice when Vinny misbehaves in the least. Still others praise him for "babysitting" his own child. In none of these cases do the other people believe that he might actually be or is capable of being a primary caregiver.

The patriarchical structure of our society hurts men, too. It's particularly hard for men to do anything that might be (stereotypically) considered women's work. Men are discouraged from showing their softer sides, which makes me admire the brave ones who do it anyhow.


EcoGeoFemme said...

Your posts on this topic are great! Thanks for sharing them.

Anonymous said...

I admire them too. Your hubby is really brave! I think mine is too - I mean, I did get married in red in front of his whole god-fearing hispanic family, and was all supportive of my choice.