This makes me so angry. Why aren't we talking about work-life… 
3rd-Feb-2009 06:24 am
sociology, interviews
This makes me so angry. Why aren't we talking about work-life balance for fathers? Why aren't we talking about the effects on children whose fathers work outside the home?
3rd-Feb-2009 02:26 pm (UTC)
offhand, and without commenting on which way it SHOULD be...

it seems to me that the most natural way for things to work is for the mother to raise the child and the father to provide for them. I know cases where the reverse is true, BUT there has to be a transition in there somewhere between when the mother is still feeding the child and when the child is old enough to stay home with his father...

Now, in the past N years there are a lot of technological approaches to turning this around (...feeding a young infant from anything but a breast is a technological approach of some level or another). And then you can pop the kids into day care and send Mom off to work. Or I know at least one family with a stay-at-home dad and a salary earning mom, and they seem to do great at it. But that presupposes there's a way to smooth over that 'break', whenever it happens.

So all in all I think it's the genesis of the situation that affects the children. Not that fathers should or shouldn't work outside the home, not that mothers should or shouldn't... but that there's something that's often missing from a modern family when nobody's home... and it's still typically enough the woman that stays home when you have a stay at home parent, that that's what you study.

I mean, take a second and think about trying to create a statistically significant study of stay at home dads. It seems to me you'd have a hard time coming up with a convincing argument that the only real variable in family X with a stay-at-home dad and family Y where both parents worked, was that X's dad could afford to stay home... this may be some combination of tradition and cultural bias and male ego, but before I got too mad about a study of stay-at-home moms for being biased, it may be worth a thought.

Just a couple thoughts, my friend.

peace to you,

3rd-Feb-2009 02:34 pm (UTC)
I agree. I think the issue here is having at least one parent home.

It isn't right or wrong, but in a vast majority of cases, it is the mother that stays home and the father that works.

I have more to say, but not the time to say it.
3rd-Feb-2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
gorski - you certainly have a point about care giving and money earning as important family roles here, but shouldn't the working parent get to care about work-life balance too? shouldn't we acknowledge that having either parent gone a million hours a week will have an affect on a child?
3rd-Feb-2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
Of course. When we get around to having children of our own, I definitely intend to spend time at home with them, and not just have Amber raise them on her own without involvement from me. No question that that's important for both the father and the kids (and for the mother, too).

But the article didn't treat it in terms of "does she take work home with her", though, or "does she have a good family life when she's out of the office"--it treated it as "does she work outside the home in the first place", and the high water mark for the study was 20 hours per week.

A typical family can't afford to have one or both parents only employed as part-timers of less than half time, with no full-time worker.

So you've got to have one or the other parent as the breadwinner--and it's so commonly the male, that I'd find any conclusions drawn by a study of working women/stay-at-home dads compared to either families with both parents working or parents where only the father works, so suspicious that you'd have to spend a while convincing me the population was otherwise equivalent... I'd think it's pretty self-selecting.

That's all I meant. :)

Peace to you, Red,

3rd-Feb-2009 04:11 pm (UTC)
I suspect that because fathers working outside the home is the way it's always been, people assume that dads have it all worked out. Maybe guys are taught that "this is how it is, therefore you don't get to complain about it". For me, personally, Mom working felt perfectly normal because she always had, but Dad was on-and-off employed--and miserable when he was working (he didn't get a job that made him happy, and that made him feel less guilty about not being home to take care of me, until I was in college). It seemed to me like that work-life balance was much, much harder on my father than on my mother, but you're absolutely right that there aren't studies on that, or people taking it very seriously. It's interesting that it's a situation that really shortchanges men in the course of assuming something stereotypical to be true about women.
3rd-Feb-2009 08:40 pm (UTC)
So, um, I assume that you're angry about the societal biases that mean that a study like that is the norm, and not the study itself (which seems reasonable to me, as others above have also commented, given the aforementioned societal biases). These societal biases also annoy me no end-- well, you've heard me rant on it before-- I don't know that there's any changing them until most parents start raising their girls to think that it's perfectly okay to be the provider and have their husband be a stay-at-home caregiver (really-- I know so many women who can't deal with that idea; I myself have problems with it, though I know it's blatantly unfeminist and I hate that I do that), and their boys (and actually both sexes) to think that being a stay-at-home parent is a career worthy of respect. Okay, I'll stop my own little rant now :)
4th-Feb-2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
I can give you a mom's perspective, coming not only from me but also a lot of friends. Those factors don't have to do with work-life balance for mothers or fathers, they have to do with old values that -most- (not all) families still deal with.

Most affluent working mothers are still married. Most affluent mothers have to hold to a high standard of mothering and housekeeping. That means, that on top of working, they also have to have a clean, beautiful house ready to show off at the next wine and cheese party; fresh, homemade snacks for the kids' parties at school; healthy homemade dinners most nights of the week; and the kids have to have clean, ironed, stylish clothing--for which they have to do all the shopping; and they do -most- of the volunteering in the class, running kids to activities, etc. In -most- homes, the women still do all of the above. With all of that responsibility, there's little time for her to adequately take care of herself or her children.

In less affluent, or single-mother homes, there are many fewer expectations. Most can't afford large homes, and aren't expected to keep them company ready. Most eat convenience meals. Because of income restrictions, the kids don't have a lot of after-school activities. The kids tend to do better in school because they are in childcare after school, and most of those programs have "homework time" and someone to help with homework.

The issue is really one of men needing to take on more responsibility at home for cooking, cleaning, childcare, laundry, shopping, etc. Unfortunately, many men, especially conservative men, grew up watching their mothers do all of the above while dad mowed the lawn on Saturday. My husband and I are struggling with this right now, and now that he's unemployed he appreciates how much I do and how much work is involved. Before that, he thought that I had "plenty of time" during the day to do it all. He constantly insinuated that he worked much harder at his job than I did at home, my job, and school. What he doesn't realize is that I used to do all that *and* work *and* go to school.

What we need is a society wherein men and women can share responsibilities based on how much each of them work.
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