How Much Money Is Enough?

Dear Mr. Dad: Right now, I work fulltime and my wife is home with our twin preschoolers. However, after some discussion, we realized that she’d prefer to be working and I’d rather be home with the kids. Where we run into challenges is that my wife feels she can’t support us on the same financial level we are at now. Does who stays home have to be a financial decision or, assuming we can make ends meet and pay our bills with my wife working and me at home, is there any reason for us not to do that?

A: What an interesting situation. In most families where dad is at home and mom is the primary breadwinner, the decision to reverse traditional gender roles was made because mom earns more than dad. In your case, though, you and your wife are making your decision based purely on what each of you would actually rather be doing. Congrats to both of you for having the courage to even entertain the idea.
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At-Home Dads: An Argument for Keeping the Mrs Barefoot and Pregnant?

A team of Danish and American researchers has discovered that men whose wives outearn them are more likely to have erectile dysfunction than men in more-traditional dad-as-breadwinner families. This was true even in families where the difference between the two salaries was fairly small, but when the woman earned about $20,000 per year more than the man, the chance that he’d need Viagra or other drugs for ED doubled.

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No, I’m Not Babysitting: I’m Their Dad

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m a stay at home father, have been for about two years, and really like it. But I’ve been feeling guilty. My wife works long hours and attends school while I do only about six hours of chores (throughout the day, not all at once). She says she’s perfectly fine with me being at home as long as I’m cooking and cleaning. Should I give in to social convention and get a job? Am I a failure as a husband? And, most importantly, why are stay-at-home dads frowned upon?

A: Wow, that’s a lot of questions. But let’s start with something you didn’t actually ask about: the phrase, “only about six hours of chores.” Dude, that is a lot of chores. Being an at-home dad is not supposed to be indentured servitude. Keeping the house clean and putting meals on the table (which, by the way, not all at-home moms do every day), is great. But your primary responsibility is to take care of your kids. No matter how good a day care or nanny is, having a parent with them is so much better (for them and for you).

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Military spouse of the year: And the winner is…. a dad!

A stay-at-home father of two has just received one of the highest civilian honors we can give: the 2012 Military Spouse of the Year from Military Spouse magazine. Jeremy Hilton, whose wife is in the Air Force, is the first man to ever receive the award.

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Helping a Depressed Stay-at-Home Dad

My husband is depressed about being a stay-at-home dad. He started off doing a great job, and the transition to staying home seemed to go really smoothly. But he recently told me that he resents the situation he’s in. He no longer seems interested in doing anything with our 8-month-old, he doesn’t shower very often, and he’s putting on weight because he uses food as comfort. What can I do?

What a difficult spot. There’s no question that he’s depressed: overeating, resentment, not taking care of himself, and losing interest in activities that used to bring him pleasure such as your baby) are classic signs.

I’m guessing, though, that the real issues is that your husband is having a crisis of masculinity. Most men are raised to think of themselves in terms of how much money they make and to see themselves in the role of provider/protector. It’s very hard for some men to get past this kind of socialization–even when logic and finances say that him staying home with the baby is the right thing.
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When Mom Really Does Wear Combat Boots

Dear Mr. Dad: You’ve written a lot about dads in the military, but I’m in the opposite situation—my wife is a deployed Marine, and I’m at home with the kids. I’m feeling completely overwhelmed. What can I do to support her and keep myself—and the kids–sane?

A: First of all, thank you both for your service. With women making up about 11 percent of deployed servicememebers, you’re not alone. Here are a few ideas that may help.

  • Don’t fill your e-mails or phone calls with complaints or tell her about problems she can’t do anything to resolve. You’ll just frustrate her. But don’t paint an overly rosy picture either—she’ll get suspicious that you’re covering something up.
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