Stay at Home Dads?

“I’ll run the country while you stay at home and look after the kids?”

Woah… I’m sure those are not words that your average man wants to hear.

If you’re anything like me, you’re not that into politics. The Trump vs Hillary debacle is over. The better person has lost. 

I wouldn’t call myself a Hillary fan…but Trump? Seriously? Isn’t he some guy who used to be on reality TV?

I can’t help but wonder if things would have been different if Bill had stayed home and Hillary had run the country. But would a woman like Hillary ever be attracted to the house husband type? And would a man like Bill ever want to marry a woman who stayed home and err…baked cookies?

indira_gandhi_1977(Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.)

Once again, I had a Skype conversation with my good friend Charmaine Yam from my new work-in-progress treehouse office loft.  

“What do you think of stay at home dads?” I ask.

“I have mixed feelings towards it,” she says. “I had an Asian type of parentage. Your parents always want you to be marry well, be taken care of and be married to someone with a better career than you. 

“But I don’t think stay at home dads should be frowned upon in our current society. 

“I know a lot of female doctors whose husbands might stay at home with the kids while they’re young and go back to work when the kids are older. It’s because the female has a more intense career. It’s not as easy to take a break. It’s hard to do part-time as a doctor.”

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“How would it make you feel to financially support your husband?” I ask. 

“I don’t want to bear the financial burden for a long time. For a short period, it’s okay. He might be out of work, be made redundant, or the kids might be young and he chooses to take time out to look after them.

“I couldn’t accept a husband who stays at home permanently, though. I don’t want a house husband forever.”

I hear ya.

I’m a junior high school teacher. It’s generally considered female dominated profession. Fortunately for me, in the past two years, I’ve worked with an equal number of men and women. I don’t believe there is anything in our DNA that makes us women more capable of dealing with children.

It’s a lifeskill, like anything else.

“There’s still this maternal image of women as mothers,” Charmaine says. “They got pregnant, carried a kid for 9 months and have to take leave to breastfeed.

“They’re still the primary caregivers in the family. Biologically, it’s the natural order of things. It’s slowly changing, though. Women are more equal now. I think it depends on who in the family is more career-focused. I don’t think there’s going to be a complete role-reversal. It really depends on the person.”

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“What about those women who want to stay at home?” I ask.

“I think that if other women want to stay at home, that’s fine. I wouldn’t want to be a stay at home wife cause I’d be bored shitless. I’ve done all of this training and then you just stay at home with these kids. It’s good to have a career so that you have some other life outside of your house and kids.”

“What about some of the benefits of staying at home?” I ask. 

“It’s good for women who don’t actually enjoy work. It’s also good for the kids for a mum to be there all the time.” 

“And the downside of this is…” I probe.

“I think a lot of housewives lose their sense of self and lose their social life, which isn’t good. They feel lost when their kids grow up and leave. It’s a big change. It can be quite detrimental.

“Also, if you’re solely the housewife, your husband wouldn’t have that close contact with kids. They might think: you take care of the kids and I take care of the money.

“I think it’s nice when it’s a bit more balanced.”

Indeed, indeed. But careers aren’t just about money and making as much of it as possible. It’s also about fulfilment, purpose and happiness. 

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“What would you say if your son wanted to be a nurse/midwife/kindergarden teacher?” I ask. 

“I’d be curious, Charmaine says. “I’d be surprised. I might not like it, but I don’t think I can actively stop him from doing it.”

“Do you think it’s a career that lacks ambition?”

“They are careers that can be rewarding. But the rewards are not in plain sight. It’s under recognised.”   

If you’ve ever heard the words, ‘I was in labour for 9 hours’, you KNOW that women do a lot of hidden labour that is necessary, but has no economic value. 

It seems we women can never do it right. If we choose to stay single and focus on our careers – people ask us why we’re not married. If we decide to take time out to focus on our family and our own personal projects – we get asked when we’re going back to work. If we decide to stay virgins till marriage we’re prudes. If we choose the opposite… we’re… *insert derogatory names*. 

Conventional wisdom these days says that ‘we can’t have it all’.

It was never about us having it all. 

It is about us being true to what we want and having the opportunities to do so without people badgering us about how things ‘are’, ‘should be’ and ‘can be’.

“The real question is,” Charmaine says.

Oh, oh… Here it comes.

“Are men okay with being house husbands? There might be more women who are okay with it than men who are ok with it. I don’t think many men would enjoy being a house husband permanently.” 

I’ll run the country while you stay at home and look after the kids? What say you?

Any takers?

No? 

Well… Here’s to four more years of bad reality TV. 

Author: Dipa

Tarot Tales from Japan

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