Should there only be one breadwinner in the family?
An interesting post states that from a rational, economic standpoint, there should only be ONE breadwinner in a family, not two:
While many will argue that the theory of Comparative Advantage is too simple to hold for such complex systems as global economics, they do hold true on a smaller scale – such as within the system that is a family.
If we look at a family as a system, we have to agree that the parents are what allow a family to continue to function.
They make money.
They take care of the children. They take care of the home.
They purchase goods for the family, as well as feed and clothe the members of the family.
Without parents, there is no family.
The parents play a vital role because they make sure that the family stays both healthy and happy.
For this to happen – minimally – the parents have to do only two things: make money and raise the children.
The article goes on to state that one parent should make money and the other should raise children (whether it’s the father or mother is up for debate).
The other point the article makes is that since women TEND to be penalized for being mothers, and make less money then men (unable to climb the career ladder), it makes rational sense then, that men should be the breadwinners to do what they (on average) do best: make money and women should stay at home and raise the children.
THOSE POINTS ARE QUITE VALID
Think about it — the cost of daycare is prohibitive, at around $1200 – $1500 a month, it’s really quite expensive to go to work and leave your child with someone else.
Unless you are making MORE than the cost of daycare and possibly a second car, gas, car insurance and so on to actually work, it may be cheaper to have one parent stay at home.
Men also do make more money, but that’s partly because women choose lower-paying fields to work in, don’t negotiate as often as they should, and they’re also kept at lower wage levels due to systemic discrimination that’s baked in and ingrained in the mindsets of (almost) every company and its leaders.
Still, men DO make more money than women overall.
Ergo, men should be the ones working and the women staying at home.
Logically, it all makes sense.
(Not Baby Bun, but he is JUST as adorable! I love this Flickr photoscream by Wesley Armson)
BUT IS IT VALID FOR ALL ECONOMIC LEVELS?
Pursuant (look at me and my fancy words!) to the argument above, I think one major factor missing from all of this is how well-off or educated a mother is.
I am not going to talk about fathers staying at home because I’ll assume that we’re following the model above, and that the father would naturally be the breadwinner as a result, so the point of contention would be whether the mother should work as well.
I read somewhere that richer mothers tend to go back to work sooner rather than deciding to stay at home, whereas poorer families with mothers who may only be able to make minimum wage, tend to stay at home because the cost of daycare doesn’t make sense.
So if you’re educated and rich, you can afford daycare/nannies and all that other stuff because you have a job that pays more than enough. If you are not educated and perhaps also a single mother, the odds are stacked so high against you succeeding, it’s scary.
(Much respect to all single mothers out there.. seriously!)
PERHAPS THE BEST SITUATION WOULD BE TO ALTERNATE BEING BREADWINNERS
Which brings me to this conclusion: the best solution would be to have parents alternate the roles and see who fits in which role the best.
Actually, this is what we’re doing — alternating the role of the breadwinner (even though technically we are each responsible for 50% of the expenses, regardless of if we work or don’t work).
Funny story: My mother-in-law when I was pregnant, told me “don’t worry about working, make HIM work and he’ll pay for everything. Just focus on the baby and taking care of him.”
I wanted to laugh because that’s not our situation at all.
No matter if I don’t work or work, I am still on the hook to pay 50% of all the expenses. He is not and has never been subsidizing or paying for me while on maternity leave or post-birth.
If one of us has to work and the other is benched or off without a contract, then that free person stays at home with Baby Bun.
If we BOTH have to work / both get contracts, then we’ll pay for private daycare.
The reason why this works is for these major reasons:
- I make good money and can afford to do this.
- My partner makes good money. Slightly better than me, if I am to be honest, but he’s also older.
- Either one of us can stay at home without trouble to take care of Baby Bun during the day.
If I didn’t make as good money, I don’t know if I’d feel the same way. We’d have to re-evaluate our situation.
I know some mothers might say: Oh my partner is useless. He can’t really take care of the baby, he doesn’t do this, or that, or this and that… and …[insert more babbling about how incompetent the guy is].
I don’t spout this rhetoric at all because it’s self-fulfilling.
Yes, I am a better caretaker of Baby Bun right now but it’s only because I’ve had a lot more experience than he has with a baby, seeing as I was his only parent around for the first few months of his life.
I don’t think I’m any better or worse than my partner at taking care of a child, seeing as Baby Bun is the first baby I’ve ever taken care of and held for more than 15 minutes.
I also don’t think it’s helpful or useful to say things like: Women are just naturally better at caring for children, because it makes something that isn’t true, become true.
Just like how you wouldn’t tell your child every day that they’re useless and stupid, you wouldn’t want to keep saying how awful your partner is at being a father, because he might just end up believing it, and frustrated, decide to give up and not bother.
I bite my tongue when I see certain things happen because that’s just his way of dealing with Baby Bun, and it may not be the way I would do it, but unless it’s something actually wrong (like the diaper is inside out or backwards), I don’t say anything.
I want him to feel confident that he can take care of a baby all by himself and not rely on me at all so that we’re able to alternate being breadwinners.