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Working Mom Musings: My Concern About Working Moms Being the Primary Breadwinner

As mentioned in a few other posts, the Pew Research Trust has reported that the percentage of women who are primary breadwinners is steadily growing. I for one am concerned about those moms.

Anti-discrimination laws changed the workplace, but not the home

Working women have made more progress in the workplace because the anti-discrimination laws changed employment practices and policies that kept women out the workforce and largely underemployed.  While we have more work to do, things have gotten considerably better. Progress at home and in our private lives is a different story.

I am one of those women who is the primary breadwinner.  What I have learned is that while we have taken on more responsibilities at work the paradigm at home has not changed. So long as both parents work outside of the home who earns more money doesn't tend to influence who is in charge of the home. The assumption is that working mothers manage our careers, primarily care for our children, and manage our homes. Indeed, we are bringing home the bacon, frying it up in the pan, shopping for it, doing the dishes... We're doing everything required except slaughtering the damned pig.

Men need to do more, but women also need to let them

The dirty little secret is we cannot blame this problem on the men in our lives. Our own traditional views of gender roles runs deep.  Just because a woman might make more money doesn't change that. Most women believe that it is their job to take care of everything at home. And while many men have become more helpful by taking on more duties, there is a fundamental difference between “helping out” and believing that it is your job.  When you’re “helping out” you feel good whenever you perform any small task and expect gratitude in return. When it is your job you feel guilt whenever you don’t do something yourself and are responsible for making the schedule to ensure that you receive “help”. There is a different level of investment when it is your job and a much different level of responsibility. 

Transforming the home will be harder than transforming the workplace. However, we have to try. As women we need to relinquish some control and allow men to do more, even if we don't think that they do it right. And men need to recognize that it takes a village to raise a child and maintain a home. So when both parents work outside of the home, both need to share in the household duties. As for now, this type of sharing is just a dream in many households, but its day can come with work and commitment.

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