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I’m A Stay-At-Home Dad, But Please Don’t Praise Me For My ‘Sacrifice’

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What is life like for a stay-at-home mom? What sacrifices did you and your husband make for your family?

My life as a stay-at-home dad had both upsides and downsides.

I liked the opportunity to spend a whole lot of time with my son. And I liked the freedom you get from planning your own days from start to end with no need to accommodate a job with fixed hours. I disliked that I was more socially isolated (this aspect was probably worse for me as a man because there are very few stay-at-home dads, compared to the number of stay-at-home moms).

I don’t think of it as having made “sacrifices” for your family though. And I don’t think it’s a good thing to think of it that way and consider yourself some kind of a martyr sacrificed on the altar of Family.

A family should be a cooperative unit. The goal should be to have everyone’s needs and wants covered to as large a degree as practically possible. No single family-member should feel as if they are sacrificing themselves for the good of the rest of the family.

Besides, being a stay-at-home parent isn’t necessarily more of a “sacrifice” than spending 2000 hours every year in a (possibly boring, exhausting, stressful or uncomfortable) job is.

No single family-member should feel as if they are sacrificing themselves for the good of the rest of the family.

The phrasing of this as a “sacrifice” also makes it sound as if the alternative is to sacrifice your family in order to have a new car every year, and that’s not a fair representation of the life of dual-income families.

These days both me and my wife work. And you know what? I drive a 15-year-old Toyota that has circled the globe 6 times by now. I could afford a much fancier car, but it’s never been a priority for us.

Instead, our dual incomes makes it possible for us to live in a comfortable house where each kid has their own room. It’s made it possible for us to take vacations together as a family every year. It’s made it possible for us to save up some money so that we’re safer if one of us becomes unemployed or unable to work. It’s made it possible for us to allow our kids to participate in activities and sports that cost money.

I don’t think that can reasonably be described as having sacrificed our family for our careers.

I don’t think it’s a good thing to think of it that way and consider yourself some kind of a martyr sacrificed on the altar of Family.

Also notice that this question asks about stay-at-home moms, not stay-at-home parents, because of course the mother is the one who should make this “sacrifice,” right? That assumption is sexist. And it’s harmful for equality and fairness in a society. And we happen to care about that. We’ve got 2 daughters and a son. And we care about a equal and fair world for their sake too. (Although not only for their sake.)

Eivind Kjorstad is a writer whose work is featured at Norwegian (non)Sense and Random Rambling. You can find more Quora posts here: