With just three months left until we welcome our first child, my husband and I have naturally been discussing how to best manage our future family, in terms of child care. As the breadwinner in my marriage, I’ve pondered what life might be like with a stay-at-home husband and dad. Financially, we could afford to live off my income alone, eliminate the need to outsource child care and designate my husband as the primary caretaker. And from an emotional standpoint, it’s comforting to imagine our child being cared for by a parent rather than a hired caregiver.
But we’ve ultimately decided no matter how wide our income disparity and no matter who is bringing home the smaller paycheck, entirely opting out of the workforce to be a stay-at-home parent is far too risky. The cons outweigh the pros.
I didn’t always think like this. The single breadwinner model used to be the accepted norm in our country, and in some circles, during the turn of the century, it was considered an aspiration — a luxury practiced by the “elite, successful women who can afford real choice,” according to Lisa Belkin’s 2003 New York Times piece.
But times have changed. The economy has changed. We now know some of the struggles that surfaced for the aforementioned opt-out generation. And after spending the better part of the last two years examining the lives of couples and their financial choices and pouring over loads of research on the topic for my upcoming book “When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women,” I’ve come to the conclusion that stay-at-home parenting just isn’t worth it.
Bottom line: If the strength of your marriage and your finances is important to you, it’s best to keep working — at the very least, for the following three reasons.