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Why Stay-at-Home Parenting Just Isn’t Worth It

Your risk of divorce is lower. Economists at Boston University found that dual-income marriages are more secure, and couples are less likely to split than those in marriages with only one working spouse. Further, according to the book “Getting to 50/50: How Working Parents Can Have it All,” marriages in which there is a sole breadwinner get divorced at a rate 14 percent above average, the highest of any income split. And if income and housework is divided evenly, the risk of divorce is 48 percent lower than average. Why? The authors say it’s got a lot to do with the fact that dual-income marriages have more financial stability. Being a sole breadwinner carries a tremendous amount of stress, and having a partner to share the weight can lead to more harmony and compatibility.
Now, you may be wondering, what about the children? Let’s not forget the most important people in our lives. Aren’t children better off when raised by a stay-at-home parent than a babysitter or daycare attendant? Conventional wisdom may lead one to think so, but from an academic standpoint, new research finds this to be false. After evaluating the grade point averages of 135,000 Danish 15 year olds whose mothers worked and whose mothers stayed at home, a research team led by Cornell University concluded that, ''maternal employment has a positive effect on children's academic performance.” The authors believe that when both parents work, a bigger pool of money provides parents the ability to spend more on education enrichment like tutoring, music and sports.

Okay, but are kids happier with a parent at home? As sociologist Kathleen Gerson, author of the “Unfinished Revolution,” told me, the most important thing for your children to witness is that you have a healthy relationship with your work and your money. If they sense that you hate your job, it won’t matter how much you’re bringing in. They won’t appreciate it. 

So the key here is not to just work for the sake of working and to defy stay-at-home parenting with just any job. If you want to make the most of this tradeoff, best to find work that actually feels fulfilling to you — and the kids will be alright.

Farnoosh Torabi is the author of the upcoming “When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women,” which hits shelves May 1, 2014. Sign up for her newsletter and receive a free gift: Farnoosh’s top financial hacks and habits that help her — and hopefully soon you — manage money more simply and effectively.

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