Typically, no one expects the wife to be the primary breadwinner while the husband becomes the childcare giver. Most people are raised in traditional households where the father makes enough to support the family, and the wife stays home to manage the children, finances, household and other vital roles. It usually doesn’t dawn on people that the roles can reverse. Also, when faced with this reversal, you ask, “is this okay?”
Many people grew up thinking a woman’s place was in the home. She’s the caregiver, nurturer, and the one who manages the household. People hold her up to the Proverbs chapter that’s become popular and argued for years. Usually, the father isn’t synonymous with teaching children, taking care of them, managing meals for the family, and doing the laundry.
However, sometimes circumstances don’t fall perfectly into line with expectations. For some households, it makes financial sense for Dad to stay home, or maybe he stays home because that’s what he’s good at, while Mom is killing the corporate world. So how do you figure out if it isn’t wrong for Dad to stay at home?
Staying at home doesn’t reallocate leadership.
One primary argument for why men shouldn’t stay at home with the children is because of the idea that men should be leaders of their families. Society has linked financial provision with family leadership, putting more inflection where it never was. Proverbs 31 references a woman who was doing business at the city gates. Financial gains are a part of her makeup as a man. So, where the finances come from shouldn’t influence who holds the leadership position for the family. A man can raise the children and stay at home. Sometimes, staying at home can make him a more successful leader because his focus is solely on the family’s well-being and health.
Staying at home doesn’t undermine the father.
Culture has equated childcare and homecare with feminine abilities and traits for years. People assume that stay-at-home dads are more feminine, timid, docile, and weak in the male power and strength lineup. However, that’s not the case. Strong males do a fantastic job of being stay-at-home dads. Nothing within the role of a stay-at-home dad makes him bow or take a step down to his female counterpart. When viewed from the team perspective, both the male and female roles become equally vital outside and inside the home.
A man shouldn’t be afraid that he’ll lose respect as a man because he cooked dinner for the family. In this situation, wives should remember to emphasize their husband’s feelings as strong male qualities and not make fun of or weaken them as they take on the caregiver role.
Scripture never says a man has to leave home.
You could argue for the authority, leadership, strength and father role men must take for their children. However, Scripture never says that a man has to leave home and work outside of it. It also doesn’t say that stay-at-home dads are wrong for staying home and caring for their kids.
Historically, the man worked outside of the home because most of the workforce relied on the abilities found in men. Are these the same abilities in women, and could a woman do this work? Yes, but that’s not the argument. Because of capabilities, cultural assignment and genetics, men have carried the traditional role of leaving home to bring home the money, and that’s okay. However, so is staying home to care for the kids.
When you take time to study the Bible, you’ll find that men are expected to take the role of spiritual leader to their kids, to raise them in things of the Lord, and teach the children strength and wisdom. You could also argue that if Dad can partially stay home with the kids, this also helps fulfill the role God gave them as a father. You’ll quickly find that there are pros and cons to Dad staying at home, about as many as there are if the mother stays home. Ultimately, you’ll have to step back and analyze a spiritual issue versus a circumstantial problem.
Does Dad staying home threaten his position as captain and leader of your family team? Does Mom’s going to work demean and disrespect Dad because he decided to stay home? Can Dad invest his talents and gifts to serve the Lord and his family in a way that he couldn’t if he joined the workforce? Are you seeing this as a team effort or a hierarchy struggle in your marriage? Is this a power struggle instead of a caring, educated choice made for the family?
These are essential questions to ask as you approach this discussion. Many people will initially think staying at home is wrong for the man. Still, that’s because it’s synonymous with the feminist standpoint that mom is trying to set herself up as stronger, more independent, and equally as capable as dad. This viewpoint isn’t always the case. Often, it’s a reality check of who’s gifted and where life has the family.
If this conversation has come up within your family, be cautious that you and your spouse don’t turn dad staying at home into a wrong versus right issue. There’s nothing sinful about a man staying at home, and there’s no blatant disrespect for God when a man stays at home. Some would argue that the decision becomes wrong when a man is criticized or mocked for staying at home, especially when the parents have humbled themselves before God and each other to be effective as possible and do what’s best for the family.
The impact of a father as a spiritual influence, caregiver, and investor in a child’s life can be priceless. If you and your family are trying to decide what to do for your family, let the Lord guide you as you determine who follows a career path and stays at home. Either way, this is a team effort, with your kids being the ultimate prize. Don’t let the outside influence determine what’s best for your family. Whatever you decide, make sure that’s the right decision for the family, not what society expects.