1. Home
  2. slideshows
  3. miscellaneous
  4. I have a 6-figure job and my husband stays home with the kids - here are 10 things no one seems to understand

I have a 6-figure job and my husband stays home with the kids - here are 10 things no one seems to understand

I'm happy and proud to be the breadwinner

I have a 6-figure job and my husband stays home with the kids - here are 10 things no one seems to understand
Slideshows1 min read

My husband is proud of me

My husband is proud of me

The other side of the stereotype coin is that men are supposed to be embarrassed by their successful wives.

I've heard so many stories about men being ashamed of their wives paying for everything, resentful of having to take care of the kids, or generally unhappy about their wife's career success outstripping theirs. So people assume my husband must feel that way too, right?

Not here. My husband is extremely proud of my accomplishments, and he's never been embarrassed about my success.

When we were first married, we both made the same amount of money. Then I got a job in IT about a year later, and that all began to change forever. I started pursuing my MBA when our older boys were 6 and 2 and finished when they were 10 and 6. Guess who baked and decorated a cake to celebrate my graduation? And who watched the boys so I could go off to class after a full day of work? Who took care of things at home while I studied abroad in France and China?

The only thing I've ever heard from him is excitement about my success.

Dads don't babysit

Dads don

One of the most annoying comments a stay-at-home dad can get out in public is: "So you're babysitting today?"

My husband has heard this one more than once while out with our three boys. Can you imagine the reverse, someone commenting to a mom out and about with her kids that she was babysitting? No, you can't. I've literally never had anyone say that to me, and yet more than one person has said it to him.

This one is particularly frustrating because of the assumptions behind the statement. People assume that a dad out and about with his kids is a once-in-a-blue-moon type of scenario. His wife, their mother, must be having a rare busy time. So Dad is out with the kids, struggling to manage them, and probably feeding them junk food.

Dads don't babysit their own children. It's called parenting.

"Traditional mom" stereotypes are alive and well — and annoying

"Traditional mom" stereotypes are alive and well — and annoying

When my oldest son was in second or third grade, I went to a Mother's Day event at his school. Now, this was in the late 2000s, so you'd expect the school to not assume all mothers are wearing pearls, vacuuming the house, and baking cookies at home during the day. Right?

Unfortunately, you'd be wrong.

Instead of a song or performance about how much the kids loved their mothers, I was treated to the most stereotypical "mom" song you've ever heard. My son had to stand on stage and sing with his classmates about how Mom greeted him after school every day, brought him to his activities, made dinner, cleaned his clothes, and (not joking) had fresh cookies waiting for him when he got home.

The only problem: I don't do any of those things. And neither do the 40% of mothers who are breadwinners, or many of the 71% of women with kids under 18 who work outside the house. It was as if the school had sung the same song since the 1950s and hadn't bothered to make any changes.

I had a talk with my son after that, asking how he felt about the song. He laughed and said it was silly and nothing like our family. I explained that there are all types of families with all different kinds of working arrangements and that all families are wonderful. Sometimes there's just a mom, or a dad, taking care of the kids. Sometimes Grandma and Grandpa head up the family. Maybe only Dad works, or just Mom, or both parents. And sometimes there are two moms or two dads! All families are wonderful and should be celebrated.

My son's school isn't alone. I've seen all kinds of stereotypes over the years. People think I must need to rush home after work to get the kids off to activities, or that I won't want to travel for work because I have young kids at home. My husband is made to feel like someone has sighted a rare unicorn in the wild when he mentions he's a stay-at-home dad.

We're not "lucky"


"Oh, you're so lucky!"

I get that a lot.

No, I'm not "lucky" that my husband is a stay-at-home dad. We've had a number of different working arrangements since we became parents. We've worked split shifts for several years. He was laid off when his workplace closed during the Great Recession — not a good time to find a job. We had a year where my husband couldn't work because he almost died of septic shock. He started working again, only to need another major surgery shortly after our youngest son was born.

And I've worked hard to increase my income, and our savings, over our 16-year marriage. While we've been married, I received a BS (with high honors), started a career in IT, pursued and received an MBA with two young kids at home, changed companies, and moved into different positions to increase my income. I've also been saving and investing for the future since I was a teenager and investing for college for our three sons since they were born.

It's the combination of being used to getting along with one income (due to the job losses and illnesses), increasing my income through a lot of time and hard work, and making smart money decisions over a few decades that has led to my husband being able to stay at home with our boys.

It wasn't luck.

Talking about it is still taboo

Talking about it is still taboo

People often ask me, "What does your husband do?"

When I respond that he's a stay-at-home dad, I get a lot of looks and quick subject changes. Talking about having a wife who stays at home is very much culturally acceptable, but people are uncomfortable talking about a husband who's at home. I'm sometimes made to feel as if I should be embarrassed that my husband stays at home, or as though it's something I shouldn't really talk about.

My husband is also avoided by other moms at events like library storytime, preschool, or swim lessons. The other people there are mostly moms who have formed their own clique of friends, and they're not very welcoming of a stay-at-home dad. People just don't have many follow-up questions as they do with stay-at-home moms.

That's too bad, because my husband has been the primary caregiver for our kids almost since our oldest was born 14 years ago. He has a lot of great advice and tips on raising boys and would love to chat about all of their activities.

We're not alone


Though you don't hear a lot about women whose husbands stay at home, and I don't know any personally, I know we're not alone.

Not only have I spent the past year interviewing other amazing women in similar situations, but I also know the statistics. A 2017 Bureau of Labor and Statistics report on employment found that in 7.1% of married-couple households, only the wife is employed. That figure may include couples where the husband is retired, unemployed, or disabled, but we still are definitely not alone. Particularly in families where Mom works in a career that's highly demanding — lots of travel, atypical hours — having a stay-at-home dad can be pretty common.

Part of why I started interviewing other breadwinning moms was to show them that they're not alone — and to help find other families like ours. And you know what? They are out there. We're not alone.

My husband isn't unemployed or lazy

My husband isn

Another common stereotype is that stay-at-home dads either (1) don't want to be stay-at-home dads, or (2) are lazy, hanging around the house watching sports while the kids run around doing whatever they want.

First, let me talk about the unemployed assumption. There are a lot of people out there who think that men who are staying at home must wish they were back at work. They must want to be working and are unable to find a job, right? Not necessarily.

And any parent who has stayed at home with kids full time — much less three boys — can tell you that there's nothing lazy about it. In a typical week, my husband:

  • Gets up at 5 a.m. to wake up the oldest, make lunches, and start getting ready for the day.
  • Drops off our oldest son for the bus at 6 a.m. and picks him up at 5 p.m. (He goes to an arts magnet school.)
  • Gets the middle son ready for school and off to the bus, and greets him when he gets home.
  • Cleans, cooks, does laundry, grocery shops, and runs errands.
  • Brings the older kids to and from after-school activities like drama club, band, and Boy Scouts.
  • Cares for a 3-year-old all day, bringing him to swim lessons, library storytime, and soon preschool.
  • Oversees homework, attends school events, and cares for the kids when they're sick.

There's nothing lazy about running a household of five.

It's been invaluable for my career


Having my husband stay at home — or care for the kids while working off shift or part time over the years — has been one of the keys to becoming so successful in my career.

I know many women at work who have issues traveling or staying late because they just don't have the support they need at home. Many two-income couples have issues when the kids are sick — who's going to stay at home? — or stress about someone getting to daycare for pickup on time.

I've been able to get my MBA and grow my career to the point I've reached specifically because I have such a supportive husband at home. Not only is he here to encourage me, but he's able to take care of all those tricky kid situations that can derail other women's careers. I haven't needed to downshift to a "mommy track" style of working.

Though there's nothing wrong with deciding to downshift your career when you have kids — I'm a strong proponent of doing whatever works for your family — it's not something I've ever wanted to do. I feel sad when other women feel forced into it rather than deciding that's what they want to do, simply because they don't have the support they need at home.

I don't secretly wish I were at home

I don

Many people assume that I secretly wish I were staying at home with the boys and that I must be resentful of needing to support my family.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love my kids, and I enjoy spending time with them, but I also enjoy working. I love solving complex challenges, learning new businesses and technologies, and generally being part of turning an idea into technology that can be used by many. I love writing on my site and being a part of helping other women with their money, work, and frugal family life to pursue financial freedom. Heck, I used to read the Harvard Business Review and The Wall Street Journal for fun in my early 20s — that's part of why I decided to go ahead and get my MBA.

I'm happy to be a working, breadwinning mom. Not only do I support my family and get to pursue my dreams, but I'm also setting an example of hard work for my three boys. When they grow up, if they get married and have kids, I hope they'll feel confident in deciding on whatever working arrangement works best for their families — even if that arrangement isn't a typical one.

Newsletter BI Logo

Get your weekly dose of essential news delivered right to you, plus explore a world of insights with our diverse newsletter subscription options.

  • Weekly newsletter
  • Uncover the latest in Tech, Finance, Business, and more
  • Handpicked web stories, in-depth articles, and expert analyses
Copylink BI