Eight months ago, I gave birth to my third child, a baby girl named Caroline Olivia. After a wonderful five month maternity leave, it was time for me to go back to work and time for my husband and I to determine how we were going to manage three children and two careers.
After careful thought and a lot of discussion, we decided that my husband, a small business owner, would scale down his work schedule to be home two days a week with our children and that I would return to work full time. This was not an easy decision as my husband’s business has been successfully growing despite a poor economy and he has worked hard to make that happen. However, for our family, this is what works right now.
Needless to say it was perfect timing when the March 26 issue of TIME magazine arrived last week. The cover story, “The Richer Sex,” is centered around the fact that women are overtaking men as America’s breadwinners and men are playing a stronger role in the home. According to the article, married men have almost tripled their weekly household contributions since 1965 and are more involved in the child rearing than ever before. Research shows this is a positive thing for a number of reasons:
• Studies show that the paternal style of child rearing is beneficial for a child’s physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral development. For instance, mothers reassure toddlers when they become frustrated while fathers encourage them to manage their frustration. This helps the children learn to deal with stress and frustration.
• A long-term study proved that a father’s active involvement with his children, from birth to adolescence, promotes greater emotional balance, stronger curiosity and self-assurance in the child.
•While the stay-at-home mom often feels unappreciated, working women tend to go out of their way to ensure their stay-at-home husbands get the message that their contribution is noticed and valued, which makes for a better relationship.
One would think this shift in roles would result in a change in how we market products to families. Does the traditional focus on mom as the “CEO of the household” need to change? According to the research, probably not.
A Pew Research Study found that in households where the husband brings home more income, the buying decisions are made equally. However, in households where the wife earns more, mom is typically making twice as many buying decisions as the man. At the end of the day, dad is more of a target than ever before, but mom is still educating herself on the options and deciding what products are best for her family.
Regardless of who is making these decisions, we as a society are evolving to a place where roles in the family are based on the individual needs of that family rather than gender and that is a good thing for everyone.