Americans became convinced that every household needed two incomes in order to survive after women entered the workforce in droves. That erroneous ideology permeates family culture nearly a quarter of the way through the 21st century.
Married couples became used to maintaining a higher level of disposable income, and they don’t want to relinquish that. Even as more studies show that children’s development and grades benefit from having one parent stay at home throughout all the child-rearing years – not just until the kids are in school – the majority of parents cling to the theory that they can’t afford to have one parent stay home and not earn an income.
The single-income household persists in limited numbers in modern America, with stay-at-home moms typically saying they are either “just a mom” or “so lucky” that their husbands work hard so that they can stay home with the kids.
It’s time the ladies stop downplaying their role in the family structure, though, and own the reality that they provide a support structure crucial to household stability. A family with one primary wage earner and one primary caretaker illustrates a healthy paradigm of spousal reliance and trust.
The single-income household doesn’t represent women’s repression; it shows a family who values relationships, character development, and experiences more than money. Financial sacrifices must be made in order for this model to work. Older vehicles are purchased, vacations are downsized or skipped altogether, and grocery lists are made according to basic nutrition and budgetary requirements.
But, families who choose this model often thrive. The kids flourish under the constant care of one primary caretaker who ensures they have a clean home, folded clothes, and hot meals eaten around the kitchen table. The primary caretaker (usually Mom) thrives because she only has one full-time (albeit unpaid) job. She is not expected to bring home a paycheck, stay up all night with a sick baby, clean the kitchen, and have dinner on the table by 6 o’clock.
Scientific studies, casual observation, and personal experience have proven that even when both parents work full-time outside the home, the majority of housework and childcare still falls on Mom’s shoulders. Men’s collective decision to not pick up a mop, take the kids to doctor’s appointments, and cook dinner 3.5 times a week doesn’t prove that misogyny permeates our society, though.
It shows that taking care of a household and its occupants is a full-time job unto itself. When the primary wage earner comes home from working all day, he or she is tired. That person wants to relax and unwind from the stress of the workday, which is fair.
Men, by joint spousal decision, usually serve as the primary wage earner for most households. Despite what modern feminists try to tell society, women usually prefer to leave our jobs and stay home with our kids once we become mothers. Our priorities naturally shift from the workplace to our babies.
And babies deserve to be someone’s top priority. So do kids. They are young, relatively helpless, and they need a constant guiding presence. Women who lived in earlier, much different eras, fought hard for their right to work, but modern times are different.
A shift back to single-income families (for those with married parents) would mean a healthier, more stable home life for all family members.