To think it isn't particularly unusual or wrong for DH to ba a SAHD!!!

(60 Posts)
AnotherDay123 Fri 25-Jan-13 10:11:42

Last year DH, through no fault of his own, was made redundant from his job. We both have very traditional families in which pretty much all the women either do small part time jobs or are SAHM. I have no issue with this at all and if it makes them happy that is great. I on the other hand was lucky enough to have a senior position which I worked 3 days a week whilst looking after our 2 dcs the rest of the time. When DH lost his job we completely swapped roles, took DCs out of childcare and I went full time and gained a promotion. Now DH stays at home with DCs and I work. This works wonderfully for us, DH is a wonderful husband and father, the children are thriving and we are happy. DH saves us a fortune by growing all our own food and meat and preparing everything for scratch - and it makes him so happy, and in turn makes me happy that he's loving this life and DCs have one parent at home all the time. Our weekends and evenings are then dedicated to the children and having family time. I love my job, but do miss the children tremendously, however I also know they are happy and we have quality family time so this makes up for it. We don't see that it matters who is doing what roles in our family as long as we are together a team and together we meet the needs of everyone in our family and each role is just as important as the others!
Problems are coming from DH's family who we are close too. To understand DH's family you basically have to go into a timewarp and disappear back 50 years. there attitudes towards us can be summed up through the following comments which we recieve on a regular basis - 'Don't I feel like I am failing as a mother not being at home with my children', 'Well this is obviously only temporary until DH gets another job (he's not looking) and I'll go back to what I did before', to DH 'doesn't it feel odd being supported by a woman, not exactly providing like he should'. And the worse part is that my FiL actually said to DH that he didn't feel he had done a great job of bringing him up if he wasn't going to be a proper man and take care of his family!!!
These are not awful people they are just stuck in their ways but I beyond fed up with it. I've tried talking to them, tried explaining but I don't get anywhere. These comments upset DH and I don't want our DCs growing up thinking that these comments are acceptable or hearing this about their family.
How do I deal with nicely. I do love DH's family and we see alot of them living round the corner. DC's adore the GPs - it is just this one sticking point! Why can't they see how happy we are as a family and that is what matters, not who works and who stays at home!

kerala Fri 25-Jan-13 11:20:13

When I worked in the City the majority of really top women had a SAHP. Moved to the west country and although fewer female high flyers there seems to be a more shared approach to parenting, lots of fathers at drop off pick up no one bats an eyelid why would they. How annoying for you.

MoreBeta Fri 25-Jan-13 11:20:18

It isn't wrong but it is still unusual and many people still struggle to understand or accept SAHD. Over the years I have had lots of jokey comments about it. I only know of one SAHD who is a friend of a friend of a friend.

Ignore your relatives. Its nothing to do with them.

I share being SAHP with DW but she is working full time soon so I will be proper SAHD albeit to two soon to be teens so not quite as hands on as with young children.

I do all the cooking, cleaning, gardening, DIY and share washing and ironing and other child/school related activities.

To me its just like a job alongside my 'earning a living' job. No big deal to me but society still does not quite expect or accept the existence of SAHDs.

Women are just as bad as men in their attitude to SAHDs. Most of the time I stand in the playground on my own at pick up and drop off time while a crowd of mothers stand in groups chatting.

Its getting better though. Slowly.

Viviennemary Fri 25-Jan-13 11:21:02

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this and it can work very well. But there is no doubt that it is very unusual.

kerala Fri 25-Jan-13 11:21:59

That said the SAHD do seem to stick together I have tried inviting them to stuff but they dont come (fair enough!)

cory Fri 25-Jan-13 11:50:34

My FIl was a SAHD for many years. He was born in 1909 and could remember visiting Versailles before the outbreak of the First World War.

cory Fri 25-Jan-13 11:56:00

squeakytoy Fri 25-Jan-13 11:10:22

"Biology and human nature dictates that a woman carries and gives birth to a child and her body enables her to feed that child, therefore the male in the partnership is the "hunter/gatherer" who goes out to provide for his family while the mother does what nature intended with her baby. Until men can give birth, and breastfeed, then it will not be "the norm" for a man to be a SAHD while the mother goes back to work. "

I think you would be hard pushed to find any traditional hunter/gatherer societies where the female sits in a cave and waits for the male to bring home food to her: this simply isn't how hunting/gathering works and would be very unlikely to provide food for a whole family unit. Females tend to be on the move and spend as much time as men in food pursuit.

Traditional (what would have been known as "primitive") agricultural societies also tend to depend on women doing a substantial proportion (often more than half) of the food production.

The only type of food provision that tends to be a male preserve in "primitive" societies is hunting.

But the concept of a female who sits at home and does nothing but mind children is a post-World War II invention.

AnotherDay123 Fri 25-Jan-13 11:57:35

thanks all, and yes extracrunchy I woke up this morning to a lovely cuddle from DH and thought I must be one of the luckiest women in the world bto have this man as my husband! smile

Things will probably change when DCs go to school and DH would like to get into landscape gardening and/or famring on a larger scale, we only have a few acres at the moment but enough to provide us and bits for family.

Cory it is nice to know that this isn't a new thing! grin

It seems to be that it depends on wherre you are in the country in relation to how unusual it is. We are in the SE, in a rural area but not too far from London so have lots of commuters which maybe means it is a little more common here...

badguider Fri 25-Jan-13 12:06:28

I think you need to call them on this - why don't you say to them, our family are so happy with things they way they are, DH is happy, the children are happy and it's working out so well... the only thing that makes us sad and really upsets us is when people make digs at us for doing things the way that works for us and try to upset DH when in fact he's looking after his family so wonderfully.

I think you need to let them know they are upsetting you all and it's not acceptable to make those digs.

HazleNutt Fri 25-Jan-13 12:07:17

I understand how you feel - we're expecting DC1 and will be doing the same. It's easier for me to earn enough money for the household, so it's only reasonable that I'm the one going to work. When we mentioned that, DH's family laughed - they sincerely thought it was a joke, that of course one can't really do such an absurd thing..

Well, we still are and if anybody wants to see our family, they'd better keep their opinions to themselves.

BooksandaCuppa Fri 25-Jan-13 12:09:21

Depends on how you define 'unusual', but I wouldn't call it rare. I know of at least 2 SAHDs in my village - one's wife is a Headteacher, one a major HR Manager. Also have a friend elsewhere whose dh is not only a SAHD but they also foster too...

These were all by choice (ie always planned or based on who earned the most) but I imagine that scenarios like yours which are down to redundancy/the woman increasing hours accordingly are increasingly common in this financial climate.

Your arrangement sounds fantastic and good luck to you all. Ignore the ignorant ILs.

Songbird Fri 25-Jan-13 12:14:32

cory yes, completely right. Men were (and still are in certain cultures in Africa, eg) the hunters, and women were the gatherers/processors of food.

And to suggest that a woman should be stuck at home shackled to a breastfed baby is just ridiculous - it's far from the only option these days. I have heard tell of a remarkable contraption called a breast pump...

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Fri 25-Jan-13 12:23:49

It is not an unusual situation, I have known quite a few SAH dads and don't think anything of it. The only drawback I have noticed is that SAH Dads are not very good at braiding their DD's hair but as I am rubbish at it too I probably shouldn't comment. grin

If I were the OP I would call the InLaws up on it. They seem like nice people but I find a lot of older people like me Dad lack tact. There is no need for arguments but they do need to be clearly told that it is very unacceptable. Evenif it didn't bother you and your DH it is not a nice thing for your DC's to hear.

HecateWhoopass Fri 25-Jan-13 12:26:46

It's a very unusual* situation where I live. I can't think of anyone who is a sahd.

I think it depends on where you are in the country, possibly.

*Unusual does not mean wrong

Binfullofresolutionsfor10thjan Fri 25-Jan-13 12:30:44

YANBU I have a DH who is a SAHD and a few of my friends think he is using me. hmm

These tend to be single childless friends who live London lives with cleaners, ironing services etc, that don't really understand the benefits of a reliable, trustworthy partner that enables you to freely continue in your career with as little stress as possible.

Also, everyone tends to forget that while I was at home he was in the Army. Now that he is retired, he actually lives off his little pension, I pay the big bills and living expenses. He doesn't actually "cost" me anything!!

To be honest, I would just answer with the stock response "No, we are perfectly happy" or, "Pardon me for sounding rude, but it's simply none of your business"

Stop feeling the need to explain every detail to everyone. That'll feed more fuel to the fire and make you sound like you are over compensating.

Chunderella Fri 25-Jan-13 12:31:22

Mumsyblouse makes a good point. While your set up of what sounds like a professional type WAHM and fully SAHD is relatively unusual still, more and more dads have working arrangements that allow them to spend time at home doing childcare. Part time, flexible hours, consulting, working from home a day or two a week etc. DH likely isn't the only dad at the school gate on any given day.

Additionally, in areas that have been particularly recession hit, couples often don't have a choice about which one will be at home. If you don't have a lot of qualifications and live in an area where there are very few jobs, when one of you can get a few days a week minimum wage work, you take it. You don't worry about gender roles. So I suspect that in many poorer parts of the country, there are couples with a SAHD and WOHM regardless of individual preference and it may well be more common than it was due to the recession.

cornflakegirl Fri 25-Jan-13 12:49:14

My DH has been a SAHD for seven years, because I enjoyed my job, and he didn't really enjoy his. His parents are also old-fashioned and didn't approve initially, but we don't get comments any more. When we did, I fluctuated between challenging and ignoring, as I did if they spouted something from the Daily Mail. (They are lovely, but have a very different outlook from me.)

My PIL actually benefit from DH being at home because they can come to visit for the day and he's actually around to see them (they're retired). Is that something your PIL could appreciate too?

AnotherDay123 Fri 25-Jan-13 13:13:57

Definately cornflake they do like having DH and the DCs around alot more and see them every few days now when it was more like once a week before.

Frustratedartist Fri 25-Jan-13 13:32:26

There are a few SAHDs in our school, and other dads who are able to be in the playground regularly because their work hours are flexible. I think it's great.
Kids need parents to be around - there shouldn't be a rule about which parent does which role. If your family is happy that's all that matters
It's none of your in-laws business and I would tell that quite firmly. Why are you wanting to be nice about it? They are being rude and unsupportive. You don't need to be rude, just be firm.

zoeymlucas Fri 25-Jan-13 13:36:45

OMG are you sure your not me!!!!

My DH was made redundant and I was a SAHM, and was suffering with post natal depression as had always been a career woman and as much asI loved my children being at home 24/7 wasnt for me so when he was made redundant we decided to try me working as in all honesty I can earn double what he can.
I have gone back to work full time in senior management role and quite an important job and DH stays at home with the children and we both love this balance. DH loves how the boys adore him and he gets to see everything they do and he does all the cooking, cleaning, shopping and DIY as well as school runs etc.
I do miss my children daily and sometime have a pang of guilt that I am not with them all the time but DH is so much better at the stay at home thing than me so when I am home everything is done and its just pure family time!

So many of his friends laugh at him for this but he dont really care as he is happy and do are his children. His mother hates our arrangement my eldest isnt my husbands child and feels he has to look after my child which is hard and we no longer speak to her as we are a family are happy and thats what matters!! DH says his job is too look after his wife and children and he still does that but physically not financially .

I am due another baby in March and will be having 3 months off and then back to work and hubby will be at home with all 3 kids - he is equally there parent and just as caplable of looking after them and all there needs - times change and so do families so as long as yours works for you then stuff everyone!!

Emilythornesbff Fri 25-Jan-13 14:37:39

It is unusual for lots of reasons (including those mentioned by squeaky toy) but it's not wrong. In fact, it sounds like a real winner for your family. Good luck to you all. Some ppl find it hard to get their heads round a lifestyle that isn't conventional don't they. For lots of men (not all, obviously, before the pitchforks and torches are brought out) supporting their family by "bringing home the bacon" is an important part of their masculinity, and similarly women can often feel that traditional female roles help to define them. They probably just need a bit of time to get into a more modern way of seeing things. Best to try not to take it too personally. Sounds like it's great round yours tbh.

Peevish Fri 25-Jan-13 15:02:03

Exactly what Cory said - please let's not let that kind of ill-informed spouting about hunter-gatherers and 'primitive' societies go unchallenged. It's bad anthropology, apart from anything else.

OP, your ILs sound royally painful and 1950s-ish. Depending on where you are, fathers doing the primary childcare isn't that unusual. Till recently I lived in north London, and fathers were a significant minority of the parents at various baby and toddler groups and classes - the baby massage class I went to was about 1/3 fathers. A friend of mine is a longterm SAHD (and loves it) who moved from London to rural Devon and - having not been at all unusual in his London setting - suddenly feels much more anomalous. But he's very together, and is aware that this is other people's issue, not his. I know three longterm SAHDs in London and Cambridge.

Also, I grew up in a city where there was massive male unemployment in the 70s and 80s after some big local heavy industries folded, and it wasn't at all unusual for working class families to have the father doing the childcare if the mother was able to find work. I grew up thinking of it as normal.

DewDr0p Fri 25-Jan-13 15:13:16

I think your setup sounds great. I'm sorry your ILs can't see that.

My ILs used to spout all sorts of opinions on everything we did. We started ignoring them (on the advice of a counsellor friend) and interestingly they have stopped. So my advice would be don't engage. Pretend you haven't heard - the children are a great excuse for this!

I suspect that FIL still privately thinks all the awful things he used to say but at least I don't have to listen to him grin

BadLad Fri 25-Jan-13 15:31:03

Nothing wrong with it,obviously, but it isn't exactly a secret that it raises eyebrows of older people.

NatashaBee Fri 25-Jan-13 15:42:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TraceyTrickster Sat 26-Jan-13 01:08:03

MY DH spent the last 2 years being a SAHD...made life a lot easier for us all. We just took no notice of people commenting on the arrangement.

That said DH is now at work, DD starts school next week and she has declared I need to go to work like I did before. She thinks I will be lonely at home (and I am looking!!!)

Having a parent at home for first 5 years and early school years makes life so much easier

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