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There go those pesky female breadwinners, pushing up divorce rates again.

Sarah
Sarah

by SARAH MEGGINSON

My husband and I live with a family dynamic that can sometimes make others feel a little… uncomfortable. Older generations, especially. We go against tradition.

See, here’s the thing ­– I earn more money than he does. He’s not bothered by this and neither am I. For a long, long time, his income was higher than mine, but in the last year or two the tables have turned.

I don’t rake in a great deal more than him, but when it comes down to it, I am the primary income-earner. And it seems I’m not the only one.

Some stats came out last week showing that an impressive 40% of family households (with kids) in the US are being carried financially by mum. In itself, it’s an interesting trend – almost half of families have a female breadwinner! How things have changed within the space of one generation.

But even more interesting is the response that a panel of Fox News’ male panellists have had to the stats. Holy chauvinist Batman!

Anchor Lou Dobbs kicks things off by breaking the devastating news of “research showing that women have become the breadwinners in this country, and a lot of other concerning and trouble statistics.”

I’m sorry… What?

No seriously – WHAT?!

I’m trying to make sense of this, because it seems like he’s saying it’s a bad thing that a growing number of households pay their bills thanks to mama bear’s contribution to the family finances.

But, it gets worse. So much worse…

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His fellow panellists go on to describe the research as revealing “a catastrophic issue… that could undermine our social order”… That it means we are “watching society dissolve around us”… and that this trend is “tearing us apart as nuclear families”.

Juan Williams even goes so far as to say the stats represent “the disintegration of marriage… We’re seeing, systemically, something going terribly wrong in American society. It’s hurting our children and it’s going to have impacts for decades to come.”

I watched the full 3-minute video and my head hurt afterwards. If you’re in the mood to yell at your computer, you can watch it below.

In a fantastic post on Slate.com, political author and journalist Amanda Marcotte shares her view on the subject – and it’s pretty easy to see why her article attracted 1,300 comments and 25,000 likes on Facebook:

You have to watch the whole video to fully appreciate the man-panic, but by far, the funniest quote is from Erick Erickson, trying to ‘splain to the ladies that “science” says they’re a servant class put here for the benefit of men:

Liberals who defend this and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology, when you look at the natural world, the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complimentary role.

(Side note: female Fox news anchor Megyn Kelly has since had Dobbs and Erickson on her show, and she did a brilliant job of refuting their offensive and smug tirade: watch a 5-minute recap of her smack-down here.)

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte

A part of me appreciates that perhaps, the research isn’t all good news. When mums are forced back into the workforce for financial reasons, and it means putting their teeny babes into full-time childcare when they’d prefer to be at home, that’s not ideal in anyone’s books.

But when women are becoming more empowered in their careers, and dads are adopting more hands-on parenting roles, and grandparents and relatives and other members of the village are chipping in to help out and spend more time with the kids… How is that a bad thing?

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The fact is, trends are shifting. The stereotypical “mum cooks, cleans and looks after kids while dad brings home the bacon” mentality is evolving.

I remember when I had my first baby, my awesome mother’s group included about 10 mums and one dad. For the first six months, one mum was on maternity leave and joined us every Tuesday to chat about breastfeeding and burping and all of those other things that only new parents find interesting. During the next six months, her husband took paternity leave and joined our catch-ups while she went back to work.

And when their little girl was 12 months old, they each worked 4 days a week – her Monday to Thursday, him Tuesday to Friday – and popped their daughter into daycare two days a week. On Wednesday’s, she played with grandma.

Obviously, not every workplace or industry is this flexible, but I think this is a fantastic demonstration of how times are a-changing in a really positive way.

Click here to get your copy of How to Make Money by Working From Home.
Click this image to get your copy of How to Make Money by Working From Home.

In my own situation, as a freelance writer married to a radio announcer who works nights, we have a haphazard schedule but it suits us perfectly. Four days a week, we hang out as a family; some days are boring and mundane, and others are fun and exciting, filled with unexpected adventures.

The other three days per week our little girl is at childcare, and that’s when I work and my husband potters. He does a little freelance writing, meets friends for coffee, plays tennis, cleans the house. I haven’t cleaned a bathroom since 2001. Seriously. I wonder what the Fox news guys would think of that…

How do you handle your work/life balance?

A freelance writer, editor, wife, author and mum, Sarah Megginson contributes to a range of national magazines and has also worked on more than a dozen books as a ghost-writer and editor. She recently released her first book, ‘How to make money money by working from home’, to help others create a profitable and flexible career and lifestyle. Visit www.sarahmegginson.com or www.workfromhomestepbystep.com.au.

If you’re anything like 94% of survey respondents said that they would give up part of their salary if it meant they could work from home, work more flexible hours or even work less hours then check out the book here. 

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