Inspired by an article in TIME magazine
Becoming a Stay at Home Dad (SAHD) might feel like the right move for some men. But even if your partner is on-board and ready to become the sole financial contributor within the family, a decision to leave the workforce, even for just a few years, may set your career back in enough ways that you are likely to regret the decision down the road (assuming you think you'll want to reenter the workforce in the future).
Last month we wrote about the financial downside to career breaks in the story Do The Math. Later we came across an article in TIME magazine that described other, greater risks, specifically experienced when a man leaves his job to care for his family for an extended period of time. The article, Don't Let Your Husband Be a Stay-At-Home Dad, outlines many of the risks associated with leaving the workforce temporarily and states, "Research suggests the penalty may even be greater for men who temporarily exit the workforce."
Every family is different and there is no single career or parenting model that works for every situation. Each of us needs to do what we think is best given our unique situations. The Time article reminds us that there are ramifications to every decision we make, just like we outlined in another recent story, Choices and Consequences.
The gender pay gap gets lots of attention. We follow some of the discussions and are coming to a realization; working parents hold the key to eliminating much of it.
Lots of research suggests that men and women, on average, are paid equally until they start to have children. After that, women's pay often starts to lag men's pay. Some of this can probably be attributed to the long term affects of taking a parental leave after a baby is born; on average women take parental leaves at far great rates, and for longer, than men. As we pointed out in the story Choices and Consequences, experience impacts pay, and every hour of experience matters.
What's the solution? We're not sure that we know how to eliminate the gender pay gap completely, but we do feel confident that shared parental leaves are part of the answer. Just as men and women need to share household duties when they both work outside the home, fathers and mothers need to more equally share parental leaves after a baby is born. This seemingly small step is likely to further close the gender pay gap.
Mothers, ask your spouse to stay home with your baby after you return to work. And when they offer to do this, accept the help!
Fathers, offer to share parental leave responsiblities with your spouse. After your wife returns to work, return the favor and stay home for the same length of time to enable her to fully focus on her career for a bit (just like she did for you).
As we point out in the story Couples That Work, husbands and wives need to support each other and push each other if they want to maximize success at home and on the job. Let's all do what we can to close the gap.