We’ve all heard the phrase: “Behind every great man, there’s a great woman.” Well, the same applies in reverse: “Behind every great working mom, there’s a supportive husband.”
Before I go further, let me take a moment to acknowledge single moms. I recognize this is not the case for you. For that, I give you extra props, ladies. I don’t know how in the world you manage to work, take care of kids, and maintain a household on your own.
I offer you a virtual standing ovation right now. You deserve that and more. And I pray one day your kids give credit where it’s due for the love and sacrifice you have given them as a hard-working mom. Because I know I would not be half the working mom I am without the loving support my husband provides.
Other dads are doing it
It’s something Sheryl Sandberg, working mom and Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, addressed in her book, Lean In. She wrote she was able to fully embrace her career in part because her [late] husband, Dave Goldberg, split parental chores with her.
“In Lean In, I emphasized how critical a loving and supportive partner can be for women both professionally and personally—and how important Dave was to my career and to our children’s development. I still believe this. Some people felt that I did not spend enough time writing about the difficulties women face when they have an unsupportive partner or no partner at all. They were right,” she said.
Another high-profile couple understood this need as well. When Bill Gates’ wife Melinda decided to go back to work after kids, she and Bill “negotiated the terms of their marriage” to accommodate this. Part of the negotiation was sharing the responsibility of school drop-off.
I mean, just imagine for a second, juggling coffee, zipping up backpacks, and hurriedly ushering kids out of car seats … right next to one of the most recognizable people in the world. Bill Gates–once the richest man in America–took on a household job some men might hesitate to do. All to support his wife in pursuing a passion and career without compromising the care of their children.
Now that’s what I’m talking about! A few weeks later, following his example, the drop-off line at his kids’ school was full of dad drivers.
My husband helps too
I, too, have a husband who does a lot more than just school drop-off in order to keep this working mom happy and our family thriving.
He gets the kids ready for school, makes our coffee, loads their backpacks in the car, picks them up from school, helps cook dinner, helps clean up after dinner, vacuums, and does laundry. When the kids get sick or cry for us in the middle of the night … yep, he’s there, too.
Is he perfect? No. But we truly function as a team–because that’s the only way we would survive.
What’s more, my husband didn’t grow up in a culture where men were expected to care for the home. But he’s broken through stereotypes so I can help provide for our family and use my gifts in a professional setting. I consider myself lucky. Not just because I get to have both a career and a family, but because my husband has stepped up in a way to allow me to do so.
Negotiating a team approach
If you feel God prompting you and your spouse to negotiate some of the terms of your marriage, then lean in to that. Here are a few things to consider when working out how to help your family thrive with two working parents:
1. Pray and discern the direction God is leading your family (James 1:5).
2. Figure out which of your household responsibilities need to become shared. This is valuable even if only one parent is working outside of the home.
3. Think about what your spouse would like to spend time doing, and figure out how you can give them the space to do that.
4. Ask your wife if she is interested in going back to work after kids. Maybe she’s not, and that’s totally fine! But at least do her the courtesy of asking. Talk about what that could look like, and how you can both support each other in your respective professional roles.
5. Be willing to take on nontraditional responsibilities in order to help the home function well. Ladies, that may mean mowing the grass or pulling the trash bins in, too.
6. Consider the valuable model you are showing your kids of what teamwork and mutual respect looks like in marriage.
Making these adjustments could be a win-win for your family. And a win-win for society. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing a lot more dads in the drop-off line.
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