When Mom Brings Home The Bacon Â
The purpose of this study was to show the different gender roles males and females have within
a family. This study also was done to explain what happens within a family when traditional roles of mother and father get switched around where the father’s main role is to care for the children and the mother works full time and how society looks at the family. This paper includes research from books, articles, and two movies. The movies included one from 1983(Hughes, 1983) and one from 2005(Lennon & Garant, 2005), showing the differences between the times and how a male figure being the main caregiver of the children and its effects on the overall family. Through my research, I found when a family’s roles switch, it effects the family negatively, positively, and society has become more excepting of a “stay at home father” but still has issues with the situation.
Traditionally family roles have been consistent throughout the past. Until recently, the
traditional roles for a mother was to cook, clean and take care of the children, while the fathers roles was quite the opposite. The father of the family would work a typical nine to five job, come home to dinner on the table and end his day relaxing from his hard days work. But what happens when things change? What if the father of the family stayed home and the mother worked to support their family? Many people around the world think a father staying at home to cook and clean while his wife is working a fulltime job is an odd concept and is not “normal”. On the other hand there could be many reasons why a father would stay home with the children instead of working everyday. When family roles are reversed, it can cause hardship within the family and also prove to be beneficial in the end.
The social roles and behavior of males and females have differed in all known human
societies(Marini, 1990). From physical futures to emotions and to how someone reacts in different situations, there are noticeable and recordable differences between men and women. Our society has a large influence in how someone appears and acts in their everyday life. When a newborn baby is brought into this world, they are immediately color‐coded. Boys get a blue blanket and girls a pink blanket. Some say it is just human nature; boys and girls are different no matter how they are raised. In reality, men and women are more alike than they are different. Margaret Mooney Marini’s study found:
There is no consistent evidence, for example, that the sexes differ in cognitive style,
creativity, independence, susceptibility to influence, general self‐esteem, emotionality, empathy, nurturance, sociability, or loquaciousness. Some evidence indicates the existence of sex differences favoring males in quantitative and spatial abilities, and sex differences favoring females in verbal abilities, but these differences do not appear in all studies, and
when they do appear, they are small. (Marini, 1990 p. 98)
Most societies are patriarchal societies, in which males dominate political and economic
institutions and exercise power in interpersonal relationships(Strong, DeVault, & Cohen, 2008). Men are seen as main breadwinners of the family and seem weak when they cannot fulfill their responsibilities of the family life. Children learn through modeling and imitating what they see adults around them doing. Playing “dress up” is one‐way children model characteristics and behaviors of adults. Traditionally male roles in the family are different than a woman’s. Male roles have been centered on providing and the centrality of their work identity affected their family roles as husbands and fathers. Female roles are traditionally centered on being good wives and mothers. Contemporary gender roles are more flexible than the traditional gender roles but still continue to limit our potential. Research shows both men and women tend to see women as being less competent than men(Strong, DeVault, & Cohen, 2008, p. 138).
To complete my research on the differences in gender roles within a family, I read articles
and books related to the topic. I also watched Mr. Mom and The Pacifier to see how a family and the community is affected when a father stays at home with the children and the mother is the sole provider of the family. To obtain first hand experience perspective, I interviewed Dr. Karen Thatcher. Dr. Thatcher has been a professor in the Speech‐language Pathology Department for the past fifteen years. When interviewing Dr. Thatcher, I focused on the different hardships her family had gone through with her husband being a “stay at home dad” and her working fulltime and being the main source of income. I believe my research is well rounded and shows the gender differences between males and females are not as prominent as once perceived.
During my interview with Dr. Karen Thatcher, I learned her perspective on the differences
between men and woman as well as her living situation with her husband and children. Shortly after Dr. Thatcher married her husband, he was injured while working as a police officer. Mr. Thatcher was unable to return to work and was put on disability due to his injury. When they decided to start a family of their own, choosing who would care for the children was obvious to them. Mr. Thatcher stayed at home and cared for their children while Dr. Thatcher returned to work to be the sole provider of their family.
Dr. Thatcher explained to me her husband had a hard time adjusting to being a stay at home
dad and that he became very depressed. She told me he did not feel like “a man” and felt he was worthless. Those negative feeling soon passed after they established a routine. Mr. Thatcher took their children to play dates and exposed them to multiple cultural experiences throughout their childhood. Dr. Thatcher shared with me that their relatives and friends did not support their life altering decision. Without their support Dr. Thatcher and her husband experienced tension with their loved ones. This tension passed with time and their family and friends accepted the situation after seeing that it was best for their family. One of the things that surprised me the most was when Dr. Thatcher told me she felt her daughters are more independent because of having a “stay at home father” than they would if she was home with them instead. She said, “I am confident that my girls will succeed in this world and not look to a man for support. They also know that a man can be nurturing and cook and clean just like a mom would.” Dr. Thatcher’s family story proved to that when gender roles are switched within a family, it causes stress and hardship, but also have a positive effect in the end.
After reviewing two movies in which the main caregiver of the children was a male and
where the mother was working fulltime, I concluded society views fathers who stay at home fulltime, while taking care of the house and children, as weak and feminine. The first movie I watched was Mr. Mom and was produced in 1983(Hughes, 1983). In Mr. Mom the father lost his job and his wife went back to work fulltime, leaving him home with the children. He was looked down a pond from his friends, former coworkers, and even people he did not know at the supermarket. They acted as if he was controlled by his wife and was not masculine. At the beginning of the movie, the father was perceived as if he did not know what he was doing and everything seemed to go wrong coming back to him.
The second movie I watched was The Pacifier and was made in 2005(Lennon & Garant, 2005).
The male caregiver of the children in The Pacifier was muscular and looked “manly”, but was still considered to be not normal in the eyes of others. Throughout the movie the main character was laughed at and received mean looks from other characters because he did not have a full time job and did everything that a mother would traditionally do.
While watching Mr. Mom and The Pacifier, I noticed being a “stay at home father” had an
impact on the main characters emotionally, as well. Both of the characters experienced the same emotions throughout the movies. They became depressed, felt worthless, and overall had a hard time completing their roles of the main caregiver. As time went on and they were able to prove to others that they did have a purpose and when they started to have a routine, they were happier with the role switch.
Both of the movies proved that Dr. Thatcher’s family story was common and did not just
happen to her. In fact when a father is a “stay at home dad” it causes troubled times within the family and society is not always completely understanding of the situation. But like all new things
that happen in the world, over time people become more and more custom to it and soon it will be looked at as just another normal thing that happens.
After completing my research and interviewing Dr. Thatcher, I have concluded that when a
mother works fulltime and a father is at home fulltime it can be positive and negative. Overall when gender roles in a family switch, the family benefits the same as if they did not. In other words when a father stays at home fulltime instead of working, the family as a whole develops the same in the end and it does not have an overall negative effect on the members of the family.