If men helped more at home, the world would literally change
It was just March when Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, hit bookstores and has been making headlines ever since. Sandberg basically suggests that women should have faith in themselves and stick to their career goals whether they choose to have a family or not--that it is in fact possible to have the best of both worlds. Catherine Rampell of the New York Times, however, thinks that men also need to start leaning in--at home that is.
When I was working full-time and planning to get pregnant, I couldn't help but notice that nearly all of the men in the company I worked for had wives and children, but that almost none of the women had families--some were married, but most weren't. Of course, there is nothing wrong with choosing not to marry or have children, but I knew for a fact that many of my colleagues hoped to in the future, but felt the need to succeed in their careers first, so that they could sacrifice career time for their families later. It has always made me sad that in the 21st century women still feel forced to choose between the two. The double standard--that it's okay for men to be career driven even after babies arrive, but that women have to abandon all of their professional goals--is clearly alive and well.
Rampell points out that if fathers would lean in a bit more at home, that many women would feel comfortable leaning in a bit more at work. And that if they did, the economy would experience a sizeable boost and that there would literally be a shift in the world as we know it.
My husband entertains my son when I have a deadline to meet, he cooks and cleans and changes diapers. And he does it without complaining, because he knows that if I'm going to have the energy to be wife, mom, and journalist, I'm going to need his support. So, yeah, I say it's about time for more men to devote as much energy to their families as women do--to give up a little work time and put in a little more home time, so that we can all achieve our desired work/life balance. Here are three reasons men should lean in more at home:
1. Household economics. If you're not convinced by the argument that women making more money (and thus spending more money) will boost the world's economy, just think how great it would be for your own household to get an extra paycheck. But if mom is going to be contributing financially, dad has to either accept that the laundry might not always be done at the beginning of the week, or throw in a load or two to get the ball rolling.
2. Baby bonding. Taking some of the baby duties off of mom's hands will give dads new opportunities to bond with their little ones. It might not seem like changing a million diapers has any emotional impact, but when baby starts to realize that mom isn't the only person capable of meeting his needs, he will surely grow closer to whoever else is. In some states dads can even take paid paternity leave after their wives go back to work. Mom can feel comfortable knowing the baby is well taken care of while she's away, and dad and baby will get lets of one-on-one time – it's a win-win.
3. Happy Wife, Happy Life. Sometimes, raising babies just isn't enough to keep a woman confident and fulfilled and happy. And sometimes, women are afraid to admit that they truly would rather resume working than continue caring for their little ones full time. But, it's okay to want a career. It's okay to feel happier and more content when you leave for work in the morning and come home to a smiling (or grumpy) baby at the end of the day. And when a man commits himself to a woman, he is committing to helping her achieve happiness and supporting her in all of her endeavors. When he does it, and does it well, everyone -- mom, dad and baby -- are sure to be a whole lot happier.
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