A reader writes:
My partner and I have a child in elementary school. I concentrated on my career while he was a stay-at-home dad for years, working part-time once our child was in kindergarten. But while he agreed to find full-time work once our child was in school full time, he hasn’t. He’s also poor at following through on parenting decisions we make. Yet he is attentive and loving and does most of the housework. Maybe I should just be satisfied and stop wanting an equal partner who contributes financially, but I worry my son will learn the path of least resistance too. Is this a mountain or molehill?
Smells like a double standard
Loving, attentive and does most of the housework? Does he have a brother? Seriously, if this was a man writing about his wife it would be a non-issue. (I smell a double standard). If your roles were reversed would you be setting a bad example for your child? Gently express your concern and remind him of his earlier agreement to go back to work, but unless your family is having financial difficulty, this really is a molehill.
Angela Steinberg, Vancouver
You’re the only grown-up
If your partner hasn't put on his big boy pants by now, he isn't going to. It boils down to this – do you always want to be the grown-up? You have to decide, and this decision affects not just you but also your son and his father.
Beverly Gordon, Toronto
Get off his case
Leave him alone. Unemployment is high and the recession has lasted for years. I assume your family becoming homeless is unlikely, and there are others who need the paid work. How about encouraging him to volunteer for a charity?
Julian Castle, Richmond, B.C.
The final word
A few years ago, I created a series so I could work closer to home. Toronto executives decided they also wanted to work closer to home. So my working life got yanked from Saskatchewan to Ontario and I would now be gone from my family’s life for six months of the year, for years.
Overnight, my husband and I had to scramble. He was now a single parent of four young children. I was home on weekends – but only for conjugal visits. You know how people talk about unpaid labour, like driving, shopping, cooking, laundry and cleaning? We started to pay for that labour. And it’s not cheap. Your partner has a part-time job outside the home and a full-time job inside the home. Are you sure about who is contributing equally? And if you still think your husband has time, Julian’s idea of volunteer work is a good one.
As Angela says, what your son’s learning is that gender roles are flexible. Sometimes mothers work and miss their kids’ birthdays, and fathers are the primary caregivers and have to go bra shopping with mortified daughters. And Beverley’s wrong; your husband is wearing his big boy pants. Pants that a lot of wives wish their husbands would wear.
Still wondering if it’s a mountain or molehill? Close your eyes. You’ve decided on a regime change and find a partner who contributes financially. But he leaves his socks, dishes and clothes everywhere. Plus he pulls a Newt Gingrich on you. You suddenly become nostalgic for your previous partner. He used to do all the housework, was loyal and kept his big boy pants on. You get the picture. Now open your eyes, and eat the dinner you didn’t have to cook from dishes you don’t have to wash and go watch TV. Enjoy the life the two of you created while putting your feet up on your dust-free molehill.
Zarqa Nawaz is the creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie.
Next week’s question
A reader writes: I’m a shy guy in my early 30s who has actually never dated. I’ve had crushes but never had the courage to tell girls I like them. Last summer I travelled to Europe for a Catholic gathering and fell for a girl who is 21. I’ve seen her twice since then but have said nothing about my feelings. How do I let her know I’d like to get to know her and see what happens? I’m worried she may be more experienced than me in relationships.
Let’s hear from you
If you would like to participate, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions are published anonymously, but we will include your name and hometown if we use your response (it will be edited).