Gas mask and tongs: Who stays home?

Spectre of nuclear diapers notwithstanding, children are on andros’ mind lately.

Since his debating with himself is becoming tedious, he’ll throw it to the GD folks.


A man and woman, both employed full-time, in a stable and committed relationship, decide to have a child. Either parent’s income could support the family, with an appreciable change in lifestyle. They are faced with the decision of whether one parent will quit working to stay at home for the next few years or the child will spend the days in a daycare facility. If the former, they must then decide which of the two will stay home.


In a two-adult family with a child or children, it is better for the child(ren) that one parent stay at home than for both to work out of the home.


. . . even if it means a lower standard of living and less disposable income than two working parents would provide.

2) Resolved:

The sex of the parent who stays home is irrelevant. Men are no less capable of supportive, loving, and efficient homemaking than women, for all of women’s tradition as “nurturers.” Neener, neener.

Anyone care to dispute me?

Yeah, but men don’t have built-in baby bottles.

The one with the built-in baby bottles can use a breast pump, so that the one lacking the built-in baby bottles can’t use that as an excuse. :slight_smile:

So spend twice as much time feeding the kid, and in a less personal way? Why?

And you just know the kid will prefer the natural baby-bottles to the artificial variety. My mom says I did when I was a baby.

Then again, feeding is a rather small percentage of the time, so it’s entirely possible for mamma to provide the mamma-ries while daddy provides the day-care with supplemental bottlage.

Well, breastfeeding is a big issue IMNSHO. You need the Mummy one home for a significant period of time to establish breastfeeding. And she needs to be able to pump. I am a veritable fount of breast milk (TMI I know ) but I have never been able to pump. I am pump impaired.

So if you think that breast milk is the ne plus ultra of infant feeding (which I damned well do ) then this needs to be taken into account.

The personality of the babe needs to be considered too. One of my kids would cheerfully have stayed with daddyo from day one. The other demon spawn was only interested in mummy for a year. I happen to think this matters.

I am all for equal opportunity parenting - Mr Primaflora does his share and often more. It’s just that little itty bitty babies often prefer the mummy part of the parenting team for the first year or so.

I don’t think mothers and fathers are interchangeable if the decision is made to breastfeed. If you use formula, then yeah I agree with you.

I will dispute your point that the sex of the parent staying home is irrelevant.

I consider myself a good example of a caring and nurturing father but I am lacking in one department. Lola is a firm believer in breastfeeding and studies support the advantages that this has over using formula. We pumped milk so that Lola could get away and leave me with the baby but one of the results of all this pumping was increased milk production which leads to more pumping…

Our daughter could tell the difference between a warm bottle of milk and her mom and in every case she preferred mom. She would sometimes refuse her bottle even though she was getting the same milk. We now use formula but the baby still nurses at least once per day, the look on her face tells a great deal about how happy this closeness to mom makes her.

Those first months are the time for mothers and babies to get to know each other and I believe it creates secure and happy little babies.

As the product of a family wherein both parents were able to work part-time, thus affording adequate face-time with each, I heartily endorse the option. Of course, it’s pretty damn tough to work your schedules that way.

I’ve got to put an oar in for the mother being a little more important than the father for children that are still nursing, as well.


My point was just that a father’s lack of “built-in baby bottles”, as tracer called them, is, alone, not a good enough reason for the mother to be the one to stay at home. There are some options. But, as other posters have indicated, YMMV. I will yield to the judgement of those who are there or have been there.

I think the OP also had childcare beyond infancy in mind. For toddlers and older, I agree that it doesn’t matter who stays home with the child

Primaflora and Feynn:

What’s significant? A month? Two? Or as you say, is a full year required?

And yet, mom’s at work maybe nine hours a day, five days a week? That still leaves a lot of time for a mommy to get her bonding in, doesn’t it? As you said, Feynn, your kid still gets to nurse, and enjoys it. Does that necessarily mean that every feeding should be right from the tap?

I guess this might get into the breast vs. bottle debate, which I’m not equipped or experienced to judge accurately at this point. But I just cannot shake the feeling that, well, we live in 21st Century America. The fact that women can naturally produce what we men can only provide second-hand doesn’t seem to me to be a reason to keep women out of their careers or men out of the home.

Ryan, I don’t know much about milk, but I do know that bottlefeeding is not always slower than breastfeeding. Often, it’s quite the opposite.

Ellis, both parents working part-time is another option that I’ve considered. But the problem I keep coming back to is this: It’s been my experience that only rarely can one find a stable, well-paying, part-time job with the benefits that are so often a necessity with a baby. How did your folks work it?

Yup. Through elementary school, at least.

Andros, it might be a good idea to do some research on breast vs bottle. I am a staunch breast feeder so readily admit my bias. I do believe it is in the longterm health interests of the baby to breast feed. And research bears me out ;).

Establishing breast feeding is going to take different amounts of time for each woman. Pumping only works if breast feeding is established. It is very hard work establish supply with a pump, most women need a hospital grade pump and it takes time to get the milk out. Breasts are designed to be used every 2-3 hours at the least. In the early days, if you go longer than that the body can be folled into thinking the baby is dead and the supply drops.

Oookay so I sound alarmist here - these are worst case scenarios but if you haven’t had a baby before, then you don’t know how your body is going to be as a breast milk maker. A lot of parents think that breastfeeding is easy and instinctive but for some mother/baby combos it isn’t.

It isn’t about bonding, it is about maintaining supply. It could be that your partner is one of the women who breastfeeds easily and maintains supply easily with a pump. I think if you are committed to breastfeeding (and if you aren’t, please go and do some reading and make an informed choice), then it is essential that the mother be available for the baby on request.

A 2yo now- I think men should look after the 2 yo and the 3 yo’s. Esp my 3 yo

I was referring to the fact that if you use a breast pump, you have to first pump the milk, then feed the milk to the kid. Twice as much work, and for what?

You’re missing the point. Remember, you said that sex is irrelevant. No one is claiming that the woman must stay home, only that you should take sex into consideration.


Of course not. But it should not be simply dismissed as “irrelevant”.

The Ryan wrote:

Honey, I always take sex into consideration. :wink:

I never said it was irrelevant. I just said it wasn’t a convincing argument.


I think that on some level, women are innately more capable of looking after babies. I speak in the general sense, of course. Some men can nuture better than some some women, but I think on the whole women are better suited than men.

(note: I use the terms “man” and “woman” here, but since I am making an evolutionary argument, the logic is more applicable to proto-humans or humans before modern times.)

Women have been trained by evolution to look after their offspring as best they can. Obviously a man wants his offspring to survive too, but he can easily boink another woman if one his children dies. If a woman’s child dies, she has to invest 9 months or more of her time, as well as get the additional food needed to grow another baby. So, since a woman has more to lose (she has invested more) from the death of a child, she will be more attuned to its needs than a man would be. The woman isn’t just concerned with the mortality of her child, however. She also wants to ensure that the child is raised in such a way as to give him or her the best status so that the child will have as many progeny as possible (spreading the ol’ DNA as far and wide as possible.)

I think that after (hundreds of?) thousands of years of evolution, women are innately better hard-wired to look after children. However, in these modern times, this can be (largely) negated by monogomous relationships and well-educated and caring fathers. So, women are generally better suited to care for children, but if you have the “right” man, it won’t matter as much.

If I ever get married and find myself in the situation described by andros, I would have my wife stay home and myself work. Assuming, of course, that she was neutral on the issue.

Beyond the considerations of just feeding the child I had to take into account a gender rolemodel for my daughter.

When she was an infant it was less important as all she needed was love and food and a clean heinie but as she got older it become more and more important that she have a rolemodel of her own gender to spend time with.

Sure we would all like to be super parents, but the fact is that the kind of hard work it takes to support three people in a houseold where only one of three works is tiring as hell and at then end of the day most nights you just feel like shit and want some time to recouperate.

I took care of my daughter from infancy until she was two (I also went to school part time to complete my degree with some help from grandma during school hours.) for two reasons: One, mom had completed school already and two she had toxemia for the last two trimesters of her pregnancy and was practically bedridden and did not want to be in the house anymore.

After I finished school I had job offers which allowed me to earn more money than my ex so I went to work and she began making up for lost time with our baby.

I am not boy raised by his mother or a girl raised by her father is incapable of being well cared for, but there are things I would have gained had my father spent more time with me during my formative years. I really needed a male role-model. As it is, I still have not learned how to leave the seat up or hang my dirty underwear from door-knobs.

What I meant to say was “I am not saying a boy raised by his mother…” etc.

If I ever get married and find myself in the situation described by andros, I would have my wife stay home and myself work. Assuming, of course, that she was neutral on the issue. **

And if your wife were not neutral on the issue? Are you saying that you feel your child’s well-being would be harmed if you stayed home with her while your wife worked outside the home?

Not necessarily. It would depend on my wife’s personality and characteristics, as well as mine. The wife example wasn’t such a good one since my argument was general.