What Dads Really Think of Moms Who Stay Home With the Kids

mom and son waving to dad traveling

If you're a stay-at-home mom, you've jumped on a growing bandwagon: 29 percent of mothers care for their kids full-time, up from 23 percent a few years earlier. And while we are sure there are days you love being there for your kids and also days it feels like a cross to bear (like when they've decorated your entire kitchen in peach puree), here's one perspective you may not know so intimately: how does your partner feel about your stay-at-home status?


Sure, odds are your husband or partner weighed in on your decision to stay home with your kids. Still, there's a difference between saying "Whatever makes you happy, honey" and how men secretly feel but not dare say, at least to your face.

We you're curious to know how men really feel -- both the bad and the good -- so we asked them, with a promise of anonymity in order to procure their most private thoughts. The results were surprisingly mixed.

Here's what they had to say:

  1. They deserve far more respect than they get. "As a former stay-at-home dad, I have nothing but praise for stay-at-home moms. I heard all the objections during my tenure as a dedicated parent: Is this all you do? Didn't you used to have a 'real' job? Just decided to take a break from the real world, did you?
    As a result, I think that stay-at-home moms deserve all the help they can get to make it through the day and all the support that a spouse and extended family and community can provide to a woman who has dedicated herself to keeping her kids healthy, happy, clean, fed, entertained, educated, exercised, loved, and placed upon a path toward a productive, responsible place in the world. It's an incredibly demanding job, physically and emotionally, and it cannot be outsourced to nannies, babysitters or daycare. You simply can't outsource being a real mom." -- 55-year-old with two kids
  2. I secretly wish my wife worked. "Although my wife is a stay-at-home mom with two kids, deep down I wish she worked. A second income would really help. Plus, I think it would be better for my wife, who has suffered from self-esteem issues ever since she quit her job to stay home with the kids.
    At my office, I meet a lot of moms who work, and they are interesting people, engaged with the world. My wife, on the other hand, is somewhat detached from reality, a shadow of her former self." -- 41-year-old with two kids
  3. SAHMs don't always appreciate how good they've got it. "I believe I have a biased opinion in that my mother worked, and I employ many working mothers. Working mothers tend to have a broader understanding of choosing priorities and sacrificing fun-to-do things. They also seem to have a better appreciation for the value of hard-earned income. That's not to say that stay-at-home moms don't appreciate these things, but in my experience working moms appreciate them more." -- 50-year-old dad with three boys
  4. It's a hard job, but surprisingly similar to an office! "When my daughter was born five years ago, my wife and I both reduced our careers to half time for a couple years. We shared responsibility 50/50 for bills and keeping our daughter at home. While challenging to my 'cave man' drive, this opportunity expanded my perceptions and appreciation for SAHMS exponentially.
    Stay-at-home moms have THE most difficult job. There is nowhere to hide, and you are constantly on call. That said, the easiest part of being a stay-at-home dad is knowing that the person throwing temper tantrums is actually a child. Children cry, whine, manipulate, and are naturally full of drama. Unfortunately, at my office now, some 'grownups' don't recognize those attributes are no longer necessary!" -- 48-year-old dad with one child

    More from The Stir: 10 Hardest Moments for a Stay-at-Home Mom

  5. Let's be honest: it's a low-skilled job. "My wife is a stay-at-home mom, and I do think her job is harder than mine in that she works incredibly long hours. But it's also a low-skilled job, similar to cleaning houses or doing laundry, and due the laws of supply and demand, I do not think she deserves half my salary if we ever get a divorce!
    I think she should receive what she'd make if she were selling her services on the free market, which is not much. All that said, although I consider stay-at-home motherhood a low-wage job, I also think it's an honorable profession. It's a lot like being a teacher." -- 45-year-old with two kids
  6. It depends on the woman. "If a woman is driven to achieve in a career that she is passionate about, she probably should go out and work. If she stays home, she's likely to become unhappy, and that unhappiness will probably take its toll on the children at some point. My wife was happy to be a homemaker and comfortable in that role, and for that I am grateful. But I think there's nothing better for a child than being raised by the person who cares for them most." -- 51-year-old dad with three kids
  7. Society runs on stay-at-home moms. "My kids are now grown, but even before we got married, my wife and I agreed that she would stay home with the kids. Now, when I see women out during the day with their younger children at stores, parks, etc. I get a wonderful feeling and think that a society that still values full-time motherhood has a chance. My wife and I believe that full-time motherhood was one of the best things that we did in raising our children. The few bucks that we had to forego was more than made up by seeing how well our children turned out as adults and parents themselves." -- 58-year-old dad with three kids
  8. SAHMs may struggle to return to an office later. "I was the stay-at-home parent to my four kids, while my wife worked outside the home. I did ALL the cleaning, cooking, diapers, toilet training, coloring, puzzles, first words, learning shapes/colors/the alphabet, walks in the park, and was also president of my PTA. Only when I tried to get a job after being a 'mom' for 28 years, I was treated entry level! Lots of job counselors kept telling me how 'my skills were transferable,' but in reality, nothing I did for 28 years counted for anything in the job interview, whether given by man or women ... So to me, the question is not 'what do men think of women who stay home?' but 'what does society think of people who stay home?' And nobody, neither men nor women, respects the stay-at-home parent when in a business setting. In the mall, everyone loves it, but in an office, nope!" -- 57-year-old dad with four kids
  9. I don't envy full-time SAHMs one bit. "My wife makes enough that I don’t have to work full time. So I work two days a week. The other three days I make sure our boys do their homework, exercise and make it to their other activities. And to be honest, the days I go to the office have become a haven of intensity after the endless trivia of algebra problems, orthodontist appointments, bad grammar and supervising the boy’s chores. Part-time is fine. I would never want this for a full time job." -- 61-year-old dad with two boys
  10. SAHMs are superstars. "Growing up, I had a mother alongside of me providing me with love, courage and positive life lessons that I still carry to this day. This is something that the traditional schooling system and daycares do not provide, but are essential to well-balanced and happy individuals. Mothers provide this very important and needed role in our society, and I am happy to offer my wife the opportunity to fill that role, one that she happily choose and equally felt was very important.

    More From The Stir: 11 Things Never to Say to a Stay-at-Home Mom

    There is no price that you can pay to gain those experiences and having a job does not justify denying your kids of those privileges. Can both parents work and still provide those benefits? Sure, but it makes it much harder to allocate the necessary amount of time and resources to accomplish these goals. I feel that SAHMs are underappreciated and need to be highly recognized in our society. My wife is a superstar at home." --28-year-old dad with two kids

Do you know how your partner really feels about stay-at-home moms?


Image via Air Images/shutterstock

Read More >