Role Reversal: Stay at home Asian-American Husbands

This past summer, I didn’t go to work.  While my wife went to her job as a Registered Nurse, I stayed home and spent my time doing bringing the kids to summer school, basketball games, and other activities.  I did most of the cooking, laundry, and kid chauffeuring.  According to this article, apparently I wasn’t alone.   In many Filipino-American and other immigrant families, wives working as registered nurses or other lucrative professions make so much more money than their husbands that it stops making practical and economic sense for their husbands to work.  This is in stark contrast to traditional gender roles.

“There is an oft-repeated joke among Filipinos here that if you meet a Filipino man at the grocery store with kids in tow, especially in the middle of a working day, and you ask him what does he for a living, the common reply will be, ‘My wife is a nurse,’” said Narna Macasaet, a Filipina immigrant.”

Some of the husbands in the article felt degraded by the change in roles, which in some cases has led to domestic violence.  Did this role reversal bother me?  Not really.  I figure it was only fair after my wife was a stay at home Mom for five years after our youngest was born.  Plus, after working full time, it was in many ways a welcome relief.  What did bother me was how time consuming it was.  I wanted to work out a lot, play pickup volleyball games, take a few classes, do some house renovations, and write a bunch for 8 Asians and other forums and publications.  I thought I would have lots of time.  It didn’t work out that way.    I have new admiration for stay at home parents.  I also found that I was gaining weight at home, too!

After the summer, I had to go back to work.  I was lucky that I was not working because I was taking a sabbatical, not because of unemployment or because or other financial considerations.  Being a permanent stay at home dad is not an option, given how expensive Silicon Valley can be and the fact the my stock options, which once enabled my wife to be a stay at home mom, are all underwater.  Despite my change, I know families who have been in the same situation as described in the article, and I expect that I’ll know more.

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About Jeff

Jeff lives in Silicon Valley, and attempts to juggle marriage, fatherhood, computer systems research, running, and writing.
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