“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only — and that is to support the ultimate career. ”— C.S. Lewis
As you think about your duties as parents in a modern world where most often, both parents work and children are raised by a collective of caregivers and educators, you may be wondering if there is another way, a better way.
With careful planning, a few sacrifices and new priorities, you may be able to experience a better way.
In the United States, the tax code punishes a second income. It is realistic to observe a family with an effective tax rate of just over 10 percent that where every dime of the second income is taxed at a 28 percent rate. Add to that, the possibility that a second income is creating an assortment of large and small expenses, from day care and commuting costs to work clothes and lunches out, and you may quickly discover that a second income in your home isn’t creating much financial benefit.
Setting aside the financial arguments, you may find that spending more time with your children — or allowing your spouse to do so — will benefit your family in ways that are hard to measure, but easy to value.
If your children run home from school in the afternoon to be with mom, eager to report on their experiences of the day, it is hard to define in measurable terms the value of this pattern. What mother — or father for that matter — wouldn’t love to know that her kids are so eager to come home that they run the whole way? Those are children who love their parents and feel loved by them.
When your teenagers are facing tough decisions and big challenges, you’d like more than anything to know that they will come to you with their questions and problems. Where does that come from? It starts when they are young and they learn that when they get home from school, Mom is waiting. It takes time to lay a foundation of trust that will allow a 15-year-old girl to ask her mother — instead of a friend or the Internet — about boy problems and birth control. Similarly, it takes years to establish the openness that will allow a 17-year-old boy to ask his parents about drugs when his friends start using.
Breadwinners, however, cannot abdicate parenting to their spouses. Children are blessed by having two active parents who work together, balancing each other, providing two perspectives to every problem. Stay-at-home parents need more than the financial resources to meet the operating requirements of the household, they need partners who share in the joy and the work of parenting.
While technology certainly allows for modern families to spend less time in the care and maintenance of the physical plant we call a home, technology has done nothing to reduce the importance of parents and the delicate art of homemaking. To build a strong family with shared values and close bonds, there is no substitute for the role of fully involved parents.
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.