Answer to: Women Have More OptionsThan Men
Although it has been quite a while since I read This Article about how LDS men feel that women have more options than men do, it has been bugging me that no one has really given an adequate response. So here is my sincere attempt to do so.
One interviewee complained that that it's not factored in that men are expected to work for 50 YEARS and another talked about how his mother went back to school and has done a lot of things that she wants to do while his dad is still at the same job he's always done. (Insert worlds smallest fiddle here ;))
I'm willing to give it to them on a technicality. Yes, technically, women have more options for what is expected of them in our culture. Men are expected to get a job in a career that they will hopefully be at for 50 years or more once they are married, in general. Also in general, women are expected to work until children come along and then stay at home to raise them or to divide herself between the home and work if one income is considered inadequate. (I know of a family of 8 living well on less than $28k and one income but that's another story) Once the kids are at least all in school or grown she is then free to pursue her own wants and desires, go back to school, start a career, do humanitarian work, etc. So many more options for the women while the men have to work at the same boring job for 50+ years.
I do understand the men's frustration, it is a lot of pressure to be the sole provider and to hopefully find a career path that you love so that you actually enjoy going to that job for all those years. It can be hard to come home after a long day of work and shift gears to being a husband and father. I've seen how stressful it can be for my own wonderful husband and how sometimes he just wants to hole up away from everyone and zone out because of it. I get it, I really do and I feel for you.
Here's my problem, these guys were looking at the situation from a very self-centered position. It's a "the grass is greener on the other side" point of view with all the focus on the negative for the men and the "get to's" for the women. Do women have more options? Yes. The key isn't that we have more options but WHY we do. Why women have more options can be summed up in the one word that is most expected of women. What is this word you ask, if you are asking I can almost guarantee that you are not only a man but one that's a little clueless as well, just sayin'. The word is selfless. We women stay at home with the kids, selflessly, because we as a culture believe it to be best for our children. We work and put our kids in daycare, selflessly, because we don't want to tell our wonderful husbands that we just don't have enough on his one income so he'd better get another. We go back to school, often because we want to, selflessly, help our husbands fund our retirement and our kids college tuition when we, selflessly, start a career after several decades away from the public workforce even though we worry about being too old and irrelevant.
Is it all out of selflessness, of course not, I love being home with my kids, I even love the sleepless nights when it's just me and my nursing baby. The selfless part comes in when after a long day of kids shows, kids songs, kids games and activities and a WHOLE lot of cleaning up after said kids, instead of saying "Tag, you're it" and running out the door for a little me or at least adult time, I cook dinner, kiss my husband when he gets home, help my son with his homework, spend some family time with everyone, tuck the kids in and then hopefully spend a few minutes with just my husband before I pass out from exhaustion. (I literally fall asleep on the couch while talking with him far more often than I care to admit.) I wear clothes that are covered in food, dirt, spit up, poop, etc. because if I changed I'd only get it on the next outfit within minutes anyway. I take the kids with me to run errands that would only take me 5 minutes to an hour that now take me 30 minutes to three hours because I know have to take the time to get all of the kids in the car, belted in, unbuckled, back out of the car, into a cart or stroller for the little ones, field there many requests and questions, keep them from breaking anything and especially from unintentionally stealing anything at the checkout, often while at least one of them is crying, and then it's back to the car to load them in, load the stuff, unload the kids, unload the stuff, all without losing anything or anyone and hopefully without anything getting hurt or broken.
When your wife needs to go out when your home does she ask you to watch the kids while when you have somewhere to go it's just assumed that you will be going without the kids and she will be taking care of them? That's how I've found it to be in most households and yet you BOTH are the parents and you are both outside of your "regular working hours". Technically shouldn't that make that time a 50/50 endeavor? A mothers job is 24/7 and it is emotionally and physically (and mentally and spiritually) draining work.
Things do get easier as the kids get older, in a way, they can help more, you don't have to do everything for them now but then new needs come up more emotional, growing up needs which I understand to be just as hard, only different.
Our cultural expectations for both men and women have changed a lot since our grandparents were kids but both of us feel the pressure and both of us have to be selfless often in order to create a greater whole. Just because those expectations are different doesn't mean that one of us got the better end of the bargain, only that we need to talk to our significant others to figure out what works best for each of us in our own families.