In my earlier post, lolz commented:
In my humble opinion, the tradcon exchange between husband and wife that you advocate is not really all that equitable – and certainly not what one sees in ancient societies.
He also posted a link (read it all, it’s pretty good, except the conclusion which is too egalitarian and hedonistic for my taste):
In other words, people we call “tradcons” are frequently hewing to a “tradition” that is mostly a recent invention. Throughout virtually all of history, up to and including much of the world still today, “the family” or even “the nuclear family” meant something very different: what it usually was was father+mother+the kids as part of an extended family, with grandmothers and grandfathers and aunts and uncles and/or cousins frequently living under one roof, or in very close proximity to each other, in a mutually supportive environment. “The family” was all these people, usually dedicated to helping each other, often forming alliances with other families to their mutual benefit. Even in societies where it was the norm for the youngsters to move away, they usually moved in mutually supportive groups together only a day or two away from the rest of the extended family, whom they would often get back together with in times of trouble. Even in societies when young men struck out on their own, they usually did so in mutually supportive groups, not alone against the world.
The ancient idea of “the family” was not “we get together and have dinner at holidays and provide each other some emotional support.” It was much more a matter of, “we work together during the day, we make our meals together, we live in one house or adjacent houses, we fight off enemies together, when one of us is sick we all get together to help. Two of our young’uns are getting hitched? We may need to build them a house because we can’t fit them in here right now so let’s give ‘em a new place over on that hill up yonder.”
First, I’ll answer the ‘equitable’ thing. lolz is right, it’s not equitable. Having to work 40-60 hours a week away from your home and family is definitely the shorter end of the stick to raising your own family, as I’ve written before, women definitely benefited from the ‘traditional’ nuclear family. The problem is, unless you’re willing to abandon your kids as latchkey children to daycare and the public schools or you have family that’s willing to take care of them most of the week, you need someone to take care of the kids, and given biological differences between the sexes, the man staying home will result in marital problems and divorce. It makes sense to have the woman stay home.
Which brings us to the next point: both lolz and Esmay are right.
The nuclear family is not ‘traditional’ or the way things were, it was an adaptation to modern industrial society. What the article above failed to mention, is that ‘work’ as we know it today, is a recent invention. Until the industrial revolution, most people’s ‘work’ was either the family farm or or the family home business (or in tribal societies, men hunted, women gathered). There was no real separation between work and home life, they were the same. Sadly, we do not exist in that society. To not starve, most people have to work outside the home. The nuclear family is the best adaptation to that economic reality we have.
Ideally, we’d be able to get back to that tribal, extended family structure. One of my hopes, if that someday I will be able to be able to create a tribal structure among my family, and maybe with my friends as well. We’ll live on a mostly self-sustaining farm subsidized by some small income from a couple projects I’m working on. That will take a lot of work, and will be a lifelong project, but hopefully I’ll get there.
But for now, the realities of modern society constrain me, constrain us. We can try to build a traditional, tribal structure, but that is not going to happen right away. Before that, I have to get a wife, then keep my children from having their souls devoured by the progressive school system, that means the nuclear, breadwinning family is a necessity for now.
As an aside, I would actually not mind being a stay-at home dad. A commenter at Vox’s site has described his adventures as such:
Hey man… we don’t JUST play video games all day. I mean sometimes its almost 8am before they finish with their school work for the day. And sometimes we go down to the lake and shoot turtles with the 10/22s… or fish… or have great glorious nerf wars in the tree forts. and there is a swimming pool out there for the really nice days… about 300 of them a year.
Ok well… its mostly video games…
He’s also described the risk of it:
Look the truth is if I wasn’t such a stupendous badass my wife would’ve lost interest years ago. Happens all the time. The stay at home dad thing is basically betting your family’s future on your ability to maintain your badass man credibility with practically the whole deck stacked against you. The risks are huge. Of course.. if you pull it off you get to spend all day with your kids shooting turtles, fishing, playing Black Ops II, and watching Sportcenter. so I mean… its not entirely irrational.
Honestly, that sounds like a lot of fun, and would be much better life than going to the office every day.
Even the risk of the family being destroyed, while much higher, is not as brutally punishing, as you won’t be the one paying child support and alimony, and you’ll probably have a decent chance of getting custody.
The question is, could you find a girl okay with the arrangement and could you stay badass. I figure, if you ran a little hobby farm in the country, fished, and hunted, your odds wouldn’t be too bad. You’d still get the provider rep if the meat on the table was something you slaughtered or hunted yourself.
It would take a lot of work to set up, but I’d be okay with the arrangement of staying home on the acreage with the kids while the wife worked.