Is Parenting a Sacrifice?

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How is life as a stay at home mom? What sacrifices did you and your husband make for your family? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Eivind Kjørstad, Father of Three, on Quora:

My life as a stay at home dad had both upsides and downsides.

I liked the opportunity to spend a whole lot of time with my son. And I liked the freedom I had from planning my days from start to end with no need to accommodate a job with fixed hours. I disliked that I was more socially isolated (probably worse for me as a man; there are very few stay at home dads, compared to the number of stay at home moms).

I don’t think of it as having made “sacrifices” for my family. I don’t think it’s a good thing to think of it that way and consider yourself some kind of a martyr sacrificed on the altar of Family.

A family should be a cooperative unit. The goal should be to have everyone’s needs and desires taken into account to as large of a degree as possible. No single family member should feel as if he or she are sacrificing themselves for the good of the rest of the family.

Being a stay at home parent isn’t more of a “sacrifice” than spending 2,000 hours every year in a (possibly tedious, exhausting, stressful or uncomfortable) job is.

The phrasing of this as a “sacrifice” also makes it sound as if the alternative is to sacrifice your family to have a new car every year, and that’s not a fair representation of the life of double-income families.

These days both me and my wife work. And you know what? I drive a 15-year-old Toyota that has circled the globe six times by now. I could afford a much fancier car, but it’s never been a priority for us.

Instead, our dual incomes makes it possible for us to live in a comfortable house where each kid has their own room. It’s made it possible for us to take vacations together as a family every year. It’s made it possible for us to save up some money so that we’re safer if one of us becomes unemployed or unable to work. It’s made it possible for us to allow our kids to participate in activities and sports that cost money.

I don’t think that can reasonably be described as having sacrificed our family for our careers.

It's also assumed that these questions are for stay at home moms and not stay at home parents, because of course the mother is the one who should make this “sacrifice”, right? That assumption is sexist. And it’s harmful to equality and fairness in any society. And we happen to care about that. We’ve got two daughters and a son. And we care about an equal and fair world for their sake too (although not only for their sake).

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