Women filling the role of breadwinner in record numbers
HEBER SPRINGS (KATV) - A recent study showed the dynamics of the American family are changing.
In the 2011 movie "I Don't Know How She Does It," Sarah Jessica Parker played a working mom who devoted her days to her job then at night, went home to her family. It's an on-screen scenario that is reality for a growing number of mothers.
According to the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are the primary source of income for the family. That number was just 11 percent in 1960.
These mothers include two very different groups: 8.6 million (63 percent) are single mothers; 5.1 million (37 percent) are married with husbands who are the primary caregivers.
One breadwinner mom in that second category is 37-year-old Rebecca Prince-Smith. She's an attorney in Heber Springs and her husband Chris stays home.
Rebecca said, "We were at home one night watching television when I was pregnant and we were watching a show that featured a professional mom and a stay-at-home dad who operated a daycare from their home and Chris said, 'Hey, I could do that.' And I said, 'Really?' and I laughed because I didn't think he was serious and he said, 'Why not?' Then I thought to myself...'Well, why not?'"
Facing expensive childcare costs for their new baby and blended family (Chris has two other children and Rebecca has one), they decided to go for it. Chris left his job at a car dealership in Conway to be a stay-at-home dad.
"It just made more sense for me to focus on my law practice and make it be the best that it could be and for him to come home and nurture our children," said Rebecca.
Chris added, "She spent a lot of time in school getting a lot of education. Why stand in the way of that when I can help by taking care of the kids and taking care of the house?"
He has embraced his role so much that he's even started caring for a few other children to supplement the family income. From field trips to tea parties, he does it all.
Both Rebecca and Chris agree that it's not always easy to fulfill their non-traditional roles. It takes a lot of grace and a sense of humor but, for this family, it works.
"I have to remember that if the towels aren't folded the way I like them to be folded - they still get folded," said Rebecca.
"Now that she doesn't have that stress - doesn't have to worry about coming home and cleaning the house and making sure everything's taken care of - I can see in her that it's a lot easier for her," said Chris. "That makes me happy."