What Many Families Feel, But Very Few Talk About
Across America, the Big Flip is happening.
As more women are becoming primary bread-winners, a growing number of fathers are staying at home to raise children. Although this isn't new for countries like Sweden, which has seen a boom in stay-at-home dads, America is experiencing this shift more cautiously. Since the very fact that 40% of households (with children) are headed by female breadwinners was enough for hell to break loose, it's no surprise that stay-at-home dads are still marginalized in America.
After being stigmatized for her own family's non-traditional path, Izzy Chan decided to make a documentary shedding some much-needed light on the families that are brazenly leading this change. Spoiler alert: they're terrific.
Izzy Chan explains that she decided to embark on this project after becoming an "accidental wife breadwinner." Although she satisfied with her job, her relationship was sufferring. The research she digged up wasn't encouraging.
"When I couldn't ignore how deeply unhappy we were anymore, I started to look for information around the topic. I was dismayed at how negative the research was. But I didn't want to be just another statistic. I love my husband — that didn't change. I just need to see what other women and men living the Big Flip are doing. I want to be inspired by their successes, and learn from their mistakes," she told PolicyMic.
Why are these non-traditional families on their way to becoming the new normal? Chan explains that it's due to a mix of things.
"Boston Consulting Group has research around how quickly women are closing the income gap — so quickly that in 15 years, the gap will reverse, in their projections. There's a lot of data that shows more women than men have been graduating from college, which is a big reason for women's continued advancement financially," she says.
Why do families experiencing the Big Flip find it so hard? Not only do they both face stigma for picking their respective non-traditional family roles, but their marriages are 40% more likely to end in divorce. "Reversing roles is not easy. When it gets really bad, is when one or both partners are just not digging the shift, and resents the other for the situation," Chan says.
"This is a complex issue, with many different factors that conspire to challenge a marriage. A tough job market, the fact that women still get paid less than men for the same job, assumptions and missed expectations on what's expected of the at-home husband — all of these conspire to make things difficult," the director explains.
"It's human to be suspicious of what we don't know well. Beyond the dated and not-very-attractive image of Mr. Mom, there aren't many positive public images of stay-at-home fathers," Chan says.
What can we do? Izzy Chan thinks change will take place with more awareness. She calls on us to stop marginalizing parents who are making the best choices for them and their families. "Make breadwinner moms feel welcome and appreciated when they find time for school functions — don't point out their absences. And working men, don't flippantly say "I want to do that if I can get away with it!" when you hear about a dad who's staying home with the kids. It cheapens the value of what Big Flip dads do."
If you'd like to raise awareness about the Big Flip, join the cause and donate to their kickstarter. The goal is to get the movie out next year, but they can't do it without your help. Share this with your friends and don't forget to let me know what you think in Twitter and Facebook.