Once upon a time, it was always the male who took on the role of provider for the family unit in North America. Providing always meant earning income at a 9-5 job from Monday to Friday, leaving the woman of the house to stay home to do the cleaning, cook dinner, and look after the children.
With the majority of households needing a second income to make ends meet in today’s society, the definition of a provider has come to mean different things, as the roles of men and women are no longer so black and white. Men may still be able to provide for their families, but they are more often doing this in ways that differ from the past.
Men are More Involved with Household Duties
Now that families where the man and woman work approximately the same number of hours in a week are more common, it has become expected that men take a more active role in household chores. Since the woman is no longer staying home and watching soap operas all day, it is generally more accepted for men to cook meals, do the laundry, vacuum and dust the house, and purchase the groceries. While it may have been unheard of for a man to complete these tasks 40 years ago, according to the United States Department of Labor, 64% of married men with children under the age of 18 now take part in these activities.
It is Becoming More Common for Men to Stay Home and Care for Children
While women are still primarily the ones who take parental leave after the birth of the child, more and more men are beginning to take time off as well. The Family Medical and Leave Act allows for either parents to take up to 12 unpaid weeks off of work to care for a newborn child and many jobs now offer fathers paid benefits, as well. Especially in homes where the woman earns more money than the man, it makes sense for the father to take the parental leave. Men who do this enjoy the experience of bonding with their child and look at being a provider in a much different way.
Due to Lay-offs, Men May Be Forced to Stay Home
With the economic struggles over the past few years, many traditionally male-centered job employers (such as in the automotive industry), have been forced to make cut backs. Unable to find additional work, many men across the United States have taken on the role of staying at home to look after the house while the women have returned to work to earn an income. This allows for the man to still be a provider, but in a more non-traditional way than what he was used to.
Whether it has been by choice or out of necessity, the roles of men in the United States have changed. Men and women are both expected to earn an income, complete household chores, and look after the children. While there be more things for each person to do, men and women are more actively working together as one family unit to make accomplishing these tasks easier.