Thursday, January 9, 2014

"Men with families feel more trapped than ever"

I came to the conclusion a long time ago that if the current state of affairs got worse, then they'd quickly come to the point where they could not continue. We are getting close to that point, and I am mystified that some people want to make things worse...although they think they are making things better. They are of course leftists, who don't merely misunderstand human nature...they don't understand it at all.

Why can I and many others clearly see what is happening, and there are those who cannot? I can only conclude leftists have never grown up. Emotionally, they appear to be about four years old.

As I see it the other choice we have is to move out of big cities (which are becoming Third World shitholes, anyway) and move to small towns. A of people are doing that - and even building their own small, inexpensive homes. And homechooling their kids, to get them away from the socialized, feminized schools.

This article is about being in-between a rock and a hard place - between Scylla and Charybdis.

It was written by Penelope Trunk and is from her blog.

"Here’s the problem men have today: They understand how bad it feels to be raised by a dad who is never around.

"There’s a generation of boys who didn’t eat dinner with their dad. Only saw their dad on the weekend. Changed schools five times so their dad could relocate to get the best job, over and over again.

"Those boys are grown up now, and they are dads. And they don’t want to be like their dad. They want something different.

"We have unrealistic expectations for fathers.

"So more men are leaving the workforce than ever before. But when men stay home, they are largely disrespected as incompetent breadwinners. And the men who choose work all the time are largely disrespected as incompetent parents. If they try to do a little of both, they are not particular standouts in either. (I’m struck by the art world’s depiction of this problem. For example, Nathan Sawaya‘s sculpture pictured above, and a comic strip from Zen Pencils that depicts the problem.)

"Men were raised to be standouts. But no one told them that most good jobs require long hours and high risk which are choices most people don’t want to take.

"The other challenge to being a standout breadwinner is that you almost always need a big city. Most people imagine themselves raising their kids in a metropolitan area. But the truth is that it costs a lot of money.

"NYC, SF and LA require $150K/year in order to raise two kids in a middle-class life. Some people will disagree with me, but none of those disagreeing will have two kids over the age of six in one of those cities. This is true in the suburbs of places like Boston or Chicago as well. Sure, there are cheap suburbs, but there are not good schools in cheap suburbs.

"Most men will not make enough money to afford living in the right kind of metropolitan area. The number of men who will make $150K after the age of 35 is tiny. First of all, if you want to be making $150K after 40 you need to be making it at age 35. Which means you need to be clearing $100K at age 30. (And places like Singapore, Tokyo, and Bermuda don’t count. Because you won’t be able to make that much back in the US. Your market is artificially inflated.)

"We have unrealistic expectations for husbands.

"So let’s say you are 35 and you’re ready to get married. You have a three choices:

"1. You earn enough to support a family in a metropolitan area. (You need to reliably earn $150K for the next 15 years – unlikely.)

"2. You split household labor because you are splitting breadwinner duties. (This typically goes very poorly because women are never happy with the division. Really. )

"3. You move to a small town where your career is limited but the cost of living is low. (Negotiate this before you get married.)

"The problem is that men don’t like to hear that these are their choices. So men pretend that their salary will continue to rise in their 30s at the same pace it rose in their 20s.

"But that approach fails because most women want to stay home with kids.

"But let’s say that’s not true for you.

"Let’s say you want two high-powered careers. You’ll need tons of childcare. Which means you’ll need to spend almost all your money on childcare. And your wife will struggle to maintain her pre-baby salary because she can’t stop thinking about kids when she’s at work. So you will be very stretched for cash. And stressed, and that’s not great because having a baby kills a marriage anyway, even without the added stress from neither spouse focusing on the baby. (This is why only 9% of mothers even attempt having a high-powered career.)

"Now let’s say you have two scaled-back careers. Here’s the problem with that: It’s nearly impossible for people over 40 maintain employment with scaled-back careers. You can’t compete with someone in their early 30s who is going full throttle. They have the same experience as you but more ambition.

"Here’s the biggest minefield: Men don’t like when their wives earn more than they do, and women don’t like outearning their husbands either. You can say you and your spouse are different, but the odds would be stacked against you. Because even if one of you is different, it would be really unlikely that both of you are different.

"There is not a contemporary template that works for most men.

"Here’s the bottom line for men: Few will be big earners. And few will be able to stay home with kids.

"The midlife crisis for men is that they are sandwiched between social expectations that they be involved as fathers on one side, and the financial pressures from a disappearing middle class on the other. The only thing that’s different about the midlife crisis for men today and in the 1950s is that social expectations are higher and the expectation that they will have a 1950s midlife crises is lower.

"The solution: Have really tough conversations very early in a marriage

"Men are likely to feel successful if a marriage starts with assumptions that are realistic.

"1. What you earn at age 35 is the top of your scale.

"2. Most people cannot afford to raise kids in a city.

"3. Two-income couples with equal focus on both careers is impossible.

4. Women who are breadwinners are not happy with being breadwinners long term.

"Once you accept these realities you are likely to make better long-term decisions as a couple because there will be more reasonable expectations set on the men."


Anonymous said...

Lived in NYC all my life then went to Baltimore for college. After that I want to go to a smaller town. At first I hated the smaller city and rationalized "there was nothing to do" (read: I wasn't caught up in the look at me me me lifestyle of cities). After I returned home to visit NYC after 5 years, it felt so unnatural. I'm going to medical school in a year and if I end up practicing in a small town I don't think I would mind.

Only after leaving a large city for long periods of time do you really see the gravity of social competition, even in small things like which neighborhood you are from, do you wear the current in fashion (emo, hipster, scene), how much money do you make and by doing what kind of job... Not to say these pressures don't exist in small towns, but the thing is you can get away from them and instead of distorting yourself and bending over backwards for other people, you can truly live knowing your own self.

AverageMarriedDad said...

While I think she makes some decent points, I have to disagree with some of her assessments, like "what you earn at age 35 is the top of your scale" and "two-income couples with equal forcus on careers is impossible." I do agree with women breadwinners are not happy being the breadwinners long term, and about the general point that it's hard to "have it all" - financial success, family success and marriage success. But that doesn't mean you can't compromise your expectations a little. Maybe you don't rise to president of your company because you aren't willing to give it that 110% since you compromise your time on getting home to eat dinner with your family and see your kid's little league game. But that doesn't mean you can't be successful and still continue to rise in your profession well into your 40's.

My wife and I both work in challenging white-collar fields, both make roughly the same. We rely on grandparents and childcare to allow us to do that, which is our compromise. We both find immense personal and financial reward in the work we do, but we make it a point to spend as much quality time with the kids as we can, and often are compromising ours at the office (sometimes working from home at night instead) for child time. In reality, during the school year, it's only about 2 hours a day that we give up with our kids, who are really great.

Is it perfect? Do we "have it all?" No, but I sleep well at night and so do the wife and kids. Maybe we're the exception in that we do seem to have a good sexy marriage, happy kids and a comfortable life. We work hard at that, communicate very frequently on life expectations in the subject matter, and are constantly nipping and tucking weak areas. Maybe that's where we're different. We also don't live in a large city, so that makes a huge difference too IMO.

Thanks for sharing this blog article.

Podsnap said...

it's only about 2 hours a day that we give up with our kids, who are really great.

Don't want to be too judgmental on you here mate, but 2 hours on a weekday with kids who go to bed at an early hour (I am assuming) is a shitload.

Of course there is no solution for people with kids who live in the overpriced bug cities. My wife doesn't work and we live in genteel poverty.