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What’s Wrong With Stay-at-Home Fathers?

Questioner

F (30-male-US)

Reply Date

Aug 21, 2019

Question

I wish to ask you something about fellow Muslims and my family, especially concerning my son. My wife is a lawyer and has a career; as such, she works in a safe and proper environment. My wife and I have made a personal arrangement that when our son was born I would stay at home and care for him while she continued her career. Period. However, once I embraced Islam, I got a lot of negative feelings from others at the masjid because of my arrangement—as though they are worthy of judging me.

While I know Islam states that a husband is the maintainer of his wife, I feel this is taken out of context or has a cultural aspect of the times during Muhammad’s (peace and blessings be upon him) life. Or perhaps I am just wrong and that is the way it is set in stone forever. Yes, I know the family is in danger these days and our children are suffering. I also know though that I have a wonderful family and perhaps I can be seen as a role model for other fathers. I can also see how Muslims are scared because of the Western influence on the world. However, when my son comes home from kindergarten and he is teased by fellow Muslims and is told I am a “girly man,” it really causes pain. It is kind of funny to me, but not to my son with his peers.

What shame is there in this or shame in raising your son? I believe the situation is okay as long as the wife permits such an arrangement—so my local imam says. However, I do not want my son to be teased for his father doing something noble rather than it being perceived as “girly” or “lack of being a man.” That kind of macho attitude has nothing to do with Islam. I suspect the counselor will suggest I work, have the best of both worlds, and spend time with my son.

The point is what is wrong with this situation? What harm can it cause? At the end of the day, I should only care what Allah knows about me and let it rest. However, I would like some brothers or sisters’ feelings on the issue.

Thanks very much for your time and peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah.

Counselor

Answer


Stay-at-home

In this counseling answer:

•While it is great that you and your wife agree to this arrangement, in the long run, your child will miss out on perhaps the most universally known and cherished time of a child’s life; that is the time spent with the mother.

•We strongly suggest that you reconsider for how long this arrangement should last. We believe that, at some point, you should go to work and your wife should spend time with the children. There is really no steadfast rule to know when your wife should stop working or perhaps work part-time.

 


As-salamu `alaikum,

Thank you for writing to us. May Allah reward you tremendously for the sacrifices you and your wife are making in supporting your family. Here are some thoughts for your consideration.

First, Allah Most High and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) make it clear that the burden of maintaining one’s wife and children rests upon the shoulders of the husband and father. You know this already. In fact, the wife does not even have to work to contribute towards the financial well-being of the family, and if she does work, it is her right to dispose of her earnings as she pleases. Should she spend her earnings towards the support of the family, then that is counted as an act of charity. You probably already know this, but a reminder is always helpful.

What's Wrong With Stay-at-Home Fathers? - About Islam

Second, there are very clear roles that mothers and fathers play in the upbringing of the children. For Muslims, these roles are based not on societal considerations for gender roles but rather on Qur’anic injunctions and prophetic teachings that outline the capacities and abilities of men and women in fulfilling these roles. These are equitable roles, meaning that we do not try to question how equal the duties are, but rather we look at the equitable contribution each parent makes towards promoting the well-being of the entire family.

Third, in your particular case, while it is great that you and your wife agree to this arrangement, in the long run, your child will miss out on perhaps the most universally known and cherished time of a child’s life; that is the time spent with the mother. This by no means negates the contribution of the father, but rather acknowledges the fact that women are endowed by Allah Most High with certain innate characteristics which allow them to nurture their children.


Check out this counseling video


Finally, we strongly suggest that you reconsider for how long this arrangement should last. We believe that, at some point, you should go to work and your wife should spend time with the children. There is really no steadfast rule to know when your wife should stop working or perhaps work part-time. However, the last thing you want is to have your child grow up and then both you and your wife regret that she did not spend enough time with him. As for what the children say to tease him, sit him down and put into your own words some of the points we have included above. Help him to feel proud of his parents and to make du`aa’ (supplication) for them.

And Allah knows best.

Salam

***

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