Provider, Protector and Professor. The Role of Man Part 3: The Provider

This is the third part of a new series on the role of men in a family unit, regardless of what forms that family takes.  These are based on the historical role of men from early tribal, hunter-gatherer societies and are still pertinent in this advanced day and age.  Read Part 1, Read Part 2.

First, let me apologize for taking so long on this one.  The truth is, I needed some time to wrap my head around the role of man as the provider in this day and age.

Photo by Carol Mitchell
Photo by Carol Mitchell

Once upon a time, man served as provider because he was the hunter.  He ranged far and wide and brought back the all-important meat.  While the woman would gather greens and seeds, meat was the most vital part of the diet because it was so difficult to come by at the time.

When mankind shifted an agricultural society, man took to the fields.  He either herded animals or raised crops.  Women, due to biology, were relegated to keeping house as they nursed young.  After all, it’s incredibly difficult to fight off wolves or harvest wheat with a baby stuck to your breast.

Over the centuries, society shifted again, and now man served as his family’s provider by making money.  This permitted his family to buy the things they needed.  Women were now at home more by tradition than necessity since family size was shrinking.  While larger families were needed to work in the fields, they now just meant more mouths to feed.

This is, of course, rather generalized.  However, the role of man as provider has been established throughout history.  This was simply the way it was.

Then World War II happened.

Nothing before had happened on that scale in the U.S., nor since then.  Legions of young men were called into military service.  The few who were left were either sick, lame, or in jobs deemed essential to the war effort.

However, someone still needed to build the planes, tanks, jeeps, and rifles we needed to fight the war.  Robotic factories were still decades away, and even today people are still part of the process.  The problem was, where were they going to find the people.

That’s where the women came in.  For the first time, women went into the workforce en mass.  They filled the factories and built the weapons that won the war.

Then society told them to get back in the kitchens and start cooking.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to happen for long.  Since the U.S. was basically untouched by the war, we were the only ones who were in a position to fill the needs of a war-torn Europe for goods.

There simply weren’t enough men to make all this stuff, which meant women were needed in the workforce again.

Now, families were two-income families.  The husband was still considered the provider, however.  After all, he had more work experience, so he would make more.

Of course, nothing lasts forever.

Today, numerous guys find themselves making less than their wives.  Some guys are even the stay-at-home dad while mom makes the big bucks.

Man is no longer the provider.

Perhaps you can see the issue here.  Are some of these guys men, even though they appear to be in a subservient role to their wives?  Obviously it’s a case by case thing, but the few I know are.  They’re not really even subservient, they simply opted to shift traditional gender roles for the betterment of their families.

One friend stayed at home and homeschooled his children while his wife worked.  They knew they wanted one of them to handle educating their kids, and since she made more money, it was a no-brainer.

However, I can’t help but try to reconcile this action with the traditional roles of men.

Frankly, I can’t.

In a two-income family, it’s easy.  Even if the wife makes more, the man is still providing.  It’s not as much, but he’s providing.

But a stay-at-home father?

I could try to twist things to make it fit, but at that point I’m basically redefining something into non-meaning.  I’m taking something that has a definite value and distorting it until anything and everything qualifies.  I’m not going to do that.  It’s what feminists have tried to do with “man”, and I’m not going to be a hypocrite.

The reality is, these men have shirked their roles as providers.  That’s their right, and we live in a world where they can do that and their families be just fine.

No, I don’t consider them less of men because of it, but I also won’t sugarcoat it to save their feelings either.

Luckily for them, that role isn’t as vital historically as it once was.  However, that doesn’t mean it’s a good move.

Folks, I’m going to be straight with you.  Men need to work and provide money to their family if they are physically able.  Period.

My wife is a stay-at-home wife, which is weird for me since I work from home.  She doesn’t want to work.  She likes being a housewife, which is fine for me.

However, what happens to her and my kids if I get hit by a bus?

Men need to think this through.  Women are typically emotional creatures, but men are supposed to be the more rational ones.  Even if you’re making some part-time money working from home while the kids are in the backyard playing, you’re doing something.

In a world where divorce is easy, and where 70 percent of all divorces are initated by women, men need to be careful.  Your good thing can come to an abrupt and sudden end.

Then what will you do?

At that point, you have shirked your responsibility as provider to a point where it will be difficult for you to get back into the workforce.  You wouldn’t have any work history to speak of for years.  This isn’t a good thing.

I maintain men need to be the provider.  Yes, women can be as well, but men should not be at the complete and total mercy of their wives. It’s just not smart.

You’ll leaving gaping holes in your work history, so that if you find yourself unmarried suddenly you’ll have difficulty finding a job.  Based on child support laws in most states and how they’re enforced–and your wife will most likely get the kids.  Sorry–you may well find yourself facing jail time simply because you can’t pay child support.

And you thought poor houses were a thing of the past.  That’s cute.

Besides protecting yourself, however, there’s the fact that men simply need to keep busy.  I’ve watched my own housewife at work.  Cooking and cleaning doesn’t take that long, and while watching a child can be involved, eventually they all enter school.

There’s time.  Don’t let the women fool you.  I’ve watched it.  If you’re a stay-at-home dad, you know it too.

So step up, find a way to fulfill the commitments you made to your family, namely raising the children and taking care of the house, and still find a way to bring in a bit of bacon.

It’s simply what men do.

Author: Tom

Tom is a husband, father, novelist, opinion writer, and former Navy Corpsman currently living in Georgia. He's also someone who has lost almost 60 pounds in a safe, sustainable way, so he knows what he's talking about.

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