What is a Breadwinner Mom?

USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Mother with baby boy (2-5 months) working from home
Jamie Grill/Getty Images

What Is a Breadwinner Mom?

It's been several decades since the first brave working moms continued their careers after having children, bucking the norm of women being forced to quit their jobs after becoming pregnant. And now, a few women are managing to break the glass ceiling and earn more than their male counterparts. Sometimes, that means that a single family will hold a breadwinner mom and a lower-earning dad.

Here's the lowdown on breadwinner moms.

Simply put, a breadwinner mom is a mother who earns more money than the father in a family. That could mean that her pay is 51 percent of the household income, or 100 percent if he's a stay-at-home dad. Or, for single moms who are the sole adult in the household, by default they are breadwinner moms.

The growth of breadwinner moms is evidence of the changing gender roles in our society. Increasingly, young women envision themselves climbing the career ladder and achieving professionally at the same time that they build a family and embrace the role of mother. At the same time, young men aspire to be caring, hands-on dads and don't put their careers first on their priority list, the way that many men have in past generations. It stands to reason that this desire by both genders to find work-life balance would sometimes lead to couples with a more career-focused woman and a less work-oriented man.

A breadwinner mom also presents a challenge for both society and, in some cases, the continuation of a happy marriage. Because both the man and woman in this scenario are departing from traditional gender roles, they each must actively embrace the new role and deal with the ignorant and sometimes nasty comments and reactions from other people who are surprised that a woman might outearn her husband.

Or, they might encounter shock that a dad is the after-school care provider or the Girl Scouts volunteer because his wife is working longer hours at a more demanding job.

However, breadwinner moms are ultimately good for families and our society because they ensure that dads are more involved in children's lives, that young girls have career role models and​ young boys see a model of a nurturing man. Not to mention, they add more earnings to the family's income, thereby helping with financial stability and the economy.