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Opinion | Family

Breadwinning Moms and Stay-at-Home Dads

Wheaton College English professor balances work and parenting as breadwinner.

While most moms were celebrating Mother's Day this spring with a family of three or four, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, resident Tiffany Kriner celebrated a graduation ceremony with thousands of college students.

Kriner, 31, an English professor at Wheaton College, has two young children - 9-month-old Beckett and Fiona, 3. Her husband, Josh, 32, is a stay-at-home dad while Tiffany is the family's primary breadwinner, a decision based on necessity that has since worked out to both parents' benefit.

Tiffany is one of a growing number of women in the United States who are primary earners for their household. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 25.8 percent of wives had a higher income than their husbands in 2007, an increase from nearly 23 percent in 1997 and 18 percent in 1987.

The Kriners' situation is unusual at Wheaton College, Tiffany said; most working mothers at the college have husbands also working outside the home, so are balancing a co-parenting situation. Their situation evolved when Tiffany gave birth to Fiona while in a post-doctoral program and Josh stayed home to care for her, and then when Josh decided to stay home when the couple moved to Wheaton for Tiffany's job about three years ago.

"Most people do ask whether I stay home with my kids or not, especially if they meet me in a context where they see me with my children," Tiffany said. "I don't think there's any stigma especially, but definitely an awareness."

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