I’m a full time, stay at home father of two. I’m at home with the kids somewhere around 30–40 hours a week as my wife is self-employed. When I’m out with the kids, I get a lot of people who say the same thing; “I think it’s great that you’re home with the kids. Good for you”. Well, I’m here to say that that’s a bunch of poppycock. Don’t get me wrong, I think it IS great that I’m home with the kids, but every single person who says this to me is saying it for the same reason; I’m a man. And this is where the poppycock part comes in to play.
There’s nothing especially great about a man staying home with his kids. Traditionally if one parent was staying home it was the woman. But do you know WHY that was? It’s because we as men just made it that way. Through financial superiority, physical domination, political power and mental assertion we just decided, as a gender, that women were going to stay at home and take care of the kids.
And then more women started to work. In fact, MOST women started to work. So how did we get away with keeping them home to take care of the kids then? Simple, we just paid them a salary that was a portion of what we made. PERFECT. Now we could tell them that it wasn’t that we WANTED or NEEDED them to stay home, it was simple fiscal responsibility. It’s a lot of numbers that they obviously wouldn’t understand, right? Right.
Now, I will admit, there are some advantages to being a stay at home mom vs. a stay at home dad. Firstly, I cannot breast feed my children. Mind you, many women are unable to as well or choose not to. I wish I could. I sincerely do. But I can’t. I haven’t tried. My wife, in a few moments of anger and exhaustion has suggested that maybe I should, but I’ve yet to take her up on that, and I doubt I will.
Secondly, I do often feel like an outsider at a lot of parent and tot activities. While I’ve made some good friends, the majority of moms at these events are simply more comfortable talking to their woman peers on these sorts of subjects. And let’s be clear, I don’t blame them. While I have the ability to offer a lot of insights on parenting including extensive knowledge of breastfeeding positions, etc I don’t blame women for not wanting to hear MY personal thoughts on the topic of breast feeding. It makes sense. It just sucks some time.
But if I add EVERY THING that makes me feel alienated as a stay at home dad it doesn’t begin to stack up to most REAL issues. So, I think its great that you’re telling me that I’m great for being a stay at home dad. I just wish that you’d start telling women as well. Or telling WORKING parents how proud you are of them for the difficult sacrifices that they make in NOT getting to be with their children. I’m a lucky man. Incredibly lucky. I have an amazing wife who financially supports our family (not that my business doesn’t help, but I’m the secondary earner). I have two healthy kids who, despite constant challenges, make me smile and cry with joy at least once a day. I have amazing support networks of friends and family.
As a man, I shouldn’t get a trophy for taking care of my kids. As Chris Rock says, “You’re SUPPOSED to take care of your kids”. EVERY ONE that takes care of kids should get a trophy. So start handing out that hardware along with your well-meaning compliments to everyone, not just a bearded dude pushing a stroller through the grocery store.