Although most of us can laugh at it as a completely archaic and close-minded view of marriage, the “Leave It To Beaver” stereotype of a pearl-wearing, vacuuming wife and a bread-winning husband, in many ways, still stands as an ideal of a marriage — with the convenience of neat and tidy roles that let us know if we are doing a good job as a wife or providing as a husband.
But what happens in a marriage when you completely flip standards and stereotypes on their heads and instead of the bacon-earning, suit-wearing, cigar-smoking breadwinner husband you have the bacon-cooking, pajama-wearing, kid-wrangling stay-at-home dad?
Ron is a stay-at-home father and husband, and proudly calls himself a “domestic engineer.” And like many stay-at-home parents, he is re-writing the history books for what it means to be a committed partner in a marriage. He and his fellow house husbands shed some light on what it’s like to be the man in charge — of the house, that is.
1. Money is a factor.
Many of us assume that in most marriages, the mother is the default partner who not only wants to stay home and raise kids, but is also the one who will take the least financial hit — in other words, women usually still make less money than men. But with all of the couples I interviewed, money was most definitely a factor — because the wives made significantly more money than their husbands.
“My wife Carol really loves her job as a lawyer, is very motivated, and [the work] pays well,” says Mark Tyler, a stay-at-home father of two (whom you may remember as the staty-at-homedad who took hos wife’s last name in marriage. “My job at a bank didn’t pay as well, offered less opportunities for promotion, and I didn’t like it.”
For Laura, a chemist, and her husband, Ron, a former construction worker, the decision was somewhat mutual. “We had talked about it before we got married and knew that if it was financially possible, we wanted one person to stay home when we had children (both of us came from families where both parents worked),” explains Laura. “I wanted a career and we knew that I would be able to make more money than he could, and he liked the idea of taking care of the kids.”
2. Some moms really do prefer to work.
While we generally assume that mothers will want to be home more than work if given the financial choice and dads will be fine with waving good-bye and heading out of the house, that’s not always true.
In Ron’s case, he maintains that if he could do it all over again, he would still choose being a stay-at-home dad. “I have asked myself the same question,” confesses Laura. “And my answer is also that I would have chosen to work. Overall, I love working and having a career. I also don’t feel like I missed out on any of my children’s’ activities as they were growing up.”
And on the flip side, some dads really do want to be home with their children. When Mark Tyler dropped his hours to part-time after becoming a dad, he found that he still wasn’t satisfied. “What I found was that I was really not paying much attention to my job,” Mark relates. “Instead I was thinking about the baby.”
Another couple, Jon and Jen*, faced some ribbing from friends who dared ask Jon what he “did all day.” [insert gasp here] For the most part though, Jon says that he just felt “blessed” to have the chance to stay home with his kiddos.
3. Kids don’t care.
A mother’s absence in the home leaves a gaping impact on her children’s development, right? Nope. To Laura and Ron’s kids, having dad at home was just normal.
Although the couple remembers a few incredulous reactions from some friends, no one ever publicly said anything to them, and for their family, it just wasn’t an issue.
“[Our kids] said they were just glad that they got to come home after school and didn’t have to go to after-school care like their friends,” says Laura.
4. Husbands can (gasp) do everything that moms do.
Ok, so dads can stay home with kids — but surely they can’t take on everything that a woman can, right? Not so fast. In addition to his role as dad, which involved school lunches, homework, all pick-ups and drop-offs and after-school activities, stay-at-home dad Ron takes on the majority of household responsibilities as well. “Jon has no problem doing house work,” Jen says. “He admits he likes doing it!”
“He cooks, cleans, goes grocery shopping, does yard work, fixes things, maintains the cars and just about everything,” says Laura of her man. “I pay bills since we do online bill-pay now, but when we use to mail checks, he took care of that too. I feel pretty lucky, because since he took care of everything, it gave me more time when I wasn’t at work to spend with the kids or do other activities with friends.”
The couple also noticed that there was an obvious assumption from other parents that as the mother, Laura was the “default” parent. “Even though Ron stayed home, the moms would call me to schedule things — and I would relay information to Ron,” Laura says. “A few moms figured out after several years, that they could just call him directly. There are some things that only a mom can do (especially with girls), like shop for prom dresses or make-up, but that is true whether a mom is a SAHM or working mom.”
5. Stay-at-home dads struggle with the same things as stay-at-home moms.
You know that loss of identity, the discontent, the self-doubt, the insecurity, and the sheer boredom that can occur with being a stay-at-home mom? Turns out, it’s not just crazy female hormones that cause those feelings — stay-at-home dads experience them too.
Laura recounts how, in going out with her girlfriends, many of whom were stay-at-home moms, she was in the unique position to hear the gripes of wives talking about their husbands not coming home at night on time — and realize that their complaints were the same as her own husband’s. “Since I was friends with SAHMs, I listened and learned a lot about their frustrations which turned out to be about the same as Ron’s,” she remembers.
In Mark’s case, he admits that he struggled with his eventual role into becoming a full-time self-professed “house husband,” reducing his hours at work and then eventually quitting all together when the couple welcomed baby number two. “It had been a huge adjustment for me, going from working full-time to part-time to eventually not working,” Mark says. “But I realized that Carol and I are a team. I understand that Carol’s career is the law and that my career is being married to Carol. I’m widely known as ‘Carol’s husband,’ and that’s OK.”
And while Mark is totally cool with taking a team approach to marriage, the money aspect does weigh on his mind occasionally. “What I do find challenging about all of this is being completely dependent on my wife financially,” he notes. “It colors everything. I do feel funny at times, [but] it’s nothing that Carol has done or said.”
Laura notes that her husband has struggled with feeling that he isn’t a financial team member in their marriage, but she doesn’t see it that way at all. “Ron tends to worry more about spending money than I do because he feels like he is not contributing anything to our income,” she explains. “But I think his being a house husband and SAHD is contributing.”
6. There can be some pretty major benefits.
Laura is the first to admit that there are some unexpected benefits to having a stay-at-home husband, like the way that all her kids’ friends clamored to ride with Ron to after-school activities. “All of their friends wanted to be in [Ron’s] car because he would turn the music up loud and they would have a great time,” she notes. “I would not have done that!” Source Courtesy : Chaunie Brusie
7. Top Misconceptions About At-Home Dads
He’s Sitting at Home Watching Sports All Day
Well, there aren’t that many sports on during a weekday, so watching plain old TV can fill the role. But watching TV, unless it is getting a short break from the toddler by tuning into PBS’s children’s programming, is usually the last thing on your mind during a hectic day. You may get to watch a late Sportscenter once the kids are in bed and the house is reorganized, but there are no guarantees.
His Spouse Would Rather Be Home
There is a theme to misconceptions that at-home dads have to deal with, and it is rife with gender stereotypes. This one is a reverse misconception. Just as there are men who don’t necessarily want to be stuck in the office all day and would rather take care of the kids, there are women who want to advance their careers. There is no doubt that your wife would like to spend more time with the kids. Your family talked long and hard about this decision and concluded it would be the best situation. It’s doubtful that during the process she said she didn’t want to be a mom.
Men Would Rather Be in the Office
- Most stay-at-home dads can tell you they know a male friend, former co-worker, acquaintance or family member who has told them they would love to take care of the kids if they could. Most men in this role chose to be here and wouldn’t want to give it up.
Men Don’t Stay at Home With the Children
- .But when you throw in the part-time at-home dads or those who do most of the caring for the kids – they work at night and watch the kids during the day, for example – the number of men as primary caregivers is as high as 20%. Additionally, the number of men staying at home has nearly tripled in the past decade and continues to grow. Full-time dads are increasingly visible.
Men Can’t Watch the Kids as Well as Women
- Unsolicited advice is another common aspect stay-at-home dads deal with when out in public with their kids. You handled that tantrum incorrectly, you dressed them wrong, you shouldn’t be giving them that popcorn. Or how about, “Those kids should be with their mother.” Because a man can’t competently take care of a child? Moms surely get similar advice, and there is no way to say who has to deal with it more. Either way, it’s not a great feeling to be told you don’t know what you’re doing.
He Must Have Lost His Job
- There is no other reason a dad would want to take care of the kids other than he was forced to, right? There is no question in these economic times some men have taken on the role because they were laid off or their job situation isn’t promising. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to stay at home. Don’t be surprised if many more men used the economic climate as the perfect excuse to spend more time with their children.
He Must be Looking for a Job
- Again, people have a hard time comprehending that a father would want to stay at home. It is sometimes hard to find support for the decision or to find the right response when finding out what a SAHD does. A lot of people are set in their ways. They’ll tell you it is great what you are doing and then ask how the job hunt is going or pass along employment advertisements that your skills fit. Take it as a compliment that they are thinking about you
He Must Not Have Any Motivation
If you’re staying home all day instead of at work, it must be you can’t find something to do with your time or don’t want to. You’d rather sleep until noon, roll out of bed and eat a bowl of Frosted Flakes, play some video games and take a nap. Problem is, kids don’t sleep until noon and if you’re lucky you get a bowl of cereal when they eat. In fact, on the motivation front, Stay home Dads have to take the opposite approach. Being a full-time caregiver requires a lot of determination and composure. It is a job that doesn’t stop at 5 p.m. or for the weekend, and if you’re not on your toes constantly with the kids, they will eat you alive. Not to mention, you need to be motivated just to deal with these misconceptions. Source Extract : David Wordford