Since 2014, I’ve been an at-home dad
We have had the unique opportunity to allow one parent to be home while the other works. For us, the decision was simple as we had recently moved to a new state and my wife already had a job she enjoyed while I was still searching. Many parents don’t have that choice especially when the unfortunate costs of child care make it a struggle. If I worked, my take-home pay would have all gone directly to child-care. So why not take advantage of our situation and have me stay at home?
Staying home has also worked in our favor in several other ways. One way is that we learned about our first child’s social anxieties and learning disabilities. Because of this, we formulated a plan to home-school and develop a learning path specific to his needs. Another way is that I have been able to focus on developing a craft which I’ve since turned into a business that I’m able to run from home. While developing a business is great, being able to personally focus on our son’s learning and development has been the single most important thing overall.
I love being an at-home parent and try not to complain about our choice. The number of at-home fathers is on the rise in the United States, but it is still not the norm. Our society still clings to the ages-old idea that the man of the house must work while the woman stays home and raises children. That idea doesn’t fit every family and it certainly doesn’t fit ours. While I’m comfortable wearing the at-home dad hat, most people are still getting used to it.
Here are things I’m tired of hearing as an at-home dad:
“Oh, you’re babysitting today?”
I get this one a lot. The idea that the dad babysits while the partner is at work. The National At-Home Dad Network states it perfectly: “Dad’s Don’t Babysit. It’s Called Parenting.” Parenting, indeed! Even if you’re a working father and you have the kids for a day, it is still parenting. It is diaper changing, feeding, teaching, leading, laundry folding, meal making, kissing boo boos, braiding hair, and tickle fighting. At the end of the day, we get paid in love, not Friday night allowance money for the movies.
“When are you going to get a job?”
I chose to be a parent. That is my number one job whether I have a career or not. I’ve had the opportunity to build my business out of my home, but parenting still comes first. Sure, I can’t put child raising on my resume, but I’m helping to raise new generations. The parent position is a full-time, life-time commitment and I’m sure to get plenty of laughs if I put in my two weeks’ notice.
“Must be nice to sit around all day.”
Really? Because being a parent means I get to be lazy? Kids don’t take care of themselves. Not only are there items I listed above, but there are many others. How about running around the house playing chase when you’re too tired from the 3:00 AM wake up to comfort away a nightmare. Or imagine taking two extra hours to prepare for an outing with brushing hair, changing clothes, and putting on shoes. Now imagine cancelling it because your child is so anxiously worked up about leaving the house that you decide instead to help them develop coping mechanisms. Then there’s the endless cleaning and constant up and down to help your kid potty train. So yeah, it must be nice to sit around all day!
“Aww, Look It’s Mr. Mom.”
This goes back to that antiquated idea that only moms should do the child raising and that when dads take on the role, they’re acting as a mom. I’m a dad and this is what dads do. What about all the single parents out there pulling double duty? My wife and I have the luxury of sharing our duties. Also, please stop making dads out to be the hero as they parent. This is what we’re supposed to be doing and we didn’t even have to carry infants in wombs or deliver them. The least we can do is help parent. Parenting responsibilities aren’t just relegated to one specific demographic and I’m sorry you have that view. Maybe the fathers in your life need to do a better job of showing how they can share the load.
“I Can’t Believe You’re Making Your Wife Work.”
This is right up there with “be a man and get a job.” Stop for a second and think. Maybe my wife likes working? That this was a decision we made together? Maybe if the circumstances were different, I would be the one working and she would be at home? In our current situation, this is what’s working for us. I’ll gladly get a job if she chooses to stay at home. A job has nothing to do with being a man, but being a dad and raising your children sure is.
Being an at-home dad has been an awesome experience. It certainly isn’t a cakewalk. Raising kids is a tough job, but rewarding all the same. As society shifts to accepting dads at home while moms work, it can be difficult accepting the role yourself. While comments come and go, know that you are doing what you feel is best for your family and that is all that matters.
Want to find other guys that hear the same questions you do? Find a Dads Group in your area!