Not too long ago I published a post entitled, “So You Want to be a Stay-At-Home Dad?” as a reference guide to dads who are becoming stay-at-home dads (SAHD) either by choice or by circumstance. Feel free to forward it to dads that are currently, or are becoming, SAHDs.
However, in order to strike some balance between the sexes, I thought I’d provide what I consider some “suggestions” to moms who encounter our unique breed: the stay-at-home dad. (The irony of my unsolicited advice is not lost on me. See rule #4.)
Although the advice is developed from my own personal experiences as a SAHD, it certainly can apply to all types of dads.
Feel free to comment and keep the conversation going:
1. Treat us like your mom pals. No, I don’t mean share feminine hygiene tips with us. I mean put us on the same level with your other mom associates. Like it or not, we’re pretty much like you. We are parents who strive to be good parents to our children. Do we goof it from time to time? Absolutely, but in all honesty, we probably don’t goof it as often as you think. Dare I say it? We probably goof it as often as you.
Parenthood is man’s glass ceiling. Be kind and remember when you had to break through yours.
2. We are not morons (at least not all the time). Contrary to the stereotypes you may see on television and in commercials, we are capable, talented and sometimes exceptional parents. Some of us can use other kitchen appliances besides the microwave. Many of us actually know that kids need to eat when they’re hungry. Others know how to put a kid in a car seat. Yes, I know it’s crazy. I’m not saying I know how to do any of these things; I’m just saying there are apparently some stay-at-home dads that do. Give us some props when we rock it.
3. Don’t judge us. Men generally parent and care for kids differently from women. A small example in my family is that my wife will not leave the house without at least three bags full of stuff to cover any possible emergency. She has tons of extra diapers, enough food for our family to survive for a week should we get stranded in our highly populated suburban neighborhood as well as small surgical instruments should they be necessary. I, on the other hand, like to travel lite, very lite. I stuff an extra diaper in my pocket and a couple of food items. (I realize this contradicts advice item #4 in my “So You Want to be a Stay-At-Home Dad” post but, hey, I’m a professional.) Just because we parent differently doesn’t mean we’re doing it incorrectly. We have a different style and approach so refrain from the judgmental looks and condescending tone. Save that junk for the other moms that don’t meet your high standards.
Men and women have strengths and weaknesses and in an ideal world, we balance each other out. Remember, just as we can learn from you, perhaps you may also learn from us.
4. Please keep your pie hole shut. We realize your infinite wisdom in all matters concerning children but please refrain from ever, and I mean EVER, offering unsolicited advice. Unless you’re REALLY hot, like purposely-get-into-a-fender-bender-just-to-talk-to-you hot, we don’t want to hear it. It’s annoying, rude and more often than not, unhelpful. We don’t want to be told that four-year-olds shouldn’t play with pyrotechnics. It’s none of your damn business.
5. Want to train something? Try a dog. Don’t act offended. You know you’ve shared conversations with your girlfriends about how your hubby’s mother didn’t train him correctly and that you’re still working on him. I’ve heard it all in the Den of Yentas. Let me set the record straight. Your hubby might not have the stones to tell you but I do. Contrary to what you’ve been told, we are incorrigible, bad-habit-loving animals that are incapable of being trained. All attempts to do so will only end up with the same disappointing results as trying to teach a pig to sing. Accept it and move on. Love us despite our manly flaws. By so doing you will find your nirvana.
Along the same line, I just read an article in some parenting rag that passes as a magazine entitled, “End the Chore Wars: A No-Nag Guide to Getting HIM to Help” (emphasis added). The article sites surveys that demonstrate a lack of enthusiasm from men when it comes to helping with family chores. In it, women share first-hand accounts of how they do all the work around the house. It implies, in not so subtle tones, that men are slobs. Let me share with you my own personal experience with cleanliness. After cleaning out the interior of our family truck (yes, Steely Wife and I share one vehicle) it was clear that the “girls” side (where my wife and daughter sit) was exceptionally more squalid than the “boys” side (where my son and I sit). And I cleaned the entire car all by myself without any assistance or direction from my wife. Woe is me! Now, how do I get Steely Wife to help ME with the chores?
Well, that’s my list, at least for now. Like my previous post for SAHDs, this is far from a complete work. Want to add to the convo? Leave a comment and share the love.