It’s ok to be Just a Dad.

It’s funny, often when meeting some one new one of the first questions I will be asked is what I do for a living. It is an easy way to strike up a conversation, and get to know some one. What you do for a living will give others insights into what you like, what drives you, and what is important to you. The problem with this is I leave many people speechless  when I tell them I am a Stay at Home Dad.

Too often this ends the conversation. I see this all the time in golf league I am part of. Once I drop that bomb on the older members I may as well not be there. They turn and speck to my golfing partner, mortgage lender,  and carry on the conversations with him as if I wasn’t even there. Occasionally I will get a few follow-up questions asking me about how  I came to do this or ask about my kids. Some people will tell me how lucky I am. I agree I am lucky, I love what I do. Just for the record, I do know they mean lucky as in escaping the “working” world, but I prefer to take it as being lucky to spend so much time with my girls.  (Although, last week when both girls were yelling and fighting, there was a potty training accident on the floor, and it was still a few hours till my wife got home, I wouldn’t describe it as lucky.)

These questions never bugged me. The person, while not sure what to say, was at least, trying to understand me. They weren’t asking deep or original questions, but at least, they are asking me about being a dad. They were putting in the effort to get to know me and I appreciate that. It’s the other side of this that bothers me. some questions, while still meaning well, are just rude. “So when are you going to go back to work”, or “Well what did you used to do?” or the worse, ” I think company X is hiring”. These bug me because they all say the same thing. It isn’t ok to just be a dad.

I am instantly in the role of trying to justify my decision. What events transpired that caused my wife and I to make this decision. Years ago , with my wife, we decided that I was going to be a Dad. we were lucky enough that our situation provided us the opportunity for me to stay home. We took it. We knew money would be a little tight, but it was what was best for our family. My primary job would be taking care of our girls, and we have never looked back. (Well except when the new iPhone comes out, remember that part about money being tight? Yeah, not getting any new gadgets for a while.)

It is worse when I get these responses from other stay at home dads. Recently, I met some other stay at home dads at a local playground. A great group of guys, the kids had fun, no complaints. Well except one. The conversation was dominated by what everyone used to be or was going to be. They introduced themselves as ex-pilots, ex-teachers, or ex-lawyers. Some introduced as future business owners or future students. No one introduced themselves as Dads.We did talk a little about child care and our struggles, but that was after it was established that we weren’t just dads.

I wanted to know why. What is wrong with being a just a Dad. Why is that not an acceptable answer? Why do people, dads included, think that being a dad is not enough? I shouldn’t need to justify my decision to take care of my kids. Yet many people see that need. They want to know what I used to be or might be again.  It is as if that former career is what would define me. Being a dad isn’t interesting enough, there has to be more. That perception  needs to change.

Happily things are changing. I see and hear less of this every year. Dads are gaining more acceptance. I see more dads at playgrounds and in my girls gyms classes. More commercials and TV shows are dropping the negative stereotypes of the bumbling, incompetent  dad who can’t take care of his kids. As this perception changes, I hope that we as dads can gain the confidence to say proudly that we are dads and stop using what we used to be or what will be to define us. People on a more traditional path may still find the choice to be a stay at home father different or odd. But if we are to change that perception it has to start with us.

I have decided that being a dad is what would define me.  I am proud of what I do. As any at home parent, mom or dad, will tell you this isn’t an easy job. When I meet someone new I purposely leave out what I used to do or want to one day do. I write a lot, I really enjoy it and maybe one day I will be able to write a novel that will be worth reading.  But when I am introduced to someone new I don’t tell them that. If it comes up later fine. When asked what I do,  when they want to know what I like, what drives me, and what is important to me, it’s not that I used to be a salesman. It’s not that I am an aspiring writer.  It’s very simple. I  am a Dad.

Photo from – Leigh Griffiths – Flickr.com – CC

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Bryan Alkire

Bryan is a Stay at Home Dad from Kalamazoo MI. Every day he is lucky enough to experience the joys and struggles of raising his two young girls. His older daughter, a brain tumor survivor, has just started school. His younger daughter is a ball of energy that always keeps him on his toes. He chronicles his adventures with his girls and beautiful wife on his blog www.kzoodad.com. When not watching the girls he plays golf (badly), enjoys craft beer, and working on that book he keeps promising to get done.

5 thoughts on “It’s ok to be Just a Dad.

  • September 9, 2014 at 12:17 pm
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    Exactly! Thank you so much for posting this. I have found myself struggling with being “just” a Mom these days. That you for reaffirming that it’s okay to be a parent.

    Reply
  • September 9, 2014 at 2:10 pm
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    I wish I could be a stay at home mom. I’ve done it off & on. Unfortunately, I’m also a single mom so that doesn’t work out. (I do have a boyfriend that helps out but the kid is my responsibility.) OMG. Is that too much info? The world needs stay at home dads too! 🙂
    P.S. I just found my golf clubs. Just sayin’ – I need more friends to golf with. 🙂

    Reply
  • September 10, 2014 at 9:29 am
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    Terrific blog! I really enjoyed your perspective and will really think about these words if I’m ever in a situation where I am being introduced to a SAHD. I absolutely love that being a dad is enough for you and that you choose not to define yourself by what you did before or aspire to be. I wanted so badly to be a SAHM, but we just couldn’t make it work financially, until my daughter was 4 and we made the decision for me to leave the corporate world and freelance during her last year before kindergarten (I ended up doing this until first grade). I wouldn’t trade anything for that time. But I do remember feeling like I had to make up for all the time I’d missed … so our days were packed with nature walks,then making wax paper placemats out of the leaves … every craft project under the sun, from making a cardboard box village and climbing inside it to making ornaments, painting umbrellas and glass painting on plates. We went to science museums and played Barbies and went to parks. We put on gloves and rode our bikes around our neighborhood, picking up trash. It was an incredible time. But I do remember feeling that I had to justify my time “off.” I enjoyed your piece, because it really hit home that this was not time “off.” It was time spent helping to cultivate a young woman with morals and values and an appreciation for art and nature. My daughter just turned 18 and she is an incredible young woman … who has raised money for Shriners hospitals and travelled to Eastern Europe to help their Jewish teens rebuild their community. Great kids don’t just happen. They are taught by example. They are nurtured and loved and made to feel safe. What you are doing is the most important job on earth … you are raising the generation who will take over for us someday. And that is enough right now! Great piece. So glad to find you!

    Reply
    • September 10, 2014 at 9:35 am
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      Thanks to every one for the support and for reading. I am so glad other can identify with this. Be proud to be a Mom or a Dad.

      Reply
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