I know I shouldn’t be telling your this. There are things that every stay at home dad knows and tries to ignore. Simple facts we omit when we tell people about what it is like being a stay at home dad. Like all people we too have some secrets. Cracks in our armor and blemishes in the story of the modern stay at home dad. These are the things we don’t tell. These are our secrets.
We get ready like any other parent. We have our diaper bag, bottles, diapers, snacks, toys and kids ready to go. Then we get to the play group and it happens. We are shunned. Instead of being welcomed like we had hoped, the mom’s look at us like predators, sure we are there to assault them or their kids. We aren’t welcomed into play groups and many mom’s just keep their distance. Like the new kid at school, we go sit by ourselves and try not to draw attention.
In many cases, this will change. The moms will get used to dads being around. They will stop seeing us as predators and not worry so much that we are there to take their children. We only want what they do. A break from our own children. The idea of adding to the number of kids we are in charge of horrifies us as much as them. Then when we attend a new activity we start over. We are never just another parent there. We are Dads and often, we are not welcome.
5 – Everyone assumes we need help.
I can not tell you the number of times an older women has offered me advice or to help with my kids. But guess what? I do this every day and I can handle it. When we are at the store and my daughter is throwing the fit, us dads don’t need your advice or for you to step in. We have dealt with it many many many times before.
We know these women mean well. They assume us dads are out of our element, overmatched and desperate for anyone to save us. Which may be true depending on how bad the kids are. But they aren’t offering to help us. They are offering to replace us. That is the problem. Why does simply being a guy mean we can’t do it? No one asks the mom an isle over if she is ok. They assume she can handle it. We just want the same respect.
You know all of the funny, my husband is stupid, incompetent, or a child meme’s that women love to share on Facebook? They are offensive. But that isn’t the problem. The problem with this is a lot of people believe they are true. After years of being subjected to the dumb dad stereotype, men do not try to be the partners they should. After being told for years you can’t do something why try.
But it gets worse. Women exposed to this stereotype don’t expect as much from their future husbands either. By perpetuating this stereotype we are creating anchors that drag women down. We release our sons from the responsibility of being a good parent, and heap it on our daughters shoulders. Men absolutely need to support women. Women, you have to stop telling men they can’t handle it if we ever expect our daughters to ever reach their full potential.
3 – We feel a like we have to be perfect. No Mistakes.
After telling you how capable dads are it must seem strange that I am claiming the opposite. But it’s the truth. We are not perfect. We make mistakes, our kids misbehave. The moms already don’t trust us or think we are incompetent. This just confirms that we don’t belong there. When our kid is crying, or we forgot something we aren’t just letting our kid down we are letting all dad kind down.
It puts a lot of pressure on dads to be perfect. If we make a mistake without being a failure to stay at home dads everywhere. We want it know that we are capable of raising our children. When a dad screws up, it doesn’t matter how normal the mistake is. I just proves in the eyes of our detractors that we can’t do it. Trying to be that perfect would put a lot of pressure on any parent. Trust me we feel it.
All stay at home parents know how important or job is. Unfortunately other people don’t always see the value of a stay at home parent. Especcially when compared to more traditional careers. According to many people, staying at home somehow makes me less successful than my peers working away in normal jobs. I love being a stay at home dad. Nothing I have done in my life has been as meaningful or as fulfilling. I am willing to bet a lot of you can’t say that about your career.
Sometimes, on my bad days, when the girls are fighting and the house is a mess, I miss my old job. I miss my coworkers and being able to take a lunch. I miss doing something that’s value is recognized. I’m proud to be a dad. But when it comes time to answer the “what do you do?” question. Stay at home dad just isn’t as impressive.
1 – This is a choice and I am not looking to go back
I’ll admit I don’t know if this one is a secret. I, like many stay at home dads, am not looking for a job. We love what we do. Being lucky enough to watch our kids grow up means more than any career. As much as we might miss the interaction with other adults, the extra income, or the status a career our kids mean more.
It is strange how many people assume dads are forced into taking care of our kids. They will want to know how soon we will be going back to work jobs men normally do like running businesses, or fixing cars. It is insulting, to say the least. We are dads not by chance, but by choice. Don’t you forget it.