Written by Eve Bandusena | Parents Avenue’s Editorial Assistant
While being a stay-at-home dad is seen as a gradually received vocation today, this doesn’t exempt them from receiving criticism, judgment and unique challenges that present themselves to the dads and quite frankly leaves them feeling isolated in the child-rearing experience. As said, here are several misconceptions that are commonly faced by stay-at-home dads:
This is the most go-to uncritical misconception of stay-at-home dads and this goes way back into the belief of traditional gender roles. Men are supposed to be breadwinners while women are the primary caregivers. These are all accredited to stereotypes that cause more inflammation to this isolating role for men. What men can do in this position is to remember the important thing The kids are being raised right in a loving, supportive home.
I can make a bet that every stay-at-home dad has experienced this. Whether he’s running errands, shopping at the supermarket or dropping his kids off at school. Yes, even today most children are cared for by women. But to involuntarily presume that a father is just babysitting his kids instead of taking full-care of them shows how deep-seated this parenting stereotype is. While this can be often times frustrating, try to reply next time with “I watch them everyday” or “It’s a full time job”.
Unfortunately, we have a hard time understanding why a father would choose to stay at home over going to work. For stay-at-home dads it’s sometimes challenging to find the correct response as to why you’ve chosen this particular decision. It’s best to remember that a lot of people are fixed in their ways, so don’t feel too bad!
As parents, sometimes we run in circles with other parents and we receive unsolicited advice and this is especially true and doubled in the case for stay-at-home dads. We hear comments such as “You handled that tantrum incorrectly”, “you dressed them wrong” and the like. But what really gets to dads is, “those kids should be with their mother.” Why? Is this because men are not competent enough to take care of their own children? It’s a situation that’s difficult to deal with as it’s not nice to be schooled by people who have no say.
As it goes, stay-at-homes dads can surely say they know fellow working dads who have admitted to wanting to take care of their children if they could. In fact, an annual survey at Careerbuilder.com has found that 50% of dads wished they could stay at home with children in 2003. It’s not a lesser choice to stay at home, it’s what stay-at-home dads want.
So to all dads considering joining the Stay-at-Home Dad Club, being a dad is a huge responsibility but being a full-time dad is triple the responsibility. If you’re thinking about making the leap to being a stay-at-home dad from working at the office, regardless of what factors drive you to the decision of doing so, are you prepared for it?
To help facilitate the process, Parents Avenue will guide you preparatory things to consider as featured on Very Well Family:
This is one of the biggest career moves a dad will ever have to make. He will be going from the rat race to domestic chaos.
Adult interaction will be limited and dad will be on call 24 hours a day. Instead of pounding away at the computer for eight or more hours, you’ll be tossed into the world of play dates, dinner menus, and housework.
Obviously, perks include getting to enjoy the day with the children. Field trips are a little more common and cubicles will be extinct. But the days will be full with little chance for a break. If you don’t want to change the baby’s fourth poopy diaper of the morning, there is no co-worker to hand off to.
It is all up to you. Although the move can be very gratifying, if working and producing something every day is what fulfills you, think hard about what will make you most content. The kids aren’t going to get a lot out of an unhappy parent.
There can be many financial advantages to not working. Working costs a lot when you factor in childcare, car costs, clothing, business lunches and even snacks in the office. But most people work for a reason: they need the money.
A family must evaluate their financial situation and determine if losing the extra income is acceptable and whether or not the remaining paycheck will be enough to keep the household afloat.
Even if the answer is yes, it will be important to adjust to living on one income. This could be the first time the family has had to deal with that. Money is one of the primary stresses on families. Make sure you are on top of the finances before making a stay-at-home dad decision.
It is essential to be in the right frame of mind and have a good idea what is going to be thrown at you every day. Even with that preparation, you will still need to adjust to many curveballs and some pitches you weren’t expecting at all.
A stay-at-home dad will likely feel some burnout and a little isolation. He will also have to deal with stereotypes, many of which are negative. Knowing that these potential challenges are out there, and being ready to deal with them, is key to being content in the role. Don’t forget that staying at home means managing everything from shopping to cleaning to chauffeuring the kids.
That means there will be meals to plan and prepare, errands to run and, most importantly, looking after the children to do all at the same time. It can be very tiring. The best preparation is a good mindset. So a dad has to determine if he is up to the challenge, which can be easier said than done. But once the transition is made, the rewards can be endless.
“Aside from the main points, don’t forget the little things too, like, practicing patience. In the heat of things, don’t forget to smell the roses! This could happen for example when your kid insists on putting their own shoes, but get it wrong, or, when they keep stopping their walk in the park every 5 seconds to show you something they’ve found. Remember the big picture amidst the little things. Next, be prepared to readjust your music taste to your kid’s songs, 24/7 hours a day, everyday until further notice. Kids are naturally more drawn to Peppa Pig’s theme song rather than the latest hit song. Lastly, house chores! Embrace them. Once you’ve made the decision to be a stay-at-home dad the responsibility adds up even more. Nap time for for the baby might mean laundry time, or prepping dinner for that evening, or tidying up the house.”
Although this parenting strategy is often more seen and practiced among Western countries and less applied in Asian countries to various factors such as very strict traditional gender norms, it’s still a very viable option for parents who find themselves in certain positions, or, are looking to expand and experiment new ways of parenting.
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