Plight of a Stay-at-Home Dad

David - Newfoundland, Pennsylvania
Entered on May 9, 2007

I am a stay-at-home dad.

Though the ranks of stay at home dads are growing slowly, we are still a tiny minority. Becoming a full time dad still runs against the grain of the deeply rooted traditional American Dream, and the expectations of most of my fellow citizens. Generally, my staying at home is not trusted by most of my society. They wonder why. They guess I am independently wealthy, unemployed, ill or lazy.

I am tired of the quip “You got it made” and the criticism “She does it all.” Both the joke and the judgment reflect the accepted sexual role bias, which lies beneath the veneer of public social equality. The truth is, while neither my wife nor I have it made, my wife, our son, and I, all have it good (as a result of our continuous effort). I take care of, play with, and teach my son. Daily, I drive him forty minutes to school, then to activities, then forty minutes home. While Gage is in school I go to college part-time, do some consulting, run family errands, and assist Gage’s ageing grandparents. I do the housework, laundry, and all regular chores. I fix everything I am able to, inside and outside of the house. I also mow, weed-whack, and landscape our four acres of property.

I prepare most meals. I never forget or take my wonderful wife for granted. I really listen to and attend to Liz. I am far from perfect in any of these activities, but I strive for consistency. I do not do all of these things because I have to, but because I want. My love for Gage and Liz wants to help them in everyway it can, while nurturing their well being.

It is generally assumed that most mothers unconditionally love and unselfishly care for their children – this is known as “a mother’s love.” Regardless of our progress toward genuine equality, most believe that a father’s love can not be as unconditional, or unselfish as a mother’s. This misconception hurts both men and women. It wrongly subordinates “a father’s love,” and it places twice as much expectation on the mother.

In our contemporary society it is this over-blown expectation of mothers that pushes the overwhelmed mother, who already needs to do so much, to try and do it all – overwhelming guilt is often the result.

The benefits from society’s acceptance and encouragement of stay at home fathers; include allowing men, like me, to guiltlessly experience fatherhood – in a way that could eventually end the biased notion that “a father’s love” is inferior to “a mother’s love.” Another benefit is the freeing of women, like my wife, to understand and release the unreasonable guilt about their own limitations – human limitations that have no bearing on “a mother’s love.” Children would benefit from their parents deeper understanding of love. Society would benefit from increased options and flexibility

I believe there is the need for a Stay-at-Home Father’s Movement.