Yesterday, I received an e-mail asking me if I felt like less of a man because I was a stay at home dad. The answer to this question was an emphatic no. I don’t believe that my masculinity is questioned in anyway by me being a stay at home dad, but I can see why someone would ask this of me. Unfortunately, I am a reader of parenting magazines, and I read parenting websites. You see, I am afraid that I am going to screw up, so I can’t help myself. I read all the drivel that these magazines and websites put out with the hopes that I will learn something useful. Every once and awhile I do learn something too. But, that does not happen often.
Unfortunately, many of these parenting magazines have tiny segments on fathers, and these articles often refer to stay at home dads. These articles have the possibility to be useful in some way but often are not. You see many of these articles are either written by men who feel emasculated because they don’t have a job and want to whine about it or by a woman who thinks that this is the case or just written by someone who doesn’t know any better and thinks it must be true. Whatever the case, it is not true for me. In my house it was a question of finances. Let’s see here, the most I have been able to make since I graduated college was $9 an hour. Any of you parents that need a full time sitter or daycare know that most sitters or day care providers require at least $10 an hour and even then they might not be the type of people you feel comfortable leaving your kid with all day five days a week. For my wife and I, it just didn’t make sense. We could either save money by having me stay home with our son, or we could spend more money than I make in a week and send him to daycare. It’s a no brainer.
The only really viable option that left us with is me staying home with our son. It was just cheaper that way. That, and both my wife and I felt that it would be really nice if one of us could stay home with him for a while. After all, who looks after you child better than you do? With this in mind I don’t feel the least bit emasculated because I don’t have a job. I don’t think that my wife “wears the pants” in the family either. The way I see it marriage is a partnership. We both call the shots, so I don’t feel like I am the one wearing the pants, apron, skirt, bra or whatever. ( Although, truthfully, my boosies could probably use the extra support.) In reality, we both share the same roles or close to it anyway. Obviously I can’t breast feed my son, but I have a hell of a lot of bottle feeding skills. Yeah, that’s right. I can bottle feed my baby like a maniac. Anyway, the point here is that a parent is a parent. Honestly, I just don’t see the big deal. Is there really a difference as to what gender the parent is? I don’t think my son cares. Why should anyone else? Sure there are times when I feel bad that I don’t contribute financially in our household, but I contribute in so many other, more important ways. “So” you might be asking yourself now, “Why are there so many stay at home dads out there that do feel emasculated?”
Well, my answer to this question is this. These men are probably thinking about it all wrong. It is either that or it is a myth that stay at home dads feel emasculated or quite possibly they are afraid that the rest of the world sees them as losers or something. Who cares what other people think? If they think poorly of you because you are a stay at home dad, then I say screw ‘em. They aren’t worth worrying about. However, if you feel like your manliness has evaporated since you became a stay at home dad, which I believe some men do, just not any that I know of, let’s try to assuage that fear right now because that notion is ridiculous. Really it is. Being a stay at home dad does not mean that you are lazy, wimpy, growing ovaries, getting man boobs, which for the record I have a nice set of my own already. It doesn’t mean that you have lost the status as head of the household, or anything. In fact, I don’t believe in the whole head of the household thing either. Like I said, marriage is a partnership. Anyway, being a stay at home dad means nothing but that you are staying home with your children and taking care of them. I, and a lot of other people, find that to be a noble and worthwhile deed. For the ones that still feel that their manhood is in jeopardy, you should try and catch up to the rest of us. If a mother doesn’t feel ashamed of taking care of her children then why should a father?
Let’s get real here. It is 2010. It is time to get modern. It is no longer a cultural taboo for men to be active in child rearing. In fact it is encouraged. Imagine that. There is no one saying that a man’s only contribution to the family is financial anymore. So, feel free to be more than just a father. Be a DAD for christ’s sake. Get in there and change some diapers, read some stories, do some laundry, cook some food, or just do whatever as long as you involve yourself in your kid’s life. Be active. Try it for a while and see how good you feel. Hopefully, you will realize being involved is more important than having a job. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of if you are a stay at home dad. There is a lot of good that can come from it if you allow it to happen. Sure the financial situation may be difficult, but if you don’t have a job that earns you more than you will lose in childcare payments, does it make sense to keep the job, or to take it in the first place? It doesn’t in my book.
So, there you have it Kim. That is my answer to your question as to whether or not I feel emasculated like every other man because I am a stay at home dad. I don’t really believe that there are too many stay at home dads that feel emasculated. I know that I don’t know any that feel that way. Maybe some feel bad because they don’t contribute financially, but to those people I would suggest that they consider the other ways that they contribute to their families. Some things are just more important than money.