I have a friend who is a very happy, and a "proud-to-be" a stay-at-home dad. He says, the gig of "domestic manager" is perfect for him, but it does has some challenges. One, he says, are the long pauses from people in social settings when they find out what he does for a living. "You can tell those people who have that 'how could anyone do that' expression. He suggests that everyone think of all of the positives about SAHD's in advance of a future encounter, and be ready to encourage when you meet them.
Writer Chaunie Brusie is a mother of 4, who interviewed dozens of career moms for their take on this arrangement. Here's some understanding:
1. Money is a factor. “My wife Carol really loves her job as a lawyer, is very motivated, and [the work] pays well,” says Mark Tyler, a stay-at-home father of two. “My job at a bank didn’t pay as well, offered less opportunities for promotion, and I didn’t like it.”
2. Some moms really do prefer to work. While we generally assume that mothers will want to be home more than work if given the financial choice and dads will be fine with waving good-bye and heading out of the house, that’s not always true. AND some dads really do want to be home with their children. When Mark Tyler dropped his hours to part-time after becoming a dad, he found that he still wasn’t satisfied. “What I found was that I was really not paying much attention to my job,” Mark relates. “Instead I was thinking about the baby.”
3. Kids don’t care. A mother’s absence in the home leaves a gaping impact on her children’s development, right? Nope. To kids in this situation, having dad at home is just normal. Many children stated were just glad that they got to come home after school and didn’t have to go to after-school care like their friends.
4. Husbands can (gasp) do everything that moms do. Ok, so dads can stay home with kids — but surely they can’t take on everything that a woman can, right? Not so fast. In addition to his role as dad, which involved school lunches, homework, all pick-ups and drop-offs and after-school activities, stay-at-home dads can take on the majority of household responsibilities as well.
5. Stay-at-home dads struggle with the same things as stay-at-home moms. You know that loss of identity, the discontent, the self-doubt, the insecurity, and the sheer boredom that can occur with being a stay-at-home mom? Turns out, stay-at-home dads can experience them too. One wife had the great idea of listening to her friends that were SAHM’s and listen to their feelings they had. Then she put a male spin on it to better understand her husband.
6. There can be some pretty major benefits. One career mom observed that all her kids’ friends clamored to ride with her husband to after-school activities. “All of their friends wanted to be in the car because he would turn the music up loud and they would have a great time,” one wife notes. “I would not have done that! This mom does travel a bit, but she doesn’t “waste time” feeling guilty or comparing her marriage to anyone else’s, a pointless endeavor at best and a damaging one at worst, she has embraced the benefits of a non-traditional union. “I think I have been very lucky to not have to cook and clean!” she laughs.
7. Old views die hard. For Jen and Jon, the “traditional” roles of what a man and wife are supposed to do in marriage presented a challenge early on in the transition to bread-winning wife and stay-at-home husband. “Earlier in this arrangement, every once in a while I would find myself becoming resentful that he got to be with the kids I was ‘stuck’ working,” confesses Jen. She says she’s aware of the warning advice for breadwinning wives that the switch-up can lead to the path of divorce. You both have to have the mindset of, ‘OK, this is what we are going to do. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll change it, but regardless, we’ll work it out together.’ ”
8. They know they are nontraditional — and they can laugh at it. What I loved most about interviewing these couples is that they took everything about their “nontraditional” marriages and completely owned it. While I’m over here analyzing every square inch of my marriage and wondering if my husband secretly hates me because all I can cook is lasagna and the occasional Crock-Pot meal, these couples are just like, this is what works for us and who cares what anyone else thinks?
Now back to that friend I know: He's really happy doing what he does. How can you argue with that?