More than two million men are stay-at-home fathers, according to Pew Research1. If you are one of them, you know the constant jibes and jabs you fend off: you get up when you want, you don’t punch a time clock, you are just lazy. For every insult, a stereotype lurks behind it. Let’s look at five of these unfair stereotypes about stay-at-home dads.
A Weird Minority
One myth is that stay-at-home Dads are a weird minority. A recent Pew Research piece dispels that handily. Sure, stay-at-home Moms still dominate the field, but plenty of at-home parents are Dads:
- 18 percent of American parents stay home to raise children or work from home
- 17 percent of stay-at-home parents are men
- Most at-home parents stay home to care for family members, with 24 percent of Dads and 78 percent of Moms taking on this enormous task
If you as a Virginia father choose to stay home, whether to work from home, to tend to family members, or a combination of both, you are in good company. Pew puts the total number of stay-at-home parents at over 11 million across the nation!
The Unskilled Help
A popular but repellent myth about home-based Dads is that they cannot find a job, whether from laziness or lack of skills.
For many Dads, economics forces the decision. How much is daycare? How much did you earn at that non-profit, hourly shift, or driving a truck? If a Virginia Dad’s job does not cover even monthly daycare expenses, the choice becomes stark and obvious: ditch the paycheck for the Pampers.
Staying at home for the good of the family may mean swallowing some pride, too. National Public Radio (NPR) spotlights one reason the Dad rears while the Mom earns. If the children’s mother makes significantly more than Dad, let her bring home all the bacon.
Brad Harrington, executive director of the Boston College Center for Work and Family, in speaking to NPR says, “Oftentimes the financial decision goes in favor of the woman staying home rather than the man. Nothing, probably, provides more of an opportunity for women to advance than an at-home dad.”
“Because when they know that the father is there, taking care of that set of responsibilities, then women are more free to pursue their own professional goals.”
The Incompetent Boob
Popular now on television is the trope of the male bumbling idiot. He is incapable of using the right laundry detergent, picking up on his wife’s misery, or dealing with his own children. A ridiculous offshoot of this nonsense is the myth that a stay-at-home Dad does everything wrong, often to comic effect.
If that were true, Virginia mothers would be coming home every night, exhausted by work, only to pull a second shift cleaning up after their stay-at-home Dads to the children. This just does not happen.
Men are fully capable of sheltering, caring for, changing, feeding, clothing and educating their own children. We must stop patronizing Dads for accomplishing such little things. Acknowledge that men and women, equally, together, or singly, can raise their children.
Diary of a Wimpy Dad
Who gets to define who you are? The guys at the tavern? Your hunting buddies? The mother of your children? You are no less of a man for being a stay-at-home Dad than that paraplegic veteran, that ER doctor, or every professional male sports star. Parenting is a grueling, often thankless task that draws on your most masculine reserves. It is not light duty.
Push back against the awkwardness. Talk sports, or science, or child-rearing. Be yourself, but project your personal image of your manliness. Do not put up with anyone trying to put you down.
Right alongside the incompetent boob stereotype is the temporary Dad stereotype. Dad is just babysitting for now. Dad is just running out the clock until Mom gets home to deal with the kids. Dad needs Mom to come home and clean up the disaster he has made of the children’s behavior, the home, everything.
Verywell Family knocks this one down and reminds us that, for the most part, no parent wants unsolicited advice or faint praise. You are not a temporary placeholder for the “better” parent.
Verywell Family’s experts recommend responding with, “I watch my kids every day, thanks.” Shut them down and shut them up. You do not need anyone — strangers, extended family, or the children’s mother — to validate your parenting abilities.
Everyone has a right to feel good about themselves. If you, as a Virginia man, feel like others are trying to limit, remove or attack your rights, contact The Firm For Men today. Call our office at 757-383-9184, or stop by 4505 Columbus Street, Suite 200, if you are in the Virginia Beach area.