Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Be a Responsible SaHD

When you are a stay-at-home dad, you have a responsibility that goes beyond your kids and family. Like any group that makes up a small minority of the whole, everyone looks at any one of us as the example of all of us. It’s particularly strange to be stereotyped in an entirely new way.

There are several things I’ve seen SaHDs do, including myself, that probably should be avoided, in order to further our cause. It looks like I’m going to make a lot of lists on this blog, here’s a list of things SaHDs should avoid.
  1. Don’t accept being called a Mr. Mom. You can’t do this job if you are a bungling boob. If you’ve already been doing it a year, no matter what your wife, friends, parents, or anyone else says. You obviously know how to dress your kids, feed them, change them, and so on. If you let your wife think you are incompetent about something, she’s not going to trust you with anything. You’ve got this, and even self-deprecating humor about not having it together hurts us all.
  2. Do it like you mean it. If you are doing this full time, it’s not about hanging home and watching TV. It’s not about killing time until you find another job. It’s not about for now. You are doing it, and show yourself, your wife, and everyone else that you mean it. If you are going to half-ass it, just hire a nanny already and go back to work. Of course, the few dads I’ve seen like this disappear (back to work perhaps?) pretty quick.
  3. Don’t take any crap from anyone about your kids. Within reason of course. If you need to use a restroom to change them, do it. If people give you strange looks at the playground, in stores, or elsewhere, smile and say hi. Embarrass them. This article here from Daddy’s Home is a perfect example. Don’t accept any kind of discrimination or bias that no other group would accept. 
  4. Just because you’re not leaving the home to work doesn’t mean you’re not working. Don’t let anyone try to tell you that this is easy. Yes, it’s a lot more pleasant hanging with your kid(s) thank lunching with Bob from accounting, but very little, short of running a busy restaurant compares to trying to feed, bathe, and bed 3 kids of different ages and schedules at once. I’d venture to say that most people can’t handle it.
  5. Don’t just nod and smile when you’re asked “Babysitting today?” by a random stranger. Every time someone says this, reinforce that it’s not today, it is EVERY day. Tell them that this is your job. You shouldn’t proselytize, but break the image that it’s just a day off.
  6. Don't take leading or rude questions. I've seen a lot of dads get interviewed. I've even seen one Dad get asked how his sex life is. If a reporter or a stranger's question is rude, or if they are trying to get you to say something you don't agree with, call them on it. Don't just deflect, tell them they are wrong. Tell the woman who says "oh come on, when I was married, my husband didn't change any diapers" (true story) that perhaps that's why she isn't married anymore. Don't stand for bullshit.
  7. Be a Man, damn it. Whatever it means to you, be a man. You are not doing “women’s work” and you need to parent as a man. You still talk sports, cars, or whatever interested you before, and you didn’t put on a dress (not that mom’s can really parent in a skirt either). Don’t change who you are just because you have your kids. And don’t stand for anyone else who would suggest that you’ve done otherwise.
  8. George Lopez is an unfunny douche. Click here.

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