News flash, Daddies can wipe kids runny noses and little bare bottoms!
I know you are thinking, well duh, of course they can. Now what if that daddy is a (hushed whisper) stay-at-home dad, does the answer change? Surely it should not, he is after all the same daddy; however, society still tends to look upon a man who stays home with his kids differently than a woman who chooses the same. I grant you this is changing as more men are opting to take a more direct role in the upbringing of their children, but changing cultural and ingrained ideals is slow.
A search on Wikipedia of the terms “stay-at-home mom” and “stay-at-home dad” provides a slightly humorous, albeit sad comparison.
A stay-at-home dad is described in terms of evolution of family roles and the statistics showing the rise in men who choose to stay at home. In contrast a stay at-home mom is referred to as the manager of the household in charge of such services as feeding babies, wiping noses and bottoms, cleaning the home and you get the picture.
But all men are not Mr. Mom.
(In fact I learned from many great dads across the world when this post first broke that they have banished these words.)
My husband became a stay-at-home dad in 2010 after the birth of our daughter. He was nowhere near being the bumbling buffoon stay-at-home dads are portrayed to be. Did he know everything? No, but heck neither did I. Our decision to have him stay home was based on pure talent allocation, as my husband is certainly the more temperamentally suited of us to take on the child-rearing task.
And he enjoyed being at home with our daughter. Let me say this again as it is important; he truly enjoyed every minute he got to spend as a stay-at-home dad. I know you are asking what is the downside, well he was usually the only dad at the library baby group and the park and play dates were a bit difficult as many moms did not want to meet with dad and kid (so they would send their husbands) or not schedule the play date. The most difficult aspect for him was the disapproval, not from family and certainly not from me (I reaped the benefit of full concentration on my career knowing my baby was well-cared for) but from others, strangers who would give a look or an “oh” when he would state that he was a stay-at-home dad.
It is worth a note that gender equity suffers when such stereotypes are allowed to prevail.
But I have hope.
Earlier this month Max Schireson announced his resignation as CEO of MongoDB in favor of spending more quality time with his family. This decision was praised by many as a way to open the dialog around flexible work schedules. I believe his decision will continue to break the mold of what a stay-at-home dad looks like. The men who choose to be stay-at-home dads are not men who could not find work and settled for the stay-at-home gig, they are educated men who make decisions based on the needs of their families and choose to spend time on their families.
As the definition of family evolves and we socialize more about work and life balance, we must ask should we be moving past the stereotypes of which parent does what?
Editor's Note: Nicole is a regular reader of the blog. When she submitted this piece for consideration, I kept thinking while Nicole is uber remarkable for the all she is, Nicole's husband is pretty remarkable too, as are all of the daddies out there. We are truly living in remarkable times. To follow a few awesome stay-at-home dads to learn more about them and their remarkable-ness, check out the following folks on Twitter: DadNCharge, Modern Father Online, and Dada
Update: Nicole and I decided to change the title to this post to be more reflective of the topic. Thanks to all the dads out there who set the record straight! For more great info on work at home dads, read these great resources.