Friday, October 23, 2009

The Cleavage of Parenting

It seems weird in the new millennium and all, but in my experience stay-at-home dad's are still viewed as more a curiosity than a legitimate child rearing force. In fact, many women seem to have an active prejudice against the idea that men could be as good at the job as nature has made THE MOM!

Which is mostly fine. Socially and stereotypically the area of family runner has long been perceived as ya'lls bailiwick. But there is a creeping irony as more and more dads opt for time with the kids over a strict business focus and find that the glass ceiling that women have fought for so long exists in all sorts of environments. Of course the currency of parenting isn't currency, it's acknowledgement and respect.

Talking to an educator, a doctor, a nurse, really any professional who deals with your child, is often similar to getting a lecture from someone who thinks you're as adorable as Corky (LIFE GOES ON, not ROMANO). The predominant image of a dad raising kids appears to be Michael Keaton in MR. MOM, which was so long ago that Teri Garr was still hot.

All of this is pretty much part of the game though, and I certainly didn't decide to stay at home to win awards or get seduced by marginally attractive neighborhood women (although I'm slightly disappointed that no one has even tried!) I did it because it makes financial sense for our family, and because given the likelihood that when the boys turn 11 or 12 they probably won't want to talk to me for a decade, I'm greedy for all the time I can get with them.

When we decided to have kids we wanted to make sure that WE raised them. We are fortunate that we had that decision open to us.

BUT, the one thing that drives me nuts is anytime a conversation comes up about the kids when my wife is around. I love her and she's a great mother, but ladies, you know how much fun it is to talk to a guy or an aggressive lesbian who won't look away from your chest during a conversation. That's what you make us dudes feel like when you totally ignore us in favor of the woman's opinion when child stuff comes up. I work hard to raise my kids to be polite, educated, charming little sociopaths.

So as adorably incompetent as the romantic comedies of the world want to make us, there are competent men out here doing a damn fine job of raising the kids. Just thought you should know.


  1. It's interesting to hear this take on stay-at-home dads. It doesn't surprise to think that we make these assumptions. I think we still turn to the male in a relationship for other issues (technology, money). Not always, but it seems to still be the default.

    That said, I also think that stay-at-home dads get a lot more respect than stay-at-home moms. I think it is seen as more of a sacrifice and a bigger decision for a dad than a mom.

  2. I think it's more credit than respect, but there definitely is a "specialness" gap. A stay-at-home-dad tends to get admiration for the choice, whereas it's just assumed moms should do it.

  3. Firstly I had to stop staring at the boobs at the top of the post and then actually read hehe

    I certainly applaud you for that, and I think more men in your situation should too!