It’s 2012 and one would think that being a stay at home Dad wouldn’t be a big deal. In traditional terms it is certainly a role reversal but by today’s standards anything goes – or does it? Men become the primary parent for a host of different reasons, sometimes by choice and other times out of financial necessity but whatever the reason, they are entering this role in increasing numbers.
Parenting in general can be fraught with trials and tribulations but men have the added difficulty of being a distinct minority in parent circles. Let’s face it, not unlike the days when women started to enter the workforce in droves, to some extent men are entering a woman’s world.
Being a parent is certainly not the exclusive domain of mothers. Men have been doing the job as dads, for all the stereotypical things, which that conjure up, forever, and most do it quite well. But this parenting world of PTAs and “mommy and me” classes is a new frontier for dads and unfortunately it isn’t always a warm and friendly environment.
I have heard from a number of men that women can be cliquish and it isn’t always easy to join already established groups. This is certainly not news to anyone who has ever been a female and gone through high school! I have even heard some men express that they don’t feel respected for their views on parenting, as if somehow they are any more of a novice at the job, than their female counterpart with a child of the same age. In addition, there are the often heavily weighted female conversations that take place between new mothers about breastfeeding, body changes, and sexual desire that men, for obvious reasons, don’t feel a part of.
The good news is that dads are uniting and the mommy culture is loosening up a bit, albeit slowly. Daddy bloggers are writing about their experiences and creating both on-line and real world forums where they share ideas and parenting concerns. One of my favorite sites is humorously delivered by a writer friend of mine and is called the Daddy Complex
. It is a great read for moms, dads, and pretty much anyone interested in kids who likes to engage in thought provoking laughter. Many of these Daddy bloggers use humor to tell their story and somehow they seem to come at the process of sharing information with other parents in a more collaborative and less authoritative way then some of the Mommy bloggers out there.
I am fortunate to have some very good friends who happen to be stay at home dads and I have seen firsthand how nice it is to have the male perspective as a regular part of the milieu at school. I look forward to a time when men don’t need to explain why they are the one bringing their child to an afternoon gym class instead of mom. Some men struggle with issues of poor self-esteem because they are filling a role that is different from the one they had expected or different from the one that was expected of them. It is the dawning of a new era and men need to feel empowered to make choices about career versus family or some combination of the two, if they so choose. It can be extremely helpful to find like-minded allies in the process and to access the ever-increasing avenues of information for stay at home dads. Keep in mind that women have struggled with this dilemma in reverse for many generations and have come a long way in the fight.
Redefining your purpose in life, whatever that may be, is not easy but it can ultimately be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. I for one embrace the movement of the stay at home Dad force and welcome the gender into one of the most challenging and enriching roles one can fill.
I want to wish all Dads out there, stay at home or otherwise, a Happy Father’s Day!
Editor's note: This article is part of our Men's Health Week series, happening June 11th-June 15th, 2012. Celebrate with us by visiting the DailyStrength Men's Health Week special page, and don't forget to check out Sharecare's videos and tips just for men!
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