Why My Husband Can’t Be a Stay at Home Dad

When I’m having a bad day at home with the baby, I usually confront my husband when he gets home with, “YOU should should be a stay at home dad.  I will go back to work.  You guys have a special bond anyway.”  I often wonder why, in our particular relationship, we decided that I would stay home with the baby while my husband works.  He has a personality much better suited to homemaking, loves to cook and clean, and has a long history with children because of his large family.  Unfortunately, I know that being a stay at home dad is not an option for him.

Breaking Gender Stereotypes

In today’s world, you would think that any woman could do anything, and any man could do anything.  We are taught from a young age that a woman can be President (or a president of a company), a pilot, or a scientist.  A man can be a kindergarten teacher, fashion designer, or stay at home dad.  I am fully supportive of the idea of stay at home dads, and yet I rarely see any.  For one, I think it’s hard to fully break gender stereotypes.  Men are invested in their careers as much as women are, and many don’t want to leave them to stay home with the children.  In addition, many women feel emotionally attached to their babies, which leads them to stay home.

Mom Still Has to Breastfeed

If my husband was a stay at home dad, it would have put a greater burden on me.  As good as he is with the baby, I would still have to find time to pump, and I would be feeding her overnight and in the morning right before work.  I would be trying to juggle a career on a small amount of sleep, and my relationship with my daughter would be stripped to the bare bones: feeding.  With me staying home, I work hard to take care of the baby overnight so my husband can get a lot of sleep.  I’m not always gracious about it, and it doesn’t always work, but it’s still a goal.

Socializing

The hardest part of being a stay at home dad would be finding ways to socialize the baby and network himself.  Not only would there not be a lot of moral support out there, but he wouldn’t have the social groups and play dates to attend that I can.  My groups through Northwestern center on breastfeeding or postpartum depression – neither of which he would qualify for.  The Baby Connection group does not specifically exclude dads, but I have never seen one there.  Given that the women will nurse or talk about deep personal issues, it would probably be hard for a man to really be accepted in a group like that.  Ditto for my Bible Study.  The Fox Valley Women’s Bible Study is set up with child care, which allows young mothers to attend.  Although there are men’s Bible studies around, I doubt that many of them would have childcare.  And have you ever heard of MOPS – Mothers of Preschoolers?  How about all the mom blogs out there?

If he does make friends, he will be setting up play dates with other moms, most likely.  Play dates are a little more intimate than your typical working relationship.  I don’t think of myself as a jealous type, but I would have a hard time listening to my husband talk about the great time he had with, “Josh’s mom.”  He would probably find the arrangements awkward as well, especially if “Josh’s mom” started to complain about her husband.

Where Dads Can Go

The first place a stay at home dad can go with the baby is the library.  Local libraries offer play groups and story times.  He can check out as many as he wants.

A dad can also sign his baby up for classes – such as swimming lessons, music classes, or dance groups.

If the stay at home dad is in a large metro area, there are more likely to be places for him to meet up with other dads.

Work With the System

The world is changing, and in large cities there may already be better networks set up for stay at home dads, or at least support groups where the genders are more evenly distributed.  As it becomes easier for dads to meet with other dads and arrange play dates, it will also become easier for fathers to stay home with their children.

So my husband and I have different strengths, and sometimes it feels like our roles should be switched.  But given the roles we are in, we make the best of them.  I use my strengths to help Bugaboo reach her milestones, feed her, and socialize her.  When my husband comes home, he can be the fun parent.  In the mean time, he uses his networking strengths and love of fast food to keep ahead at his job.  We are still working out the kinks, but this arrangement will work long term for us.

Do you know any stay at home dads?  How do they manage?

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