Why Men Make Better Stay-at-Home Moms than Women Do
While women are catching up with men in both jobs and pay, men are catching up with the ladies at the home front. According to research by Aviva, one-in-seven fathers are the primary caregiver of children. Are moms at risk of dads surpassing them on parenting? One experienced stay-at-home dad hypothesizes that the answer is “yes” and that it’s for the good of mothers and their children.
I’ve been a stay-at-home dad for over ten years now and I truly believe that men today make better stay-at-home moms than women do. Let me explain.
First, please note that I said “today” in my opening sentence. Going back 30 years or earlier before the advent of the home personal computer and the Internet, a child may have been better off raised by a pack of wolves—a comment my wife constantly raises when she asks me about my childhood. But I digress.
Just as the invention of the typewriter historically resulted in the emancipation of women because it offered women a chance for a job outside of the home, the home computer has resulted in the emancipation of men to work outside of their office and at home. I do not quibble over the definition of work here. Working in home, out of home, with kids, for kids— it’s all the same. Physics tells us that work involves the expenditure of energy. And it doesn’t matter what the work is, you still feel just as tired by the end of the day.
With the invention of the computer and the Internet, men have for better or for worse became I suspect, a little more educated on issues involving health, women, child care, society and porn. That’s not to say we’ve learned equally within all these areas, but I do believe that we are more aware than our fathers were on issues of the body and of the heart and what makes good parenting.
A second reason in defense of my thesis is that most men do not carry the stereotypical baggage of their mothers as many women do to be that perfect little homemaker who keeps a tidy house and uses Tidy Bowl without feeling resentful. When I was a kid, women were traditionally raised as little girls to become nurturers through playing with dolls and baking with their Easy Bake ovens. Boys made gun noises.
What I believe this means is that the original stay-at-home dad is a man who had to re-invent himself and his role in life. There were no operating instructions. No playgroup therapy sessions. Heck, all we had was attitude and duct tape and low expectations from our wives about whether we could survive the manic wrath of a two-year-old. By the way, that’s the great thing about low expectations - if the kids were still alive, the house reasonably clean and dinner not from take-out you were Michael Keaton!
This is not to say it was easy, however. I’ve had more than my share of overly inquisitive strangers ask me (some with suspicion and some with that your-wife-must-make-more-than-you-do smirk) why I was at the park, at the library, at the store, etc., with my kids and not at work. I admit, sometimes I was bad and told them that my wife had died leaving me a widower with young children. That usually ended the questions pretty quick. Maybe I scared them. I don’t know, but it did work.
My point is that when it comes to child rearing as a stay-at-home parent, men have finally got their act together and caught up with the ladies. Yes, we may not do it the same way mom does it. Yes, teaching my 4-year-old how to use the espresso maker does not really qualify as a life skill. But what we have done is break the cycle of stereotyped feminine domestication without breaking our kids.
Today’s kids are tomorrow’s parents and they will never see sex roles in the home as stringently and narrowly defined as we did.
Now, if we can only just teach them it’s not cool to move back in after college.
Image source of Parenting: Wikipedia