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Tuesday, March 06, 2007
So the other night on The Colbert Report there was a piece on stay-at-home-dads. If you are a fan of the Report, you know that this is a comedy show with tongue-in-cheek commentary. But I was surprised by the language used here - even by the academic expert they chose to interview. To even in a comedic way say that to be a stay at home dad is to give up one's manhood shows that that perception is still a big issue.

As pastors, my husband and I both work from home. He often hangs out with other stay at home dads in the area (who feel like they are unwanted in most mom dominated playgroups and activities). Its a rising trend for dads to stay with the kids, but it inspires much negative reaction. What are your thoughts and experiences with it?

Here's the Colbert Report piece -

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posted by Julie at 9:28 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 3/07/2007 07:43:00 AM, Blogger Lydia

    Both of my parents were stay-at-home parents when I was growing up.

    My mom stayed home until I was about 7 or 8, at which point she returned to school part-time.

    She graduated when I was 14 and immediately began working as a nurse. This was about the same that my Dad began working less as a Pastor.

    By my mid-to-late teens, he only worked a few hours a week...and even then it was only during the hours that my siblings and I were in school.

    When we were home, he made sure that he was around. My brothers went through an ornery stage or two when they were in their early teens.

    Having a dad around right after school helped them to stay out of trouble. They seemed to listen to Dad at that age a little better than they did to Mom.

  • At 3/07/2007 09:46:00 AM, Blogger Doxallo

    I don't have any personal experience with this, my dad worked outside the home and I don't have any friends who are male and stay at homes (though my one friend did avail himself of full 'paternity' leave when they adopted..) I find the attitudes you witnessed horrible though. I'm not familiar with the show so don't know if I should expect more than that from it - I get the impression it was satire...also don't know the 'academic' involved...but in any event, if it was reputable and not meant to be comedic then I'd take it pretty serious and be offended, if its comedic I can't get that up in arms, no one is safe from the comics.
    I do wonder though how this type of attitude which is certainly prevalent in our culture translates to retired men who help with children, grandkids, housework, etc. Many people are retiring earlier - do you think they perception is the same (i.e., is our culture looking at them like they are less than in terms of manhood?)? I'm wondering if age is factoring in at all to perceptions in our culture.

  • At 3/07/2007 11:27:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    I think a clear distinction needs to be made between intentional stay-at-home dads in the context of families being proactive about creating a lifestyle that is healthy for the couple and their children versis guys who bum around and drink beer with their buddies, play video games or look at pornography, not really helping much with the kids or the house and basically mooching off the women who support them. I have seen both kinds of men. In fact I have been married to both kinds of men. The are completely different creatures, let me tell you!

  • At 3/07/2007 11:46:00 AM, Blogger Joanna

    We're trying to decide what to do about this... we don't have kids yet (and don't plan to for a couple years), but when we do, it will make a lot more sense for my husband to stay home. I have more conservative friends who believe the wife always should stay home, period. Even within our family, my parents will probably not be supportive of this set-up. I'm anticipating that the pressures around us will cause stress, but I still don't think they're right.
    Fortunately, we have a friend in our small group that stays home with his infant while his wife works during the day, and they are very happy, so we know it can be done in a very well-adjusted family. I'll be glad to have one of us taking care of the kids, rather than a sitter or day care, and I'm disappointed that so many people around me say that, if a parent stays home, it must be me. I trust my husband to be just as good a parent! Regardless of what we decide, I'm excited that our kids will have a strong father-influence that most kids are missing out on, due to divorce or workaholism.

  • At 3/07/2007 01:34:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    That's what I don't get - the idea that it would be better to drop your kids off with strangers at a daycare than to have a man step outside of assigned gender roles to watch the kids.

    And Janice, yes, the piece was meant to be satire - making fun of those who think this is an issue while highlighting the fact that it is an issue.

  • At 3/08/2007 02:38:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Joanna, continue to follow a path that's good and healthy for your family -- you'll have more to give your children knowing you're not being a martyr to someone else's human "shoulds." And your kid will be blessed to have a loving parent around and a model of a strong woman as a mother and a caring man as a father. I think in general people who are conscious about creating the lives and families that help all the individuals thrive are happier than those who attempt conformity to satisfy a default expectation. The latter is soul-killing. The former is life-giving.

    People sometimes give my husband a hard time if he takes our kids to Trader Joes by himself, like, "Whoa, guess you got the bum end of the deal," and that can be lonely for him, but in the end, he knows he has a much closer relationship with his children than the naysayers who harass him about not pawning it all off on me!

    I know it's hard to deal with flack from people whose support you really, really want, but in time they'll probably catch up once experience demonstrates that your children and family are thriving even if you're approach is totally different from their paradigm of what "should be."

    I think with "unconventional situations," for most people the proof is in the pooding, and eventually they'll at least make an exception for YOU even if they don't change their overall ideas about an issue.

    And if they don't, well, you gotta love them for their perseverance in sticking to ignorant judgments and hope a two by four hits them and helps tham put that perseverance into something better. Or just smile and tell them their so right and starting next week you're going to ask them for their advice on whether casserole or lasagna is a more moral choice for dinner :)

    Best of luck with your decision and your journey. It sounds like it will be an exciting one!

    BTW, what do you do?

  • At 3/09/2007 07:41:00 AM, Blogger Joanna

    You ask what do I do... I'm used to unconventional gender roles. I'm a computer programmer. :)

  • At 3/09/2007 05:24:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    I shall be tempted to worship you -- I am so clueless about tech stuff! Good for you!

  • At 3/09/2007 07:41:00 PM, Blogger medium guy

    In my experience as a very involved Dad this year, I have gained much respect for any parent who cares for 1 or more kids at home on a regular basis. I have loved it, to be sure, but any job is much easier than this. I am sure there are parents out there who have a much better clue than I do, but as for me I am thankful that I can keep them safe, fed, and clothed, and enriched. However, I'm certainly not one of those who has a gift with setting up crafts, etc. If it made sense for our family for a time, I wouldn't object to being the full time caretaker, but I don't think my calling and gifts line up with doing it long term very well.

  • At 3/30/2007 06:31:00 AM, Blogger Trish

    My husband stayed home with the kids for 5 years.. He did an excellent job of it and our kids had an amazing opportunity to bond with their dad. Although he struggled (much like mom's do) with being with them all the time, he managed really well. He is now back in the work force. Hopefully this will provide a way for me to come back where I long to be...


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