While we still have a long way to go with gender equality, men are shouldering more of the domestic burden — and spending more time parenting — than any generation before them. American women are making gains in job and wage-earning opportunities which has a lot to do with the large increase of SAHDs today.
We are now more open to gender role changes and are less judgmental than in the past decades. Can you imagine being a stay-at-home dad in the 80s and 90s? The ridicule, behind-the-back talks and stares from your neighbours?
My family was among those who tried to challenge the gender roles and stereotypes in the 1980s. My dad stayed at home and ran the household during a time when it was considered “weird”. And you know what? I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It shaped me to be the confident person I am today. Here are just a few of the lessons that I learned from my stay-at-home dad.
Communication is the key.
We are all wired differently and we all have different interests, talents and passions in life. While there are women who were born to be successful corporate executives, there are men who find their self-worth by successfully take care of the kids and managing the household.
Marriage is a two-way street. It doesn’t matter who brings the food to the table or who keeps the house clean. What is important is that both parents communicate and agree on things like discipline, routine, scheduling, responsibilities that they feel best benefits their family. And both parents need to be flexible when life gets in the way and last minute changes need to be made.
It’s all about timing!
To balance fun and discipline in the house, I watched my dad follow a certain schedule. His mornings were for cooking breakfast and getting us ready for school. His afternoons were for goofing around with us and allowing us to blow off steam after sitting in a classroom all day. But all the magic and fun ended as soon as the clock neared 5pm. Why? Because my mum was due back from work and expected to walk into an orderly house. What happened before she walked through the door didn’t matter. She only cared that homework was done and dinner was made. And watching my dad push a cookie on the floor under the couch with his foot when she wasn’t looking made us feel like we had our own special club.
See? It’s all about timing!
It’s more important to have a few best friends than a ton of good friends
Finding other parents to socialise with and develop friendships with was a challenge for my dad. Other mums were friendly (although some didn’t want to have anything to do with him) and other dads simply weren’t around because they were at work. He eventually found a select group of friends that he knew he could count on and trust. These people were there for him and I learned early on that popularity means nothing. Finding a support system of friends you can count on means everything.
Kids with SAHDs are more open to change
My dad challenged gender roles and overcame societal prejudices. Watching our dad shrug off his ego and ignoring the sneers and comments from his friends made us respect him that much more. And it taught us to be comfortable with ourselves, even if we didn’t always fit in. It made us more flexible and open to change, and ore importantly, it made us more accepting of others. As a parent to my own children now, I find that I’m able to instill that same quality in my own kids. And I have my parents to thank for that.