Posts tagged ‘stay at home dads’

Being A Stay-At-Home Dad: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.

JJ at 5 months old.

Statistics show that anywhere between 18%-24% percent of American kids from ages 0-4 have dads that are at home.  This blog is for these dads.

I’ve had both the pleasure and misfortune of being a stay-at-home dad for the past 7 months.  I’ve loved it, hated it; it’s made me laugh, cry, angry, joyous, content and nauseous.  And now I totally connect with Charles Dickens when he wrote those immortal words, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

I had no intention of being at stay-at-home dad (which we’ll abbreviate as SAHD for simplicity’s sake) for this long.  After working two jobs at once to get my wife through college, it was my desire to take a short one to two month sabbatical to stay at home, get some writing done, and try my hand at being a full-time dad. This was only a fantasy as reality would never allow this to happen; but hey, a guy can dream.  I never got the sabbatical, but thanks to woeful unemployment, I could afford to stay home for a short time while we lived on my wife’s decent earnings.

Being the primary guardian, chef, butler, maid, educator, jester and butt-wiper for my most favorite person; a 20 month old boy with light blond hair, crystal blue eyes, and a manipulative charming smile; has been one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done.  And I’m dang good at it.  I can change a diaper with the speed and accuracy of a ninja.  I have mastered most of my son’s non-verbal communication and are always aware of his wants and needs.  I now make a mean homemade mac-and-cheese.  I’ve never learned so much about the physical, emotional, intellectual and social developments of toddler in all my life.   And I’m very proud knowing that I’ve played a crucial role in my son’s well-being and all around awesomeness.

I’ve also acquired things that have made myself a better person.  I have a new-found appreciation for mothers, especially my wife.  I’ve developed traits of being more caring and empathetic.  And I’ve created a strong bond with my son that came as the result of taking care of him everyday.  To me, these things are priceless.  In fact, I would recommend such a time to any man, should they be able to afford it.

But there’s a gray lining to every silver cloud.  As good as I am at being a SAHD, I’m convinced my wife can run circles around me in homemaking and child rearing.  She’s just incredible at it.  And she’s wired with the desire of staying home to raise our kids.  I’m not.  As much as I have loved this, I am wired to work in the worst of ways.  I have purpose-driven ADHD, if there is such a thing.  I am happiest when I’m getting out of the house and into a long-houred job.  So after the first two months, me and my wife found ourselves desperately wanting to switch roles.  Five months later, I still haven’t been able to land a good job.  I definitely wouldn’t say we’re miserable, but we’re in situations where we’ve too long been doing things we just weren’t wired to do.

Now here’s where the “ugly” in this story comes along.  My wife and I are a status quo male/female duo.  She’s more of the nurturer, and I’m more of the protector/provider mindset.  This seems pretty typical among males and females.  But I’m convinced that not every husband and wife couple is wired this way.  I’ve met couples where the typical desires are reversed; where the wife wants a career and the husband wants to be the homemaker.  And these couples are good at what they do.

So what’s wrong with this scenario?

I believe there’s nothing wrong with this scenario.  But there’s many that would have you believe otherwise.  SAHDs are the subject of a lot of ridicule these days.  The ridicule goes beyond the harmless “man-mom” and “he-wife” jokes.  There is a large group of people who take a religious aspect to the ridicule.

Apparently, God doesn’t approve of stay-at-home dads.

Pastor Mark Driscoll is one of these people.  He’s the speaking pastor of Mars Hill church in Seattle, WA.  His 7,000+ congregation is shadowed by his immense popularity all over the country.  The guy does some things in his ministry that I believe are absolutely brilliant.  But I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of his.  For every one moment of Driscoll brilliance, there’s five things that make me want to pull out my hair in frustration.   The above video is one of those hair pulling moments.

In the video, Driscoll answers this question, “Is it okay for a dad to stay home if the wife wants to work?”  Now, Driscoll makes a lot of good points about how some men need to be men instead of boys.  But Driscoll says that it is NOT okay for a husband to stay home because of the scripture 1 Timothy 5:8.

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. – 1 Timothy 5:8

Driscoll goes on to argue that this verse has no cultural relevance and takes it as a literal biblical command for modern times.

*Queue hair pulling sound*

I believe that such literal interpretations of scripture are the very reason why so many churches suck.  This verse has a ton of truth in it, but definitely not to the extreme measures that Driscoll takes.  Allow me to explain.

I am convinced that every New Testament command has a purpose and benefit that’s pretty easy to understand.  In other words, God just didn’t throw out some random laws “just because”.  Every command is beneficial for our well-being.  So we have to look at where the importance lies in this scripture.  The importance in this scripture is that the family needs to be taken care of.  That’s it.

So what about the man in this scripture?

Understand that in that time, the man was the only way in which a family could be provided for.  Women didn’t have jobs back then and thus, couldn’t provide for a family.  Their role was to take care of the home and children.  Driscoll is putting the cart before the horse.  The importance of this scripture does not lie within the man, it lies within the fact that the family needs to be taken care of.

In other words, if this scripture would have been written in today’s age where both men and women have equal right to provide, it would probably have read, “If any man or woman does not provide for his or her own…”

Now, I agree that the majority of us are wired where the wife desires to be a nurturer and the husband desires to be a provider.  So if a man, whose family fits this description, is too lazy to even look for a job and lets his family go poor, yes, this scripture is absolutely applicable and that man should get some sense smacked into him. But if the wife wants to work and the husband wants to raise the kids, and the family needs are being met, then this scripture is being fulfilled.

Later on in the clip, Pastor Driscoll address the issue of both parents working while the kids go to daycare.  He discourages this, but does not outright condemn it. This is where Driscoll confuses me.  So it’s not a sin for the husband and wife to work and let someone else raise your child, but it IS a sin for the father to raise the child?  How is that any better?  What if the daycare provider is a man and that is his job?   Wouldn’t it be better for the actual father to take care of the kids, rather than someone else’s father?

So here’s to all the stay-at-home dads out there, the “mannys,” “he-wifes,” “man-moms” and “testosterhomemakers” (I made that last one up).   The world may not understand you (I know I sure don’t).  But if your wife is loving her job and making the dough, and you love raising your kids, then keep rocking on.  It’s better if you did, then someone else.

As for the guys out there that are going nuts looking for a job while being a full-time dad, be encouraged!  You are not purposeless.  The role you are playing is crucial, even though it may be making you want to pull out your hair.  And when you eventually land a job, you’ll look back on all the good times you had with your kids, all the things they taught you; and you can enjoy the fact that you’re probably closer to them than you would have been otherwise.

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