Stay at Home Dads: Pro's and Con's
If you work full-time and have children, having a partner who's a stay-at-home dad should be fantastic. After all, when Daddy's looking after the kids you don't need to pay for childcare, you don't have to take time off when Junior's ill, and you always have a hot meal waiting for you when you come home from work. Or do you?
Most women find having partners who are stay-at-home dads a mixed blessing. While you might not have to pay those nanny bills anymore, switching traditional gender-identified roles can be difficult for some relationships to handle. In addition, not all men are able to do the cooking, cleaning and childrearing up to female standards, and your husband or partner may grow to resent your being in the grown-up world while he stays behind in Nappyland.
Like many women who give up paid work, men also may feel emasculated by opting out of the rat race. And while most women are thrilled to have their husbands or partners become stay-at-home dads, there are some, unfortunately, who might eventually look at them a bit differently, in a less-than-manly light.
Most men who choose to stay at home with the kids are happy with their decision, But if your man's self-esteem is too bruised after staying home with the children for a month or two, it may be time to dust off his suits and call in some childcare!
Top Five Relationship TipsIf you expect your relationship with your husband or partner to stay exactly the same when he gives up work and stays home with the kids, think again. New roles, especially non-traditional ones, don't always happen instantly. It can take time to adjust, and will require a bit of give-and-take from both of you.
- Realise you have joint goals. Men usually become stay-at-home dads to avoid paying for full-time childcare. Keep in mind that you are doing it for you both, and for the good of the family as a unit. And don't forget to share all money decisions equally, no matter who is bringing home the paycheque.
- Revise your expectations. Don't come home from work and express dismay because hubby's been home all day yet hasn't managed to finished the ironing or Hoover the living room. Discuss ground rules but learn to accept that not everything will be done up to your standards.
- Improve communication. Talking about what you expect and don't expect and what you like and dislike is key if you want the family to thrive. It's no use letting things build up and garnering resentment.
- Appreciate each other's contributions to family life. You might be bringing home the bacon, but (hopefully) it's now your husband or partner who's frying it up in the pan. Each of you now has a defined role, and you can't do without the other. Tell each other how much you appreciate what the other is doing. A pat on the back, especially for dads, never goes astray.
- Let go of control. Usually it's the mum who has responsibility over what their children eat, what clothes they wear and what time they go to bed. If Dad starts staying home with the kids full-time, this is bound to change. And just because dads may do things a bit differently doesn't mean they do them incorrectly. Give him a break.
As a working mum, you may resent the fact that your partner gets to attend all the Sports Days at school, that he goes on school trips and was the first to watch the little one take her first steps. But you have to learn to accept the fact that for now, at least, it's your partner who gets to witness those special moments in your children's lives.
Stay-at-home dads are just like women who choose to stay at home with their children. They worry about giving up their identity, how they will re-enter the workforce when their kids are in school full-time, and whether other people just see them as "Mr Mum". It can be harder for them to find playgroups where they're not the odd man out, and they may find their wives start to resent all their newfound female friends.
Despite this, the majority of men who choose to stay at home eventually think it's the best decision they've ever made. Hopefully, in time, you will too.