Stay-at-home dads are definitely an overlooked group. We’ve all heard about the “Mommy Wars” and the (mostly online) debate over stay-at-home moms versus working moms.
The culture just isn’t as enamored with dads as it is with moms. Think of all the things schools do for Mothers’ Day. By the time Fathers’ Day rolls around, school isn’t even usually in session.
For that reason, stay-at-home dads, we’re letting you know we see you. We want you to know we’ve got your back. We want to celebrate you.
For engaging activities for any parent to do with their kids, sign up for a free Twin Cities Kids Club membership today!
Everyone else: buckle up and get ready to learn. Let’s bust some myths about the dads who stay home with the kids, whether by choice or necessity.
Stay-At-Home Dads: The Misconceptions
Unfortunately, there are some inaccurate perceptions of dads who stay home. Like all stereotypes, these views are unhelpful, and don’t paint the full picture. Dads are just like anybody else: they have interests, goals, and needs.
We’re going to take a look at what the culture gets wrong.
Dads Are Glued to Sports All Day
“Guys like sports,” says the stereotype. “Therefore, stay-at-home dads must watch a ton of sports.”
First of all, what sport is on during the day during the week? Secondly, not all guys or dads are really into sports.
Finally, this image of the sports-obsessed screen zombie dad who can’t look up from his screens undercuts dads’ role. Dads are coaches, teachers, helpers, playmates, and nurturers for their kids.
You might find dads playing sports more than moms with their kids (this is good for the kids), but dads likely are not glued to sports all day.
Dads Stay Home Against Their Will
Not every stay-at-home dad is with their kids instead of at a traditional job involuntarily. Moreover, they are not replacing the spouse who would really like to be the one staying home with the kids.
Just as moms are capable of opting out of the workforce for any number of reasons, dads are, too.
There Are No Stay-At-Home Dads
This one may be the most out-there misconception. After all, if this belief were true, we wouldn’t be posting this in the first place!
As it happens, dads serving as the primary caregiver in their families may be as high as 20% of fathers. Over the past decade, the number of dads filling this role tripled, and keeps on growing.
Okay, But Dads Aren’t as Good as Moms
From the commercials on TV to popular sitcom tropes, society’s view is apparently that dads are the JV team. Moms, many people seem to think, are the parents who actually get stuff done around the house. Dads, bless them, are incompetent placeholders at best.
This view is obviously unhelpful to dads. It’s also unfair to moms for a few reasons.
For example, it seems to imply that women’s rightful place is in the home, doing the housework and childcare. Secondly, it insinuates that when they leave the kids with dad, they are in less capable hands. This can compound the guilt that society can make some women feel about working outside the home.
Finally, the idea that dad is a less-favorable mom alternative is unfair to families without moms. Not every home is a two-parent, mom-and-dad household. Dads are just as capable as moms when it comes to being affectionate, attentive, and competent parents.
Stay-at-Home Dads are Out of Work or Between Jobs
Society tends to assume less about the professional lives and aspirations of stay-at-home moms.
Stay-at-home dads, on the other hand, can be subject to a bevy of theories and prying questions. Surely, if a man is home with their children, people seem to assume, they must have lost their job. Alternately, these dads must be on the hunt for a new position and are taking some time out.
Of course, both of these things may be true. On the other hand, they may simply be an individual (not just a parent). And individuals can assess their situations and determine what’s best for them and their families.
Dads Who Stay Home Must Be Slackers
There are, of course, stereotypes about stay-at-home moms. However, very few of these stereotypes seem to involve the concept of ambition. When a dad stays home with his kids, some people can unfairly assume he lacks motivation.
In reality, primary caregiver dads know this full-time job is not for the weak or faint of heart.
The Masculinity Trap
Because the paradigm for stay-at-home parenthood has been moms for so long, people can draw hurtful, gendered conclusions. These views are based on old-fashioned ideas about men’s work and women’s work, and they aren’t helpful. In reality, men can be terrific stay-at-home dads, and moms can be great breadwinners.
Ultimately, there’s no one “way” dads or moms are supposed to be.
Dads “Watch” Kids, Moms “Stay Home” with Them
Every dad has experienced being out with the kids, and gotten the unwelcome question, “Oh, dad’s babysitting?” Why is it that when a mom is out with her kids, people rarely comment on it? Dads raising their kids isn’t some special treat, it’s just simple parenting!
Stay-at-Home Dads are People, Too
Stay-at-home dads, working dads, work-from-home dads – whichever category you find yourself in, we want you to know we see you. Ultimately, the “kind” of parent you’re supposed to be is simply being the person you were meant to be. If you’re doing your best, you’re the best kind of dad.
Twin Cities Kids Club is a Dad’s Best Friend!
Dads need a support system, especially when they’re home with their kids for a lot of the day. However, meeting other parents in your situation and finding things to do with your children can be a challenge. The best solution is to get involved in your community and to scout out experiences the whole crew can enjoy.
Don’t worry, Twin Cities Kids Club can help set you in the right direction. Sign up for a free Twin Cities Kids Club membership and gain access to discounted activities, classes, and events near you!