gmhTODAY 08 gmhToday May June 2016 - Page 84

The new trend…stay-at-home dads C ontrary to popular belief, more fathers would like to stay at home with the kids and let the mom be the breadwinner of the family. Nationwide there are close to 2 million stay-at-home dads and climbing, but the stay-at-home father is still considered a rare specimen. As some dads assume more of the primary child-rearing responsibilities, they face some very specific challenges. Whether you’re a current stay-at-home dad or thinking of becoming one, here are some helpful tips to make the tough job of raising kids a little easier: Be Proud of Your Decision Many men who become the primary caregivers of their family are reticent to call themselves “stay-at-home dads.” The sad truth is that there are people who are quick to assume that a man staying at home with his kids must be an “unemployed loser.” Being a stay-at- home father can generate a number of unwanted responses ranging from rude comments, to suspicion, to misplaced sympathy. Even if it was a financial move or a lifestyle change, if you wear your title of full-time dad proudly and unapologetically, people are more likely to respect that. It becomes clear to them that you are choosing to do this instead of being forced to. It also shows your kids that you love being with them and that your role is nothing to be ashamed of. Discuss Non-Childcare Related Duties With Your Partner It’s natural that the primary caregiver will carry a larger share of the household responsibilities. Kids make crazy messes and part of caring for them is cleaning up after them, cooking their meals, and doing their laundry. However, being the caregiver isn’t the same as being the housekeeper. Try to share the tasks that aren’t part of the day-to-day childcare with your spouse as equally as possible. Decide who will be doing the general cleaning, the laundry for the adults of the house, the grocery shopping, the cooking of evening/weekend meals, etc. It’s really important that you and your partner are on the same page in this regard to avoid any resentments or arguments. Connect with Other Fathers and Parents The struggles of stay-at-home dads are exactly the same as stay-at- home moms. The isolation and loss of identity, the insecurity, and feelings of not being a financial contributor are just a few of the many battles. In some respects, parenting can be a thankless job. Having a community of stay-at-home dads helps with the success and happiness of the stay-at-home parent. Whatever worries or scary or joyous thoughts you’re having about being a dad, others have had them too. Getting another man’s perspective will help you make sense of things, and your perspectives will help them too. You might feel like you’re the only stay-at-home father in your area, but chances are, you’re not alone. Check out the Find A Dad Group page on the National At-Home Dad Network’s site, or put the word out at your church or your pediatrician’s office or on Facebook. If you don’t feel comfortable joining a group, try to make regular contact with other dads. Of course, you don’t have to limit your support system to just dads. Moms are more likely to have a plethora of resources and support available to them. There are plenty of mothers who will love what you’re doing, speak up on your behalf, and make you feel welcome. Make It Your Own As the primary caregiver you have the opportunity to put your unique stamp on activities. Let your interests and personality spill over into simple, everyday moments. Who says superheroes can’t attend tea parties? If you love sports, take your kids to a local ball game or visit a sporting goods store and have the kids help you try out your favorite sports equipment. If you love the outdoors, find a nature preserve or state park where you and your kids can hike. You can even pack a lunch and make a picnic of it. Just because they’re kids doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to only children’s places. No matter where you go or what you choose to do, more than likely your kids will take an interest in what you love as well. You might even gain a partner in your hobby! Old views die hard, but the truth of the matter is that being a nurturing caregiver has no gender distinctions. A father can do everything that a mother can do, and to your kids, having a dad around will be normal. They’ll just be happy to be home with you instead of going to after school childcare like their friends. So have fun and soak up as much quality time with your kids as you can. In the blink of an eye they’ll be all grown up! Article Brought To You By: