Friday, November 5, 2010

On Being a Stay at Home Dad

This is getting to be more and more common - men who do so are choosing to be stay at home dads - either because their wife makes enough money to make that possible, or because they have occupations that allow them to work from home or at home. I am impressed by this shift in parenting duties - and I applaud men who can make this commitment to their children and their development.

First up, a podcast from Dads Unplugged:

Why SAHD is a disservice to all Dads

Why SAHD is a disservice to all Dads

Every group wants an acronym. It kind of proves you have made it. However, this acronym is not helping any men, anywhere. SAHD stands for Stay at Home Dads, but why should someone be SAHD if they are staying home with the kids? Kent and Todd try to come up with a new acronym, but with the help of Jeff Pugh from Man of the House.com they decide on using an old staple and it fits just perfectly.

And here is the perfect tie-in to that podcast, a cool article from Man of the House on how being a stay at home dad is good for your brain (as well as your children's brains). I've posted on the neuroscience element of this before, in terms of neurogenesis in the father's brain when he bonds with his newborn, but this is a different perspective.

Being a Stay-At-Home Dad Is Good For the Brain

A friend of mine was recently telling me about his new baby and his wife, and was saying that now the baby was almost two months old his wife was going back to work. He said that (among other reasons) she missed the "intellectual stimulation" of work, and that I of course could probably relate.

I’m a stay-at-home dad, and while I agreed initially out of courtesy, after thinking about it for a while I have to admit that I don't really agree. I've been a stay-at-home Dad for six years now, and though I do miss the social stimulation of working with adults, intellectual stimulation isn't a problem.

Maybe it was different for my Mom and Dad when I was a child (before the Internet - gasp!), but I'm intellectually stimulated way more now than when I was working. I liked my job in my pre-dad life and I was challenged often, but a decent portion of my work back then involved things I could do on auto-pilot. But now when the kids are at school I have a few hours a day to pursue things that I never would have been able to before. Instead about worrying if a project was going to come in on time and under budget, my dad-life gave me the time to really study wine (one of my passions) and become a certified Sommelier. Instead of spending the day in spreadsheets I can spend the day practicing and learning about photography. And instead of being preoccupied with office politics I now am preoccupied with making sure my kids are working hard on their homework.

Social stimulation is harder when you're a stay-at-home parent. Some people join Mom or Dad's groups, make friends at parks and play dates, and some people (like myself) start a blog. Whatever it might be, getting some adult conversation going is pretty important, and I found it was something I took for granted in my working-life.

To be fair, the first two months of being a parent aren't very intellectually stimulating regardless, mostly because you are constantly working on keeping your new little human being alive and happy. And while we all know this is the most important thing in the world, by the end of those two months digging ditches might seem more intellectually stimulating. And I still really do miss the day-to-day interactions with other adults that I used to get when I worked in an office.

But as long as you create goals and allow yourself to pursue your passions in those moments you aren't changing diapers or giving a bottle, you can find just as much to feed your brain as you did at your previous job - if not more.

I know the economy has left a lot of men who were used to the office life at home and frustrated. But being home with the kids is just as, if not more, important. And unlike the 9 to 5 slug, it gives you an opportunity to prioritize and turn your passions into opportunities.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Stay at home Mom's are also often seen as lesser people, as downtrodden housewives that are abused by their husbands, they also have a problem here that needs to be dealt with.

WH said...

yes, I certainly agree with that - especially among feminists, being a stay at home mom is often seen as selling out the "cause"

but this is a blog for men, so that is the focus of my concerns