How often (and most likely tired) are you of hearing that women should be the primary caregiver in the family? We’re approaching a new decade, and you would think that as times continue to change, so would our view on stay-at-home dads. But it seems as though evolving gender roles are continually being met with friction. Corporate culture can put pressure on fathers to miss big parts of their kid’s lives for the sake of their careers. Plus, stay-at-home dads often get scoffed at for not being the breadwinner in the family. As many of these men would tell you they have felt disapproval from others. But the good news is that more fathers are getting more involved in homemaking than ever before. Here are some ways you can help facilitate the breaking of the stay-at-home dad stigma.
The Good News for Stay-A-Home Dads
As we said, the great news is that fathers are more engaged with home life than ever before. Which is wonderful as they are now forming incredibly important bonds with their kids and partner. Part of this trend stems from the fact that many new dads recognize they weren’t very close to their own fathers. And they want to change that type of family dynamic. On top of that, changing up this perspective of gender roles have greatly improved life within said family’s home. As more and more women are advancing in their own careers, household needs are shifting, and responsibilities need to be revisited.
What About Masculinity and Ego?
The main stigma of stay-at-home dads is that they have lost their masculinity. But since when does nurturing equate to weakness? As most mothers know, caring for children and a household is some of the hardest work a person can do. Stay-at-home moms essentially run a multitude of businesses within the house. A number of them take care of the bills, they cook, and they clean. They spend time each day making sure the kids are learning, being physical, and getting everything and anything, they could need to develop and continue to grow. Those with older kids help coordinate and facilitate time management and transportation to any after school activity, homework, project, essay, or presentation. It doesn’t matter if you need to take a sick day, stay-at-home parents are seemingly never off the clock.
We should also take a moment to mention that the ability of men to be vulnerable takes incredible strength on its own. So many men feel isolation when taking on atypical gender roles. That isolation continues a cycle of keeping said gender roles as “atypical”. Continuing to promote this stigma will only make that isolation worse and keep more fathers from wanting to take on this different, but crucial role.
Work-Life Balance for Fathers
Part of breaking the stigma also stems from a universal commitment to work-life balance. Even if a father isn’t fully comfortable stepping into a full-time caretaker role, that doesn’t mean he can’t find ways to spend more quality time with the family. When active fathers start to become seen as the norm, more and more fathers will jump on that bandwagon. Soon enough, it will start to become expectant.
With more companies open to flexible and remote working, there aren’t as many barriers to spending time helping around the house as before. If your kid comes down with an illness, ask if you can work remotely so you can do your job and be attentive to the needs of your child. Do you really want to hire a nanny? Or are you able to work out flexible working hours so that you can stay home with the kids at least one day during the workweek?
The Importance of a Consistent Support System
One of the most important tools for stay-at-home dads is a consistent support system. That can come in the form of your partner, family, or friends. It could also come from stay-at-home support groups aimed towards fathers. Creating social connections seems to be one of the biggest obstacles for stay-at-home dads. This is why having a support group is such a game-changer.
In some areas/school districts, stay-a-home fathers have a weekly dads’ group. Ranging in age, stay-at-home fathers are able to connect and relate to other dads doing the same things and going through the same problems they are. Just as important it is for dads to bond with their kids, it’s also important for them to bond with those going through the same things.
Breaking the Stay-at-Home Stigma with CPA Counseling
Counseling can be a helpful tool to help you break the stigmas that come with being a stay-at-home dad. Sharing your stressors and perceived shortcomings with your therapist can help you both stay on the same page and keep you accountable in working towards your goals. Therapy and counseling are safe spaces where you can voice your concerns, develop coping and communication skills, and find the support you need.
Remember, therapy is hard work! It can feel extremely uncomfortable and even exhausting. Having a hand to hold and help guide you will only add to your personal success. Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling has one location in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and one in the Robinson area. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how we can help you break the stay-at-home stigma.
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.
Dave Lori – LPC
Dave has had the honor and privilege of working in the mental health field for the past 20 years. His experience ranges from family-systems work to individualized-focus. His clinical orientation ranges from client-centered, solution-focused, humanistic and Existential approach. Dave believes in providing a strength-based, supportive, authentic and non-judgmental approach to the therapeutic process. We all face various challenges and have the ability to reach our personal goals given the independent choices we make each day.