Friday, November 05, 2010

How to Be a Stay-At-Home-Dad: Step 1

Fatherhood Friday at Dad BlogsSome of my fellow daddy bloggers out there probably already know a bit about what it takes to be a Stay-at-home-dad (SAHD), but I've also heard from others like DaddyFiles that they just don't know how we manage it.  Joking about beer and hot wives aside, there are some important steps men need to take if they are considering being a SAHD.  The first one is the most important.

First, you have to realize that American concepts of what it is to "be a man" are social conventions.  Masculinity is not an objective concept: it has evolved and changed across history and today varies from country to country, state to state.  The "traditional gender roles" are societal constructions which an individual either buys into or does not.  I've seen any number of websites out there trying to tell us "what it means to be a man in today's world."  Though some are purely misogynist, others list things like "integrity," "honesty," "hard work," "humility," and any other number of virtues that are, when you really think about it, neither masculine nor feminine, but simply human.  When you choose to be a SAHD, you must embrace the concept of a deeper humanity which is more important and more basic than the socially constructed concepts of masculinity which have been laid on your shoulders because of the simple fact of living in this place at this time.  If you do not accept that gender roles are only social constructs and you still decide to be a SAHD, then you will not be living a life of integrity.  Your actions will not match your beliefs and you will suffer all the mental disorders that result from living in such a state of cognitive dissonance.  Only after you redefine your own role according to what you believe is the right thing for you as a human to do for your family in your given situation can you transcend the gender roles which have been imposed upon us all from without.  You can re-define your own masculinity accordingly.  I like to tell people who get on my case, "you be a man in your way, and I'll be a man in my way."

Choosing to be a SAHD is difficult because it challenges the accepted traditional gender stereotypes we have been conditioned to believe are somehow normative.  Many men and women will find their concepts of what it means to be male or female challenged by your decision.  I think this is a good thing.  The world will be a much better place when we all stop trying to impose our way of doing things on others for whom our way simply doesn't work.


  1. I was a SAHD for most of the first year of my sons life and LOVED it. If we could afford it I would've loved to continue in that role.

    You make a great point about the social convention of what it means to "be a man." This is something many people don't think about, and I couldn't imagine how hard it would be to be a SAHD and try to maintain that social convention.

    Great post! I found your blog through a Fatherhood Friday link you made on before it went AWOL.

  2. twistedxtian,
    I'm thrilled to hear that you had such a good experience with being a SAHD. I've been one for the past 31 months or so. I can't say I've loved every minute of it; it has been way more challenging and stressful than any job I've ever had. But I get a little better at it every day. I'm searching for ways to be available for my wife and daughter whenever they need me while still doing something creative and enjoyable with what little spare time I can muster at this point. Blogging helps!

  3. SAHDs have become a more common sight in our recession, a good thing happening but because of a bad reason *sighs*

    'The world will be a much better place when we all stop trying to impose our way of doing things on others for whom our way simply doesn't work.' Very true, we all need to 'live and let live'