When strangers see a dad and his kids at the grocery store, library, park, or pool, they make a remark like, "Oh, you're babysitting today." My husband developed a standard response: "No, I'm being Dad." He was gracious, but it was puzzling and offensive to think caring for one's own children could be called babysitting.
Trevor was an at-home dad from the time our oldest was 9 months old to the day our youngest started kindergarten. We opted for this arrangement more than a decade ago, when at-home dads comprised 1.6 percent of all stay-at-home parents in the U.S. In 2011, that percentage had risen to 3.4 percent. That's 176,000 at-home dads raising more than 332,000 children.
While their ranks are growing, dads still make up a very small percentage of at-home parents. This exacerbates a problem many at-home parents face: loneliness. While women have groups, both formal and informal, to help them combat isolation and support one another, men find few companions who can relate to their everyday experiences. One father, quoted in Wall Street Journal, said "when he took his kids to public parks, 'moms would talk over me as if I was not even there.' "
My husband got the cold shoulder from moms at the park, but was fortunate to make friends with another at-home dad who lived a few houses away. They spent a lot of time together, working on home improvement projects while the girls played together. Some men have a harder time.
In addition to excluding them, it's ironic that women often show dads the same kind of—I suppose the right term is maternalistic—attitudes and behaviors our paternalistic brothers sometimes show in the workplace and elsewhere. ...1
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