One woman’s beef with men who opt to stay home.
-Barbara L’Heureux, Divine Caroline
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 105,000 stay-at-home dads in the United States. The census bureau defines the stay-at-home dad as a man who is not in the labor force primarily so that he can care for family members while his spouse works outside the home. Stay-at-home dads currently care for 189,000 children in our country.
I have a problem with stay-at-home dads. There, I said it.
I realize that my opinion is decidedly unpopular. I am constantly reading and hearing about how wonderful stay-at-home dads are. We must support them. They are so dedicated to their children, so supportive of their wives’ careers. We should congratulate them on their enlightened decision to care for their own children. The dads in the articles sound perfectly wonderful—princes with aprons. The problem is that I have never met a real prince, and I’ve never met a stay-at-home dad like the ones we see extolled in women’s magazines.
I am bracing for the barrage of hate mail from dads, but here’s the unvarnished truth: Stay-at-home dads have got it way too easy.
The average stay-at-home mom is in charge of the home and the children. Home duties generally include cooking, cleaning, shopping, organizing social activities, coordinating home repairs, running all household errands, laundry detail, and oftentimes, managing the family checkbook. Child-care duties include feeding and clothing the children, supervising homework, chauffeuring children to activities, disciplining errant kids, handling family doctor and dentist appointments, volunteering at school and civic events, and, while the children are young, shouldering the bulk of the responsibility for midnight feedings and chasing monsters out from under beds.
I personally know five stay-at-home dads. All five take care of the children. For them, that means feeding them breakfast and making sure they are dressed and ready for the school bus. After school, the dads all collect their children and supervise their playtime until mom comes home around dinnertime. All five manage these duties quite well. In addition to handling the children’s morning routine, two of the five dads also are in charge of laundry. Two others cook, and one of those two also does the food shopping. One lucky reprobate does nothing else at all. Four out of the five dads have maids. I don’t know a single stay-at-home mom who has a maid.