Being a stay-at-home mom or dad isn't a "Get out of jail free" card with "jail" being working outside the home. We can all agree on that, right? I sure hope so. Because staying at home with the kids is work. It's not oh I want to get my nails done and then I'll sit on my ass all day and watch the soaps for women or for guys, I want to jerk off in the shower and then check out ESPN and drink beers all day (no matter how much my husband wishes the latter was true).
There are 22 jobs of a stay-at-home mom (at least) and these same jobs are for the dads who stay at home, too (with Lactation Specialist being swapped out for Lactation Consultant).
Moms who work deal with a slew of terms like "breadwinner" and "wear the pants in the family," but how does that make dad feel? Is he a breadloser or does he wear the skirt in the family if he's the one who takes care of the kids?
Just as a working mother can feel empowered for being able to support her family, a stay-at-home dad can feel emasculated (especially when wearing the skirt). Have you ever been unhappy with your job title? Maybe you can relate.
My brother-in-law is a SAHD and has spoke about how being the only father -- the only adult male -- at the playground with his kids makes him feel alone amongst the SAHMs and the nannies and babysitters who are all female. Except for the homeless man on the bench in the far corner of the park where no one dares to go. Must feel alienating. Like being the only female in a men's locker room after a football game. Alienating, yes, or perhaps a fantasy for some.
The Frisky's Jessica Wakeman wrote about stay-at-home dads and says we need to celebrate the stay-at-home dads because just as the meaning of "feminism" has changed over the years, "masculinity" should change along with it, too. And she is so right. Men need to feel confident about their role as a stay-at-home -- and happy to hold the position. Happy daddy = happy kids. Society needs to accept the changes in the family and who works, who stays home so we all get the respect we deserve. Whatever a family chooses, all we can hope is that they choose what is right for their family -- it doesn't matter who works or who stays home or who schedules the nanny.
Still, stay-at-home moms very often do not get the respect they deserve. And if you take a look at history and the reality that women get paid 77 cents for every dollar men earn, the stay-at-home dad might be the one and only job where a man is even less respected than his female counterpart.
Part of me -- the angst-ridden riot girl in me -- feels flippant about this and thinks that it's about time men experience the unfair reality so many women deal with and have dealt with for centuries. I mean, it's only been 90 years since women were allowed to vote. But that's not right. I also get annoyed that now ... when more men are stay-at-home ... that's when the parents who stay at home to take care of their kids are earning more respect -- the respect that was always deserved ... even when it was was only deemed a "woman's job."
But the good news is that women are advancing in the workplace -- at a cheaper rate yes -- but we are advancing, earning more respect and more money than we have in the past. And we should all give those men who care for their children and all the other "jobs" that go along with being a stay-at-home dad that respect, too. We should just make sure we pay them the same as a stay-at-home mom.
Why do you think some stay-at-home dads don't get the respect they deserve? What can be done to change that?
Image via katutaide/Flickr