Stay-at-home-dads

I’ve known Jack for many years.  He is married to a woman named Geraldine, whom I have known since I was ten.  Jack is what people consider a man’s man.  He loves football, action movies, video games and would totally run in the opposite direction of a romantic comedy if it weren’t for his love for his wife.  And he’s a stay-at-home-dad.  The decision was made for them as Jack lost his job right before they were about to have their first child.  Geraldine has a stable, well-paying job, and it just made sense for her to continue working and for Jack’s work to be staying at home.  He cooks and cares for their child, and she goes to work — and it works for them.  Jack has told me that it’s hard for him, though, finding activities for them to do during the day.  He feels somewhat awkward about going to the park or gymboree, because he would face the inevitable stare (or glare!) from all the other women with their children.

Although the number of stay-at-home-dads is on the rise, it is still not common enough.  Men are expected to work, and when they don’t, they are criticized as lazy.  Eyebrows are raised, as people wonder, “what is wrong with that guy?”  While this trend has begun to change – with mom-focused parent’s magazines lauding men for choosing to stay at home – there is definitely still a double standard. When women choose to stay at home, she is praised for making that choice and honored for getting that privilege.  When men make that same choice, people wonder when he’s going to get his act together, ‘be a man’ and get a ‘real’ job.

This attitude prevails in the secular world as well as in the church.  One pastor – Mark Driscoll – even chastised men  who are stay-at-home-dads and identified it as “a case for church discipline.”  He uses 1 Timothy 5:8, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  He says that men who don’t work and bring home the bacon are worse than unbelievers.  I take issue with his misuse of this verse because I know that he is reading it only in English and not in Greek.  Whatever version of the Bible he was using probably says, “If any man…”  However, the Greek actually does not specify “a man” but is referring to “anyone.”  Paul is telling Timothy that anyone who doesn’t provide for their family, especially in regard to widows, and is thus burdening the larger church family, is not doing what God is calling them to do.  However, Paul’s exhortation is not only referring to financial provision.  He is communicating that believers ought to make sure that all their family’s needs are being met.  So I believe that a dad who dresses his children, changes their diapers, prepares and gives them food, reads to them, teaches them new things, bathes them, etc, is definitely providing for their needs.   In other words, stay-at-home-dads are pleasing God by investing in their family.

I love the idea of the stay-at-home-dad.  And I hope that dads who stay at home would not demean their children’s need for them.  They are not Mr. Mom — as if the role of parenting was only meant for moms.  Dads are dads, and dads are needed by their kids.  It’s a privilege for any parent to get to stay at home with their kids when they are young – a mom or a dad.  Cheers to all the SAHDs out there!  I admire and commend you for what you are doing!

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by chaidrinkingfool on September 30, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Great observation about “Mr. Mom”. I hadn’t thought of that, before, but now I’m like–why did I not see it sooner?? I’ve got to watch the Driscoll video. Maybe. Maybe I should take my blood pressure first.

    I don’t see why people don’t recognize these values from the secular culture. I certainly did, once I started attending church, but maybe that’s because I was outside of the church for so long?

    Reply

  2. Posted by Rachel Davis on March 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    A-to-the-men sister!

    Thanks for posting it. I’ve been saying it for years. There is a HUGE lack of conversation in the egalitarian world on the topic of moms being seen as “more” the parenting role than dads. It comes up in the egal circles, but not enough, and no one seems very concerned about it (which worries me, as I was raised 50/50 by both parents and cannot imagine how different my life would be if not for Dad’s equal influence and blessings).

    There is so much to say on this but for now I’ll let it rest at that.

    R

    Reply

  3. Reblogged this on Parity and commented:
    Just saw this tonight, and I love it on so many fronts. This goes back to having a real partner as well as applauding dads who take a greater than financial-support role in their children lives. Financial support is required and necessary, but it is not the only thing that children need to grow up healthy and well adjusted. I always try to encourage dads to spend as much time with their kids at play or teaching them new things as possible.

    Reply

    • Thanks for the comment, Heather. Yes, it’s true. The father’s role is as important as the mother’s role, so even (and maybe especially) if he is not at home much with the kids, he should be fully participative in the child-rearing. I often see working dads make an effort to calm a crying baby and then give up within minutes of attempting it and giving the baby to the mom. He needs to try harder. The more he gives her to mom, the less likely he’ll be able to develop the bond with his child. The message that the child receives is that dad is not my real caregiver, mom is, and s/he won’t calm down with dad ever again. This is just one example, but with children, you really get what you give. If you invest a lot in them, then you will receive back love, affection and bonding. For young children, they understand “love” through the daily tasks of taking care of their needs. My husband is a fully participative father. He knows our children’s routines, preferences and dislikes as well as I do — so when I am away for seminary or ministry, he can take over without missing a beat. This is how parenting should be.

      Reply

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