Fort Collins, CO, May 28, 2009 --(PR.com
)-- According to the US Census Bureau, there were 159,000 stay-at-home dads in the US in 2006. That number has skyrocketed in the current recession where over 80% of all American’s laid off have been men. Are these men transitioning well into their new roles in the American household or is the recession creating “desperate house dads”?
Author McKenna, the stay-at-home father of three children, is no stranger to the transition or to making mistakes. He cites the following as the most common mistakes.
1. Trying to do things the way their wife did them
Women have systems around the house that work for them but may not work for their husbands. Men who are newly at home have a fear of “messing things up”, so they are hesitant to experiment and create their own systems. To put it into “men’s terms” McKenna quips “Is there only one way to mow a lawn?”
Advice for Wives: Wives who get upset when their established systems are changed need to take an honest look at how their husbands accomplish the same task. They may find their husbands have some creative solutions.
2. Not asking for help
Men have been taught since they were boys that they need to “stand on their own two feet”. For many men, asking for help is self perceived as a sign of weakness and/or failure.
Advice for Wives: Wives who have been at home with the kids already know the trouble spots. You can tell him what to look out for without pushing the solution on him. McKenna described his own experience, “In our family one trouble spot has always been that the kids start to get a little crazy about 30 minutes before dinner. My wife’s systems didn’t necessarily work for me, but I wasn’t finding my own solution either so I had to ask for help brain storming some new solutions”.
3. Worrying about the “Mr. Mom” Stigma
Men who are newly at home are particularly apt to deny what they do, in order to avoid the stigma. McKenna’s advice? “Its not easy, but I say you’re still a man and you need to do the job like a man. You don’t have to call yourself a ‘homemaker’ or even a SAHD (stay-at-home-dad). That’s why I think the acronym should be “S.T.U.D.”, which stands for “Spending Time as an Unbelievable Dad”. If nothing else, if you announce that you are a professional S.T.U.D., the chances of follow-up questions go way down.”
Advice for Wives: Wives with S.T.U.D.s at home need to treat them like studs. Women have been saying for years that staying home with the kids is the toughest job in the world, so recognize it when its his turn too. Treat him like staying at home makes him less of a man and he will quickly be searching for a new job.
4. Becoming isolated
Generations of women can tell you that they often feel that they lose their identity when they have kids and become “just a mommy”. Men are just as susceptible to losing their identity in their children as women. The “Mr. Mom” stigma makes it worse for men because it makes them more likely to become isolated from their friends.
Advice for Wives: Wives need to encourage a certain amount of “guy time” and encourage their husband to get out with his friends.
5. Not getting involved in your kids activities.
Working men get used to “attending” kids functions. If you’re going to be a S.T.U.D. you need to help run those functions. McKenna advises “I think too many men worry about not being accepted by the moms who most typically run the PTA. Sure, you’ll run into cliques at the bake sale, but that’s because they’ve taken the time to get to know each other. If you invest the time to get involved they’ll come to recognize your contributions and pretty soon you’ll be chatting away with them”.
Advice for Wives: The hardest part for men is jumping in. Wives who have been active with school or other groups can always help by making introductions or by backing out of activities slowly so there is a smoother transition.
For other thoughts and advice on stay-at-home dads, visit McKenna’s blog at www.MenAtHouseWork.com.
About Grace Creek Press
T.J. McKenna’s book “Caution: Men at House Work”, is published by Grace Creek Press. Grace Creek Press specializes in “Real World Books for Real World People” through encouraging new voices in the literary world.