Monday, March 4, 2013
1983 was Mr. Mom's Year. It's 2013. Just Call Me Dad.
You wouldn’t want to carry the cell phone on the far left around with you, so why would you continue to call Stay At Home Dads, “Mr. Mom”? Back in 1983, this cell phone was the norm but so was calling a dad who stays at home a “Mr. Mom”. Look at how far we have come when it comes to current smartphones; they have evolved over time, so why would we want to regress? Times have changed and so have the roles of fathers in their children’s lives. We are no longer stuck behind desks or in jobs that we really don’t love. Sometimes, losing our job was the best thing that ever happened to us and we are closer to our kids because of it. Dads are taking an active role in raising the children and staying at home. Whether our wives are medical professionals, advancing their degrees, or climbing the corporate ladder, one thing is for sure, there is a dedicated dad at home helping to make this happen.
I wouldn’t base my knowledge of Australia based on what I have seen in Crocodile Dundee so why would I use a reference in a film that is not only dated but also sexist? Fellow blogger Chris Routly, of The Daddy Doctrines wrote on his blog that these stereotypes don’t stop there. Unfortunately, working moms are also feeling the opposite pressure from men referring to working women as “Mrs. Dad”. We are so mired in sticking to traditional values that we can’t see that these changing roles are good for our children and working for our families? We need to rewrite our expectations for a societal norm and accept that the world must evolve with our ever changing culture.
An involved father is always going to be a positive in a child’s life and studies have found that they can have a positive impact on their growth as well. Anne Karpf of The Guardian writes in an article called Let's hear it for stay-at-home fathers “There's no better lesson in egalitarianism than learning that your parents are essentially interchangeable. Children of involved fathers are more cognitively competent at six months, have higher IQs at 3, do better academically, are less likely to be obese or have behavioural problems or suffer depression, are less likely to become pregnant as a teenager, accept themselves more, are more empathetic and less likely to divorce.” Those are all amazing things yet when we see a dad caring for their kids in the very same way that moms do, we are referred to as “Mr.Mom”.
Other bloggers don’t always agree. They say we are whining and claim that we should “man up”. Isn’t taking responsibility for our children manning up? As the husband of a rising corporate star I always knew that staying at home was my destiny. I was a teacher in an elementary school and later, a high school. Clearly, I could handle other people’s kids for eight to ten hours of my day but could I do the same for my children? The answer is a resounding yes, and I know many other dads who are doing the exact same thing all over the country. I knew that I could and I chose this job because of my love for my children over everything else. Just because I don’t want to be called Mr. Mom doesn’t make me any less of a man. In fact it makes me more of a man trying to stand up against an outdated stereotype. If you want to help us get rid of the term "Mr. Mom" check out The National At Home Dad Network site and see how you can contribute. Who wants to be a stereotype anyway? It's time for the new dad.
How about instead of asking us “Are you giving mommy the day off?” or “Are you babysitting today?” ask instead what we have planned for the day. Tell us that we are doing a great job like all the other parents at the grocery store, it won’t go unnoticed. Instead, people assume that something has gone awry. As a stay at home dad for the past four years I can honestly say that I have seen an increasing number of men carting their kids around everywhere. Even if most of them don’t turn out to be SAHDs I make it a point to say “Hey, you are doing a great job with your kids”. Some of them give me an odd look, maybe because it is a nice thing to say in Philly, which may be unexpected but for that one guy out of ten, it may be his first day out with the kids and after a kind word like that he will think “Hey, maybe I got this!” You do, Dads. You got this.
Lots of good came out of 1983. The A-Team TV show made its first debut, Hulk Hogan pinned the Iron Sheik for the WWF title, Michael Jackson’s Thriller album went #1 and stayed there for 37 weeks. Is any of this relevant in today’s society? Not really. It’s in the past. I’m not one for dwelling on the past. Let’s look forward to the future; a future without Mr. Mom.