Good Morning America recently did a segment on stay-at-home dads (SAHD) and society’s changing perceptions of men in this role. Overall I thought it presented the topic in a positive slant as opposed to reports in previous years where SAHD’s were more of an oddity and in many cases, simply victims of circumstance.
What’s ironic for those who have been plugged to the SAHD community for a while, is that this gig as the full-time parent isn’t quite the phenomena it’s sometimes made out to be. Just read Jeremy Adam Smith’s, The Daddy Shift, or follow the NYC Dads Group, or chat with the bunch at AtHomeDad.org.
Watching the segment, there were a couple of items that jumped out at me, the biggest being the laundry commercial where the guy referred to himself as a “dad-mom.” Personally, I don’t get too bent out of shape over titles like Mr. Mom and all that. Hey, whatever floats your boat.
I do however, think that the “dad-mom” moniker is bullshit. This is good example of how marketers stick labels on people in order to better define a target demographic.. Hey, Madison Avenue, target this demographic. You’ll just have to imagine which finger I’m holding up right now.
Not to read too much into it, but in some respects I think it’s even a bit demeaning to both moms and dads. Ah, look, it’s a—air quotes—guy, who does—air quotes—woman’s work all day. Why does it have to be woman’s work, and why does it have to be unusual for a dude to be doing it? Can’t we all just be parents? That I don’t see happening for a while yet, and marketing labels aren’t helping, but even so, we are moving in the right direction.
I did like the comment made about people seeing the whole dad staying home thing as a “temporary gig.” I’m going on four years now, and even with those who’ve known me during that whole time, they see it this way. Of course, saying you’re a freelance writer and independent social media marketing consultant is code for I’m and unemployed blogger, but the truth of the matter is I actually do work full-time hours in addition to writing, both of which I get paid for.
In fact, not to go off on a tangent, but I’m actually struggling with something new—finding life-work balance as a SAHD with a job. Given my current schedule, I feel like an impostor by referring to myself as a SAHD. I’ll save that for another discussion, though.
Getting back on topic, though, I think the perception of SAHDs is changing, and certainly so compared to comedian George Lopez’s derogatory comment in 2009 when he referred to us as “bums,” and then alluded to us being drunks. I’d like to see Lopez say that to Dwayne Wade’s face today. He’d likely get the same response as my opinion about the “dad-mom.”
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Ron Mattocks is a father of five (3 sons, 2 stepdaughters) and author of the book, Sugar Milk: What One Dad Drinks When He Can’t Afford Vodka. He blogs at Clark Kent’s Lunchbox, and lives in Houston with his wife, Ashley, who eternally mocks his fervor for Coldplay.