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The 7 Things You Should Never Say to a Stay-At-Home Dad

By mikeadamick |

If you’re going to become a stay-at-home dad, expect people to ask you a lot of … interesting things.

At first, when you’re with a newborn and constantly tired and trying desperately to find a groove, you’ll probably take offense at a lot of these questions. I get it, I do. I’ve been there. You’re new to the gig and struggling to embrace and identify a new role for yourself, all while trying to make sure you don’t mess up, or forget the baby somewhere, or put off emptying the Diaper Genie, make dinner, do more tummy time, join a group, clean the bathroom — argh! No wonder a tiny, innocuous question can set you off.

But as the years roll by and you find yourself not only doing ok but doing an amazing job, some of these questions will probably make you smile. You’ll be an old hand, a pro, a king of the carpool lane and protectorate of the play date, and you’ll look on these questions less as digs against your manhood and more as sort of a window into the die-hard societal notions of parenthood in the 21st Century. You’ll be like Jane Goodall at the PTA — and oh, you’re going to love the PTA someday.

I was chatting with a new acquaintance the other day, and he was telling me how his wife has been out of town for the last four months, returning only a couple times a week every and then and how he has had to do the bulk of household duties: the cleaning, the cooking, the drop-offs at preschool and weekend adventures. Then the talk turned to my life and he said, “So, I hear you’re doing to the Mr. Mom thing?”

I told him it sounded pretty much exactly like he was doing the same thing. His eyes went wide. “But I’m not a mom!”


Dads shouldn’t have to embrace the word mom to be good parents, to be involved, to stay home or to simply be there when needed. And yet, judging from the crazy questions SAHDS get all. the. time, that’s partially what’s expected. So please, for the sake of not embarrassing yourself, here at the Top 7 Things Not to Say to a Stay-at-Home Dad.

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The Top Seven Things NOT to Say to a Stay-At-Home Dad

Are you babysitting today?

I am, yes. Sure. Babysitting. That's what I call parenting, too. Not only do I help raise my own children ... I get freezer privileges!
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About mikeadamick



As the “Daddy Issues” columnist for and a prime mover at “The Poop,” the parenting blog of the San Francisco Chronicle, Mike Adamick is no stranger to writing about modern fatherhood with wit and wisdom. He blogs at Cry It Out! Read bio and latest posts → Read mikeadamick's latest posts →

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12 thoughts on “The 7 Things You Should Never Say to a Stay-At-Home Dad

  1. Clark Kent's Lunchbox says:

    “So what do you …do all day?” Most. Annoying. Comment. Ever. That was a real poke to my self-esteem as I was trying to get a grip on accepting my new role.

  2. Beta Dad says:

    Maybe people are less condescending to me because I have twins and they think that it must be really hard to take care of them and I could be on the verge of a psychotic episode. Or maybe I’m just oblivious to their condescension. Or maybe it’s my intimidating mustache. But still, after 2+years at it, I’ve never been asked if I’m babysitting. I’m a little disappointed because I have practiced my response in my head so many times. Have only heard “Mr. Mom” once, and that was from a friend, upon hearing that my wife was pregnant, not knowing that I was actually going to become a SAHD.

    However, I had a doctor’s appt today and the whole fam tagged along (Dr. mom included–she wanted to evaluate my ortho dude.) The doc said, “got Daddy duty today?” I was like, “The fuck? My wife’s off today–that’s the only reason I could make it to this appointment, dumbass.” In my head. What I actually said was, “Every day.”

  3. Chris Routly (Daddy Doctrines) says:

    The one that gets me is when people — particularly good, lovely, well-meaning friends who know full-well that my wife and I made a *decision* that I would stay home with our kids — make overtures that reveal they don’t really think of me as a “full time dad”, they think of me as “unemployed”. Like telling me about every job opening they see related to (what they understand to be) “my field”, asking for my resume “just in case”, or sharing their insights into what I could “do” with my talents.

  4. Stephanie says:

    A lot of these phrases can be applied to both SAHMs and SAHDs. Just substitute “Soaps” for “Sports” or “Mom” for “Dad” and you get the point. Really, I’ve been told how nice it is I get to stay home and relax (yeah, I sure get a lot of relaxing done with 3 small children at home all day). I love that there are more and more SAHDs (my next door neighbor is one). I also love the fact that because of this new emergence as more common place, you Dads get a taste of what Moms get ALL THE TIME for staying home- like it’s some leisurely activity. MY favorite statement from loved ones is, “Well, you don’t have to work, so you can ________ (insert request stated more as a demand since, you know, you have nothing better to do).”

  5. Trina says:

    Not only are those seven things you shouldn’t say to a Stay-at-home-dad, but to a stay-at-home-mom or works-from-home-parent. I run a home daycare. My day consists of 9 to 12 children, five days a week, twelve hour days and people still call me the babysitter. Sigh. I get this a lot: It must be nice to be able to just sit around with the kids all day…. Uh, yeah, because with 9 kids and each having two hands I totally have time to just sit around as they discover new uses for the kitchen cutlery.

  6. Mindy says:

    I am a stay at home mom and I would never say those things to a stay at home dad! Staying home with the kids is a full time job no matter WHO is doing it. I feel like to some its a joke if the dad stays at home with the kids but it really isn’t. So keep up the good work guys.

  7. PittCaleb says:

    Most of the questions I find offensive would NEVER be asked of a woman in my role, never!

  8. Jessica says:

    @Stephanie – I get asked ALL THE TIME to do things (mostly by one of my brothers) because I stay home and have nothing else to do. Usually it involves free babysitting for his two girls (who I love to pieces, but I did not decide to become a SAHM to raise YOUR kids!). Anyway, glad I am not the only one who gets to deal with that crap!

  9. Brandy says:

    Really the article above should be “Things One Doesn’t Say to Any Parent Staying-at-Home”. But I do appreciate that there is a total double-standard in place for men who decide to be the primary care giver. There is a stigma attached to it – like “dude, couldn’t you find a real job?” I am a SAHM with a masters degree from an Ivy League school and I usually get the whole “you have that degree and all you do is stay-at-home?” Hang in there and rest assured that there will never be a better person to take care of your children than you or your spouse. And if anybody who works says that to you, they are probably just ticked off that they don’t have the same opportunity. My husband would kill to be able to stay-at-home with our girls, sadly he makes more money than I would.

  10. Tim Bruner says:

    Its a time in your childs life that will pass in a blink of an eye if theres any way possible to stay home with them DO IT my babys are 26 and 24 and i can remember kindergarden like it was yesterday enjoy them while you can.

  11. Carey says:

    Great post! (and comments too)

    Recently, someone introduced me at my wife’s Christmas party saying, “… all he does is stay at home.” It felt just great to be introduced that way in front of successful business people. Yes, I am a SAHD with three children (less than 5 yrs. apart). I’ve also managed, because of my wife’s willingness to work, to finish 130 hrs. of grad school with an “A” average. But sure, all I do is stay at home all day.

  12. jan says:

    My husband is a stay-at-home, homeschooling dad, and he has heard ALL of these! His least favorite question, though, didn’t even make the list. When we go to a potluck or have friends over for dinner and people find out that he cooked the food, someone inevitably asks, “So, is cooking, like, your hobby?” Robby’s response is usually a remarkably cool “If by ‘hobby’ you mean ‘means of feeding my family’, then yeah, sure!”

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