“What Stay-at-Home Dads Teach Our Kids” originally appeared on The Good Men Project and was reprinted with permission.
It’s time to take a look at the dads who do it all. Whether for financial reasons or personal choice, more and more dads are staying at home with their kids — and it’s not just the kids they take care of, either.
These dads pay the bills, clean the house, make dinner, and fold laundry. Stay-at-home dads are just as capable as stay-at-home moms, and the truth is, they are teaching their kids important life lessons.
Stay-at-home dads make kids want to find their own partner who will co-parent.
When it comes down to it, co-parenting is not necessarily easy, no matter what role you play. There will always be one parent who plays a more active role in child-rearing duties. Someone will give baths, change diapers, wipe mouths, bounce babies, and put their kids down for naps, while the other parent works and provides for the family. No job is more important than the other, and that’s what co-parenting is all about.
Unfortunately, problems tend to arise when married couples try co-parenting. Since moms are typically the ones who stay at home with the kids, they have their own routines of meal preparation, bathing habits, and other daily activities. Sometimes when a married partner interferes with the routine, tension mounts — and kids notice when their parents aren’t happy with each other.
Stay-at-home dads can show their kids that co-parenting is possible. It’s not necessarily up to one parent to decide how to do a certain activity. Instead, co-parenting involves a lot of compromise. Kids will certainly understand the importance of finding a partner who is just as involved in the parenting as they are once they have children.
Stay-at-home dads show their kids parenting is not a competition.
Stay-at-home dads can teach their kids that parenting is not a competition. Moms are not better at parenting than dads, and vice versa. Each parent has a different role. That role may not conform to what society thinks it should be, but each role is equally important no matter who holds it. If mom is the breadwinner and dad is the caretaker, the situation may look different from most, but it works.
Parenting is not a competition. Parenting is two team members working toward the same goal — successfully raising a child.
Children will take note and appreciate the respect both parents show toward each other. Dads can cheer on their wives for pursuing their career while they do the equally difficult task of raising their child. When both parents are sharing the responsibility, they are equals when it comes to parenting.
Dads can be just as nurturing as moms.
There is a popular misconception circulating that mothers are more nurturing than fathers. On the contrary, dads can be just as nurturing as moms. In fact, a study performed by Northwestern University researchers suggests that men with children have lower testosterone levels. “Fathers who reported caring for their children three or more hours a day had lower testosterone levels than those not involved in child care.”
This isn’t surprising at all. My mom always tells me that the first time my father held me, she saw a completely different side of him. Something about children makes men gentler, kinder, and more nurturing. This doesn’t make them less of a man — and actually, it may make them even more of one.
The multi-faceted personality of a father is a trait to be praised. They really can do everything a mom can do, and they can do it just as well. Whether they do bedtime stories, potty training, or clean the bathroom, there is nothing that can limit a man when it comes to being a stay-at-home dad.
Stay-at-home dads defy gender stereotypes.
Stay-at-home dads teach kids that gender stereotypes aren’t always right. Women can be the breadwinners of a family, and dads can be the partner who stays at home and raises the kids. It’s the perfect way to show children that men and women don’t always have to assume the same roles.
The idea of the stereotypical man coming home from work and expecting the wife to have the house clean and dinner made is antiquated at best. The world is much more different now than it was even 20 years ago.
Across our friend group are stay-at-home moms, stay-at-home dads, or both parents who work. Every family is different. What works for one family may not work for another one. Teaching kids that different is okay is an important lesson. Dads can be the best teachers when it comes to that.
Stay-at-home dads can foster imagination through free-play.
Unstructured free time is important for kids. Kids are constantly going, going, going. From school to practices to birthday parties to concerts, the activities never seem to end. Free play is a great way for children to practice using their imaginations and problem-solving skills. Dads are masters at unstructured free time. In fact, some of my favorite childhood memories are of afternoons spent at the playground with my dad chasing me up and down the slide or teaching me how to swing higher than the other kids.
Sometimes we nervously watch husbands wrestle with the kids or hang them upside down by their ankles, but it’s actually good for children, according to a study done by Dr. Kerns, a professor at Kent State University. The study showed that dads are great at encouraging children in unconventional ways and helping them develop through silly antics. So, moms, if you’re thinking that dad’s unstructured play time isn’t productive enough, guess again. He’s doing your kids a favor by just being a great dad!
A stay-at-home dad can teach his kids how to have a successful relationship.
A partnership is only successful through respect, understanding, and unconditional love. So often financial problems, job changes, and parenting woes wreck relationships. A stay-at-home dad that unconditionally supports his partner in her career decisions is a huge role model to his children, especially his daughters.
He proves to them that they can do anything they set their minds to. Getting a degree, being successful in a career, or staying at home with the kids isn’t limited to one gender. They are all equally important jobs and are emotionally fulfilling, legitimate ways to play the parenting part.
Stay-at-home dads aren’t just a trend. They’re here to stay — and those dads are just as important as stay-at-home moms. They love their kids. They also love their partner, and they love their job.
More from The Good Men Project:
- My family is having to move again, and it’s all my fault
- Red alert! My daughter like-likes a boy
- On compassion towards our children
- Modeling healthy positive relationships
- Your family needs support for the journey