Reality Check: Stay-at-Home Dad

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Reality Check: Stay-at-Home Dad

Q. Friends tease my husband about being a stay-at-home dad. How do I make them back off?

Elizabeth, a woman I know in this situation, quashes her husband’s hecklers aggressively by informing them that even if they don’t think highly of at-home dads, she does. “My husband is sacrificing his career right now to care for our kids, while I get to go off to work with a clear conscience each day and talk on the phone in peace, go out to lunch, finish a thought…” She blurts it out fast, before they can start in on their manhood-equals-paycheck slurs. By the time she’s finished, the disparagers have mostly been shamed into silence, if not out-and-out converted.

Don’t bother explaining your lifestyle. Your critics don’t need to know that you decided to keep working while your husband stays home because you earn more, or any other particulars. And even if you’re feeling ambivalent about your roles, defend your husband’s honor and maintain a united front.

Mothers, even mothers who have always worked outside the home, know that while being an at-home parent has its rewards, it is challenging, to say the least. And part of the challenge is getting everyone else to value what you do.