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Top Bloggers: Stay-At-Home Parenting
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Stay-At-Home Parenting by a Periodic Stay-At-Home Dad
David L. Hoyt (Daddy Dialectic blogger handle "chicago pop") and Jeremy Adam Smith. David is a 40-year old former university professor who is the primary caregiver of a 3-year-old boy. He lives in Chicago with his wife, who has a full-time job and supports the family. Jeremy is the founder of Daddy Dialectic and author of The Daddy Shift: How Stay-at-Home Dads, Breadwinning Moms, and Shared Parenting are Transforming the American Family (Beacon Press, 2009)
1. What do you feel are the major differences between stay at home moms and stay at home dads?


David: This question is tougher than it looks, because I really feel that in this day and age, lots of people wind up in situations they hadn't anticipated, including staying at home with a child. That goes for both moms and dads. The thing is, once they are in that position, moms have a whole set of models, ideals, and resources waiting for them, whereas stay-at-home dads are on their own. They have to do more improvising, and they have the freedom that comes with that.

As a result, I think moms spend more time having to worry about whether they match some ideal standard (and the contents of that ideal are constantly being debated) set by their mom, their aunt, or some mythical Great American Mother - even when they're doing just fine. Dads don't necessarily experience that pressure.

I think stay-at-home dads also tend to be more socially independent. Partly, this is because they don't have all sorts of existing networks waiting for them to plug into, like stay-at-home moms do - and this can make them lonely. Partly, it's because stay-at-home dads don't link their personal identity to parenting in quite the same way, and so don't necessarily seek out peer groups of other male parents - and this can be a source of joyful freedom. I usually make friends with mom or dad first, and then later, if it turns out that they have a kid, we'll do something as “parents.”

2. How has being a stay at home dad affected the way you feel about stay at home parents?

David: If anything, I think I have a much deeper appreciation for the struggles facing any parent who has to take care of one or more children for most of every day, most every day of the week. It's an extreme form of household division of labor, which is not for everyone. I think that it's made much more tolerable for most moms and dads if the breadwinning spouse doesn't assume that they are off the care giving hook because they have a day job.

3. What is the best part of being at stay at home dad?

David: Being there to watch my child grow and experience life, and to have him teach me all the simple things that I had forgotten when I grew up.

It reminds me that life is not at all a straight line onward and upward, that there is a lot of circling back to elemental things. Spending time with children helps you circle back.

Jeremy: Gaining new skills, like patience and compassion, and gaining confidence in taking care of my own child.

4. "Daddy bloggers" are a rare breed in comparison to mommy bloggers. What do you feel dads offer that is different from a mom, blogging-wise?

David: I think there are a thousand different ways to be a daddy blogger, the way there are a thousand different types of dads with a thousand different styles of parenting, if not more. The importance of what daddy blogs offer is not so much in the their content, but in the collective testimony they give to the fact that men are entirely capable of doing these things.

Jeremy: Yeah, that's true. The most important thing for guys to do right now is to just tell and hear stories about taking care of kids. Every time they do that, they're helping create a culture of care among dads and a new image of the good father. For decades, dads have been told they're worthless or absent. Now guys are providing positive examples, to reflect what's best in fatherhood back to men and boys. Of course, they often joke about fatherhood much more, I'd argue, than moms do in their blogs.

5. In your opinion, how hard it is for men to give up the traditional role as breadwinner?

David: One the one hand, almost every dad I've met - doctors, lawyers, professors, steelworkers - has told me they wish they could be doing what I do. On the other hand, most of them aren't. There are a lot of reasons for that paradox, but I think overall, in the right circumstances, a lot of dads would be very happy to spend more time taking care of their children, even if it meant making less money, or earning nothing at all.

6. What have you learned from being a stay-at-home dad?

David: How hard most women have had it throughout history, and even today, whether they are stay-at-home moms, working moms or single moms. Taking care of children and a household is just hard work. You can't leave your work at the office at the end of the day, you don't get promoted, and it doesn't get you status. Being a stay-at-home dad has made me a much more self-conscious feminist.

7. If you had to give new or potential stay-at-home dads one piece of advice, what would it be?

David: It will be the best decision you've ever made.

Jeremy: Pay attention to the present moment. Don't worry about what you're not doing, or what your wife is not doing. Focus instead on what you're doing - and take the time to articulate to each other what you're gaining.

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