I am new to being a stay-at-home dad, but I have already felt the pressures of social expectations. I love what I am doing and believe that all you need is love to make it work.
As a stay-at-home dad, I found dad groups online and groups that meet in my area. I have met some amazing dads, learned that it’s ok for guys to open up, and found stay-at-home dads to be considered the minority. Many complain of being discriminated against at the playground, being called “Mr. Mom” by family, and getting strange looks at the grocery store. These men have an unbelievable amount of love for their children, but the stigma of inequality is there and it’s unfortunate.
This past Sunday the Chicago Tribune ran a front-page article on the rise of stay-at-home dads. The article featured a dad blogger from ChicagoNow, a subsidiary of the Chicago Tribune. There were quotes from other dads in the Chicago area explaining how and why they became stay-at-home dads, as well as supporting statistics, etc. They also made a video of the featured dad blogger and his family talking about why he stays at home with his kids. Personally, I wish my son could have a video of these special moments him and I are sharing.
Online, later that same Sunday morning, ChicagoNow featured on their main page an article by a mom blogger, titled, “Oh Sure, Now That a Man Does It, Staying Home is a Job” (PDF archive). She proceeded to belittle the Tribune article with, “I’ve got news, people. Women have been doing this job for centuries. But the second a man does it? A stay-at-home dad? Oh, hell, it’s a damn hardship on the front page of the Chicago Tribune.” She ended her tirade with, “I guess the Tribune is right: stay-at-home dads don’t have to worry about being perfect. (They just have to show up.)”
Where did this come from? Nothing in the Tribune article portrayed stay-at-home dads as being better than moms. Nothing belittled stay-at-home moms or women in any way, shape or form. This was not against women or stay-at-home moms; it was a factual piece on the rise of the stay-at-home dad.
The unfortunate part was that she singled out her co-worker, the dad blogger in the Tribune article. She brought up a past feud and admitted her fury by writing, “Rage. Beast. Angry. It especially smarts they chose this man.” Was it necessary to use this medium as a ring for a personal feud? Any spotlight on parents staying-at-home is a good thing. It should not be degraded by personal feuds.
That Sunday, as the dad bloggers’ wife broke down in tears reading the article in ChicagoNow, the very publication that her husband worked for, all he could do was be mad. Rage. Beast. Angry.
The dad blogger was told by his editors not to respond. He didn’t listen. The next morning, he ran an article entitled, “In Honor of my Wife.” He wrote about how strong his wife was in the face of him being bed-ridden after a car accident and how she stepped up and took on the role of “everything.” He also defended the Tribune piece with this, “Not that dads are better or need more attention, they just need to be recognized. This piece does not invalidate stay-at-home moms, it celebrates the rise of stay-at-home dads.” He went on to say, “At the end of the day, it’s not a mom thing or a dad thing, it’s a family.”
All you need is love.
He did not attack the mom blogger. He wrote a professional, heart-warming piece about his wife and the disappointment that “what should have been a celebration of ‘family’ became a sad day for everyone in our family.”
On Monday, ChicagoNow took down the post that the mom blogger wrote (after she had deleted many of the comments posted and her responses to those comments). As for the dad blogger, they fired him. What does it say about ChicagoNow that they took down the article? Are they admitting that it should not have been published in the first place? She kept her job. Why would he get fired and she merely got her article taken down? Does their decision enforce the stigma of inequality? Was there no other way to resolve this?
This is what I do know: all you need is love. When will the time come that we aren’t stay-at-home dads or moms? Why can’t we just be stay-at-home parents? Is that so hard? Is that so crazy? I hope not. I hope we can realize that all you need is love. And love for our families as much as our fellow person is what I hope will be the end game.