A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune for a story about stay-at-home dads. The reporter asked me the usual questions: how did I become a stay-at-home dad (my wife made more money), what my typical day is like (a whirlwind I often don’t remember) and how I parent differently than my wife (I play more and clean less).
My answers were, of course, clever and insightful. She used a few of them.
She interviewed several other stay-at-home dads too. She wanted to get a greater understanding of stay-at-home dads but only was able to fit in snapshots of a few of us in her lengthy front page article.
The anecdotes were great but did they capture the full picture? And does it really matter?
There is a lot of misunderstanding about stay-at-home dads out there. Most people assume I lost my job. Most people think my house is a mess. Most people are shocked I know how to braid my daughter’s hair.
These misperceptions make it harder for me to feel normal. They make me question whether or not I should continue to stay home. They make me feel alone and even depressed.
That is what societal expectations will do to a person.
The National At-Home Dad Network and Farm Rich are trying to do something about it.
Last year, Farm Rich generously provided us with an unrestricted grant to study stay-at-home dads in a way no one else is doing.
This study goes deep into understanding what exactly stay-at-home dads do during their busy week, what they like about their role and what they don’t and how outside influences, such as advertising, affects them.
Most other studies on stay-at-home dads, and there are a lot of them, focus on why the dad is home instead of in the workforce. None of them, so far, have attempted to get a more complete picture of the stay-at-home dad. This is an important distinction because the number of stay-at-home dads has doubled over the last ten years and continues to rise. And, SHOCKER, it is not due to the economy.
To help us with the study, we partnered with Dr. Gokcen Coskuner-Balli, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Chapman University, who recently published a study on stay-at-home dads that found they parent competently but differently than moms. With Dr. Coskuner-Balli’s help, we have developed a comprehensive survey that will provide a vivid picture of the life of a stay-at-home dad.
Well, it will, if enough stay-at-home dads fill it out.
Reporters will write stories about it. Social media will go crazy. Some people may finally get it that you are a dad who is passionate about his kid not low life who can’t hold down a “real” job. But only if hundreds, hopefully thousands, actually participate.
The survey is quite extensive; not something you can fill out while changing your 10 month old’s diaper and answering “why does the giraffe have a long neck” from your four-year-old. You will need some quiet time. You remember having quiet time, right?
The survey can take up to an hour to complete. There are many open-ended questions about being a stay-at-home dad which provide great insight for the study but some time for you to think about. There are questions about the chores you and your spouse do around the home and questions about advertisements. There are important demographic questions too. Every reporter assumes all stay-at-home dads are caucasian, middle to upper class. We know that is probably not true.
Your time to complete the survey will provide a wealth of knowledge about stay-at-home dads that currently does not exist. It will help society understand us better and maybe eliminate society’s stigma of men who are care givers making it easier for you and future stay-at-home dads to be proudly proclaim, “yeah, that’s vomit on my shirt and I make it look good.”
It will also help some very needy kids.
Farm Rich and the National At-Home Dad Network will donate $5 of every survey completed to to state Make-A-Wish® Illinois. They give sick kids an opportunity to live even their craziest dreams such as helping a kid be Batman for a day. Which, come to think of it, is what I like to pretend I am everyday.
So, put the kids to bed. Now give them each a drink and put them back to bed. Grab an adult beverage or some tea and a few snacks. Click the link below and help change the lives of stay-at-home dads and a few needy kids.