Stay-At-Home Dad: War’s over, dad declares
By Howard A. Ludwig July 18, 2013 3:30PM
Updated: August 22, 2013 6:13AM
The war’s over, and I have a treaty I’d like everyone to sign.
For the past several years, I’ve heard about the “Mommy Wars.” This endless battle is really more of a debate between working moms and stay-at-home moms. Each side believes they’re raising children in the best possible way.
Dads are rarely part of the argument.
If there were a war between stay-at-home dads and working dads, my team would get creamed. We just don’t have the numbers.
Only this civil war isn’t about tanks, drones or soldiers. It’s more of a philosophical argument. I get it. I can certainly see how a working parent might feel guilty handing off his or her offspring to a baby sitter every morning.
I can also see how a parent might feel guilty for staying home. Maybe this means skipping that trip to Disneyland or putting off a much-needed remodeling project. I can also see how a parent might feel guilty for not applying the skills he or she learned (and are likely still paying for) in college.
In many cases, both parents have to work. A lot of jobs don’t pay enough to support a family, so two salaries are necessary. And single parents rarely have a choice.
And yet, the war wages on. Many believe the “Mommy Wars” are contrived or at least overblown. There’s some truth to that. I’ve never seen a fistfight between a working mom and stay-at-home mom in the school parking lot. But anyone who reads the comments below any online parenting article knows there are passionate people in both camps.
For whatever reason, dads don’t seem to have such strong opinions on this topic. I have buddies who I envy for their careers and others who I envy for their paycheck. I’ve also been told by a few working fathers that they’re jealous of the time I spend with my boys. But that’s where it ends. It’s hardly a war.
I’ve heard men have more heated debates about craft beer.
Perhaps the difference comes down to societal expectations. Women are expected to raise children. Many women buck the trend. Yet, the nagging question about how the offspring of working mothers are impacted just won’t go away — no matter how many studies show children aren’t adversely impacted.
Dads don’t seem to feel this type of guilt. Most dads go to work. They surely miss their children during the day. But I believe the common thought among working men is that someone’s got to pay the mortgage, grocery bill, car note, etc.
Those of us that do stay home certainly get tired of explaining our career choice. But I know few at-home dads who struggle to justify their decision. Simply put, staying at home was a path that worked best for that guy’s family.
Thus, I think more stay-at-home dads are the key to ending the “Mommy Wars.” Working mothers can walk out the door every morning knowing their children are being left in the care of a capable dad. Stay-at-home moms can kiss their husbands goodbye each day knowing that if they opt to return to the work force, dad could take over the household duties.
This won’t eliminate the need for day care, nannies or baby sitters. Again, there are plenty of couples and single parents who have no choice but to work.
Thus, I propose signing my treaty in Appomattox, Va. It seems appropriate to bring an end to the “Mommy Wars” in the same town that saw the end of the Civil War. In the post-Mommy Wars era, Reconstruction begins with stay-at-home dads.
Howard A. Ludwig is a former SouthtownStar business reporter who traded his reporter’s notepad for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org