Dads for Home-land Security
Over 14 years ago I flew out to Des Plaines, Illinois, to cover the third annual At-Home Dads Convention for Christianity Today. At that time, stay-at-home dads were still a novelty, although growing in ranks. I came home with t-shirts that read "I'm not babysitting. I'm the father!" and gave them to my husband and a male friend, both of whom were home at least part-time with their kids.
So it was with great delight that I heard the report "Stay-At-Home Dads, Breadwinner Moms, and Making It All Work." It sounds as if more and more dads are discovering the joys of fathering their kids in ways that are intentional, hands-on, and quantity-time intensive. This is good news for dads, kids, and also for moms. I love what one mom says about the changes having her husband home after losing his job have meant for their family: "…suddenly the world just became much calmer and quieter. [Our son] wasn't as upset and … tense anymore. And our relationship, even though we were stressed about not having money, we weren't rushing around when both of us got home. And so, it was just a happier place."
Of course, not every family can survive on one salary, regardless of who's earning it, and many more couples than ever are sharing not just the parenting responsibilities/joys but also the stress/satisfaction of wage earning. But these changes make me happy, because they spell greater health for gender relations in this country. When a man knows what it's like to balance babies and homemaking, when a woman knows what it's like to have to go on a business trip and miss her kid's play performance, they understand their spouse better, have more compassion for their counterpart, and are more able to truly support each other.
That's the scenario that's played out in my family over the past 23 years of marriage; through many shifting seasons and growing pains, we have also developed a deepening appreciation of each other. And that's a gift that keeps on giving.