Friday, June 15, 2018

Top 5 reasons their stay-at-home dad is good for my sons

My husband Vince and I are both writers. Realizing we have the incredible privilege of choosing where we work, we opted to stay at home while our three sons are young and be their main caregivers. I’m happy to say that in these enlightened times when many women share the role of bringing home the bacon and many men are now expected to help change the diapers, people actually celebrate our decision.

I will admit that while people marvel at our arrangement, they also get confused by it. The main concern is my husband’s ability to take care of our children. “So are your kids really okay with just their dad? Not even a yaya or a female relative to really care for the kids? I mean, men don’t know anything about raising kids, right?” 

Ladies, if we let fathers be fathers, you’d be surprised at how good they are with kids. In fact, in my experience, I’ve found that Vince is the more devoted parent! Well, he’s the one who always wanted to have kids while I always wanted to have a career. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I discovered how adorable he is with babies!

Here are the other reasons why a stay-at-home dad is good for my family:

1. My three sons have no idea what gender roles are. 
As a staunch feminist, I’m so proud to say this. There is no such thing as “women’s work” or “a man’s job” for my sons. “A woman’s place is in the kitchen” means nothing to our sons because they see their Papa cook and wash dishes alongside their mother. They see their Mama work at her computer just as they see their Papa typing away at his keyboard, too. Papa vacuums the house while Mama does the laundry. They see the two most important people in their life on equal footing and sharing the same responsibilities. Mama and Papa both wear the pants in the family. Mama and Papa both wear the apron, too. 

I’m so excited to see the kind of men my sons will grow up to be! They’ll be career-driven and domesticated. They’ll be amazing cooks and all-around handymen. Most important of all, they’ll always see women as their equals. If they choose to marry, their wives will be so lucky!

Vince always does the groceries and he does this with the baby boys in tow!

2. My boys have the best teacher and playmate. 
I must confess I’m no fun. Even when I was a kid, I didn’t play games, I didn’t party, I didn’t have extracurricular activities. I’m a complete bore. That’s one of the reasons I was afraid to be a mother! Enter Vince. 

Bedtime stories are the bomb with Vince. He’s also the one who decides on the kids’ entertainment—what apps the kids download, what animated films they watch, what video games they play. My sons get the best toys because their Papa was so involved with them at the toy store, picking out the stuff they’ll play with. They invent games. They can talk about superheroes endlessly. They have so much fun together every single day! Imagine if they’d been stuck with boring old me!

If I had my way, my kids will never have Legos. So thank goodness they have their Papa!

3. My sons experience life in a better, more relaxed way.
Given all that I need to do, I’ve learned to be efficient with all my chores. When my to-do list says, “Give boys bath,” I do exactly that—soap them up then wash them down. That way, my sons are clean in 5 minutes allowing me to move on to the next item on my list.

My husband, meanwhile, has bath toys and bottles of bubbles. There’s colorful stick-on alphabets so Vince can teach them how to read while scrubbing their knees. One time, I found the boys soaking in their bubble baths listening to the LEGO Movie soundtrack blaring from speakers Vince lugged all the way to the bathroom. My sons are learning the joys of slow living from their father and I’m fast appreciating that pleasure, too.

Babysitting with the iPad. Don't worry—educational apps only and always supervised at that age!

4. My sons have a strong fatherly presence.
Many fathers can claim to have a strong presence over their children, of course. Even absent ones. My husband’s presence is much stronger, I believe, simply because he is physically present. His is a tangible, reliable, and constant male influence on our boys.

He patiently taught all our boys to walk.

5. My sons have the best example of strength and tenderness.
The best part of having a stay-at-home dad is my sons see all aspects of being a father. He’s not just provider or disciplinarian. They see more than just the traditional dad. In fact, they don’t even know what the traditional role of dad is.

For our sons, a father is someone who works and plays. For our boys, a father is a man confident enough in his masculinity to be equal parts tenderness and strength, and to embrace all aspects of parenting—even those that traditionally fall under “mothering.”

Setting an example of tenderness and care to Iñigo.
My sons and I are all the better for this. Happy Father’s Day, Vince! We love and appreciate all that you do!

*This article was published on defunct parenting site last year. Vince is now an editor at The Asian Parent, where he wrote an article on his experience as a stay-at-home dad. Please read it ["I was a stay-at-home dad, and it was awful. It was also the best thing I ever did."]! He also says he misses spending time with our boys.

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