Fatherhood isn’t how it used to be. As American families change, the parental role is evolving into something quite unique. Today, dads who live with their children have a more active role in caring for them and helping around the house. Stay-at-home dads have increased in recent decades, which is why Gay-at-home dads are like a diamond in the rough.
Today, 7% of U.S. fathers with children in their household do not work outside the home – that’s roughly 2 million dads, according to a Pew Research poll. At-home dads represent only a small fraction of that 7%, but they’re nonetheless crucial to society’s makeup. Not only are they the supermen of families, but they also have a thing or two they can teach us.
As someone who secretly daydreams about being a gay-at-home dad, I still need to break it down into pros and cons. For those of you who have the same dream, it’s always good to know what you’re getting into. Here’s what I’ve learned:
PRO: A Gay-at-Home dad is ready for everything.
I live and work in New York. As a part time babysitter (we call them “man”nies), I’ve witnessed firsthand the power of the gay-at-home dads as I quietly observe them in the park with their kids. What they have in their dad bags can save the world.
They’re packing hand gel, Tide “to go” pens, Tupperware, toys, wet wipes, iPads with countless of downloaded games, various snacks and juices, key chains that open doors you never knew about, journals with phone numbers and notes about their kid’s homework, and various other gadgets that have saved the day multiple times.
Even more so, they do it in style. I’m talking crisp shorts, sheer button downs blowing in the wind, and designer shades, topped off with a gelled GQ look – that’s talent.
CON: You have to be okay with your partner working.
Two men in a relationship is enough to deal with. Society teaches us that we need to be breadwinners. If we aren’t, we’ve somehow failed our family’s expectations. But according to research, gender roles are slowly becoming balanced – fewer dads are their family’s sole breadwinners.
It can do a lot for a man’s ego to watch his partner make money, or worse, perform at a job he himself wants to do. Take David Burtka, for example: in my opinion, the sexiest and gracious husband and gay-at-home dad on the planet. Check him out on Oprah:
At the end of the day, being a gay-at-home dad doesn’t have to be a permanent thing. There is tremendous joy in taking care of the kids, but you need to allow yourself to be content with it.
PRO: The child will know a lot of sh*t when they get older.
As the child grows, they typically associate the homemaker (either a mom or dad) as a stem for trust. The reason why most cultures trust women more than men is because we associate them as being maternal and nurturing, whereas men are more dominant and money-givers.
When a father is a gay-at-home dad, not only will the child grow to see that a man can be a successful homemaker, they’ll also be able to sense true talent in people without prejudice, or viewing men and women as weak or dominant.
Because the child has seen a man and woman do everything equal, free of classified gender “roles,” they will enter the world with a lot more openness and value. Not to mention, a true understanding of sexuality and what it all means. They’ll be able to teach their friends a thing or two because, chances are the child will know themselves on a deeper level. The gay-at-home dad allows room to discover and ask questions.
CON: Gay-at-Home Dads get the brunt of homophobic parents.
If the child starts talking about his “two gay dads” at school, which he will because we all talk about our parents in the sandbox, it’s the gay-at-home dad who will get the call from homophobic parents – not the working dad.
This is always a doozy, but thankfully it’s 2016, and if you live in a big metropolitan city it’s a lot easier to handle. But for those living in small ones, the best way to handle it is with the child themselves. Sitting down and talking to them rationally about what may or may not happen is best.
The child needs to know that he’s special. He has two dads! People are going to ask him about it, and he should be proud to discuss it. His family isn’t like everyone else’s. This ought to unleash a form of pride within him. Whatever happens outside the child’s periphery is your call, and yes there will be pressure, but so long as the kid doesn’t find out, it’s all good.
PRO: Gay-at-Home Dads get all the credit.
Let’s face it. He who stays at home the most is typically the person who is either blamed or credited for a kid’s best (or worst) action. Who doesn’t want that?
It’ll always be, “Oh David you’re so good with kids,” or “David must be doing something right, eh?” or “Oh David, you make me want to be a dad…” Whatever the case is, it’s he who stays at home that typically gets the credit for how disciplined the child is. Little do they know the hell you had to put up with just to get the first shoe on! No one has to know…
CON: It’s a lot easier to be seen as “Bad Cop.”
You’re the one who is home all day with the kids. When your man comes home, the kids will most likely be all over him because they haven’t seen him all day. This will make it a lot easier for him to play “Good Cop,” leaving you begrudgingly taking on “Bad Cop.”
This is something you and your partner need to discuss, pronto. When a child reaches their toddler years, they begin to figure sh*t out. They use their newly formed brain to solve problems: They want something… who is most likely to get it for me? How am I most likely going to succeed?
They’ll throw a fit, beg, even fight to get what they want. But you and your man need to be firm. When one gives in, the child sees this is a winning strategy. He/she will attempt it again and again. Trust me, you don’t want to be seen as good or bad. You want to be FAIR.
PRO: The Gay-at-Home Dad is the King of the House.
Your man might be the boss at his office, but when he comes home, you are the rooster. Whether anyone realizes it or not, the man in charge of the house is the true king of the family (it’s a silent rule).
You are a valuable commodity, and cannot be replaced. You should take it seriously. The formative years especially, or however many years you decide to stay home, will benefit you long-term in ways you can’t even picture. You WILL learn how to be a better cook, a better dad, a better husband and, yes, a better lover.
Having your man come home to a cooked meal, secretly wearing his favorite jock strap underneath your apron, are times you won’t get back, so make them as memorable as you can. Before you know it, the kid will be in school and you’ll be working – until then, take advantage of the many lessons to be learned during these years. They’re all good ones.