March 5, 2009
I discussed Parenting magazine’s new ‘Mad at Dads’ study on the Kathryn Zox Show on WMET AM 1160 in Washington DC yesterday. Kathryn and her co-host Lorin Beller Blake both feel that stay-at-home mothers are put upon and fathers are fortunate to be able to work and “be out there in the real world” instead of staying at home.
To listen to the audio of the show, click here. I come on at 16 minutes in.
I thought the most interesting part of the show was the way Zox and Blake reacted with some disbelief at my feelings about my three years as a stay-at-home dad after my daughter was born (begins at 22 minutes in.)
At some level Zox and Blake seem convinced that stay-at-home moms get a raw deal and work much harder than breadwinner dads. Having been a stay-at-home dad with two kids during the years when they need the most intensive of care, I can tell you that this is nonsense.
Yes, if a stay-at-home mom wants to work herself into a frenzy with obsessive cleaning and activity, she can make the job harder than that of the breadwinner and then turn around and resent her husband for not working as hard as she decides to work. However, if you’re reasonable, the stay-at-home role isn’t harder than the breadwinner role. There’s only one part of being a parent which I’ve ever genuinely disliked and that’s forcing my son through his homework. Then again, every job has its downsides.
More importantly, you have to balance out the work with the reward. Those three years at home with my little girl were the greatest of my life, and she and I developed an exceptionally close bond which exists even now, despite the fact that (against my will) she has grown up.
One of the points that I made on the show is that the kids are only little for a little while, and that it’s important to enjoy them when they’re that age. Too many men have to work long hours to support their families and don’t get to spend enough time with their kids when they’re little–I consider myself to have been exceptionally lucky to have had that time with my kids.
This is particularly true now that they’re growing up–my son is a junior in high school and he doesn’t want to spend time my wife or I, he wants to be with his friends. A few years ago I may have been “G-Dawg” but now in his eyes I’m just (sigh) “Loser G”…
When I brought up the problem of maternal gate keeping on the show, both hosts acknowledged it as a problem. Zox said:
I have a couple girlfriends who really do that. They have to be in control. When they leave their child, their son or daughter with the father, and the father didn’t dress them “right” or they didn’t feed them at the right time or the “right” food. There was always a criticism of how he did it. The father would do it…wanted to do it his own way and then there was all kinds of friction because he didn’t do it [the mothers’] way.