Stay At Home Dad – I’m Sorry

Stay at home dad James WilkinsonHello all,

Following is a copy of the follow up article to “Child care – is it a parents job” otherwise known as “Doesn’t anyone look after their kids anymore” that was published on the Mamamia website.

Thanks to all of you who supported me in this viewpoint and to all of those who disagreed respectfully.

The world would be a pretty boring place if we all shared the same opinion.




Dear MM readers,

Thank you all so much for your honest comments. I spent most of the weekend reading through every single comment carefully and can only express my extreme horror that I have managed to offend so many people in so many different ways with my own personal ramblings and sweeping generalizations.

What is blazingly clear to me is that I am completely out of touch with the community in general on this issue. That does not surprise me as the Stay at home dad does not belong to a community.

The general consensus is that I am judgmental and self-righteous, criticizing others for their choices to make myself feel better. Looking back on the article I have to agree with you all but that was never my intention.

I wrote that post in my blog (you know, that place where you are allowed to spout all your hopes dreams and frustrations no matter how ridiculous) after a particularly degrading day as a Stay at home dad. I had been told that I was lazy, that I should get a job and put our two year old child in care so that she would be better off and we could buy a house.

In addition I was completely ignored by two ladies at the playground while our children were playing together. They spoke to each other just not to me. This is not the first time.

So I come home feeling incredibly fired up with no one to talk to and try to justify my own existence as a Stay home dad by having a rant on my site about feeling judged and ignored by the community at large.

It is ironic that I ended up judging and hurting everyone else instead. How sad and how sorry I am especially to those poor struggling Mums and Dads who don’t have any choice and already feel guilty about their child care decisions.

For the record I don’t claim to be an expert on children or anything for that matter and despite how I have come across I most certainly don’t want to judge anyone’s choices. Every caring parent does the best that they can for their individual circumstances.

My blog is where I rant on about my own opinions and experiences as a stay home dad. They may not be right or politically correct but they are mine. Isn’t that what blogs are for?

What I really need is help.

Women have a wonderful support network with sites like this and other mothering websites along with regular play groups where they all get together and discuss their issues. There is nothing like that for the Stay at home dad.

I started to blog my experiences so that other Stay at home dads might also have somewhere to go to share their experiences. It seems we are all in hiding.

Although websites like MM have some excellent information in them they are mainly tailored to a female audience so that I have to wade through articles about Ryan Gosling (yes, yes, OK he is hot, I get that) or the best new hair in order to find out something that may help me in my daily struggles as a new dad.

I have joined many a group but even though I am tolerated by the Mums I am not actually included in the conversations. Have other Stay at home dads had the same experience? I mean how could we possibly know how it feels to breastfeed or give birth or if our vagina (or was it vulva?) has gone back to its normal size and shape?

The whole point of the article was to try to say that I believe that children are not better off in child care. Not worse of either mind you, just not better off as the industry would make you believe. Instead I have come across as judgmental and failed miserably in the attempt.

I also noticed by some of the comments that some of you still believe that a man is incapable of raising a child properly. These are the kind of attitudes us Stay at home dads face every day. Just because I can’t actually give birth does not mean I can’t care for a child.

Perhaps the Stay at home dad role is the last bastion of sexism?

What is interesting to note is that like me, most of you felt the need to justify your own personal child care circumstance which makes me think that maybe we all feel a little bit guilty about the way we raise our children, whatever way that is. Why is that?

To those of you who have managed to strike a balance and are happy and secure in your childcare decisions I applaud you. Then there is me who struggles daily.

Please don’t hate me – Help me. I obviously need it.

If you would like to read all the other comments that this article generated then click here.

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10 Responses to Stay At Home Dad – I’m Sorry

  1. nicola says:

    Well done on doing a really hard job. I have 5 children aged 2 -16 and i am now regretting my choice to go back to work but feel guilty if i dont work. Its a hard balance. My husband wouldnt be able to manage. I hope you find some support.

  2. Carolyn says:

    I think I have the best of both worlds as I do Family Day Care so I get to stay at home with my daughters plus earn an income by looking after other children too.

    I think being a stay at home parent can sometimes be quite isolating and there are occasions when I miss the old days of pub lunches with colleagues but I certainly don’t miss the early morning routine of waking my daughter, dropping her off at day care and then commuting to work via a 2 hour train ride. It was heartbreaking.

    Even though my old job paid double what I earn now it’s worth giving up a few luxuries to be at home with my girls.

    We are all off to the park tomorrow and I promise you if there is a SAHD there too I will make an effort to talk to him.

  3. Bettina says:

    I’m visiting via mamamia. I’d like to thank you for your honesty and for being willing to apologise and justify your intentions. Although I wasn’t offended in the first place. I think we are all doing the best job we can and maybe need to take a lesson from our kids on not taking ourselves so seriously. You say there is no community for the SAHD. Why not make one? Im sure there are many men all over Australia and further who would feel the same. I’ll be reading your blog now as I am interested in a Dad’s perspective. Sometimes I feel like my experience of parenting is so different to my husband’s, yet I think your writing shows he just doesn’t express himself as much as me.

  4. JandB says:

    It’s such a guilt-inducing topic, isn’t it? I was in a moderately high-paid corporate-type job before leaving to have a baby, and from my colleagues I got surprise (bordering on disapproval) that I would plan to take 12 months of maternity leave. 12 months! Who needs that much time? Surely I would be bored and back at work after 3 months! (Literally, I had one colleague say this to me. I had another tell me that the first thing I needed to book in was childcare, because otherwise I would be ‘stuck’ at home because of limited places, etc). I ended up quitting that job after my mat leave expired, and stayed home full time for 18+ months. Feeling slightly guilty the entire time that I was not contributing to the household, but on the other hand, loving it.
    And then I recently went back to work (a different job) two days per week. Now (some) friends and family have started- your son is in childcare now? Two days? That’s a lot, poor boy. He must miss you. So now I feel better about contributing, but guilty to some extent about the childcare thing. You can’t win, you really can’t, you just have to do what works for you and yours.
    I was saddened by your letter to MM because it sounds like a lonely and isolated position to be in, and one which I can relate to but perhaps on a lesser level because you are right that there are a lot (and ever-growing number) of communities for the mums out there. But I was even more saddened by the comments section below it so I chose to come here to say hi. Enjoy your little one, chin up and I hope you find some kindred SAHPs (M or D) to relate to. And tell those who are telling you that you are being lazy for choosing to stay home to raise your child to go to hell.

  5. John says:

    My wife reads MM and pointed me to your post and what followed. I stayed at home to look after my son full time for a year in 2010 when he was just over one through to two. Actually I never really left home as I now work from home 4 days a week and look after my two children on the other day.

    I experienced exactly the isolation you’re talking about, and at multiple levels. At the playground or park I’d see interaction between mums and be ignored. I always had the sense that people thought I had the day off (or was unemployable) and that it never even occurred to them that I’d made a choice).

    Even more to my surprise I found that I wasn’t included in activities arranged by two mothers with girls a very similar age, despite knowing them both well. One was part of my extended social group having been to uni with me, the other the wife of a uni friend in the same group. They were people we’d see every month or two on the weekend with other friends and we all knew each other well. The two mums would see each other for a play session with their girls at least once a week but never asked me to join them. When I found out about this I tried to break the ice and called to invite them along to an outing a few times, afterwards asking them to let me know next time they’re doing something so I could join in. It went nowhere, and they never invited me. It was a closed club.

    On the positive side, the one outlet I did find was a great little Dad’s group run out of a local church (Kippax in the ACT). I enjoyed going to this and although my son was mismatched in age with most of the kids there it was nice to interact a bit with other dads (and grandfathers). I encourage people to seek these groups out where they can. I’m not a religious person and was initially a little sceptical of the association with a church but they couldn’t have been nicer or more welcoming.

  6. Stayatworkdad says:

    Worst of both worlds… do all the real work and your ‘go getter’ working wife takes you down along with the ladies in the playground on the same day. At least my wife gets to abuse and humiliate me for being a dickhead and letting work take waaaaaaaaaaay to much of my attention away from what’s really important. Although Im male enough (read thick enough) to try to fight back, I know she’s right. So keep plugging away there. Doesn’t matter what sex you are (although maybe it does as it seems to be a lot harder ), the work is the same….. unpaid, mostly unrecognised but what matters the most. Keep going. Although,you clearly haven’t thought your plan through to teenagerdom…….when after years of being put down by the playground crowd and the smug working class, your kids will disown you entirely for no good reason……

  7. Tina says:

    Well I’ve read both articles and still fail to see the reason why you put out an apology? What happened to being able to have an opinion? And to be honest I totally agree with you. I’ve always said that I didn’t have children for them to be raised by others. But this doesn’t mean that I begrudge anyone utilizing child care – totally their choice!
    Again it just feels like parent “preciousness” gone into overdrive. I had a close family member ask me just after giving birth, how I felt about not being able to bond with my baby because he was delivered by c-section. I mean seriously “WTF?”… Thankfully I was pumped full of drugs so my reaction was kind of “love” induced (because you love everyone on Pethidine) but my answer was “I’ve carried my baby for 9 months, how he came out of me has nothing to do with our bond!”
    So my point is that you are eternally judged the minute you get pregnant – “oh she had half a glass of wine”, and when the baby is born “oh can’t believe you’re not controlled crying”, are you breast-feeding?, can’t believe he’s not walking, didn’t know you let your child sip Coke, oh you enrolled her in “that” school …ummmmm ahhhhhh!
    Everyone has an opinion about everything, so you just go with what feels right! But definitely don’t apologise for your original article! Be your own person and if people don’t like it then let them whinge, but guess what I bet their whinge was totally guilt driven! My bet is on that, and so they need to focus on their own issues rather than chastising you. If they feel guilty for putting their child in daycare then that’s just ridiculous, but not really anyone elses problem. Mother’s/Fathers guilt is a real BITCH!

  8. Rachael says:

    I complete understand the isolation that you are talking about regarding mums. It took me 8 months from the birth of my son to connect with some other mums and I still feel like we only have babies in common.

    It’s also sad that so many people feel so guilty about the choices they make for their families they feel they need to attack others with differing opinions to make themselves feel ok. I feel this is the biggest problem I’ve experienced with being a new parent. With information being so readily shared via the internet everyone is an expert and that seems to extend to a fanaticism that requires compliance from all others to validate your decisions. It’s crazy. The only thing you can do is find out what your options are and then go with what feels right, whatever works for you and yours. I can’t offer you a cuppa and poo stories but I can send you some warm thoughts. All opinions are interesting, otherwise the internet would never have taken off.

  9. Kate says:

    I’ll admit, I was one of the mums quick to jump down your throat for your original comments. However, I don’t feel you need to apologise- your opinion is your opinion, just like my spirited responses to other people’s blogs is only my humble opinion. I’m all for a spirited debate- so keep posting the controversial stuff 🙂 And don’t ever forget- you are doing a wonderful job with your child- anyone who stays home part time, full time, in the evenings or whatever with their little ones- will tell you its never an ‘easy’ job.

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