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7 Things That Stay-At-Home Dads Want You To Know

7 Things That Stay-At-Home Dads Want You To Know

The number of stay-at-home dads has increased vastly over the last few decades, reaching the highest rate at a little over 2 million in 2010. And while many may want to attribute this trend to the coinciding recession, the truth is that more dads actually want to stay at home with the kids: a 2013 study of almost 1,000 fathers by Boston College’s Center for Work and Family reported that 77% of dads wanted more time to spend with their kids. And while only 16% of home based caregivers are stay-at-home dads (according to Huffington Post’s analysis of U.S. Census data), this number is sure to increase as more women decide to take on increasingly demanding corporate jobs or, as I predicted in a recent article on SharpHeels, more parents take turns between working and child-rearing.

As they take on the responsibility of being the main caregiver and lead parent, what do stay-at-home dads want us to know?

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We’re not just here because we couldn’t find a job.

Some of us may have ended up in this role because we weren’t able to find a new job after a layoff or because we had an injury or disability that put us out of the workforce, but many of us are here because we really want to get to know our children.

We realized that the work-life policies put in place weren’t meant for men; unlike women who spent the last generation fighting for family friendly work practices, men’s careers have not caught up. If we want to be more to our kids than someone who shows up (late) to dinner and at a few after school sports games, we have to take on the responsibility of becoming primary caregiver – and give ourselves a chance to actually be there for them from the start.

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We wish stay-at-home moms would make us feel more welcome.

We may not be the same as stay-at-home moms, but we still want to feel like we’re part of a community and valued for what we do. Include us in play groups and meet ups. Don’t assume that because I’m a dad that I won’t be interested in volunteering in my child’s classroom or chitchatting about parenting trips. And most of all, don’t make me feel like I have to be occupied by my phone, newspaper, or other distractions when I take my kids to the park – invite me into your circles so that we feel included in the community.

We love our kids more than anything.

We love our kids so much, that’s why we’re here doing this job day in and day out. We may have grown up with dads that didn’t know how to warm a bottle or change a diaper, but that’s not who we want to be. We want to be a part of our kids lives, and we want to be there for all the special moments like their first steps, their first words, and their first day of school. We love having a connection with them and we love having them see us as more than someone that earns money for the family.

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We love that our significant others are giving us this opportunity.

Without a significant other that supports us and is willing to support our family financially, we wouldn’t have our chance to be with our children all day. To previous generations, being a father that stayed at home wasn’t common. In fact, many of us grew up barely knowing our dads in any sort of meaningful way until we were well into our teenage years. By allowing us to take the lead at home, you’re give us the opportunity to know our children in a more intimate way than our fathers were able to experience.

We may do things differently than a stay-at-home mom would.

We may not be overly concerned about enrolling the kids in tons of activities, and we may not spend our days planning the perfectly balanced lunch menu for the week. We may not join a daily playgroup, and our daily activities may be bug collecting and mud painting rather than piano lessons and tennis. But we will take care of kids and make sure they know they are loved. And while days may be a little crazy (or spontaneous, as we prefer to call it), we will make sure they explore, learn, laugh and play. We’ll be there to wipe away tears and bandage skinned knees.  We may do it differently than you would, but that’s why we’re stay-at-home dads.

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Sometimes, we’re lonely.

It’s no secret that stay-at-home parents experience feeling of isolation and loneliness. When your days are similar, melt one into the other, and are void of adult companionship, it can be tough. And stay-at-home dads are more likely to experience this loneliness than stay-at-home moms since many of the playgroups and other activities are run by mothers and can be exclusionary for dads.

Featured photo credit: Dad and Daughter/ Peter Werkman via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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