Advertising
Advertising

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?

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

6 Things to Keep Doing Even After You Have Children 7 Tips to Manage Family When Working During the Holidays 6 Signs You’re in a Great Job Parents With Four Or More Kids Are Happier, According To Researchers Here’s Why Solo Female Travelers Are Amazing Employees

Trending in Communication

1 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 2 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake 3 7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life 4 20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About 5 How to Find Inner Peace and Lasting Happiness

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

Advertising

1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

Advertising

3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

Advertising

It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

Advertising

Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next