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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 October 14, 2020

The Art of Humble Confidence

The Art of Humble Confidence

To be confident or not to be confident, that is the question. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve been a bit confused about all this discussion about the subject of confidence. Do you really need to be more confident or should you try to be more humble? I think the answer is both – you just have to know where to use it.

East VS West – Confidence, It’s a Cultural Thing

In typical Western countries, the answer to the confidence debate is obvious – more is better. Our heros are rebellious, independent and shoot first, ask questions later. I think this snippet of dialog from The Matrix sums it up best:

Agent Smith – “We’re willing to wipe the slate clean, give you a fresh start. All that we’re asking in return is your cooperation in bringing a known terrorist to justice.”
Neo – “Yeah. Well, that sounds like a pretty good deal. But I think I may have a better one. How about, I give you the finger”
[He does]
Neo -“ …and you give me my phone call.”

In Eastern countries, the tone is often considerably different. Elders are supposed to be revered not dismissed. The words ‘guru,’ meaning a teacher, and the philosophy of dharma, loosely translated to mean ‘duty,’ come from here. In Eastern cultures humility and respect are more important than confidence.

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These perspectives are generalizations, but it shows how the confidence debate goes back deep into our culture. I think that both extremes of pure confidence or pure humility are misguided. Instead of rectifying this situation by simply blending the two: becoming somewhat humble, somewhat confident all the time, I believe the answer is to know when to be confident and when to be humble.

Humble Confidence – Know When to Use It

I’m going to make another broad generalization. I believe that virtually every relationship you are going to have is going to fit into one of two major archetypes, either master or student. In peer relationships this master/student role may switch frequently, but it is extremely rare that the relationship never leans to one side.

In the master role, you are displaying confidence to get what you want. This is public speaker, leader or seducer. Being the master has advantages. You have more control and ability to influence from this role.

The student role is the opposite. You are intentionally displaying humility. This is the student, disciple or follower. Being the student has advantages too. You can learn a lot more in this role and are more likely to win the trust of the other person.

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Know When to Shut Up and Learn

If you are a typical Westerner, you are probably already thinking about which role you prefer. Being the leader is great. You get respect and a higher status. Most of all you get a greater degree of control.

But the problem is that you can’t and shouldn’t always try to be the leader. Trying to assume that role without the skills, resources or status to back it up will lead to conflict. More importantly, there are many times when you purposely want to display humility. Some of the benefits to the student role include:

  • You learn more.
  • Smooths relationships.
  • Makes others more willing to lend a helping hand.

Knowing when taking the humble route is to your advantage. It is far easier to get mentors and advisors if you use humility rather than arrogance. A small sacrifice to your ego can open up the potential to learn a lot.

Confidence to Persuade, Humility to Learn

In reality almost no relationship is as clearly defined as master/student. Within our connections, people have overlapping areas of expertise. I might be an expert in blogging to a non-blogger, but they might be an expert in finance. In each area there are different roles to take.

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Before any interaction ask yourself what the purpose is. Are you trying to learn or persuade?

Persuasion requires confidence. If you are trying to sell, instruct or lead you need to display the confidence to match your message. But learning requires humility. You won’t learn anything if you are constantly arguing with your professors, mentors or employers. Taking a dose of humility and temporarily making yourself a student gives you the opportunity to absorb.

Persuade Less, Learn More

Persuasion is great for immediate effect, but learning matters over the long-haul. Instead of washing over all your communication with pure confidence, look for opportunities to learn. Persuading someone to follow you may give you an immediate boost of satisfaction, but it doesn’t last. Learning, however, is an investment for the future.

Whenever I make a connection with someone and realize they have a skill or understanding I want, I am careful to express humility in that area. That means listening with what they say even if I don’t immediately agree and being patient with their response. This method often drastically cuts down the time I need to spend on trial and error to learn by myself.

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Confidence/Humility Doesn’t Replace Communication Skills

This approach of selectively using confidence and humility for different purposes doesn’t replace communication skills. Humility isn’t going to work if the other person thinks you’re an irritating whiner. Confidence won’t work if the entire room thinks you are an arrogant jerk. Knowing how to display these two qualities takes practice.

The next time you are about to enter into an interaction ask yourself why you are doing it. Are you trying to persuade or learn? Depending on which you can take a completely different tact for far better results.

Featured photo credit: BBH Singapore via unsplash.com

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