I’m very much aware that this is the 21st Century so you can call me old fashioned if you please but the role of a stay-home- dad (househusband) still sends shivers down my spine! I picture myself in a one star home, fanning a charcoal stove to cook porridge for a tot in pampers.
As I’m changing the soiled pamper, the phone rings and I wipe my hands on the apron to get it. Some rowdy neighbour is knocking at the door as if I owe him money and the dog is barking like it hasn’t eaten in weeks. Moreover, that’s only the first few hours of day one!
A stay-at-home dad is a term used to describe a father who is the main caregiver of the children and is the homemaker of the household. Nowadays, as families have evolved, the practice of being a stay-at-home dad has become more popular.
According to ‘Nature and the Creator’s’ catalogue, the father must be the breadwinner and the mother the caregiver. Today many women have entered the workforce, some out of necessity while others just to break the monotony. Some have opted to hang onto the caregiver role as opposed to pursuing careers. When a married woman chooses to work alternative childcare becomes a necessity.
The number of stay-at-home dads has gradually increased, especially in the West. In Africa however, the stay-at-home dad trend remains culturally unacceptable. However, with increasing cases of child violence, abuse, kidnapping and everything else that’s wrong, it’s not easy to just throw your baby in the arms of the first stranger to take care of your precious bundle of joy.
This situation drives some men (especially those who’s spouses earn more than they do) to lay down their tools and don the apron. Although today the number of women earning more than their husbands is getting higher, there is something ingrained in men from the beginning of time that they must provide for their families.
No matter how comfortable a stay-at-home dad is, sometimes there is no breaking free of traditional gender roles that have been reinforced over the centuries. Perhaps the toughest one for any stay-at-home-dad is not doing the dishes but to deal with the fact that his wife is the breadwinner.
So how do stay-at-home dads and his family tackle the breadwinner role?
According to Dr. Daniel Rwamukwaya, a family counselor, communication is important to deal with any problem that may crop up in a family.
“Discuss how you both feel about the situation. It is probably not the first time the two of you have sat down regarding this role. It was certainly a big part of the decision to stay home so it is never a bad idea to lay these feelings on the table,” Rwamukwaya said.
If you and your spouse are open with each other and talk about the situation often, it is going to make you more comfortable with the role. Reaffirm that you play a vital role in how the family functions.
Remember too that as a stay-at-home dad, you are not the only one who is in a rut. Your spouse is also dealing with the reversal of the role as well and possibly more often because she is out working every day in a professional pit of misconceptions.
You might think you are the only one being asked about your wife supporting you or if she is your boss. She is defending herself as well as you to those same people. She also has dealt with a lifetime of ingrained gender roles, as well.
It is selfish for stay-at-home dads to dwell on their insecurities because their wives are probably having it just as rough. And nothing good can come out of you both being in a dark mood because of who makes the money.
The best idea is to defend her honor and team up on the haters. Your unity in dealing with the situation could help you both get past your own issues with the reversed roles.