Stay-at-home dads, househusband (plus many other synonymous) are terms that indicate a father who is the caregiver of the family. To make a long story short, he has tasks which are usually considered as prerogatives of women. In the past it was normal to consider the mother as the only person capable of taking care of the children while the father had to provide the economical sustain; as a consequence of this, it was also considered normal for the children to see their dads just in the evening, when they were back from their work.
Nowadays, many factors brought a shift of roles inside families: women want to pursue their careers and they’re still fighting for salary equality. At the same time, men don’t perceive anymore (or, at least, most of them) that earning less than their wives make them less powerful in a relationship. So, here are the househusbands! Their numbers have been increasing since around the end of the 20th century, especially in developed Western nations.
Not only this fact can tell us a lot about how the society is positively evolving, about how sexism and gender gaps are being reduced (unfortunately, they haven’t disappeared and they are still a big deal in many countries and work environments), but it can let us discover something about men and fathers that we didn’t know.
In fact, if women still have to prove that they are capable of holding top job positions, the same could be said of the presumption that men are less able to look after children than women. Instead, let’s try to see this from another point of view: fighting gender gaps should be a two-way street with no prejudices. If a man is willing to take care of his children and his house, he should be free to do that; some people could think that he’s just lazy and he’s profiting about his wife’s high salary, maybe because he’s a freelancer or he can work from home, but this would definitely be sexist.
By leaving out our initial impression, we can learn a lot from this category of men (and maybe stop labelling and analysing them as aliens). Here we have some examples.
They can take care of kids as well as women and, if they can’t, it is because nobody ever asked them to learn. In the majority of the families, nobody ask them to do the house work. This doesn’t mean that is too late for them to learn now!
Some men can deal with children better than women. Who said that empathy and sensitivity are characteristics stronger in women? Stop with the biases! If they have time to listen to their children, by staying at home, they’re doing a great job. On the other hand some women can be excellent in executing tasks and can be fast and functional, but not particularly prone to talk about emotions.
Moreover, if compared to the past, some themes are not taboo anymore. Teenagers have classes of sex education and this knowledge is more widespread than ever. So, if you are a boy you don’t need your father to have the ‘‘birds and the bees’’ talk with you. Same thing if you are a girl dealing with her menarche and your mother is rattling on about birds, bees and flowers. Parents can swap roles and if your father is a solid presence in the house, if you feel you can talk to him, well so… Yes, you can both discuss what’s happening inside your body, menstruations, safe sex, contraception and so on.
Some women, instead, like to control the situation; too much. The idea that if they are absent then a catastrophe could occur makes them think that they are indispensable. This might come from a cultural heritage which wants the woman to be the only ones capable of making things function at their best. Everyone would live better just freeing themselves from these impositions. Give men a chance and let them understand that if women cannot do the house work this doesn’t make them less worthy mothers and housewives.
Just because a dad doesn’t do things in the same careful, loving (sometimes obsessive) way as woman, this doesn’t mean that someone is going to die. Your daughter is not going to school with an elaborate French braid. Or her shirt doesn’t perfectly match her pants. And so? Listen to this secret: children feel anxiety more from people close to them than they do for a messy hairdo. When they will be adults, they will be more likely to reproach you for the bad vibes you sent them as kids and not for their unfashionable style.
Playing with your dad is definitely funny. Moms can usually be a bit strict: they don’t want you to dirty your clothes and they don’t want to see you messy. Your dad, instead, wouldn’t care so much if you rolled in the mud: he would probably join you and in the end just bring you back home and send you to the shower still fully dressed to wash off all of the dirt and give the clothes a good cleaning too. This, of course, is a generalization: some dads can be much more careful than their female partners!