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Daddy's Corner

Who Is Your Daddy and What Does He Do?

I’m approaching six months as a stay-at-home dad. I haven’t fully accepted the title yet. When someone asks me “what do I do?”, I hesitate. Sometimes I say, “Primarily, I’m at home with the girls, but I’ve been doing some freelance developing websites.” Or “I’m working with folks on their web presence, which is great since it allows me to be at home with the girls.” Or “I’m a stay-at-home-dad, [pause], but I’m developing my web services business too.” Sometimes, when I assume the person won’t quite understand, I skip the at-home-dad part and just tell them about the freelancing.

While stereotyping isn’t what it was years ago, there is still the expectation that women can stay home with the kids if she chooses to, but men don’t. There is a massive shift of your self-image in a change like this. “What do you do for a living?” is one of the first question someone asks when you meet for the first time and one that others use to figure out an image of you in their minds.

What do they think of me? Do they think I’m a guy who couldn’t bring home the bacon? Do they think I wear a frilly apron all day? Am I just a lazy bum (although, if you’ve been/are a stay-at-home parent, you know that couldn’t be the case)? What would Det. John Kimble think?

Related, I have to qualify my stay-at-home status to myself. In reading a couple of books about stay-at-home dads and reading stories of stay-at-home dads, many find their ways to this role after being laid off. I find myself defensive that I was not laid off. I left my job in order to stay-at-home and to allow Vanessa to pursue her career.

This self-image ego thing has to go. Vanessa and I decided that unless there is no other way possible, one of us would be home with the kids. Not every family can do that (not every family wants to do that either!). I shouldn’t be so negatively self-conscience about us making a decision about the structure of our household and actually executing it. How many people dream of something, but don’t make it happen? While working and V was at home, I thought about how rewarding it could be to switch roles, but now that it has happened, I’m self-conscience about it?

While stay-at-home dads aren’t as rare as they once were, it still isn’t well understood. It reminds me of growing up Catholic in a Baptist town. You can’t stay defensive or afraid without driving yourself a little mad. You learn how to explain to other the what and why of your belief and how to correct their incorrect assumptions and stereotypes.

A positive difference between the Catholic/Baptist analogy in relation to being a stay-at-home dad is that the other person won’t try to convert you to their line of thought using techniques they learned at Sunday School!

Doing something against the grain or different from others’ expectations of you is an opportunity to help others understand a different way of thinking.

By Brandon Kraft

My life is an open-source book.

5 replies on “Who Is Your Daddy and What Does He Do?

I feel as though this is something all stay-at-home parents go through.  As a new stay at home mom, when people ask me what I do, I definitely hesitate before I tell them and I typically qualify it with the financial rationale that as a teacher, I would actually lose money if I had to put two infants in daycare.  I also feel a burning desire to tell them what I used to do, as if to say, “I wasn’t always like this.”  And that’s with me fully believing in one parent staying home and loving that I have the opportunity to do so.  It’s definitely an identity crisis causing job… 🙂

Fair enough. I guess growing up with an at-home mom, personally, I’m more used to seeing a mom with her kids at home versus a male (which, until I started telling people what I was doing now, didn’t know of other dads who did it). Now, there are present and former SAHDs falling from the sky.

I know what you mean. Sometimes, too, it is more directed at the girls: “You realize before y’all, no one would ever just yell no at me and run away?” 🙂

Brandon, it is normal to feel the way you do.  You know, society has a long way to go to being more open minded about the choices families make in this regard.  BTW, do you feel it’s easier being home with the girls while living in the Austin area than in another area of the state/nation? (Austin being more liberal and supposedly laid-back?)
PS—You are doing the right thing 🙂

I think it is easier. While nap schedule hasn’t allowed me to venture out with them much, there is an active stay-at-home dad’s group in Austin with ~100 dads on the roster. Daily playdates, monthly “daddy nights out” and a great deal of advice when asked.

Austin, too, is more used to geeks who run very successful Internet ventures that can do all of the work in blocks that would allow them to be home too. Some dads on national forums mention how folks approach them when they have the kids at the grocery store in the middle of the day and say things “Oh, you’re watching the kids today?” or things like that. Haven’t had anyone approach me like that in Austin.

I think it is amazing that you stay home with your kids. I wish more Dads were interested in their children to this degree. While some women still encounter the sahm stereotypes, and thought that they don’t do anything all day, I think as a Dad you would encounter more prejudice, but I am glad you aren’t letting it get in your way. You are making memories that will last a lifetime. 🙂

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