Stuart Schneiderman writes about a poor stay at home dad who is getting picked on by the neighborhood mothers and who felt so bad he wrote to one of those Dear Aunty types for some help with his situation.
I’m a stay-at-home dad with two little boys, 10 months and 3 years old, and another on the way. At least five times a day, I’m stopped by a seemingly well-meaning person making an obnoxious, sexist comment: “You’ve got your hands full!” or, “Looks like Dad played hooky today to take care of the kids,” or, “Mommy must be taking a much-needed break.”
I struggle with how to respond. I want to model good manners for my kids, but at the same time shut down the conversation and go about my day.
On the 75th anniversary of DDay, these are the horrors that modern men must face.
Schneiderman didn’t think much of the advice that Miss Manners gave our poor hero, so he chimed in with his own.
If he really wants to set a good example for his children, as he says he does, he should do the right thing and get a job. The shame he feels and the shame that the neighborhood women are trying to make him aware of… will only be reduced when he returns to meaningful, manly labor. In that way he will be setting a good example for his children.
Since he receives these insults at least five times a day, or so he says, he is not going to overcome his shame by policing the minds of all the women in the neighborhood. Even if they cease making snarky remarks to his face, they will still be thinking it among themselves. Eventually, the attitude will rub off on their children. And his children, when they are looking for play dates and for school birthday parties will suffer for it.It feels unfair and unjust.
And yet, it is so persistent and so consistent that the man must realize that he is doing something wrong. And that he should change his ways. It will be much easier than trying to overcome his shame by policing the minds of five people a day. And getting a bad reputation for doing so.
I am fine with this advice, at least on the surface. But the issue here is not that the man is the one that stays at home. Rather, we should be examining why this is the case. What factors have led to this situation?
If his wife fell for the modern trap of encouraging women into the workforce via highly overpriced degrees then they have that debt on their heads. Perhaps she is the one who has the most capacity now to earn the most money to provide for their children. Keep in mind as well that with the feminization of the workplace, it is much easier for women to find a job and rise up the corporate ladder than men. In fact, the two sexes are in inverse proportions to each other in this regard.
It is a social stigma now for middle class women to be a stay at home mum. Our society frowns upon this sort of behavior. The acceptable approach is to put the children in daycare to be groomed by the government while both parents slave away in order to pay for such expensive childminding. At least this family is attempting to buck the trend, even though it is rather demeaning for the man in this case.
In other words, maybe they are doing it the best way possible in the circumstances. If you break the entire edifice then people are going to scramble as best they can. I find it hard to judge this guy which surprises me.
The scorn from the neighborhood mothers is illustrative as well. Remember, women constantly declare that they want a man with feelings, who will do the housework and look after the kids, and who will enable her to “follow her dreams”. That’s what they say. But any man who does accept this role reversal is a social leper to other women. This will rub off on his wife and it will affect their marriage.
Women really want to have it all. They have taken over the workplace, the traditional role of men, but at the same time they publicly mock any man who meekly accepts the new paradigm. Pretty soon there will be no place for men, which was the intention all along.