Recently there was a video that went viral regarding a job posting for “The Toughest Job in the World,” spoiler alert: it was for being a Mom. It was specifically for those Moms who dedicate every waking moment (apparently without any breaks, sleep or designated meals) to being the care giver to their children, aka the Stay at Home Mom. But what about all those amazing men out there who do all of those things? Yes, I realize that this video – designed as an advertisement for a greeting card company – was for Mother’s Day, but I think that it perpetuates the stereotype that women will be the primary care giver, and not men. And this is simply not the case. It excludes an entire segment of an occupation based on gender alone.
I don’t think that a lot of people realize how much prejudice there can be surrounding Stay at Home Dads compared to Stay at Home Moms. I have seen my husband face this time and time again. More than once he has been treated as a second rate parent by strangers and had people say and do incredibly rude and demeaning things. Many people probably don’t even realize that they are perpetuating the stereotype that men aren’t good parents and that women have to do all of the care giving. It is so ingrained in our society, that many don’t know how many priviledges are given to women compared to men in regards to daily parenting activities.
Here is a short (not all inclusive) list of things that SAHM are privileged to have that many SAHD do not have, simply because they are male.
As a SAHM:
1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of other Stay at Home Parents of my gender most of the time.
2. I can go shopping alone with my child most of the time without strangers assuming I have kidnapped said child.
3. I can turn on the television or open the most recent parenting magazine and find other Stay at Home Parents of my gender represented.
4. I can attend events designed for parents and children to attend together and know that there will be another Stay at Home Parent of my gender in attendance (ie Toddler and Me Music, Story Time at the Library, Tumble Time for Toddlers, Swim Lessons, etc)
5. I can let my child fuss in public without strangers making comments about my genders lack of parenting instinct.
6. I can change a diaper without being called a credit to my gender.
7. I can spend time with and play with my child without being called a credit to my gender.
8. I can arrange for a play date with other parents without people questioning my relationship fidelity or motives.
9. I am not asked to speak for all the people of my gender in the Stay at Home Parenting role.
10. I can come home from most parent organization meetings I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.
11. I can be assured that there will be a diaper changing station in the restroom for my gender at the restaurant.
12. I can find and join a social media support group for parents of my gender in my city, usually there are multiple to choose from.
13. I can answer questions regarding my childs preferences for foods, clothes, toys and more without my answer being second guessed due to my gender.
14. I can complain about how insanely crabby my kid was all day to other parents without it being attributed to my lack of experience because of my gender.
15. I can find a diaper bag/baby carrier etc that reflects my personal style with ease at most baby stores or large box stores.
16. I can care for my child while my co-parent is at work and not have people joke that I am babysitting.
17. I can slack off on my parenting duties without the risk of being labled a dead beat.
Think about how your life as a parent would be effected if you couldn’t do all of those things. How supported would you feel? How included would you feel in the parenting community? Have you ever treated a SAHD like a second rate parent – even if unintentional? What can we do to change this mindset in our lives?
*edited to add #16 and 17.