One At-Home-Dad Answers Questions About His Vagina

Depending on which source you read, it's estimated that the number of stay-at-home dads (SAHD) ranges anywhere from 140,000 (Census Bureau) to 2 million men (CBS News). Other statistics claim that of the nation's 11.3 million preschoolers whose mothers are employed, 25% are regularly cared for by their father during their mother's working hours (Census Bureau). These are just a few of the figures cited as indicators that more and more dads are becoming the family's primary care giver. The trend has, as of late, received increased attention given its direct correlation to the poor economy. Many previously employed fathers, such as myself, suddenly found themselves thrust into an unfamiliar role that a number of other fathers had already been preforming well before Wall Street took a dive. One such dad is Joe Schatz, a stay-at-home vet and author of the book, Daddy, Where's Your Vagina? What I Learned as a Stay-At-Home Dad.

In his book, Schatz outlines the reasoning behind his decision to remain at home with his three daughters, and then draws on these experiences to share the lessons he learned. But this is no "how-to" book full of diagrams and sterile facts on changing a diaper or fixing a bottle. Instead, Schatz, who is the national fatherhood writer for The Examiner and co-founder of the social networking site Dad-Blogs, provides practical advice, setting a realistic expectation for down-and-dirty fatherhood not found in other conventional parenting books. What's more, he does so with a style of humor that makes this book as entertaining as it is useful.

If suffering through a sleepless night with a hungry baby, Schatz advises, "Fellas, don't watch Girls Gone Wild ads while feeding a baby--it's just wrong."

Wise words.

Other gems include being vigilant as to the scenarios in which a baby is likely to pee on you; how to tell a toddler "no" by saying "yes"; and incorporating a rating system for judging which of the many kid's art projects stay and which get trashed without sacrificing their feelings. ("Does the artwork contain any unintentional profanity? 10 points per word)

Brilliant stuff!

However, this book is not some at-home dad version of Heathcliff Huxtable, grabbing chuckles while spouting off with parental wit. Schatz displays his depth of emotion in the gut-wrenching account of his wife's miscarriage with their fourth child. This is a place few men would go, but Schatz does, showing that a father's grief during such tragedies is no less real than a mother's.

Like most stay-at-home fathers, Schatz struggles to reconcile his male ego against the traditional notion of men as the the family provider. In time, though, he resolves this issue by recognizing the greater potential and unique impact he can have on his children by staying at home. "Men have a tough time separating ego and money, and it limits us," Schatz concludes. Through the course of the book, he manages to challange the prevailing paradigm of child-rearing roles without coming across as a zealot.

Schatz doesn't shrink away from how people perceive him either. He's proactive, even in awkward moments such as being the only dad in the neighborhood playgroup. Rather than justify not his participating, he places the importance of his children's' need for social interact over his need for acceptance from the other moms. In fact, he goes a step further, initiating conversation within the group. Brave? Very. Especially with the education he receives in the process. In half-jokingly asking the group their opinions on the Baltimore Ravens football team, Schatz finds out that mommies have their own language and no subject is off limits. Based on this encounter, he develops a list of terms SAHD's need to be versed on if they plan to make it in mommy social circles. For example, the difference between McDreamy and McSteamy might not appear significant, but screwing it up at a play date will kill a dad's street cred.

Ultimately, the theme of this book is empowerment. Schatz shows both mothers and fathers that men are fully capable of being effective, full-time parents with something to offer. However, in order for this to happen, men (and women) have to stop buying into the stigma of dads being incompetent and aloof. Ironically, it's a misconception that often originates within the home, stemming from the false assumption that mothers are better equipped to deal with their child's needs, which leaves dads in the cold. The seemingly innocuous actions of mothers who always step in to change the diapers or sooth a crying baby inadvertently deny fathers the opportunity for direct involvement, thus reinforcing the message of men's shortcomings in caring for children. It's this cycle of "learned helplessness" that overshadows the truth of what fathers can do.

Schatz demonstrates otherwise through the advice and experience he shares in his book. Not only does he set an example for other fathers, at-home or otherwise, but he also proves to mothers that men have something relevant to offer in the realm of child-rearing. Daddy, Where's Your Vagina? shows that men can be the primary care providers, and find fulfillment in this role at the same time.

For more about Joe Schatz and his book, go to his official website.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Ads Section

Ads Section

  © Blogger templates Newspaper by 2008

Back to TOP