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Guest Posting: Let’s Hear It For The Stay-at-Home Dad!

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Burke and I’ve been married two years. I have six beautiful kids, Logan, 12, Laney, eleven, Shane, nine, Camden, six, Serena, five, and Burke who’s just shy of a year. I’m also a stay-at-home dad. (Thanks for not reading “deadbeat” at the end of that sentence!)

There are a lot of really good reasons to be a stay-at-home dad;  guiding, leading, loving and leaving an indelible mark on my children to name just a few. The weird thing is, society often times, doesn’t see it that way. Many people assume I stay at home because I have to. You would not believe how many times I stand and watch, as people look me up and down, trying to discern my disability.

When I saw Rene on TV the other day, talking about Supermoms and stay-at-home moms, I reached out to her, wondering if she’d allow me to show the other side.  She agreed, so I thought I’d make this real easy, on you and me too (I have six kids to care for, remember?). With that said, here’s what NOT to say (or do) when you see a Stay-at-Home Dad.

DON’T ASK WHAT I “DO” FOR A LIVING: If you can’t tell by the bags under my eyes or the permanent throw-up stains on my gray sweatshirt, then shame on you. I can spot a stay-at-home parent almost every time. You know why? Because they are almost always the most organized and efficient ones in the room, they HAVE to be. A lot of us also have a bit of gray peeking through. My kids think it’s hilarious when I tell them that comes from being a parent, not from being old.

DON’T THINK I’M NOT MASCULINE: Ha! That’s rich! It takes an incredibly strong sense of self and smell to be a stay-at-home dad (I still have a kid in diapers. ‘Nuff said). But I do find it ironic that we live in a society that, on the one hand, creates entire government public service campaigns geared toward getting men to be more active parents then frowns on those staying home and actually doing it. From past experience, I have seen social welfare programs offer everything from pamphlets to help lines to advocates, dedicated to helping a woman thrive as a stay-at-home-mom but will reduce or even drop benefits for a man who is doing the same thing. The message needs to change in the media too; I’ve never once seen a dad interviewed about what makes a successful, stay-at-home parent.

DON’T ASK, “WHERE’S THE MOTHER?” I once took my son to a new pediatrician. When the receptionist slid open the glass, she paused for a second, looked over my shoulder then asked me in all seriousness, where the mother of the child was. In my head, I was thinking, “Heck lady, a lot of times, “I” don’t even know where the mother is. But I know where the father is and he’s right here in front of you. He will also be the one to deal with the doctor, pay the bill and comfort the child screaming because of the necessary pain inflicted.”

DON’T LOOK THE OTHER WAY IF YOU SEE ME STRUGGLING! I’ve seen a lot of people hesitate then walk the other way when they see me in dire straits. I’m not anti-social or a bad guy. I won’t bite your head off if you pick up the bottle my baby dropped or grab my kid as he runs out the door. One day recently, I had doctor’s appointments for three kids (I told you I was efficient). While chasing Serena away from a nearby baby’s car seat, Camden slipped out of the office door and down the hall. Two people sitting near the door saw him but waited for me to be done with Serena and glance their way before bothering to tell me he’d left. Camden has ADHD and is on medication for it; if you have a child with the same diagnosis, you’re familiar with some of the things that go along with that. While I was appreciative that they told me he was gone, I was also dumbfounded that he could make it past so many other parents without someone stopping him.

Now that I’ve told you what NOT to do, here’s what you should do; ask for a tip. Or a recipe. Lucky for you, I’m gonna give you both.  First, the tip and it’s what I consider to be one of the most important in parenting. Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself. If you have a spouse or partner take turns. Also, get your kids involved! Chores never killed anyone so ask your child to pitch in while you take a break somewhere peaceful. We are not just parents, but individuals and as such need or own identity and space.

Now, the recipe:  I’m a pretty good cook, if I do say so myself and I can do it fast and with six children screaming simultaneously. I call this recipe  Chicken Ala Almond.

Start by marinating boneless chicken breasts in Amaretto, if you’re just feeding adults or Almond paste and olive oil,  if it’s for the kids too. Next, grill, broil or bake the breasts while reducing the marinade to a glaze, then pour the glaze on the breasts on a portion basis.  I like to top mine with slivered almonds as well. Throw in some asparagus for side dish and you have a pretty easy crowd pleaser.

So there you go, food for your stomach and for thought the next time you see a stay-at-home dad. Thanks, Rene, for letting me tell my side and thanks everyone, for taking the time to read this. I gotta run (remember, I’m the guy with six kids!) because my work is never done. But I do love my job and can’t imagine doing anything else!

Burke is  one of those guys who just loves being around his family. Just after greeting his fourth child, he realized he was better at running the household than running errands in an office. That’s when he and his wife decided to make Stay-at-Home dad an official part of his resume.   

11 Comments

  1. Tracie

    August 27, 2011 at 8:07 am

    I love this Burke.

    My husband is a stay-at-home dad, but he isn’t proud of it. He hates it. He’s bitter about it. And I wish to God he had someone to talk to.

  2. Keya

    August 27, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Thank you for the article! Kudos to all the stay at home dads! I appreciate you!

  3. Keya

    August 27, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Mine is too Tracie.

  4. James

    August 27, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Burke,

    YES, YES, YES and YES!!!!!! My man you hit the nail on the head!!!! 🙂 As a stay-at-home Dad myself you touched on many of the issues I have discussed with family, friends, and the occasional stranger who needs to be “put in their place”! YOU GO MY MAN!!! 😉

    James

  5. Vanessa

    August 27, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Way to go Burke. I would suggest you start blogging but unsure when you would have the time. 🙂 Be Blessed

  6. Sandy Seale

    August 27, 2011 at 10:38 am

    You couldn’t have said it better Burke. I for one commend you on your vocation (yes I said it because thats what it is….chosen path). With short periods of “legitimate” employment, I too was a stay-at-home parent. Even as the mom, which you’d think acceptable, I was often made to feel a less productive member of society, less intelligent, & lazy because I wasn’t bringing in a paycheck. People always ask, like you sad,, “what do you do?” & when you tell them they say “oh” like there’s something wrong with it. My husband & I both made that decision when we chose to have kids. That WAS my chosen profession. We could have had a nicer house, boat, lake house, etc., etc. but we felt for us we wanted one of us (didn’t matter which) to be home to nurture OUR kids, to be there at school events, dance lessons, sports, when they got hurt or were sick, etc. Nobody can ever replace their mom or dad. I have also done the same for all my grandkids….if mom/dad can’t be there, then I believe grandma/grandad are the next best thing….who else loves them as much as mon/dad? Why does it have to be the female that is assumed to be the one better suited to do this? Why is it assumed the father isn’t just as capable or responsible for his children? One of my all-time pet peeves is when a mom is somewhere & people ask where the kids are & she says their dad is “babysitting”. How, pray tell, do you “babysit” your own kids??? Nobody ever asks if the mom’s “babysitting” her own kids. Isn’t the father just as much the parent? Sorry I get a little worked up. I personally believe that any parent who choses to raise their own children, nurture them, kiss their boo boos, chauffeur them, clean up their throw up, etc. has the hardest job on the planet & the hours are extremely long….24/7. I sometimes said I thought I’d go back to work just to get a rest 🙂 More power to you & all the other stay-at-home parents/grandparents out there who have proudly taken on the job of raising the next generation. PS with 6 kids too I don’t think you could ever make enough in the workforce to pay someone to adequately do what you do at home…..and I mean that as a compliment to your current job 🙂

  7. Day 2 Day Dad

    August 27, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Hey Burke, great advice. I too am a 80% stay home dad of 2. Around the time my wife got pregnant with our first kid she also got an offer to relocate for her job. So I dropped everything and moved for her promotion. She traveled about 2-3 days a week so I had the baby 100% of the time. We had another one 3 years later. I too have experiences with the trials and tribulations that comes with being out with kids at 11:00 am on Tuesday mornings. The side stares and general wonder of what I’m doing there. Here’s the kicker for me; I am 6’3, 205 and African American, living in the suburbs. I stand out like a sore thumb. I consistently get the looks at the play areas, parks, bounce houses etc. At some point one or more will ease over and start enough conversation to get the “questions” in. Then they go report back. Here’s the kicker for me though (which my be another topic) MY WIFE DOES NOT APPRECIATE IT AT ALL!!!!! She is the corporate one in the house and has a great job that pays well that she can at times be gravely under qualified for. So it creates a lot of stress. I’m up at 5-5:30 am. On good days I make it to the gym, I get the oldest up, showered, dressed fed and off to school. Most days I also have to make his lunch, because he’s a very picky eater. Some days I even have to get the little one up and dressed just to make the ride to drop off. The little one is with me most days so he needs to be fed and entertained all day. I straighten up the house most days and deep clean once a week. I shop, pay the bills, do clothes, the lawn and cook most days. Did I mention I also repair damn near anything that breaks? My oldest is very active so on most days we have some sort of practice or game. My wife gets an attitude if she has to do any of the above. But in her mind, she has to do way too much. I know what you ladies are saying “well if she is working you should do all this”. You are right if this was all I did. Notice in the beginning I said I was a 80% stay home dad. I also work. I have a freelance job. I may work 1 day a month, I may work 15 but I average about 8-10. Regardless of how many days it is, she still feels like I don’t do as much as she does, so I should still be responsible for the house. It has caused great contention in the house and I’m sure we are on our way to the courthouse soon, which is sad! I feel like what I do as a dad and husband is intangible. The idea that she is able to have a career, and have our kids well taken care of seems to be the ideal situation. But she doesn’t seem to see it that way. Once this split happens I will have to go back to full time work and she will have to do more to care for the kids and house. But what is worst is the kids will have to spend most of their day with other when they are use to having dad there every step of the way.

  8. m.e. johnson

    August 27, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Stay-at-home dads are so cool. I’ve known a couple. One showed me how to make the living room look spotless in 5 minutes. Go Burke!

  9. Cody Williams

    August 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Thanks. I love to read stories about other dads doing their thing. My kids joked last night about the one time my daughter kept me awake all night while she was ‘throwing up.’ That was the only time she remembers ever throwing up.

    I took off work for two years after my divorce to stay at home with my kids. Best thing I ever did although it depleted my savings.

    Flip side. The best man in my wedding was a stay at home dad to for their three kids. His wife was a medical doctor with a thriving practice so they could afford it.

    Now they too are divorced and he has not had a job in 11 years. Gonna be hard getting back in the workforce. At least I was able to write.

  10. burke.troy@ymail.com

    August 27, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Thanks all for your encouragement! I, like some of you I’m sure, am glad to know there’s others out there! Too the couple of guys that have had or are having troubles in the home, let me just say I can relate to that as well. I am on my second marriage as well. Just remember, when it all seems too much, that even though you may not have been successful for whatever reason as a husband, there’s only one person that can make you fail as a Dad, and that’s you. It’s all about the kids!

  11. B

    August 29, 2011 at 6:22 am

    As a stay at home dad, I can’t tell you how many people stare in awe, show a moment of surprise, appear truly dumbfounded or even laugh in my face when I thank them or some other stranger for helping me with my child and the load I am carrying that day. I am the first one up and the last one to bed; I am exhausted most days. But I am for the first time in my life genuinely happy. My daughter is, to me, on a fast-track of growing up as I watch, reiterate her knowledge-base or her emotional IQ and then research her next development phase. I had full time working parents so I know I am sailing this boat without a model to follow, so some days I have to guess what is the right thing to do (talking w/out yelling, helping while letting go, correcting w/out overbearing, etc.). I have come to realize how lucky I am to get such opportunities. Thank you for the story above – your words of wisdom were comforting to know I am not alone.

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