Stay-at-home dad: rare as unicorns?

May 12, 2016

stay-at-home-dadThe stay-at-home dad (SAHD) used to be as rare as a unicorn, and stay-at-home dads who blog, even rarer.  Enter Frank Priegue, whose blog I ran across last month. Frank and his wife had been married for three years when their son was born. Frank was 50 at the time.  Since his wife’s career was more stable and he was between jobs, the couple decided he’s be the stay-at-home parent. Once that decision was made, Frank took a conusuling job that allows him the flexibility to work from home and pursue freelance projects while he takes care of their baby.

Just like any parent, he says he faces issues like teething, colds, playdates, keeping the baby entertained, juggling My Gym classes. Text or email updates keep his wife in the loop throughout the day, whether it’s a photo of their very cute son playing or a schedule check for a pediatric appointment.

I asked Frank if he’d share one of his blog posts with us while I’m away, and here it is.

stay-at-home-dadBecoming a father was an experience filling me with a pride I’d never felt before. When the initial euphoria passed my emotions ranged from happiness to concern. Realizing I’d be responsible for caring for this this fragile little thing my biggest worry was please don’t let me screw this up.

At first my wife and I were tag-team parents. Being the oldest of three children, she gave me, the younger of two, my parental crash course—SAHD 101. It was a new experience for me—I’d never fed, changed or bathed a baby. Although my training went well, I knew I was working with a net—she was there to grab the reins in case I did something wrong.

My wife’s return from maternity leave meant it was time to fly solo. Easing my transition, she packed the baby bag and left three outfits for our son daily. I eased her separation anxiety by texting her status updates and baby pictures throughout the day.

Family members’ non-verbal concerns

In addition to my initial anxiety, there were a few concerns—okay maybe more than a few. Trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s coincided with family members stopping by for a visit. Although some wanted to see baby—it was more than that. Too many offers to feed and change the baby told me they thought I didn’t know what I was doing. Had I known this in advance I’d have loaded the baby up on prunes for an extra gooey diaper.

Coming from a large family means my family tree is filled with older cousins who are more like aunts and uncles. My generation’s male children were the first taking sharing the parenting responsibilities. Our fathers and uncles never changed a diaper or bathed a baby. Looking at us they must wonder, where did we go wrong?

Initially my aunts didn’t know what to make of the shared responsibility. My brother, for example, was an excellent Dad from Day One. While it didn’t surprise me, my aunts didn’t know what to make of it. Watching their confused expressions the first time he gave his daughter a bottle, you would have thought he split the atom.

I’m not doing this to be “cute”

Seventeen-months later, I still hear “how cute” from aunts, uncles and even a few neighbors when they see me taking care of the baby. If my brother giving his daughter a bottle was a surprise they must look at me like I’m a Unicorn. I mean I actually stay home every day and take care of him.

What the older generation hasn’t grasped is this isn’t about being cute—I’ll leave cute to the baby. I’m not alone—there are many Stay-at-Home-Dads like me doing the same thing. Our child has two parents, and we both share the parenting responsibilities. The difference is my wife goes to work every morning while I stay home with the baby.

It works for us.

If you’d like to follow Frank’s blog, I’m Not Grandpa, it’s HERE.

39 comments on “Stay-at-home dad: rare as unicorns?
  1. Barbara says:

    Our son did the same thing and we were very proud of him. In hindsight that seems weird to say, since he was simply doing what moms have done forever. I think it benefits the kids more without stereotypes.

  2. Children have two parents so it’s only right that both share the parenting responsibilities. The plus side is I get to experience my son’s firsts instead of hearing about them.

  3. shari Eberts says:

    Children benefit when both parents are involved. Good for you for taking the lead!

  4. My son became a single Dad of a 7 month old son and a 4-yr old daughter. It was a rough start but wow he was impressive, still is even though no longer single.
    I am in awe of you and so many families today doing what works for them to ensure they are raising happy healthy kids.
    Your son is adorable

    • Thank you for the kind words Doreen! Wow your son raised two children as a single parent. One is challenging enough. Parents all want the same thing, a healthy well-adjusted child, we are doing what we can to get him there.

  5. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Funny how people think “it’s cute” when a dad does the caretaking, but it’s just expected a mom will do it. Enjoyed reading your perspective, Frank.

    • I agree with you Helene. Traditional parenting roles changed years ago and SAHDs are very common. Our son has two parents and we share the parenting. We leave cute to the baby.

  6. Eva McMahon says:

    Daddy’s can do it too! Just call them Mr. Mom! Awesome page.

  7. SuE says:

    My son-in-law took six months off to be a SAHD when my daughter went back to work after parental leave. He wanted to be hands on and to bond with his son. I think Dads sometimes get a bad wrap which is unfair. My SIL is so hands on and my grandson is lucky to have both parents so involved in his day to day life. Great post and way to go SAHDs!

    • Good for your son-in-law. My wife and I started out as tag-team parents when when she was on maternity leave. It’s not as bad as people think and it’s given me great material for my blog.

  8. candy says:

    I know two who stay home and boy do they receive crap for being the one who stays home. So unfair to them.

    • I never caught crap from anyone, although I’m sure there were a few who were a little concerned. Things changed as they see me with the baby. As for catching crap from people., some never get it, so be it.

  9. Toni McCloe says:

    That’s fantastic. And I’m with you – taking care of a baby is not “cute” no matter what gender you are.I hope you always enjoy it.

    • Thank you Toni! Taking care of my son has been an amazing experience. I get to experience his firsts instead of hearing about them. It’s usually a good thing, although some days he’s a hand full.

  10. It’s amazing that this is an issue at all! Maybe with a female President in the White House, people’s perceptions will finally change 🙂

    • I agree with you Lois about it being an issue. Some people don’t get it, that’s okay. I don’t think it will make a difference if we have a man or woman in the White House, the same people will still get it or not get it. Some things take time.

  11. Glenda says:

    What a refreshing read. My husband was a stay at home Dad for awhile. We gained a mutual respect for one another. Bravo to this father!

    • Thank you Glenda. If your husband was a SAHD you can relate with my wife’s perspective. She’s a great mom who feels guilty about missing out on the baby’s day-to day life. It’s the situation we have and we are both doing what we can for him.

  12. deanna says:

    I think it is great that dads are staying home too. I know some stay at home dads and they do an awesome job. I think just like anything it’s not for everyone but I commend theones that take it on.

    • Hi Deanna, I agree with you that being a SAHD is not for everyone, but at the same time most parents will do anything for their child. For me that means taking him to the playground and MyGymClasses and play dates and stopping work when he wants attention. I do it for him. Don’t you think a parent should do what they can for their child?

  13. Bravo! You & your wife are working together to take care of your family. Good job! Not cute!

  14. I think it’s great when a dad makes the decision to become a SAHD. My son in law is in this situation and I applaud him and you 100%.

  15. Elizabeth O. says:

    I don’t know why people don’t see dads as primary caretakers of their kids, just like moms are. It’s a partnership, a shared responsibility, it’s not cute, it’s normal. It’s good that you’re doing this really, to show that dads can do it just like moms.

    • Thank you Elizabeth! We live in a different world and parenting is a shared responsibility. Moms and Dads so does it matter who stays at home with the baby.

  16. Andrea says:

    I think it’s great that there are still after all these years – men who would take responsibility for their kids!

  17. Thank you Andrea but lots of men take responsibility for their children. My Dad worked and Mom stayed home with my brother and I but, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a responsible Dad. Responsibility takes many forms, for me it means staying home with the baby.

  18. I think it’s great that you made the decision to stay home and take care of your child!You sound like an awesome dad!

  19. Kim S says:

    Great job, Frank! Yes, both parents are responsible for the child, way to step up and defend SAHD’s!!

  20. You would think in 2016 it wouldn’t have to be a big deal that a man is a stay at home dad. No one would ever say “Oh you’re a stay at home mom, that’s so cute.”

  21. Nicole Escat says:

    I enjoyed reading this. I know a few SAHDs, they definitely can do it.

  22. If I wasn’t disabled and COULD work, my husband would gladly be a stay-at-home dad! He’d love it, and so would I.

  23. tp keane says:

    It’s not many men who have the temperament to be able to stay at home and be dad. My hat is off to you sir.

  24. I LOVE this! I think it’s extremely important that both parents share the responsibility. In this day and age, we are strongly encouraging gender equality in the workforce, at home, and in life. It’s great to see the passion you have and your son is absolutely adorable! I think we all have something to offer, if we just allow it. Thanks for standing out and sharing your post. Unicorns are a rarity 🙂

  25. Amber Starr says:

    I loved reading about this from a father’s perspective. It drives me crazy how people fawn over my husband when he is out with the kids!

  26. leslie rossi says:

    this is great, some countries in europe give men and women equal amounts of parental/maternity leave totally 2-3 years!

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