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And what about the dads?

Thank you, Tracy, for beating us to the punch, for we were going start a conversation along the same vein.

In amongst all the angst of the "Do you stay at home?  Why or why not?" question, there was not a lot of talk about dads.  Sorry for the fact that this question assumes a dad is present as I know it won't relate to everyone, but what is the role of dad in your home?  How do you divide work?  How do you think dad and mom relationships differ with the children?  How do the dads feel about their role and would they want it to be different?  Do moms want dad's role to be different?  Very curious about this....

We know that the vast majority of people who read this site are, in fact, mamas.  We also know, however, that there are quite a few papas out there that read regularly and comment oh-so very infrequently.  We appreciate you papas treading lightly and allowing the conversation to ensue.  But, we are also interested in bringing papas deeper into the fold.  We would love to hear from you, too.  We realize that not every family has a papa.  Still, we want to ask mamas and papas alike: What is papa's role in your household?  What would you like to see different?  What would you never change?


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My original comment to that previous post touched upon just that - that the assumption is there is a mommmy & their is a daddy and daddy works and mommy stays home - what if it is the opposite or dare I say 2 mommies or 2 daddies? This question/post will probably not draw as many heated comments, but as I said in my previous post - "To each his/her own" is my motto. We are all doing what is right for us & our families. No need to judge or explain or god forbid defend. I run into many mamas who ask way too many personal questions that just drip with their own commentary. Case in point - after having my son, I went to a new moms group where I was the only mama with a boy in attendance and after just a few minutes I was asked point blank if he was circumised - I never went back to that group. Why go there?
Raise your family and especially your children to be loving & COMPASSIONATE to ALL.
peace + love to all.

I'll bite. :-)

At the time we decided to have a child my husband had been in residential construction for years and was ready to get out. I had (and still have) a great job that I love with benefits, 401K, ESOP, etc. So it was no question to us who would quit their job and stay home with the little one. I took my 3 months leave, worked 1.5 months from home, took my two weeks vacation, and went back full time when my daughter was 5 months old. I work four 10-hour days so that I can have three full days with her, and to give dad some time to work on his own projects, or the house, or whatever.

Financially it has been very tight, as anyone maintaining a household on one income will tell you. But in all other aspects it has been fantastic. My husband is a great father who dotes on his kids (I have two much older stepsons) and really loves to play and interact with them. He has taken over most of the shopping, cooking, and cleaning and is doing an incredible job of keeping us all healthy and happy.

One thing I have noticed about myself that I have to laugh at (and tell myself not to do it). I find that I often tell him how I do things with my daughter and expect him to do it the same way. Like how he should get her to let him brush her teeth for example. I mean, he spends more time with her than I do - do I not think that he has developed his own way of doing things that works?

So I guess after this long rambling post that the only thing I would change if I could is to be able to spend more time with my little girl. But I wouldn't sacrifice the time she spends with her father for anything.

My husband is a wonderful father. We have a great schedule worked out so we both get to spend a lot of time with the kids. I chose to go back to work part-time so my husband would not have to work awful hours and never see the kiddos. He goes in early and is off work at 3 pm each day. He is basically a big kid himself and loves playing with the kids( 4 & 2 yrs). I can't say that housework is totally equal in my house, but I also can't complain a whole lot. I would rather my hubby play with the kids than pick up or do chores--because, really, that is what is most important. I love that he is so patient, playful and just silly with them.
He doesn't do things the way I would do them all the time, so I do find myself having to just step back and let it go.
After he gets home from work, we both play with the kids and then I'll start dinner. We always eat at the table as a family. We both give the kids baths and put them to bed...it's just the way we do it. We've been married over 11 years now and waited awhile to have kids. Now that we have them, we do want to treasure each moment we have with them. We don't have the cleanest house, the neatest yard or any of that--but we do have some really fun, silly, kind-hearted kids that we truly believe will somehow do their part to make this world a better place.

It's an issue on our minds recently too...my husband just finished up an 11 week sabbatical from work, and let me tell you, it was so amazing to have him home with our family for so the last few months. We were all very sad last week when he went back to work! At one point one day last week the baby was crying and our preschooler said to me, "maybe he's crying because he misses Papa"... :( He has a 30-40 minute commute, leaves for work at about 7:30 in the morning and is usually home by 6 in the evening--I know there are a lot of parents working much longer days than this. But it still makes for a very long day to be away from your family, and many nights when he walks through the door it's not exactly a serene setting he's walking into! I usually take care of most of the household responsibilities like shopping, cooking, laundry and most of the cleaning, but he does his fair share around here too--garbage, house/yard stuff, dishes and once or twice a month helps me with the bathrooms.

It's interesting though, last week as he got ready to go back to work he actually said he felt sorry for me and the job that I have right now with 2 small kids to take care of all day! He definitely has a better understanding for what my life is like now, after having spent so much time with us, and I think a tiny part of him was happy to go back to that quiet desk job. :) Neither one of us would change our situation right now, but I think we have a better mutual understanding and appreciation for our respective jobs and roles in our family, which is important to both of us.

For about two years DH was the stay-at-home-parent for our two boys. I had a job I loved, that paid well and had decent benefits. DH was burned out on a job he hated (I think the phrase was, "It sucks the life out of me."), with no benefits. After a brief period of juggling schedules and lots of grandma babysitting, we realized it made most sense for DH to stay home. (Although he did work weekend nights as a bartender.)

It was definitely an adjustment at first. My carefully honed schedule for naps, meals, clean-up--out the window. It took awhile for DH to realize that as the SAH, cleaning up meant more than just dishes and laundry. (That thing called a mop? Try to use it. Weekly.)

It was hard for me to relinquish control.

About a year into it, I found out that every Wednesday (new comic day), DH would pack the boys into the car and drive them 45 min (each way) to the closest comic book shop. (This was in our pre-Portland life.) I only found out because I took the little guy (at the time, 2 yrs.) out for pizza one night, and he said, "Pizza, now comics?" Upon inquiring, I found out that the trip to the comic shop was ALWAYS followed up with a trip to the nearby pizza place.

This is something I would never have done. We would have had lunch at home before we went, and would get back in time for nap. But the boys loved it. I guess they needed to see that life doesn't always operate on Mom's schedule. And they survived without naps. Go figure.

When we moved to Portland last summer, I wasn't able to transfer my job, and I was ready to be the SAHP. DH was ready to go back to work--after two years, I think he realized I wasn't crazy when I would say staying at home is harder than going to work.

Ideally, we would both be part-time, which is something we are working towards--some time after boy #3 is born next month. In our family, it seems the boys need the balance of Mom and Dad--neither one of us is the *perfect* full-time SAHP, but together, we're one hell of a team.

While I appreciate the acknowledgement and opportunity, I have my nose a little too close to the grindstone to really figure out my position in the house this morning. (It's here, at work at this very second... thats all I know ;-) )
Perhaps my darling wife has (as you all have had regarding your partners) a better perspective about where I fit.

Oh how I can relate to some of the other posts. Dads do things differently, don't they?! I have to admit that as much as I wish he would do things the way I want him to, I am so glad he does things his way. I love the fact that my boys have that influence and balance. If it were only me I can only imagine how neurotic they would be!

Obviously I can only speak to my experience of how my husband fathers and what he tells me. We have a pretty traditional division of labor at this point. He goes to work and I am mostly at home and take care of the home-world. Minus the garbage and lawn mowing. I work on occasion and it is usually when he is home. We made the decision before even being pregnant that we wanted one of us home. We had sort of figured it would be me at first and then around age 2-ish we would swap roles. The best laid plans, eh?

When our youngest was about 9 months old, dad decided he was ready to be at home and circumstances with my work made this possible. I have to say it wasn't what either of us imagined it would be, but it was the best thing for us. We got a glimpse of each other's world and developed a much greater appreciation for both sides. My husband is fantasitc with our children, less so with the house details. We both hate going to work and being away from the boys, but when it came down to it I was doing both home and work jobs and financially it just wasn't working out as he brings in more money. So, we're back to where we are today. But in the 9 months we did it, his confidence with the kids grew and my ability to step back and let him be his own parent grew. I think I had been a little difficult to work with until that point!

So now, dad has less time with them than we would all like. I work hard to make sure he gets to spend the time he has the way he wants to and not having to do things I can take care of during the day. When we're home together, we try to just work things out as they make sense. He usually gives a bath while I clean up after dinner because I like the kitchen work and he doesn't. I usually read for bedtime because I really enjoy it more than he does. I know people who divide on a more "equal" basis, but that has never felt right to us. It's more fluid than that. We spend a lot of time telling each other how grateful we are for the other person's work, which we didn't do much of before.

Despite the lack of time, I can see how incredible their relationships are. The boys absolutely adore their dad and he is a completely different person since having children. I know at some point we would like to find more balance in work/home lives so the pressure isn't all on him to be away and doing the "providing" thing. If we've learned anything since being parents it's that world continues to evolve and things will come together as they're supposed to.

We're lucky because we've managed to work out a schedule that allows both of us to be with our children (almost 3 and 1yo) as much as possible. Daddy works M-F and gets home at 4pm. I work a couple of evenings and on the weekends. We haven't had to do any daycare yet other than family members. We take turns making dinner although it's usually me on the days I don't work. Daddy does bathtime while I clean the kitchen because I need the break from the kids. Housework is probably 60/40 but he does the bathrooms which I hate to do. We never really discussed how we were going to do things, it just happened. If I ever need him to help more, I just ask and it's done. He doesn't do everything the way I would do it but it's getting done so I just let it happen. I have no complaints other than wishing we had more money coming in without having to change our current work arrangements.

We divide work - and play - equally. We each work part time, and we have some work projects we share (such as a book we recently wrote together.) I (the mommy) work outside the home slightly more often, so my husband has taken it upon himself to do more of the housework, but otherwise we are very, very even and that's really nice for all of us including our child.

I followed up with my DW on the subject, and it appears that she and I are.... almost the same.
Most days, she'll do cooking and I'll do dishes, we each have a boy to put to sleep, we each earn (roughly) the same, and we both get a good deal of satisfaction from our jobs.
Aside from all that sameness, I can only think of a few ways in which we are mentally different enough to make things tactically different as well.
My hobbies arent very child inclusive (primarily golf, skiing, and automotive competition). I'm working on that, and as I get boys that become older, it will be much much more so (I hope). I look forward to karting with the boys, taking my boys golfing, and taking them skiing. With my luck they will probably prefer hockey or ballet :). Shetha's current hobby (photography) can at least often have the boys along, whether its for a walk or whatever. I try and do something significant with our 4 yr. old each weekend (a day of skiing, etc), but my time with our younger child is more piece-meal (back yard play, etc).
Underneath our hair, I think I have a pretty strong inate need to "provide" for the family. I tried the "stay-at-home-dad" thing a few years ago and it was very hard for me to see that I was doing the best I could for the family as a whole. I think Shetha has a slightly opposite inate desire, feeling like perhaps she really should be spending all available time being a mother to her children.
Because, however, we have a very strong and capable extended family within Portland, we have the fortune to be able to have our children in a (generally) high quality care setting for 3 days a week and with family all day for 4 days a week. We believe (again generally) that this is beneficial to the social learning (and immunity building ;) ) of our kids and as a result we both work full time.

If we hadnt decided to both work full time, this whole post might be completely different. No regrets so far...

Thanks for asking for the papa's perspective. I have a few scattered thoughts. We are a dual-income, two-children household, who are now 4 and 7, and thus a typically busy family. It's always been important to me for both of us to work, and we are both supportive of each other's career endeavors. We both took family leave, separately, when each of our children were born. I encourage my wife to do well at work, to work hard, and to return the support for me. But we also make sure not to work longer than we have to. For example, we both travel for work, and that poses unique issues at times. She has more frequent day trips; I travel less, but have more multiple-night travels. I regularly have late evening meetings, or early morning meetings. There are days when I can work at home, and she can be flexible about where she works when she's not traveling. So I think we have finally balanced out the times when we each are on double duty (drop off and pick up at schools). But regardless of our work demands, I think we both try our best to limit late nights, extended travel, or anything that keeps us away from our kids when they are home. When I'm not working I am pretty focused on the home and the girls, which is ultimately the best part of the day. And we make sure that weekends are reserved for family outings and time as much as possible.

Doing well at work is important to me and I actually love my job, and I'm pretty sure she loves hers too. So when it comes to division of labor, I think we've stopped counting who does what and how often. Because trying to figure out how to make things 50-50 often has not gotten us anywhere. I'm the first to admit that I may not always do 'as much', but I do a lot and hopefully do it well. And, like someone else mentioned earlier, if I'm asked to do more, I do so, and vice versa. We both WANT to share the responsibilities as equally as possible, but I don't know that is ever equal. For us, rather, it is more about whether she and I are on the same 'wavelength', (or 'groove' as she often states). AND we focus on showing appreciation and saying thank you. So for me, I've learned the division of labor argument (which historically was the number one reason for any argument in our household) is often about how well we are doing in the communication category. Communicating schedules and what tasks need to get done is especially important when one of us is super busy at work and the other feels like s/he is doing more at home. So things like keeping an organized calendar of late meetings, travel dates, board meetings and retreats, girls night out, golf or basketball, etc., allows for the division of labor struggle to at least be planned and anticipated. Thus sometimes I am the one getting the girls dressed, fed, and to two schools on time, picked up, fed, bathed, and put to bed for a week; and sometimes she does that. There are things that she is better at than I am and naturally takes the lead on: managing the groceries, arranging childcare or playdates, and cooking. I tend always to be tidying, fixing, or paying. She often plans our social life, while I usually plan the home or yard project schedules. She might be organizing their schedules at the community center; I might be focusing on teaching them their prayers or spelling words. She probably is more of the nurturer, while I am often the disciplinarian. We take turns on bathing the kids, taking them to dance or ice skating, and the bedtime. Bedtime is time I particularly try not to miss, as it is the one time I know that I can assure my role as a loving, listening, and protecting father.

My attitude is that although the struggle to balance work and home responsibilities is always a challenge, it is one I enjoy and welcome. When something is challenging but worth doing, I was raised to not complain, but rather to just work (or play) harder. I realize that might actually contradict my point to be more communicative, but it is more a matter of perspective. I have enough stress at work, and I don't want to then stress about what needs to get done at home. Home is where I can be as silly as I want: dance, sing, or play music as loud as I want, play duets on the piano, read for fun, and all with my family. In fact, I actually like being the lone parent at the house once or twice a week so that I can call the shots on the daily chores, schedules, menu, etc. I'll never allow the house get too messy or the pile of dishes to get too high because that bothers me too, but I say let's play. Sometimes I'll combine songs and games with the chores, and get all of us to do it together. When the girls are asleep, I'll finish up whatever needs to get done. I then usually look forward to catching up with my wife and keeping those lines of communication open, often times while ‘vedging out’ to a 'chick flick' of her choice or some Sportscenter.

great question -- i do think the dads or other partners, if there are any, get lost in the shuffle sometimes.

i'm currently staying home (hopefully temporarily) while my husband works 50-plus hours a week. it's an incredibly frustrating situation, because he would rather be the stay at home parent, and i would rather work, but it's just the way things have shaped up in the local job market (mainly because he's in IT, and i'm not).

if he were to stay at home, i would trust him without question. he's always been an extremely hands-on parent, taking over completely in the evenings while i work on freelance projects or job-hunt. sometimes i think he would actually be the *better* stay-at-home candidate (he's got a driver's license and a mellow temperament, two things i don't possess!). between working 10-hour days and dealing with me and my seemingly-omnipresent angst, the man seriously deserves a medal.

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