As women rise in the workplace and a growing number of us become successful entrepreneurs, the number of househusbands, or stay-at-home dads, is also increasing. For many couples this sort of role reversal can be difficult and lead to a multitude of issues, often latent within the male ego. Men are wired to be protectors and providers, traits commonly dissociated with being a homemaker. So, when it becomes best for your family that he stays home with the kids, folds laundry, cooks and cleans, it is important to help him transition gracefully and ensure that he maintains his manhood:
Oh, and before you get all me-and-my-man-are-equals-I’m-an-independent-strong-black-woman huffy and puffy, remember it’s not always about you and how you feel. Plus, a man who feels subordinate and emasculated doesn’t typically make for a good companion.
Don’t criticize the methods to his madness.
This is something stay-at-home moms hate, so you can imagine how much more irritating it can be to a man still trying to accept the home as his place of employment. You are not his supervisor. He is the house manager and, so long as he keeps things in order, it would be wise to keep critical commentary to a minimum. As long as the babies are alive, clean and fed, don’t sweat it. Conducting daily home inspections will only feed the monster that says, “See, I told you! You don’t belong here.”
Acknowledge the difficulty of staying home.
Being a full-time spouse and parent is probably the most underrated occupation. Many mothers will tell you it was less exhausting and (at times) less stressful working outside of the home. There are no breaks for stay-at-home parents. The hours are generally 24/7 with, if you’re lucky, an evening or two weekly to break away for a few hours. Much of the dissatisfaction that comes from staying home full-time is feeling like the working parent doesn’t understand how hard it is managing a household. Be sure not to compare the difficulty of your day to his, as if he has it easy sitting on his butt, tweeting Wendy Williams’ hot topics.
Keep him involved in money matters.
If your husband managed the finances while he was working, continue to let him do so. You should always be aware of what’s going on with the family’s finances; but if he is used to paying bills and allocating funds, don’t stop him because subconsciously you’ve begun to regard it as yours. Zero influence over financial matters will leave your man feeling powerless, and powerless men tend to cower.
Maintain roles unrelated to work.
We have a tendency to take become domineering when we feel like we are supporting our men—bossing them around, threatening financial restrictions, rationing sex and intimacy. Keep giving your man back rubs. Cook for him. Let him know you still expect him to take the lead. Support him. Keep being his wife.
Find a local network of men like him.
Connecting with other fathers in his position will be more affirming and give him the sense of belonging to something bigger that comes from working with an organization. Plus, playdates with others fathers will also be beneficial to your children. Seeing others dads in non-traditional roles will make their situation appear less unorthodox also. But, don’t expect him to look it up on his own. You’ll have to help out by pointing him in the right direction.
There’s a popular saying “happy wife, happy life.” Well, in the case of the house-hubby, it’s the opposite.
LaShaun Williams is a Madame Noire contributor and blogger whose work has appeared in the New York Times and across several popular sites, such as HuffPost Black Voices and the Grio. You can visit her blog at lashaunwilliams.com or follow her on Twitter @itsmelashaun and Facebook.
More on Madame Noire!
- Didn’t You Think They’d Last? 7 Surprising Celebrity Breakups
- Where Are They Now? The Cast of “Good Times”
- You Remind Me Of My Jeep: 7 Songs That Make You Want To (Joy) Ride
- Ready For The Beach: Swimsuits For Every Body Type and Style
- Gabourey Sidibe and Kelly Ripa Stumble Over Afros, Normal Hair, and Being Americanized
- The Sweet Brown Viral Video: Embarrassed? Why You Shouldn’t Be
- NEW MN WEB SERIES: “Ask A Black Man” Episode 3: The SEX Episode
- How Old is Too Old? Mayim Bialik (aka Blossom) Still Breastfeeds her 3-Year-Old Son