NOT For Your Consideration

With the birth of a child, so much is gained, but some is lost. Gained is the immeasurable joy that comes from watching a little person grow and learn and become something great. Lost is a certain degree of freedom, a level of sanity (that you’ll find you can live without), and the ability to go to the bathroom without someone watching.

When the child arrives, someone will have to take care of it. Many couples make the choice to have one of them be that caregiver all day. But then, which one? This decision used to be easy. The answer was Mom. Nowadays, there are more and more Dads who take up the reins of Homemaking. It turns out that some men are better at being the Primary Parent than some women. Go figure.

There are lots of variables to consider when approaching this momentous moment in a family’s life. (See “What the Primary Parent Needs” and “Men Make Better Housewives”.) There are also things that do not need to be considered. If too much time is spent dwelling on these areas, really important stuff might be put off until the kid is out and running and the decision is made on the fly. Bad idea.

The single most important thing to ignore is what anyone else thinks. If Mom and Dad decide that Dad is the best Primary Parent for little Junior, no one else’s opinion matters. “No one” is a big word. It includes each person you know, each person you don’t know, each member of your immediate family and those you only see at funerals and weddings. It comprises the ladies at the grocery store who look at you like you are a freak and the guys on the softball team who call you a hen-pecked wus. It includes your father, your big brother, and your wife’s boss. It includes your pastor and the old biddies who think it’s a sin that your poor child doesn’t have a right proper mother, like he should.

To put this into perspective, who better than you who is better suited to be YOUR child’s daily caregiver? Who more than you has to live with your decision, good or bad? Who has taken on this great responsibility to raise YOUR child? The biddies? Nope. It’s you.

Someone might ask, “What does Dad know about raising babies?”

An answer would be, “Mom’s pretty new at it, too. I guess we’ll both have to read the books.”

“But men aren’t made to be nurturing and sensitive and patient.”

“I am. Oh, by the way. The library called, You can pick up your “Neanderthal Man Today” magazine any time.”

“When your little girl has her first…you know…woman’s time, what are you going to do?”

“There are lots of options: Call her aunt, call her grandma, put her in the tub until Mom comes home. Piece of cake.”

So, spend no time worrying—or even considering—how the opinions of others will be affected by your decision. If they want to stick their noses into your family arrangement, give them a clean diaper and a box of wipes and tell them to make themselves useful.

©2008, Mark Phillips

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 Women, it's true, make human beings, but only men can make men. - Margaret Mead

Mark Phillips is a Stay-At-Home-Dad and freelance writer. Along with raising his four children, he is developing a franchise called “The Vacuum IS a Power Tool.” It is designed to help SAHDs maintain that which makes us men, instead of hairy Mom-substitutes. He earned a B.S. in Communication/Theatre Arts and teaching certificates in English, public speaking, and psychology from Eastern Michigan University. After six years as a high school English teacher and Director of Dramatic Arts at Powers Catholic High School in Flint, Michigan, he changed careers and became a Stay-At-Home-Dad. or E-Mail

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