Who Should Stay Home?

There are five advantages all men have over women when it comes to being the Primary Parent. (See: “Men Make Better Housewives”) However, that does not mean that all men should become Stay-At-Home-Dads. In some couples, it just makes more sense for Mommy to stay home with the kids and the house while Daddy goes out and makes money. There are lots of things to consider before either one goes into their boss and tells her where she take this job and what she can do with it. Like, which parent is best suited, personality-wise?

Important Personality Trait Number One is patience. Couples should decide which of them has the largest trove of this treasure; which one can go back to the deep well of serenity more often before it runs dry. (You can often tell how important something is by how many metaphors are used to describe it.) This magic elixir of sainthood is really, really important. If you don’t have patience, staying home with little people who don’t listen, do listen but don’t obey, can’t understand, or can understand but choose to ignore is not the job of someone with a short fuse.

A less acknowledged personality trait a good parent should have is the ability to withstand body fluids. As a new parent, I was shocked at the amount of liquidy stuff that comes with this territory. Beginning with the birth process itself and continuing right on into the school years, there is gunk galore. Just last week, I had to deal with vomited-on blankets, pooped on carpeting (yes, it was liquid), peed on pants, and a bloody finger. Thankfully, the finger was mine. You would think that my wife—a doctor—would be better suited for these tasks, but her very strong aversion to vomit would have stopped her from the get go. Besides, she was at a conference in New Mexico. Oh, and the cat hurt his foot and was limping around too.

Another plus in the Stay-At-Home-Parent column is how one deals with cacophony. Cacophony means “an instance of discordant sound”. Think of “symphony”: a delightful mix of many instruments and different sounds to create a pleasant song. Now, take away “delightful” and “pleasant”. You have “lots of sound”.

Which parent can have two children fighting over a toy, one child asking for milk, a dog barking, the radio on and the dishwasher running without going ballistic? That’s the one that should stay home. If you are not sure which one has this skill, go to a “Chuck E. Cheese” on a Saturday afternoon. The first one to start twitching is the loser.

One more trait that many people might not think about is flexibility. This word has two definitions and they are both valid: One is physical flexibility. Which parent is most likely going to be able to stand back up after a tea party? The second definition is mental flexibility. Who can best adjust his or her schedule when things don’t go as planned? Because things WON’T go as planned. A smart parent knows that deadlines are suggestions, that a List of Things To Do better be short, and that “Many hands make a big mess”. Part of the delight of having children is watching how they interact with the world. That almost always takes longer than you’ve got. If one parent likes things done right and on time, have fun at the office, Dear.People all have different strengths and weaknesses. It’s important for everyone’s happiness and health that the parent with the right strengths be the one who takes care of the kids. If not, bad things could happen when it becomes a place of stressful, runny, noisy chaos. With the right parent at home, those days can be lots of fun!

©2009, 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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