I sometimes come across articles bemoaning the challenges of being a stay-at-home dad. You know, how it makes a man feel less of a man, and how it's true - guys really can't parent the way women can.
Pshaw! I used to think. I'm just as much of a man as the next guy, and a good parent to boot.
But over my past four years as a stay-at-home dad (time that I'll miss, now that my son has started school), I did sometimes have moments of insecurity. I'm no stoic cowboy herding cattle, my face glistening with sweat and darkened with stubble. Nor am I a toss-me-a-beer and let's play a game of football kind of dude, my pecs popping beneath my tank-top, my face darkened with stubble. I am also not a handy-man around the house, hands calloused, untucked shirt smeared with grease, face darkened with stubble. No - I enjoy playing with my son, and hanging about the house doing chores, and I'm almost always clean shaven.
Then I read in Esquire magazine that actually, scientists have found that women consider men with stubble more manly than clean-shaven guys, and I began to wonder. Maybe I've been wrong this whole time. Maybe if you put some of the myths about being a stay-at-home dad under the microscope, they turn out to be true. Perhaps I've been deluded, telling myself I'm man enough and parent enough to stay-at-home while my wife works full-time, when in fact, science says no, I'm not. Stop pretending, Gresko! Get a job and lay off the shaving once in a while, eh?
It only took a little digging to uncover the sad truth behind stay-at-home dads, which I sadly present to you here. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go look for a full-time job…
Dads Have Small Testicles
I used to say it takes a lot of cojones to be a stay-at-home dad. The thing is? It doesn't.
Time Magazine reports that the smaller a man's testicles, the more likely he is to stick around and parent his offspring. Men with smaller testicles produce less semen and have smaller amounts of testosterone in their system. Perhaps because of this - and I'm just spit-balling here - they invest more time and energy in the kids that they make. Makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, right?
Guys with bigger jewels have larger, uh, loads, and are more likely to have a lot of testosterone, which makes them less likely to want to help raise their children. (Their many, many children.) So while stay-at-home dads obviously don't need to grow a pair, they're not working with the biggest equipment out there
Related: 9 surprising stats about the sex lives of parents
Dads Have Less Sex
No way, my wife and I have a healthy sex life! In fact, the last time we made love... wait a second... when was the last time we made love?
It's true, married dads have less sex than unmarried childless men. Especially in those first few weeks or months after the birth of a child, but even beyond that. Sometimes I'll get inspired and try to combat sexual fatigue, but nothing works over the long haul, neither scheduling date nights or doing random acts of romance, and especially not posting a sign in the bathroom that says "It has been ___ days since we last had intercourse." The truth is, being a parent is exhausting and that takes a toll on your love life.
Dads Are Sensitive Guys, Not Afraid to Cry
Does seeing a dad with his child bring a tear to your eye? It might bring one to his eye too.
Dads have been known to cry when their kids go off to school. Dads have been known to cry when they're not invited to join mommy groups. Dads even cry when they see advertisements that make them look like idiots. And dads especially cry at three in the morning, when their baby refuses to go back to sleep, and they've been rocking and singing to them for about an hour already - or at least, this dad did. The fact is, it's true. Dads are in touch with their emotions and are not afraid to cry.
Dads Do the Cooking…
"So you must do a lot of housework, right?" I used to get this all the time as a stay-at-home dad. And the truth was - and is - yes, I do. But don't take my word for it! Guys all over the internet have been posting about their work in the kitchen, turning out mouth-watering delicious recipes, and grilling every food known to humankind. The kitchen has become the new garage, the place guys like to go and get their hands dirty tinkering.
But Cleaning? Not So Much
And yet guys still don't like doing dishes. Well, who does?
An article in The Wall Street Journal reports that guys aren't trying to be the perfect 1950's style housewives, so while they might cook up a slab of meat for dinner, they're less likely to dust and clean and more likely to take the kids on wild adventures (maybe even to bars!). Oh, those dads. So irresponsible.
Dads Don't Stress As Much As Moms
You know how dads are - maxing and relaxing with the kids, not cleaning the house, feet up, beer popped, television on, texting with friends, making lewd comments on Facebook. What, dads worry? About what? This is the good life.
No, I used to say. Not me. I worry about my son's development, the household budget, and what we have in the pantry as much as the next guy. The thing is, the Good Men Project tells us, a study from the American Sociological Association finds that guys in general stress less about the family than women do. Five hours less, on average. Five hours that they spend watching dirty movies online doing responsible things around the house, I'm sure.
Seriously! That same article reports that a study from Harris Interactive found more dads (55%) pack their kids' lunches than moms (43%), and yet 55% of moms fret about even the idea of planning to pack a lunch. That means - Ah, forget it. I'm going to get a beer.
Women Find Dads Sexy
Yeah, but we knew that all along, didn't we? What's sexier than a dad chasing his child on the playground, running in and swooping his little one up in his arms? A man's children are basically advertisements for his genes. Add on top of that a nurturing, warm, sensitive personality, and how can a guy go wrong? But it's nice to see it confirmed by science, which, according to CNN, finds that yes, women consider good parenting an attractive quality in a potential long-term partner.
Unless, that is, you're married or in a committed relationship. And then all that affectionate goodwill from the ladies doesn't really matter, does it?! So guys, the sad truth is, fatherhood does come with some downsides. Though all it takes is one warm smile from your little one to make those negatives disappear.
-By Brian Gresko
For 7 things you should NEVER say to a stay-at-home dad, visit Babble!
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