Over the past 2 years, I have had the privilege of being a stay at home dad. These five things are just a few of the things that I have learned.
1. I am NOT a babysitter! There are few words that irritate me as much as when someone calls me a baby sitter to my own children. A babysitter is someone who sits with kids while the responsible party (the parents) are away, usually there is some form of compensation. Let me just say you ARE NOT doing your wife a favor to be responsible for your own kids, rather you are doing yourself a favor and therefore do not deserve compensation in any form other than love.
2. There IS such a thing as “Fathers Intuition” We hear the term “A Mothers Intuition” all the time but never a Fathers intuition. Society tells us that there is something magical that happens for a mother to know her children, to understand their wants and needs. I admit this made me kind of lazy in regards to what it actually takes to be able to have the same intuition that some mothers seem to have. The fact of the matter is that this “intuition” has very little to do with gender, but it has everything to do with how we serve our family. It is no different from what Christ experienced, is there anyone more in tuned with his children. The more you serve
your children (or anyone for that matter) The more intuition you will have towards them. NO, going to work everyday to put food on the table is not equal to spending quality time or doing something like changing a diaper, helping with homework, or kissing an owie. YOU HAVE TO DO THE WORK!!
3. Being married to a STRONG woman makes a stronger man. If there is one thing we get to learn as men on this earth it is that However strong the world may tell us men that we are, women are STRONG too. It takes humility to see and then to incorporate the strengths that you wife has. It does a man no good to have the women in his life always concede to his wishes. When a someone is challenged it causes them to either change to something better or realize they are on the right path.
4. Children posses a larger capacity to teach me about things that really matter than I do to teach them. There is a reason Jesus Taught in Mathew
“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
I have seen that when you spend enough time with your children you start to get a glimpse of the truly awesome responsibility that God has entrusted parents with. But the most important responsibility we have as parents is not to depart our worldly knowledge upon our children BUT rather we are supposed to LEARN from them. If we allow it, we will learn things like forgiveness, humility, teachability, unconditional love, perseverance, trust, faith, and kindness. For too long I was too busy trying to teach them and mold them through my experiences until one day I realized they have what I want, therefore I should be learning from them and the result will be a better dad.
5. What you do is NOT who you ARE! The most common way we try to get to know someone is by asking “What do you do”. Well most of my adult life it was really easy to answer that question because I always had a title or something to call myself. I had no idea how big of a mental and emotion crutch this was for me until I didn’t have a title anymore.
When Brigitte and I made the choice for me to retire we talked about how great the freedom would be and how nice it was to not need the money that made us beholden to the MAN. But the first time I was asked “what do you do” I froze. I was taken back by how insecure I felt by that question. Somehow the Title of Stay At Home Dad didn’t seem to command the same respect as the other titles I had held in my life. I don’t think I ever paid attention to how much that question is asked, kind of like you don’t realize how much you shake hands until your hand is broken. I WAS BROKEN! and the fix was to dig deep to find out who I AM. Now when people ask the question “what do you do” I answer a totally different question of “Who are you”. Because that really is how they can get to know ME. Who you are is what defines what you do.
6. Service is a Divine calling. Service is the highest form of love. One thing I have come to know is that if you only spend time with people doing the things you love you only experience a fraction of the possible joy. The key is to spend time doing what other people love because you love them.
I was talking to a friend one time when he had a young child and he told me how he couldn’t wait until his kid was older and they could spend the time doing the things he loved with his kid. It is not “fun” for most adults to play “cars” or “dolls” or sing children songs, or tell the same story 50 times, but if you change your focus from what is FUN for you to how can I LOVE them your entire world will change. I have FUN playing FROZEN with my 4-year-old, I get to be Elsa most of the time. Because I love the person I am doing it with. And maybe just for a second you can let go of YOUR reality and step into theirs when you do you will see the world through different eyes
7. You get good at stuff you practice. It is so easy to use the stereotypes that everyone else uses to limit what you do, whether it’s because your too lazy to figure out another way or you just don’t see another way.
Men can cook, clean, take care of the kids, and most anything else a woman can do, you just need practice and patience. It is so easy to compare How a man might do something the first day to something a woman has done every day for years.
To sum this up I have learned a lot about myself in my time as a stay at home dad. It has taught me some very valuable lessons that I would not have been able to learn any other way. We are all important people ALL OF US!! No matter what role we are in or what title we have WE ALL MATTER!