Monday, September 12, 2005

When Dad Stays With Baby

While there are still very few men who opt to stay home with their children, the ranks of stay at home dads are growing. There are thousands of men in the United States who keep their children during the day. If you decide that this plan will work best for you, then you may need a little help with the transitional period.

First, be sure that you are confident with the decision. There are men who agree to the situation because their wives make more money, but Dad is not so happy with the decision. Your children will see, and ultimately suffer from, your lack of self-confidence.

Explain your job to others without animosity or defensiveness. Instead of getting hostile when your in-laws bring up that you "don't work" yet again, tell others that when you and your wife considered your situation, it was best for you to stay home.

Be sure to talk about what you get out of staying home. Let others know that you actually are busy full-time and that you work hard with your children. Talk about trips you take them on, projects you have done, and what they are learning. Do not be afraid to let others know that you are helping to raise the next generation everyday.

Talk to your wife about any issues you have. Your best bet for staying sane is to tell your wife when you are having a big day. Many men are conditioned to believe that they should be the breadwinners, and they feel that being at home with the children is not work. It is work, and you should let your wife know when you have had a stressful day.

Some days you may need to leave to let off steam for half an hour when she gets home. Do not be afraid to speak up if that is the case. Remember that your first job is to be the best caretaker you can be for your little ones, and if you are too stressed, then you will not succeed.

Find something besides baby to keep you company. While you love your new baby, you may find that you need something else to clear your mind, especially if you were career-oriented before the baby was born. You can still golf with your buddies on Saturday if you want. Find another hobby if you want to. Have something to do that is for you only so that you can pamper yourself.

Take classes in parenting. If you are unsure about how to handle your new duties, you may want to take an afternoon course. If not, don't worry. It will come to you in time. You should, however, seriously look into a baby first aid course. You will learn basic first aid, including how to help a choking baby, what injuries should worry you, and how to perform CPR. This class can help any parent, but especially one who is staying at home with baby, to feel more confident in case of an emergency situation.

Take time to share your feelings. Being a stay at home dad is still a new prospect. Find others in your area or online and connect with them.

By Julia Mercer

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