Lessons learned by a second generation stay-at-home Dad

December 8 |
Dad and Baby Max
Photo by Andrea Leoncavallo

I recently stumbled upon this piece, Second Generation Stay-At-Home Dad, about a man who is rocking the homestead — after growing up with his dad doing the same:

My dad retired from his career in the Air Force when I was two years old. His final assignment was at the airbase in Albuquerque, NM, a strange high-desert city that was different enough from anyplace he or my mom had ever known that they decided to stay. They were a pair who didn't neatly fit anywhere in 1970s America: a career military guy, fifty years old, out in the civilian world for the first time in nearly three decades, and an itinerant English nurse-midwife fifteen years his junior, happy to leave her homeland for new adventures.

Their arcs were similar even if the specifics were different. Both had managed to get beyond their limited early prospects — his in blue-collar Brooklyn, hers in a stifling middle-class Britain — and see the world. They found vocations that meant removing themselves from their families and building what relationships they could in nomadic lives. They married late, by any generation's measure. And that was all just fine with them. After they met in England and brought me about, deciding to put down roots thousands of miles from where they'd come from was one of the more domesticated moves neither had made for years.

There they were, new parents in a new city, weirdos out of time and place between my mom's foreignness and my dad's age. She went to work as a mental health nurse while he went to college, and they worked out my care however it made sense, making up their child-rearing as they went along. Since my mom was the one working — often overnight shifts that meant she slept during the day — my dad spent as much time with me as she did. My childhood was as likely spent running around behind the scenes at the mental hospital as hanging out with my dad, meeting freaky characters around the university or in the seedy Central Avenue diners that he loved.

Is your husband or partner a stay-at-home Dad? How do you think being a stay-at-home Dad differs from being a stay-at-home Mom — or do you think it does at all?