They say that times are changing. Of this I have no doubt. But change for the sake of change is not always a good thing. Should we throw out everything that is old simply because we are enticed by the word “new?” I don’t think so — it has to make sense.
I have been called an “outcast,” a “rebel,” “a non-conformist.” And I suppose those terms fit. Yet they always surprised me because I was simply trying to do the right thing. For me, that meant being a stay-at-home dad for 18 years and raising a little girl from the moment she was born until she left for college. It was the greatest thing I have ever done – or will ever do – in my entire life no matter what. If I were to have the number one best-seller in the nation, it would still not even come close.
And that is what I want to talk about today: being an outcast. Staying at home to raise a child was not easy when I did it. Men simply did not do that sort of thing by choice – and this was my choice. Society did not accommodate the stay-at-home dad, and when it finally started to, they gave it cutesy names like “oh look, he’s playing Mr. Mom,” as if this was simply a game or a whim and I was incompetent. Trust me: I was dead serious about what I did and put my total efforts into raising my child. Still, people thought of me as “odd.”
I would go to parties and be shunned by the men, who felt that I had no desire to talk about manly things such as sports or their “jobs.” To them, I didn’t have a job because I didn’t get paid. (But some secretly wished they had the courage to do what I did. I could tell.)
The women, for the most part, thought it was admirable that I was a “house-husband,” but they still did not want me in their circle of friends, simply because of my gender. Some did not think I had anything to offer in the way of cooking recipes or household tips or even friendship. They were so wrong – and I felt so alone and hurt.
Taking my daughter out, wasn’t as easy as it is today for fathers. They did not have changing tables in the men’s room or other conveniences. For the sake of modesty, I would usually have to use the back seat of my car for such purposes. Pushing a stroller around town always caused people to stare – which made me quite uncomfortable – but I was pushing precious cargo and she always came first in my heart. I learned to handle it.
People say I paved the way – I was influential. I don’t think so. I simply decided what was best for me and what worked for our family, and I am extremely grateful to my wife for agreeing with me in this area.
So, what then is the point of this posting? My point is to ask men to think about the decisions they make and about how you are valued. Think about what is important, especially when that comes to a family. Are you driven by the almighty dollar, or are there more important things in life? What does a child need more of from you: material things, money and possessions, or your time, attention and love?
This is the true measure of a man: to do what is right, to show his love, and to care for his family in ways that do not simply come out of his wallet. This is what we need right now. Our children are aching for male attention. Our families need it. Do not be afraid to be a real father – stay close to your family and show them your love. Be a man this way.