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If we string Webster Dictionary's definitions of "active," "duty," and "dad" together we get "active dad dutifully taking care of his child(ren).
All too often I find myself watching dads who are disengaged with their children. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that there may be extenuating circumstances that I cannot see. The Dad may be tired, just come off a long shift of work, not feeling good, or just plain needs a break. I can understand that and I've been there too. By the same token we still need to be active in the rearing of our kids. Taking the time to be the example of how to interact with the world. We need to put the cell phones down, stop checking Facebook or emails. I'll also take into account the physical limitations placed on folks too. We may not be as flexible in movement as we once were, but we can still try.
For guys, staying at home with the kids can be unchartered territory. I think every stay at home dad approaches his role differently, and he conducts a lot of discovery learning to figure out what works best for him and his family. For this reason, I comprised a list of key points to advise fathers who are stepping into the role of "Mr. Mom." Although every family is different, I have to imagine seasoned stay at home dads will find my list relevant and in the ballpark of what to expect. If someone had given me a list like this nine years ago, it would have been helpful. Feel free to share your experiences and add some points that I didn't include to this discussion:
The YMCA Adventure Guides Father-Daughter Sweetheart Ball was not on my radar until a good friend of mine told me how he takes his daughters each year. I thought, "Cool! You and your girls are really excited about this thing, huh?" When my wife started getting emails about the event, there was no controlling her excitement. She was even talking about renting a car for the night!
In case you didn't know (like me), a daddy-daughter dance allows dad an opportunity to set an example and standard for how his daughter should be treated on a date. It is also an opportunity for dad to build that special bond with his daughter and make special memories.
Okay, based on the description above, I tossed the whole daddy-daughter dance thing out the window because my daughter and dating don't even go together in a sentence. And I can build that special bond with my daughter at the creek - FISHING!
But I thought about the whole thing (I do a lot of thinking) and with my "try-almost-anything-once" attitude, I went all in.
That's right! I went to my first daddy-daughter dance AND I LOVED IT!
According to whatever stats you want to view at any particular time, we as male military spouses are still small in number, relative to the total number of military spouses. You don't have to look far to know that the challenges we face are great. Facing the challanges alone is no fun. That's why we need your help, whether you're just starting out, or you're a 15-year-plus male military spouse veteran.
A few months back, I was looking for a ways to help male spouses and I stumbled upon a Macho Spouse video. I called Chris Pape and asked him how I could help. Using what I know as a web developer and IT consultant, I immediately began working with Chris to develop this website as an online community for male military spouses.
The Macho Spouse website is an online resource, providing valuable information to military spouses, stay-at-home-dads, advocacy groups, corporate organizations and others. MachoSpouse.com is also an online community - allowing spouses to connect and share experiences. Almost daily, we are adding features to the website to allow those of you who sign up as members different ways to contribute to helping another male military spouse.
Now that I'm a SAHD (Stay-At-Home-Dad), I'm taking the time to reflect on my journey by doing a little writing. As a male military spouse of a female active duty US Air Force officer, my approach to this "SAHD Life" is with the same basic question I have for making it through just about all of my experiences - "How do I do this?" I hope my attempts to share my answers to this question help at least one person out there.
Here's a post from my blog about The Power of Being Present in a child's life. This power is shared by moms and dads and it has been very helpful for me to remember this fact, especially when I can't see my efforts as a male military spouse and SAHD amounting to much.
(I like that Newsweek cover and the idea that it is time to rethink what it means to be masculine. However, I don't agree with all points in the original article. At Macho Spouse, here is part of our effort to help people rethink masculinity.)
Judging from a lot of online discussions that I have read, it appears that there is still a novelty effect when it comes to dads staying home and being the primary caregiver for the kid(s) and taking care of the house. At the same time, I am seeing more Stay-At-Home-Dads (like myself) becoming more of a presence online.
I get these "google alerts" every day, which are basically just articles and posts from around the web related to certain keywords I want to monitor. "SAHD" and "Stay-At-Home-Dad" are keywords I monitor and I have been getting a great deal of posts.
Much of the stuff that I'm seeing regarding SAHD is still in the "novelty" range, or the "Awww, that's cute" range. I also check out websites that give the spouse's perspective - you know, the women who live with these dudes. These sites are way more interesting to me than the talk about the latest television show depicting SAHDs.
Anyway, I haven't seen much about the health of SAHDs. In all of my monitors and in all of the web surfing I've done on the topic of SAHDs, I have not come across any health-related posts. I found that very interesting.
This is the first video in a two-part series featuring Air Force spouse William McEvoy. William and his wife have been married for over three years, but have been a serious couple for about nine. Get to know William and learn what created his depression as he speaks openly about a difficult career arc and a strong desire to be a contributing partner within his marriage. Male military spouses and stay-at-home-dads of all ages and experiences may relate to William's story.
Introduction to Marine to SAHD Blog, laying out where I have been what experiences I have.
My name is Andrew “Fergie” Ferguson; I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2007 and did four years of active duty in Hawaii. In those four years I deployed twice, once to Iraq and Afghanistan. I was injured during those four years on multiple occasions and still am injured and receiving help from the Veterans Affairs.
We know that many our visitors here at Macho Spouse are dads - some working and some stay-at-home-dads - who are looking for answers to the question "How do I do this?" We are constantly looking for resources to help all male military spouses and we are happy to share a great online resource for dads.
Help is available for male military spouse dads at the National At-Home Dad Network. All dads can learn from this online resource that provides support, education and advocacy for fathers who are the primary caregivers of their children.
Tim Blake is an Army male military spouse with over 14 years experience as a stay-at-home-dad who has successfully guided his family through multiple deployments. Tim also writes for Military Spouse and his own blog, Army Dad (armyspouseami.blogspot.com). In this video, Tim shares some of what he has learned over the years about surviving a deployment.
As I stated in my introduction, I couldn't have been more wrong in my life about being bored. With twins everything is times two, sounds simple right? Not exactly. I STRONGLY suggest to anyone who has twins to create a simple set of rules and follow them. For example, here are the rules I created for me and my girls:
Rule #1: Do NOT try to feed them at the same time or you will stress out your rotator cuff. I did.
Where has the time gone? It seems like yesterday I became a stay-at-home-dad (SAHD) and was asking for help and opinions on everything. I have to say “thank you” to everyone who helped me with this big transition. And speaking of transitions, this one is complete...I am now a SAHD and proud of it! I can now rock a puke-stained jacket, diaper bags, and car seats with pink bows on them with no problem. My days of being a Marine are in the past, I will always love the Corps, but now I have a greater love...my girls.
Never really thought about that word “dad” until I became one; however, I focus more on it now than ever before. I find that the word “dad” means more to me today because my own father wasn't there for me when I was growing up, and he's still not around, not even for his own granddaughter. Yes, the word “dad” means more to me now than ever. My ability to be a good father comes from more than one source, and the fact that I choose not to be like my old man is a great motivator. My dad left by way of divorce when I was just seven. There was no custody battle and he was given every opportunity to see his children. Yet he still chose not to be around.
By John Aldrich, AVP, Military Relations at American Military University
Movember, the grass roots movement to raise awareness about men's health issues is nearly complete, and for those of you who are growing a mustache to show support for the cause, I salute you. For those who didn't participate or weren't aware of Movember, there is always next November.
Just like the mustaches of the Men of Movember, male military spouses come in all shapes and sizes. Some are stay-at-home dads, some run businesses from home, and others balance careers outside the home and taking care of the family.
I recently came across an article that really made me stop and think "Could this really happen?" then it became "Oh Wait... They are talking about a Family like mine."
The Article I am talking about is a post from MrDad.com answering a a Veterns question "My husband and I both have disabilities. He is blind and I suffer from a traumatic brain injury I received serving in Iraq. I'm pregnant and we're due in about a month. We were both so excited, but a friend told us that there's a chance we could lose custody of the baby because we both have disabilities. Now, instead of looking forward to becoming parents, we're both in a panic. Is that true? If so, what can we do?"
Our recent interview with Everett Lopez revealed some of the difficulties associated with being a man in the predominately female community of military spouses.
The network has greenlighted a new nonfiction series called “Modern Dads” for eight half-hour episodes.
From the press release: “Down in Austin, Texas there's a group of guys who are unapologetically loud and riotously funny. They're like a fraternity, but this time around, all-nighters, babes in your bed, empty bottles and projectile vomit carry a whole new meaning. They're on 24/7 dad-duty…their dreams used to be fast women and fast cars, but now they only fantasize about using the bathroom without an audience. Their wives may bring home the bacon, but these dads have no trouble fryin' it up in the pan.”
It revolves around four stay-at-home dads in Austin, Texas and follows their adventures balancing their requirements at home and society's definitions of “modern men” and “modern dads.” Production is expected to begin immediately.
The federal government's consumer watchdog has changed a regulation to make it easier for stay-at-home parents and others who don't work to be approved for new credit cards.
Monday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalized a regulation change to allow card companies to consider financial support from other people when evaluating a consumer's credit-card application. It changes a 2011 regulation under which banks were allowed to consider only the applicant's income.
The 2011 regulation and its more accommodating new version both grew out of the Credit CARD Act of 2009. Its underlying purpose was to clamp down on students getting cards and racking up debt they couldn't repay, and it required individuals applying for credit to demonstrate an ability to repay what they borrowed.
As originally written, though, the regulation had a side-effect impacting more than students: Its "ability to repay" language meant that anyone who relied on someone else's income -- including stay-at-home parents or spouses who are divorced and don't work -- suddenly had a harder time being approved for credit cards and building credit histories in their own names.
"Stay-at-home spouses or partners who have access to resources that allow them to make payments on a credit card can now get their own cards," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in announcing the rule change. The agency proposed the change in October 2012, calling it a common-sense move.
Instead of just an individual's income, issuers can now consider broader measures, such as "available income" or "accessible income." Previously an issuer could not consider household income -- which used to be widely used on credit-card applications -- without confirming how much money the applicant has access to in order to pay bills. The changes apply to people 21 and older.
Do Stay-at-home Dads (SAHDs) need a title? Anne-Marie Slaughter, over at The Atlantic, argues that dads who are the family's primary caretakers need a word to describe them that makes "male caregiving attractive to men" and makes it "cool."
From The Atlantic:
We need a new vocabulary to describe men who choose to be at home as caregivers all or part of the time. In my last post I linked to Abigail Rine's description of her "feminist housedude," a term that is catchy but unlikely to spread beyond the hipper spots on the West coast. Mr. Mom is obviously out, as is househusband. Stay-at-home dad is neutral but not exactly enticing.
One alternative is the phrase that a number of men are using, calling themselves "work-at-home" dads. Most of them mean that they are working on income-generating projects out of the home while also taking care of kids, but we use work-at-home mothers and work-at-home fathers for any parents who are not actually going into an office, whether they are working for pay or not? Or we could try to ignore gender altogether and call men or women spending time at home caring for children, aging parents, or any other family member needed care full-time or part-time caregivers, while calling anyone who works for pay, whether from home or an office, a full-time or part-time breadwinner.