Guest post: What life’s really like for a stay-at-home dad


I have never let anyone guest post anonymously on this blog before, but today is an exception, and you’ll see why if you keep reading.

Every time I write about stay-at-home dads, tons of them write to me. They always want me to tell their story. The only emails I get that say “contact me if you want to interview me about my life” are from stay-at-home dads.

Not much ever comes of this, but there’s one exception: a guy I’ve been corresponding with for the last year about what life’s like as a stay-at-home dad. Today’s guest post is actually a bunch of his emails that I’ve edited, with his permission. I like this guy because he is more honest with me about his life than any other stay-at-home dad I know.


When a person asks “What kind of marriage works today?” they learn that there are so many more options available than there were even 25 years ago. My mother and grandmother never would have been able to ask that question because there was only one type of marriage in the past. My wife and I have pretty much taken the old template and switched genders.

But it’s hard on me having a similar education and background to my wife and yet having her be the big success in her field while I’m not in it at all. There are many times when my wife accomplishes something and I say to myself that I never could have done that. And as my wife spends less time with our family and more time with work people, my focus and my social circle is different from hers.

So let me give you two of the positives about being in my position as a stay-at-home husband.

First, it is so great that my wife has a kick-ass job, makes good money, and provides so well for our family. She rocks. And it’s great for the kids.

Second, she’s really good at letting me do what I do. Not a lot of second guessing or interference. She’s never ever complained about anything I’ve spent or what I do. Not that I’m irresponsible or frivolous, but it’s just nice knowing that I can pretty much do what I want to do. I wouldn’t be staying home at all if not for her income.

Yes, there is a power imbalance, but I’ve gotten used to it. If I thought about it a lot, it would probably drive me crazy. But that imbalance comes with some of the perks that I embrace. Being able to commit and make this huge leap of faith is something that I’m very proud of myself for doing. And I know that my wife very much appreciates it. It’s certainly made me more vulnerable, but it’s added strength to our relationship.

But I’ve also been amazed as to how many propositions I’ve received since becoming a househusband. I have a pretty good sense of myself, so take my word that I’m not Brad Pitt but I’m not The Elephant Man either. But until I started staying home, I was never the object of this kind of attention.

Especially one winter, tagging along with her at a business conference.

On the first day I met a woman who really had her act together, single, about 50, and from Boston. A real flirt too. I flirted back. Same thing the next day. Each time we talked, she would talk about the seminars and other BS she’d attended (which my wife never does), and basically roll her eyes while giving the company-line on all the “interesting” things that she had learned. It was pretty funny.

On the second to last night, she said that, finally, tomorrow afternoon, she was actually looking forward to a meeting. I asked her what it was about. I’ll never forget what she said: “The two of us. I’m leaving the morning meeting early. Come to my room and we can have lunch and the afternoon together.”

The next morning, slinking around and probably acting like a burglar, I knocked, went in, and we spent three really great hours together. And that was it. At the last cocktail party, we bantered again.We’ve emailed a few times since them, but never gotten together.

At times I can’t believe the course my life has taken and I doubt that my wife has a huge amount of respect for me. Maybe it’s because I’m a chauvinist and always had a condescending view of women who stayed home, who live very pampered lives. Well, now I’m one of them. But I have to say that I’m really no different than a lot of women who are married to power husbands and play a supporting role. I just do what they do, with a masculine twist.


ADDENDUM: YIKES!!! The comments below (there are now about 40) ask the same question over and over again: What is the point of this post? So here are some questions that I think the post brings up:

Is being a stay-at-home dad any different than the life that Betty Friedan and Sylvia Plath worked so hard to get away from?

Is the world really ready for stay-at-home dads? Will the world ever be ready? We have done a more successful job, I think, integrating women into the work world than men into the domestic world. Are women crossing these boundaries more validated than the men who cross the boundaries?

Why is the world not talking about the downside of being a stay-at-home dad? Moms complain about this lifestyle all the time –when they are doing it — but men don’t.

Do women respect their stay-at-home husbands? I wonder if women might have to work very very hard to respect their husbands who stay at home. Perhaps gratitude comes easily, but respect takes a huge effort and a lot of mental tricks.

Why do women hit on stay-at-home dads?

178 replies
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  1. Deadhedge
    Deadhedge says:

    My wife and I have talked about why men with children are appealing and it applies to this article. The fact that the guy is surprised that he has received more propositions since becoming a Stay at Home Dad really shows a lack of insight. I don’t know if this has been discussed in the 153 comments (did a scan and didn’t see it). Here are the reasons:
    1. Married men and men with kids are more appealing because they have already been pre-approved. Some one obviously liked them and wanted to procreate with them.
    2. Stat at home dads are appealing because someone obviously likes them enough to support them. I’m sure his admirers want to know what’s so great about him that has resulted in him not being the principal earner.
    3. He likes kids, another point.
    4. He’s “safe” or at least in theory safe since he’s married with kids and dependent on his wife for income. In theory, he should be the least likely to cheat.

    Just like someone with a job is a more appealing job candidate than someone without a job, that’s why this guy has found himself appealing.

  2. gchen
    gchen says:

    I guess I agree with the many above … What???

    Did he sleep with this woman? If so, does his wife know. And where were the kids? What kind of stay at home dad has all this time to cheat?

  3. Kate Hutchinson
    Kate Hutchinson says:

    A very strange post, and it doesn’t make me respect the man very much. My father-in-law is a stay at home Dad, although both his children are grown now, but I respect him more than I can say. He spent years making sure his kids had a good lunch at school, got to hockey practice, learned how to use the library and knew right from wrong.

    And he never had an affair.

  4. Rob
    Rob says:

    Poor job imitating an “anonymous” SAHD. Your narcissism has truly got the best of you. No need to draw comments about what jerk the guy is — most of your readers get it. You’ve manufactured this so you can validate your view of your husband. I think you need a break, not validation and approval from people who fawn over everything you say. It’s truly meaningless.

  5. Jules
    Jules says:

    The commenter Nino (see April 30) is PT’s husband, who says he is *not* the SAHD guest poster. So we can end *that* nasty speculation.

  6. Always Home and Uncool
    Always Home and Uncool says:

    As a work-at-home dad, I find Penelope’s guest post to be an offending load. This was the best example of a SAHD you could find, huh? You sound like a desperate careerist to me.

    Maybe men don’t complain about staying at home because many of them did it by choice, not because that’s what society dictated or expected them to do. Maybe we are more adaptable, caring, talented and understanding than you give us credit for? Maybe we don’t feel the need to feed our ego by “playing with the big boys” as much as you.

    Get a better set of male friends. The ones you have are not good role models for kids or adults.

  7. Lawrence Salberg
    Lawrence Salberg says:

    Anonymous? Well, of course. He’s a lazy wuss who let’s his wife bring home the bacon while he cheats on her. And he justifies it by saying “it’s great for the kids”.

    I almost half-thought, at first, that you made this up just to try and challenge stereotypes or something.

    But when I read it through, I realized that NO woman could have made this up. This is the dead-pan thinking of a total dolt of a guy. Why the heck has he been emailing you for a year? Aaaaah… yes…. he’s a insecure knob that can’t be a leader in his home. Worse, he can’t be a leader in a career.

    Why don’t you find a “WORK at Home Dad”, not a “STAY at Home Dad”. Yeah, he stays at home playing (probably video games, too) while his wife works.

    He’s right about one thing: He switched genders. He’s given up everything it means to be a man. Notice I didn’t say “male”, but man. He still plays with his maleness, but he has no manliness. He’s not a leader, he’s not an example, he’s not a source of strength, or moral support.

    Of course, the joke is on him. Quite likely, his wife has been carrying on behind him for some time (why else does she just *love* going to work?). And his kids can’t possibly respect him. If they do, they one day won’t.

    Post should have been called, “What’s life really like for a Stay At Home Loser”. You captured it perfectly. If you had any chutzpah, you’d out him.

  8. Mrs. Common Cents
    Mrs. Common Cents says:

    I don’t see how this is a typical example of a stay at home dad.

    Usually, I love your blog – your writing is dead on and you offer unbiased advice. Every once in a while the posts are crude and lacking in autonomy. This is one of those times.

    This Stay at Home Dad is truly a piece of work. What a disgusting example of an otherwise promising endeavor.

  9. Mike Paahana
    Mike Paahana says:

    i watch my kids, i do laundry, i cook but i gotta work 2 b/coz my gf thnk she work so much but i still gotta pay all the bills

  10. SingleDaddy
    SingleDaddy says:

    If it looks and smells like shit… Its gonna be shit, and this is complete shit. From the start your story is flawed as you took over a years worth of emails and edited them into a short story that fit your agenda.

    I’m a Single Dad, of a 7 year old, whose struggling to make the bills on a regular basis, if you want to interview a dad instead of curving a story to fit your agenda…. Then interview one.

    You want to get into issues with the shattering of the classic gender roles in the world of parenting. Why don’t you take on your own fellow women and share with us, why in recent years the number of deadbeat moms has exploded nation wide. More and more women leaving their kids lives everyday, creating more and more Single Father House holds every day..

  11. Bron
    Bron says:

    It is not that they don’t care about the family but they feel that their partner does not give them the care that they deserve or need. It is not something to be proud of for sure, but it is human nature to be flattered by attention, particularly if one feels they are not getting it at home.
    I can understand receiving attention and even the flirting. Being able to cheat with someone is just as fulfilling as doing it as far as an ego boost. The minute he knocked on that door, he cheated. Career, Business-person being synonymous with cheater is a destructive theme being visited too often lately.

  12. Tennis Store
    Tennis Store says:

    I’m in an odd position here. I’m a work at home dad and my wife is a stay at home mom. I enjoy the perks of spending more time with my family than most people dream of. I definitely have my “work hours” but my lunch break is one that most people dream of. I think most women expect their men to contribute in some form or fashion beyond taking care of the kids. Women want to proud of their men for what they do beyond the house, even if it’s just winning in some local tennis tournament.


  13. Robert Dawson
    Robert Dawson says:

    Good Lord! I was a SAHD to an ADHD/BiPolar woman for 10 years here in Canada for over 10 years. The reason: to fill the negligence she had towards the kids. The result: divorce. I have nothing now, she has the kids & they are gong down the toilet fast. I stumbled on this blog & read two major threads.

    Think about this… If you put your focus (you commented on your lack of focus several times) towards your SAHD & kids, where it should be… would you have ant time to blog at all?

    Stupid Stupid People, The outcome IS predictable.

  14. TheMiddleMe
    TheMiddleMe says:

    It’s just mighty creepy how he doesn’t ever mention his children. Without them, he wouldn’t be a househusband but they don’t even get a tiny little mention. He’s too busy trying to bolster his ego with telling himself how sexually desirable he is. Housewives don’t go around doing that. He sounds like he’s delusional. My husband is a house husband and trust me he has so much to do, he doesn’t have time to flirt with desperate women. The Housewife/husband job is a difficult and time consuming one, leaving you with precious little time to think, much less do for yourself. This “superdad” blogging above just doesn’t get it.

  15. TheMiddleMe
    TheMiddleMe says:

    Ah, I’ve figured it out. Men who are stay at home fathers are so embarrassed and ashamed of themselves for failing in the workforce that they have to save face and tell the world, “I do it for the freedom, for the hot chicks who all think it’s sexy!” Meanwhile he’s too busy doing laundry, changing diapers, helping with homework, reading recipe books and washing crayon off the walls to look at a female crosseyed.

  16. Sicilian_kid7
    Sicilian_kid7 says:

    This is the dumbest stay at home dad story. Alls he says is the obvious. Why don’t you talk about the chores or greif from parents who don’t accept stay at home dads. The author should have put together a better story. Im a stay at home dad who does more chores in one day than most woman could do in 3. Im a plumber who also is doing remodeling around the house let’s see a mommy replace a roof. Also im pretty sure this guy is having an affair

  17. Daddys in Charge?
    Daddys in Charge? says:

    I had never heard of you before this post. If as they say you are a reflection of your guest writers then you as as much of a pig as he is.

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