A friend of mine recently posted an article by a stay-at-home dad who had an axe to grind with 9-5 fathers who he thinks aren’t up to snuff.  I had a reaction to his comments (and quite frankly, was surprised that CNN put such a poorly-worded and fallaciously-argued piece up on their website, even if it was only an opinion article).

I have some problems with the way this sanctimonious father wrote his article.  The distilled essence of his piece might ring true for many non-stay-at-home partners (though he only points his finger at men) which seems to be “help out more at home.”  However, I disagree with his portrayal of the behavior of any man who works a 9-5 job.  I’d like to reply in kind to his attempt and compare/contrast and assorted words of wisdom.

1.  Pearlman claims he “was sent here today on behalf of the stay-at-home mothers of the world.”  Really? My wife didn’t get that memo or a chance to vote on it.  Surely it’s a self-appointed duty, and he is apparently not speaking for stay-at-home dads (like himself).

2.  The “10 commandments of righteous fatherhood.”  Again, really? You’re likening yourself to Moses, or perhaps the deity that gave him those commandments?  Nice ego there Pearlman.  What if someone adheres to 9 of these—are they still a failure?

3. Women have been saying these things for years; what makes your pronouncements have more weight?  Because you have different private parts?  Do you think men will listen to you because you’re a man?  Do you think your target audience is even going to read this article?

Now let’s turn to your so-called “10 commandments.”

1.  No recreational activities? Or just golf? What if you give your wife the same amount of time? Does one have to give up their identity when they have a child (stay-at-home or otherwise)?

2.  How is waking up early for work “not remotely the same thing?”  I’d argue waking up early and having to leave your child might actually be more difficult.  Besides, early is early my friend.

3.  Sure, change their diapers. A little over-zealous with spelling out “pathetic” though (spelling “out loud” in text doesn’t translate too well).

4.  Play with dolls because you have a daughter? How about not necessarily engendering your daughter into societal stereotypes?  And it only matters if no one is watching? If someone is watching, should one not be “girly”?  Besides, I’ve worn my daughter’s barrettes and taught her to joust like a knight and she giggles at both.

5.  So you’re allowed to go golfing if you take your kid, or only if they like it? Make up your mind dude.  What if your kid likes your activity?  I know my daughter likes hitting balls around, so even if I did play that ridiculous game called “golf,” she would probably enjoy it, too.

6.  This one I agree with, and you weren’t even that much of a windbag in explaining it.

7.  Not bad either, though one can do this anytime (without encouraging truancy, e.g.).

8.  Condescend much? Oh wait, of course you do. If we’re going to stick to 1950’s stereotypical spousal roles, what about the other chores that the “Man” typically does?  (Yard work, car maintenance, etc. I’m not saying a woman or stay-at-home partner doesn’t do these, I’m just following your line of flawed reasoning).

9.  Yeah, if I wake up my daughter at midnight, she’ll scream for her mom (who is nursing and transitioning out of co-sleeping) and wake her up, depriving my wife of much needed rest.  Don’t push your particular (and peculiar) hobbies on us please.

10.  “They never see you?”  You imply that dads never even say “I love you” to their kids? Don’t engage in hyperbole.

Finally let’s address your general points about the differences between a 9-5 job and staying at home.  Sure, the latter misses out on adult conversations and some “alone time” like surfing the Internet—or apparently writing a blog (though you manage to do this while staying at home).  Let’s look at the flip side of your argument.  SAH parents don’t have office drama.  They don’t have to deal with “adults” who act up yet you can’t put them into “time out.”  In the early days of parenthood and those sleepless nights, the SAH parents can squeeze in a nap alongside their baby who is sleeping most of the day.  Those working a 9-5 don’t have that luxury—they’re expected to perform at their jobs regardless of the nightly situation.  Nor does everyone have the good fortune of being able to work from home (like you and your wife did).  Not only were you both lucky enough to be home (and could take a break from your “job” and tend to your kid when needed), but you weren’t unlucky enough to have to leave your kid 5 out of every 7 days of the week.  Believe it or not, some of us don’t actually enjoy being away from our families 40+ hours every week.  If you’re the sole wage earner in a 9-5 job, do you think maybe that comes with its own special form of pressure, especially in these uncertain economic times?  There are two sides to every story.

Are there some crappy dads out there? Sure.  I’ve seen some crappy stay-at-home parents, too.  Can nearly everyone improve in how they raise their kids? Absolutely.  Does generalizing to most/all “9-5 dads” from a single case help the situation? Not really.

So as a father who has a 9-5 job, supports his stay-at-home wife in every way he can, still feels guilty if he takes some “alone” time to recharge his batteries, I only have one thing left to say to you Mr. Pearlman: step off.


NB: I realize I use a tone that I criticized the author for using, but the guy pissed me off!  And to reiterate, I can see his point and recognize that his points might ring true for some (maybe even many) couples out there.  The 9-5 dads I know love their kids and do work hard to support their families, despite their foibles and flaws.  It also seems to me that if their lack of involvement is a problem, then it should be the stay-at-home partner having the discussion with them, not some random blogger on a soapbox.

Happy Father’s Day!