Dads Who Stay Home: Let’s Discuss

I’ve shared on this blog how I’m often embarrassed by the label I carry as a stay-at-home mom. Yes, I’ve complained about it…and worried about how I’m failing the cause of women in the workplace by my family’s conscious decision that I should stay home (work I feel happy and satisfied in) while Chris spends his day at a typical business job. I know we’re traditional. But we’re also realists.

Attention, Hohorst family: Which of the two of you can actually communicate with strangers on the telephone without breaking out in the heebiejeebies over whether or not said stranger likes you? Which of you can recruit and train sales people? Which of you has had a lifelong gift of making up songs to go with every significant moment of the day?

Perhaps the non-heebiejeebied parent should work while the “let’s sing songs about putting socks on the dinosaur” parent whose income could never have covered the cost of day care (at least in San Francisco), should stay home. We have made our decision because we used our brains. Though our lives as Stay-at-Home Mom and Business Suit Dad may look traditional, I hope we’re living out something more complex and beautiful underneath that image.

In his Easter basket, August got a set of wooden vegetables and fruits that can be cut in half with a wooden “knife” on a wooden “cutting board.” He’s been working all week cutting those veggies and sticking them back together. He dumps them in his pretend cooking pot, stirs them around and says, “Dada.”

It’s interesting to me that August thinks of Chris as being the cook. He actually sees me cooking a lot more than he sees Chris cooking. I have the time. I usually plan the meals on the weekdays. But what he sees when I cook is a harried woman stressfully following a recipe. Cooking can be nice for me, but it’s far from my passion. August’s father, on the other hand, is giddy when he cooks. Chris talks about pork the way Sarah Jessica talked about Big. My husband is passionate about food. And August gets that. If he’s going to cook like someone, he wants to cook like his dad.

Whether we fit into traditional or progressive roles: if Chris vacuums and I take out the trash, if I dress August in the morning or Chris makes his breakfast, our hope is that August will see us living joyful and fulfilled lives. If I were miserable at home, we would reconsider. If Chris felt depressed with his days in the office and longed to be home, we would reconsider. If I had gone into our pregnancy fully content with my work life (including its salary) and at peace with the time apart from August each day, I would work. If it were financially or physically necessary, we would reconsider.

I’m not a stay-at-home mom because only women can be nurturing or because I feel sorry for kids whose mothers work or because only men should provide for their families. I’m a stay-at-home mom because I am the better nurturer in our family. I love being home all day. (I’m a creative brain and structure is debilitating to me.) I’m a stay-at-home mom because my husband is gifted in ways that actually make money.

Yesterday I came across a blog response to a short video featuring Mars Hill pastor, Mark Driscoll, and his wife discussing their stance on Stay-at-Home Dads. The video is a couple of years old and it received plenty of reaction when it was first released on the web. But yesterday Nicole Wick brought it back into the realm of discussion on her blog. She is a working Christian mother whose husband stays home. There are plenty of interesting points of discussion here, including her response to the biblical claims Mark Driscoll is making, in particular his definition that a man should “provide for his family” in a strictly financial sense based on his reading of 1 Timothy 5:8.

I will simply let you read what Nicole Wick has to say and let my responses show up in the discussion I hope we’ll have today. I will say that I have great respect for any man who chooses to stay home with his children. Driscoll is far from considering that the many men who feel called for a season to care for and nurture their kids in a full time capacity face a culturally humiliating task. It cannot be easy to be a man who stays home in a society whose highest value is financial success. I am impressed by stay-at-home dads and I’m thankful we all have a choice.

I would love to hear your thoughts, especially you biblical scholars (I use the term loosely) out there who’d like to comment on 1 Timothy 5:8. I’d also love to hear from moms who’ve chosen to work or men who’ve chosen to stay home (I know you’re out there, David! Anyone else?).

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