If you never thought you’d be a stay-at-home dad, then you probably didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about all the little worries you are faced with and how to deal with them. The stay-at-home dad is a recent and growing phenomenon, but it still doesn’t figure in the future most kids envision for themselves.
The stay-at-home mom generally has a group of like-minded friends with whom to discuss problems and find resolutions. Friends with older children offer advice to the stay-at-home mom about ages and stages, but a stay-at-home dad may not have this network to rely on. The stay-at-home dad often has to figure it out all on his own.
The first rule of parenting for the stay-at-home dad is to not blow things out of proportion. The stay-at-home dad has to allow kids to make mistakes, and while teaching them boundaries, realize that not everything is worthy of a tirade. A stay-at-home mom knows from talking to friends that dropping a dozen eggs, one by one, onto the kitchen floor is a normal childhood experience. Sure, it’s a waste of $1.60 and now you don’t have any eggs until your next shopping trip, but it’s not the same as your child’s whacking his sister on the head with a bat. Keep it in perspective.
Speaking of hitting, another thing for the stay-at-home dad not to sweat is sibling rivalry. Not everyone gets along all the time, and it’s normal for kids to take their emotional mood swings out on their brothers and sisters. The stay-at-home dad should intervene long before there is any physical or emotional abuse and teach his children constructive ways to express their negative emotions, but dads should not insist that children get along perfectly all the time.
The stay-at-home dad can save his sanity by not worrying if child number 2 is like child number 1 or that either of them are keeping up with the neighbors. Children mature at different rates, and unless there is a serious delay that could indicate a medical problem, the stay-at-home dad should allow room for individuality.
Finally, the stay-at-home dad should not worry about being the perfect dad. You do the best you can, , learn from your mistakes, and do better the next time. Dads should worry if they have trouble controlling negative emotions but not worry just because they have negative emotions. A child can learn a lot by seeing his dad make a mistake and then apologize for it.
There are as many things not to worry about as there are to worry about for the stay-at-home dad. The key is for the stay-at-home dad to decide with good judgment and not quick emotional responses which things are big and which things are small.