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Author Biography: Libby Gill is a veteran of development, production, and corporate communications for Studios USA, Universal Television, Sony Pictures Entertainment Television Group, and Turner Broadcasting West Coast. During much of that time, her husband has been a stay-at-home dad to their two young sons.
Q: What prompted you to write this book about the stay-at-home dad/working mom (SAHD/WM) lifestyle?
A: It came out of my own experience. My husband has been parenting our two boys full-time for ten years while I have been supporting the family. Over the years, we discovered how much we had in common with other couples doing the same thing and, even more important, how many couples who had never seriously considered a stay-at-home dad/working mom option might benefit from a book like this, which shares success stories from couples all over the country.
Q: Do people actually plan this sort of role reversal, or do they just fall into it?
A: In truth, many of them just fall into this arrangement. But then they wish they had been more proactive in sorting out some of the issues and negotiating their roles in advance.
Q: Can you really plan this type of lifestyle?
A: Absolutely. My book includes an entire chapter just on drafting what I call "the family business plan."
Q: Can you tell if certain couples are good candidates for a SAHD/WM family structure?
A: There is no magic formula, but there are some pretty strong indicators. First of all, these are couples who firmly believe that no one can parent their children better than a loving, involved full-time parent.
Q: So that rules out daycare?
A: For these parents, it does. But that's not an easy decision to make, and for some parents, it's not even realistic. However, if parents are considering daycare vs. parentcare, there are some key questions they should ask themselves. You need to think all this through and decide if daycare or parental care is right for your family. Ask yourself:
A: There are lots of factors that contribute to that decision about dadcare vs. momcare, particularly who's bringing in the bigger income. But before you consider finances, you need to really think about who is better suited to be a full-time parent. This can be pretty challenging to our traditional thoughts about male and female roles, but it's well worth discussing with your partner. You need to decide if you believe:
A: There are six key reasons men become stay-at-home dads:
A: It's not really as complicated as it sounds. It just involves some soul-searching and open communication with your partner. The first step is to check in with your spouse and see if you think your marriage is strong enough for this kind of scrutiny and honest reflection. It can be challenging to buck the norm and you need to make sure you are in a stable place before you take the role-reversed parenting plunge. Once you decide to proceed, there are a few key steps:
A: Many of us have bought into the notion that two incomes are better than one, but if you do the math, you'll see that that may not be the case. Frequently, that second income comes at great expense. Break down your income, or incomes, and your monthly budget. Now take a look at how much of your budget is devoted to work-related expenses, including childcare, commuting, clothing and dry cleaning, lunches or coffee breaks, and all the hidden extras like convenience foods and takeout meals. If you eliminate one of your jobs, you can often make up the lost income by just downsizing a little.
Q: What are some downsizing tips that can work for SAHD/WM families?
A: Try some tricks like:
A: Not for all men, but for a lot of men it can be a real challenge. Most guys have been socialized to be providers, not to be caretakers, and it can be difficult to take a backseat to their wives with regard to earning potential. It's these deeper issues, what I call "emotional finance," that really need to be sorted through and discussed. Things like giving up control, personal power, feelings of masculinity and self-worth. It can be tough on men, especially in the beginning.
Women need to be sensitive to their spouses' feelings and let him find ways that make him feel good about their financial arrangement, whether it's being the one who picks up the check or handles the family finances. But most of the SAHDs find that the rewards of seeing their children flourish outweigh any negatives.
Q: Besides figuring out how to live on one income, what are some of other challenges facing SAHDs and their working wives? And how do you deal with them?
A: SAHD/WMs face a lot of stereotypes, even from their friends, families and neighbors. Some of the most common include:
A: The truth is most parents say that just having kids is what really changes your sex lives. But switching traditional roles can have an affect too, especially if you don't monitor your own feelings and discuss them openly with your spouse. Some techniques to keep the sexual sparks burning in your marriage include:
A: The most important thing about career planning for stay-at-home dad/working mom couples is that it must be a shared exercise. Mom and Dad need to identify their short and long-term work and family goals, determine timetables for their goals, then look at them side-by-side to make sure they dovetail.
SAHDs also need to consider ways to keep their skills strong and their networking contacts up to date in anticipation of reentering the workforce. They might also want to consider working at home or telecommuting as options. Working moms need to watch out for the two-headed dragon of guilt and obligation overload and establish appropriate work-family boundaries.
Q: Do men and women really parent differently?
A: Although there is no research data to suggest that either gender is predisposed to be a more effective parent, some studies actually do back up what common sense tells us -- there are some basic differences in male/female parenting styles. In general -- and this is a broad generalization, especially with regard to SAHD/WMs who by definition defy tradition -- men are more action-oriented and women are more comforting. Parents should discuss, and ideally agree upon, the philosophical issues of childrearing, even if their approach to it differs dramatically. The biggest win for kids is having two involved parents and benefiting from both their styles.
Q: What are the ABCs of the SAHD/WM lifestyle?
A: A is for attitude, including appreciation, respect, flexibility, perspective and humor. B is for balance by teamwork, battling isolation and maintaining outside interests. C is for communication, as a couple, to the kids and to the outside world about the joys as well as the challenges of this unique lifestyle.
Q: What are your favorite "tips from the trenches," from the SAHDs themselves?
A: Use Cheerios (a handful in the toilet bowl) for tinkle target practice when you're potty-training your little boy. Change your baby’s diaper in the trunk of the car -- it's level, it's carpeted and, best of all, there's no escape. One dad with a special-needs son decorated his boy's wheelchair each year for Halloween to fit the theme of his costume. One year he was a cowboy in a covered wagon, the next Batman in his Batmobile.
Q: Is there actually a feeling of community among SAHD/WM families?
A: Definitely. There is a real spirit of cooperation and camaraderie among SAHD/WM couples who offer parenting tips and guidance, and just generally support each other. Stay-at-home dads network in local play groups, with or without kids included. They are also linked on the web by great sites like Slowlane.com, the online resource guide for SAHDs and parents. And there’s an annual conference, The At-Home Dad Convention, held in Chicago every fall. Parents can check the Resource Guide in the back of my book or go to Slowlane.com for more information.
Posted September 12, 2001
Libby Gill did a superb job writing a book on a parenting topic that has been misunderstood for quite some time - Stay-At-Home Dads. In her book ¿Stay-At-Home Dads: The Essential Guide To Creating The New Family,¿ Gill provides an honest and in-depth look at the stay-at-home dad lifestyle. She presents the practical reasons behind the choice these dads and their spouses made, the issues and daily challenges they faced together, how they resolved them, and how they managed to make the stay-at-home dad lifestyle work for their families. What is most impressive about Gill¿s book is that she does not impose a self-prescribed one-size-fits-all philosophy to parenting. That¿s because much of the information Gill provides comes from the interviews she conducted with the stay-at-home dads and their spouses. She eloquently addresses both sides of the coin in a well-balanced format. One that presents a TEAM (Together Everybody Achieves More) approach in which parenting is viewed and treated as an equal partnership. Gill¿s book, however, is about more than just the stay-at-home dad lifestyle. It is about the love, commitment, and passion that drives these parents to put the needs of their children first. In today`s world ¿putting children first¿ is easier said than done. But Gill, along with the parents, in this book, demonstrate how any parenting couple can make the stay-at-home lifestyle a successful and rewarding endeavor. Gills book is not just a book for parents who want to consider the stay-at-home dad lifestyle to read. It is a book every parent should read. How invigorating it was to finally read a book that offers an insight into parenting that any parent can relate to and benefit from. Hogan Hilling Proud Stay-at-home dadWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 20, 2009
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