Monday, June 28, 2010

Q&A with James (@portlanddad) : Being a SAHD

The Q&A series with SAHDs continues today with James (@portlanddad). James is a SAHD from Portland. He is also a member of the Band of SAHD that can be heard on Blog Talk Radio every sunday night at 11pm EST/ 8pm PST. James is the husband of one, and father of 2. On his blog, , he chronicles his journeys as an at home dad and life as it is. So without further delay, here is James, in his own words. Thanks for sharing with us!

1) Tell us a little about your family - Our family consists of two parents and two kids, we feel like keeping the sides even help regulate the situation. My wife and I have been married for 6 years and we have a 4 year old and 2 year old son. We live in a house in Portland with another family and their 21 month old son. My wife works and I am home with our boys and our housemates son and I love it.

2) How was the decision reached that you would be a SAHD? -  My wife and I first had a conversation about one of us being home and we agreed that we both wanted that. The money that could be made with both of us working wasn't worth some one else raising our kids and so then the conversation turned to who would be the one at home. My wife loves the interaction of working out side the house and I am naturally the more nurturing one so it was a pretty easy decision. There have been times when we have switched back for a year because of moving across the country but we are in the roles that best suit our family.

3) Do you find it harder than you thought it would be? - I knew that being the one home with the kids was going to be tough so it is not tougher than I thought it would be. There are times when it is the hardest job I have ever had and the feelings of isolation are the toughest to deal with. It is like any other job in that way, where there are times when you complain about your job to who ever will listen and times when it is so rewarding and engaging that you can't believe how lucky you are.

4) Have you ever wished the parental roles were reversed? - Not for very long. There are times when I would like my wife to experience how tough it is with the boys, but those are always tempered with the fact that I don't want to do what she does. I like the role I have and find contentment and validation in being the at home parent.

5) People approach you and ask what you do, and you say you are a SAHD, what is there initial reaction? - For the most part you get positive reactions. People are happy to see fathers that are more involved and engaged with their kids so they are supportive but every once in a while you get people that make some sort of snide comment. It's cool with me though, like I said I love what I do and know what it means for my family and how my wife views me. There is this thought that you are less of a man for not working but I think that's horse shit.

6) What is the single greatest thing about being a SAHD? - Time spent with my boys. Seeing those first steps, hearing the phrases throughout the day as they learn to interact and make sense of their world. I get to be there for that and I know what the oldest means when he says "Funny Looking SUV" because I was there the first time he said. That's what he calls Scions by the way.

7) Why do you think more dads are choosing to be the at home parent? - I think that as more options are opening up for women that same thing is happening for traditional roles with the family. There are men that don't choose to be at home and that becomes tough for them to deal with. It is the same for the women that didn't get to choose the role they have and the feelings of isolation and being trapped. For many families it is a question of finances but I think there are a number of men that are choosing to be at home with the kids out of a purely nurturing standpoint. As that glass celling starts to crack for the women the doors to the home are opening to the men.

8) Think you would have the same bond with your children if you were working? - I think I would have a similar bond but not the same. I am the one that they want when they are scared or hurt because I am the one that is there all day. When I was working that wasn't the case and as my wife is out of the house and working it is not the case for her. If I were working outside the house I would still be super involved like a lot of dads are lately but there is that time spent aspect that I wouldn't have.

9) Has being the at home parent changed your relationship with your wife? Better? Worse? - I think it has been better because we are both operating out of our strengths as a couple. My wife has intense feelings of guilt for not being home with the boys but at the same time she has no interest in actually being home with them. It is a tough internal battle for her but I think I do a lot to alleviate the tension by doing the job well and finding contentment in the role. Our boys are doing great, learning and interacting with other kids really well and seeing that makes my wife appreciate the life we have chosen.

10) Finally, give new and expectant fathers a little advice for their new adventure into dadhood ... Get on the floor, no matter how tired and worn out you are get on the floor with your kids. When they have tummy time as babies get down there with them. As they crawl let them crawl over you and wrestle with them. Some of the best times I have had with my boys is when I am too tired to play but just lay on the ground and let them play on me. Seeing the world on their level and them seeing you get down there does so much for your relationship.

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