Saturday, June 5, 2010

Quick Q&A with Chris Singer: Being a SAHD

There are a lot of areas in parenting and being a father that I have experience in. Not that I'm an expert, I am way far from it. Experiences are not experiences if you always know what you are doing. One area I do not have experience in and am unable to write about, is being a SAHD. My wife has been the at home parent for three years counting while I work. Which is how I like it. Not that I don't want to be home (I would love not having to work) but because I believe a mother has a stronger connection being the carrier of the child for 9 months, and I want my children to be raised by one of their parents and not a caregiver. 

Seeing the recent trend in dads being the at home parent, and due to the recent connections I have made with SAHDs on Twitter, I thought I would use my next Q&A post to have a SAHD answer a few questions to share the world of at home parenting with everyone. This blog is about the adventures in dadhood, and being an at home dad is one of those adventures.

Enter into the scene Chris Singer, aka @tessasdad. Chris is a SAHD from Lansing, Michigan. I asked Chris to share a little bit about his experiences as a SAHD to give everyone soe insight into an area of fatherhood often unknown and unfamiliar to a lot of people. In traditional, old school America, it has always been the mother who stays home while the dad works. These days, more and more dads are the at home parent, and more are choosing to be. Thank you Chris for sharing with us a little bit into the world of a SAHD. Enjoy!

1) Tell us a little about your familyMy wife and I have been married for 6 years, and together for 10. We met online while we were both living in NY. My wife is from Michigan and we moved here when she went to graduate school at MSU. Tessa is our only child and just turned 14 months on Friday, June 4th.

2) How was the decision reached that you would be a SAHD? - It was really the best and obvious choice and had been talked about in a lot of our discussions over the years about having kids. We really didn't want to have our child raised by a daycare provider, so we knew we would have to make sacrifices. The timing ended up being really good as I had lost my job. I say good, because I was leaving this job anyway and it gave me the initiative to start a small consulting business so I could work from home as well

3) Do you find it harder than you thought it would be? - Oh my god yes! It's the hardest thing I've ever done.

4) Have you ever wished the parental roles were reversed? -  No. Despite the difficulties at times, it is also incredibly rewarding. It also has so much to do with timing. This happened at a time in my life where I was getting incredibly burnt out and discouraged from my work in the non-profit world.

5) People approach you and ask what you do, and you say you are a SAHD, what is there initial reaction? -  I've been lucky to have nothing but positive responses. Maybe it's not luck, but the fact that I have this adorable little girl with me so much that all of the attention gets focused on her. 

6) What is the single greatest thing about being a SAHD? - Just knowing that you're doing what's best for your family and also in getting the opportunity to spend such quality time with my daughter. Our bond is so strong, and I love the connection and relationship we have developed

7) Why do you think more dads are choosing to be the at home parent? - I think it's partly due to two things. One, I think we're finally reaching a point where a lot of the old gender stereotypes are changing. Part of that is due to our economy is in the toilet, which is forcing a lot of dads to be home. So, I think we still have a long way to go, but it's good to see dads being more comfortable in staying home. Second, I think there is new generation of dads who grew up with a dad who wasn't exactly a bad dad, but was kind of cold and distant. My dad was there, but it was almost like he wasn't. I have a relationship with him today, but it's kind of the same as when I was a kid. I want something better than that with my daughter and I think a lot of new dads can relate to this and also want something better.

8) Think you would have the same bond with Tessa if you were working? - No, I do not. My wife has a different bond with Tessa and she definitely feels a little jealousy at the relationship Tessa and I have. I totally understand that and if I was the one working, I would be feeling the same thing. The good thing is we recognize that so we can avoid issues over it. The bond is different with each parent, and I feel Tessa and my wife's bond is different as well due to breastfeeding. I purposely leave myself out of certain activities so Tessa and my wife can enjoy time together.

9) Has being the at home parent changed your relationship with your wife? Better? Worse?Maybe a little bit. I think the relationship has changed more because of just having a baby enter our lives. There's a lot of adjustments especially when you are older and more set in your ways like we were (My wife was 34 and I was 36 when we had Tessa). You take two stubborn, incredibly independent people like us and then add a baby to the mix and it is a huge adjustment. We had a lot of issues to work out and ended up having some of our worst fights ever in those first six months. It's made us stronger though and has improved our relationship as well.

10) Finally, give new and expectant fathers a little advice for their new adventure into dadhood ...  I don't have a lot of advice because every baby is different, but I would say new dads should really understand how much their relationship will change with their wife, when baby arrives. No one tells you about that, even in the birth classes so it can totally catch you by surprise. I have two friends who got divorced right in the first year after their baby was born and for a minute there I thought I was headed for that as well. It's something that really needs to be talked about more.

Chris Singer

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