Lee and I have had opportunity in the last few years to become friends with a few families who have a working mother and a stay at home dad. They’re not a part of any church, but talking with them has gotten Lee and me talking about how churches reach out to these families.
For me, I’ve got lots of experience stumbling over developing a relationship with my working mom friends. I’ve wrestled with knowing what to talk about, and not wanting to be judged or judgmental about the choices we’ve made, all the while passionately pursuing what is true from God’s Word. Lee, on the other hand, has a highly respected job, and he’s successful at it. It’s been a challenge for him to think through interacting with a man who may feel doubt and isolation for his choice (or a family choice) to stay home with children.
I’ve dealt with feelings of doubt and isolation, but it’s been a surprise to hear those feelings from our friends. If Dad is a loving caregiver, I feel pretty strongly he’s far better than full-time daycare, just like a loving mother. I want to encourage our friends that caring for children is valuable work (whether you are mom or dad).
As I mom, I’m not in the place to arrange a playdate with a stay-at-home dad like I would with one of my mom friends. Dads don’t fit easily into mom groups, although sometimes they live in a community where there are several dads who stay at home who can team up.
As a Christian, I’m asking myself how the church can reach out to the needs of this demographic in our American culture. Perhaps men who work at home can keep their eyes out for a guy who would appreciate lunch out. Or retired men may have an opportunity to meet a dad at a playground for grown-up conversation. Probably the biggest difference for me has been in my thinking about others. God leads families in unexpected ways. I’ve been grateful for the fresh perspective of my own choice to stay at home, and for a new look at how I view my own husband as a nurturing parent.