When it comes to stay-at-home dads, there are a lot of stereotypes… A LOT.
People make assumptions, people make jokes, and people make up their minds about who we are, what we do, and why we do it.
Over the last decade-and-a-half, I’ve seen a boatload of cartoons, memes and jokes about my chosen profession on the internet, and I must admit… a lot of them are actually pretty damn funny. But, are a lot of them also pretty damn accurate?
Are they funny because they are TRUE?
Well, that’s where my FOURTEEN years on the job come in. As a certified expert in domestic engineering, I am uniquely qualified to comment on this topic. So, without further adieu, here are FOURTEEN of those cartoons, memes and jokes about stay-at-home dads… and my “professional” opinion on just how realistic they are. Do they hit close to home, or miss the mark completely?
Are they the REAL TRUTH, or simply FAKE NEWS?
I’ll rate each one of them on a “truthiness” scale from 1 to 10.
#1 GUILTY AS CHARGED… OCCASIONALLY
This particular one can hit close to home, but only once in a blue moon. I’ve been laying down the law and playing bad cop for as long as I can remember, but there have been times when one or both of my kids does something incredibly dumb, and I just don’t have the mental fortitude to deal with it. So, I will occasionally punt the ball… and wait for Lianne to come home from work and tackle the latest crisis. Is this practice fair to my wife? Not particularly, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Truthiness rating? Because I don’t make of habit of passing the buck and pulling this parenting stunt very often, I’ll only give it: 3.5 out of 10
#2 YUP, BEEN THERE… DONE THAT
In the early years of stay-at-home fatherhood, I felt completely separated, secluded and sequestered… spending very long days with very small people with very small vocabularies. In those days, I would have given my right arm to go out for lunch with big people with big vocabularies… (who didn’t require me to change their big soiled diapers!) Because a lot of stay-at-home dads don’t get included in the “mommy group” social circles, this comic is totally relatable. Truthiness rating? I’ll give it a very high: 9 out of 10 It’s the REAL TRUTH people!
#3 I CAN SEE THEIR POINT, BUT…
You would never-ever in a MILLION YEARS ask a woman if she was babysitting her own offspring, so why would anyone ask a man that very question? Oh yeah, it may be the year 2018 but we still live in a fairly sexist world. Asking a dad if he’s babysitting his kids implies that parenting children just isn’t a man’s job, and that’s an incredibly old-fashioned and outdated concept. However, the simple fact that I’ve seen PLENTY of these memes over the years must mean it’s a notion that is still alive and well. Truthiness rating? Sorry all of you angry stay-at-home dads, but I’ve actually never been asked if I’m babysitting my own kids, so I’ll only have to give it: 5.5 out of 10
#4 THIS ONE MADE ME LAUGH, AND THEN CRY
At first, this cartoon made me chuckle, but then it didn’t. It implies that even little kids view mothers as the gold standard of primary caregiving. It’s safe to say that society in general may hold this belief, but I’m always hopeful the younglings in this crazy world of ours would have a more gender-neutral attitude on the subject. Truthiness rating? I think my kids have grown up to view what I do as a valid career choice, so based on my personal experience, I’ll have to give it a lowly: 2.5 out of 10
#5 THE THOUGHT HAS CROSSED MY MIND…
The older my kids get, the closer to reality this particular scenario becomes! To be honest, there have been days when I wondered what life as a true “kept man” would be like… no kids yelling at me, no driving all over the city, no refereeing fight night, no fuss, no muss! I can totally visualize a very zen-like existence, with my usually ski-high anger level immediately evaporating into thin air. What a life that would be: just me, my thoughts, WAY less laundry and LONG afternoons to plan and execute a gourmet dinner. A few years back my son Daniel boldly proclaimed that when he grew up, he wanted to get married and immediately become a stay-at-home-dad. We explained to him that without kids that would be a tall order. We all shared a good laugh over that one… but maybe Daniel was right, maybe that SHOULD be his dream job. Can you blame him? Can you blame anyone? This one feels like a pretty high score on the old truthiness rating, so let’s go with: 8 out of 10
#6 YES, I’VE CHANGED… AND NOT FOR THE BETTER
I wish I could have a do-over. I wish I could turn back time to when my kids started walking, talking and exerting free will. I wish I had tried harder to stay calm and rational when dealing with my illogical and unreasonable children. Before we had kids, I was always described a very laid-back individual who hardly ever let anything bother me. I simply rarely got angry. My unmanageable kids cured me of that very desirable character trait very quickly and quite easily. Yes, Mr. Dad Duck… I too have lost my goddamn mind, and for that reason I MUST give this cartoon a truthiness rating of: 9.5 out of 10 I’ve got two words people: REAL TRUTH.
#7 OH, I’VE BEEN FRAZZLED… BUT THIS FRAZZLED?
This comic strip is actually pretty darned relatable. Juggling two kids with competing after-school schedules can be very challenging at times, and I truly feel like a glorified Uber driver most days. Have I rolled into gymnastics ten minutes late, or pulled a kid out of soccer ten minutes early to make it to another kid’s activity on time? Have I made one of my kids wait ten minutes for a pick-up while I speed like a demon to get there? Yes, Yes and YES!!! Have I accidentally mixed up my two kids like the dad in the comic? Not yet… so I’ll have to give this one a middle-of-the-road truthiness rating of: 6.5 out of 10
#8 SORRY, BUT THIS ONE IS JUST DUMB!
First of all, let me be 100% clear – being a mom is not DUMB! I’m talking about the BOTTOM half of this meme. In my experience, this characterization of stay-at-home dads could not be farther from the truth! For this reason, I must give it an unprecedented truthiness rating of: 0 out of 10 It’s totally FAKE NEWS people!
#9 I WISH THIS WAS TRUE…
Being the primary caregiver also means being the primary consoler. I recall numerous incidents where Daniel would fall, scrape his knee on the playground asphalt and run right past his mom and into the arms of his dad. Or a five-year-old Abby would walk into our bedroom at 4:02 AM, right past her mom and tap me on the forehead until I woke from my slumber with an all-too-common complaint: “My tummy hurts”. I would always think to myself: “why don’t these kids ever go to their mother with this stuff?” She’s actually much better at snuggling them, calming them down and making them feel better. I’m the guy who ignored my daughter’s tummy-ache until it became apparent her appendix burst, requiring emergency surgery. True story! I’m not proud of it, but I simply didn’t believe her when she said her tummy hurt more than usual… more than the 600 other times she complained about it. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s get back to the topic at hand. Truthiness rating? 1 out of 10 MORE FAKE NEWS PEOPLE!!!
#10 I WOULD NEVER LET “ME-TIME” GO TO WASTE!
We had not one, but TWO kids with colic, so there were some very long days dealing with very fussy babies. The only good thing to come out of the experience was that we worked very diligently to SLEEP TRAIN our kids. They both slept through the night after only few months and they always went to bed at 7:00 PM. (As teenagers, their bedtimes have been moved back slightly) My point is, we couldn’t wait to get those kids to bed! We had all evening to unwind, relax and recharge. There’s no way I’m spilling ANY amount of alcohol and falling asleep in an armchair. I have never let ME-TIME go to waste, not even once… so for that reason, this comic gets a low truthiness rating of: 3 out of 10
#11 ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS… AND RIDICULOUS
This is ridiculous, and also ridiculously funny. We have all seen the “clueless dad” jokes, and to be honest, I also played that card when I first started my new life as a stay-at-home dad. I staged several “funny” photographs of me screwing up my first day on the job and emailed them out to all of my friends and family. There was the picture of me changing the wrong end of baby, another one featured me not knowing that SlimFast isn’t an appropriate breakfast for baby, and my personal favourite was the shot of me testing the temperature of baby’s formula. I had taken some of Lianne’s lipstick to create the illusion of massive burn marks on my forearm. This was before the age of Facebook, but it was the same idea. I was implying that I didn’t know what I was doing, and I wanted as many people as possible to see it! But in my defense, I only did this particular gag the one time and knew when to give it a rest. I’ve always been a bit of a class clown, and I was simply poking some fun at myself and at the stereotype of the out-of-touch father. For this reason, I must give this a relatively high truthiness rating of: 8.5 out of 10
#12 REMEMBER WHEN THESE STUPID MEMES DOMINATED YOUR FACEBOOK FEED A FEW YEARS AGO?
I found a few of these “What I Actually Do” memes on the old inter-web, but this is the only one about stay-at-home dads that truly spoke to me. Was it because I like to dress up with my kids? Nope. Was it because I fancy myself a great, multi-tasking househusband? No sir. It’s because of that last photo… the one where the dad is burying his nose deep into that baby’s butt. THAT’s what spoke to me! I don’t know how many times I felt the need to do the old SMELL TEST to figure out if my child had just dropped another special delivery for yours truly… and for that, I must give this stupid meme a truthiness rating of: 9 out of 10 That’s some REAL TRUTH brother!
#13 AND SPEAKING OF REAL TRUTH…
One of the central themes of my book Dad@Home: Fully Domesticated (which is still very much available for purchase) is that there is an incredible double standard when it comes to being a stay-at-home-dad. There still aren’t that many of us dudes doing this gig full-time, so a man can do a truly half-ass job and somehow get a ticker tape parade just for… simply showing up? Wow, imagine that! Meanwhile, a woman is being compared to the endless generations of stay-at-home moms that came before her and thus, is held to a much higher standard. Is it fair? Absolutely not. Is this cartoon the absolute REAL TRUTH? You bet your ass it is, so it also gets an unprecedented truthiness rating of: 10 out of 10
#14 AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST. THE ONLY THING I CAN SAY ABOUT THIS ONE IS… WTF?
What’s the deal here? This particular cartoon didn’t come with any caption or joke, just the file name of “house hubby”. I stumbled across it in my online search for stay-at-home dad cartoons and I just HAD to include it, as it’s so awful that it’s… awesome?
Um, where do I even begin? Right off the bat, what’s the deal with him drinking wine and beer at the exact same time? Beer, I can see, but does this unkempt schlub look like a wine connoisseur to you? And what’s the deal on the curlers in his hair? Is baldy really taking the time to roll those fat curlers into his few remaining follicles? And what’s the deal with that diaper? It looks like a hundred feet of bandages wrapped around that baby’s bottom! And what’s the deal with that old-fashioned, black and white TUBE TV… wall mounted? And with rabbit ears to boot? What year is this? And what’s the deal with that bright orange liquid the baby is sitting in? If that’s urine then that kid is super-dehydrated and needs more fluids, STAT! (I’m really hoping that it’s simply spilled Orange Crush)
And last but not least, what’s the deal with the angry-looking silhouette standing in the doorway? Sure, his hard-working wife is coming home to a huge mess. There are peanuts, popcorn and pizza strewn about EVERYWHERE! And don’t forget about the truly random and weird collection of items – diaper pins, rubber ducky, empty cans, soccer ball and some kind of yellow coil/spring thingy… spread out all over the floor.
But hold your horses for just a moment. Let’s also look on the bright side. Despite the house hubby smoking a cigarette in close proximity to the baby (while letting said baby drink sugary soda) he’s actually DOING THE JOB! Is he supervising his child? Check! Is he doing some light housework by ironing some kind of wrinkled garment? Double check!! Is he also multi-tasking by talking on the phone and watching the game while ironing? Triple check!!! Is there a broom in the room, indicating that there is at least a chance he intends to clean up this pigsty? Quadruple check!!!! I think the angry wife should lay off her chubby hubby and thank him for… simply showing up? 😉
I find Mr. House Hubby completely relatable. I’m actually a bit of a slob myself, so I’m giving this cartoon a mathematically impossible truthiness rating of: 11 out of 10
And there you have it. Fourteen cartoons, memes and jokes… broken down the only way I know how. Another stay-at-home dad may have a completely different outlook on the job, and may think my truthiness ratings are totally WACK. That’s fine. Truthiness is usually found in the eye of the beholder, but I truly believe my fourteen years on the job has given me an exceptional ability to sniff out FAKE NEWS about stay-at-home dads a mile away.
So, always keep this simple rule in mind: If Dad@Home finds it funny it MUST be true, or at the very least… truthy.