Reader Question of the Week: Family Time

'Questions?' photo (c) 2008, Valerie Everett - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Every weekend I like to post a question someone sends in and let you readers have a go at it. This week’s question comes from a woman asking for your input in her family time situation:

I work full-time now and my husband stays home with the kids. When I get home, he immediately wants to head out to spend time with his buddies. He’s tired of being around the kids all day. So he’s out almost every night. I think that we should be a family and do family things. What do I do to get him to understand this?

What do you think? How can she communicate this?

Comments

  1. livinginblurredlines says:

    As a stay at home, homeschooling mom who’s husband works and lives away from home much of the time, I understand what this stay at home dad feels. If I didn’t miss hubby so much, I’d be heading out the door for some quiet, sanity and a complete thought, too! Also, keep in mind that he’s a man and while this is going to sound sexist, I believe that IN GENERAL, men have a harder time being the stay-at-home parent because it isn’t in their God-given make-up. Men generally aren’t very good at multi-tasking, which is a must to be a stay at home parent! If I couldn’t multi-task, NOTHING would get accomplished. Men also don’t have the God-given mommy instincts that we women have from growing and birthing our babies. I’m not saying men can’t and shouldn’t be stay at home dads. I’m not saying they can’t contribute to parenting that way. I’m just saying it’s tougher for them. I personally know 3 stay at home dads. Only one of them is a stellar stay at home dad. One became an alcoholic to cope. The other retreated into a porn addiction. (Then again, there are plenty of stay at home moms who have their own addictions to deal with…social website addictions, TV addictions, food addictions, romance novel addictions, etc.) So, in short, staying home with kids all day isn’t easy and is draining.

    Put it this way, would you be happy if you worked all day with the same office workers and came home from work only to be told by your spouse that you need to keep doing your job and being with the same office workers in the evening, too?

    It is also possible that doing the “mom” thing as a man may make him feel a little less manly and some guy time helps him feel more masculine again.

    He’s been doing the family thing all day and understandably needs a break! Every night? No. That’s unreasonable, because yes, family time with all of you together is important.

    Instead of trying to force him into your ideal evening, try to understand that he does NEED to have a break.

    Tell him outright that you believe the family should spend time together as a whole more often than not during the week, but that you understand stay at home parenthood is draining on an adult. Ask him if he’d be willing to give up some guy nights if you give him a break as soon as you get home. He can go unwind somewhere in the house…play a video game, call a buddy, hop online, work out, work on a hobby….and you’ll take care of the kids for a while. Then, after dinner is cleared, you can do a family thing together before bedtime.

    Another thing you can do is arrange for him to have some free time during the week. Find a babysitter, or even enroll the kids in a daycare for a day or two during the week. That way he can get out during the day and be more refreshed and ready for family when you are home.

    • I think this is a great answer. I would also add that maybe an earlier bedtime for the kids could help. I adore my kids, but after spending all day, every day with them, I am more than ready for 7:30 to roll around so I can unwind and spend some time with my husband. We eat dinner together every night, and do fun family things on the weekends.
      Megan G. recently posted…fruit of the Spirit is self controlMy Profile

  2. The answer from livinginblurredlines is pretty good, I think. as a stay-at-home-mom, I’ve also got a Tuesday morning bible I can attend and other women who are SAHMs who I can get together with. I suspect that as a SAHD (oh, that’s an odd acronym!) doesn’t have the same outlets and that his friends ONLY have the evenings to get together.

    That said, I’m careful to not get too busy being out and about, but I also don’t take on evening activities all that much so that I’m home with Hubby and little boy. There is a balance to be struck.

    Early bed time does help!

    It might be that a compromise is needed. And pray, pray, pray for your Hubby. He is in an awkward position, being a SAHD. Our society looks down on SAHM, and he is in even more of a minority.

    It stricks me, that it seems this situation is letting each spouse flourish, so perhaps a new arrangement needs to be found. Does Dad NEED to work some? Does Mom HAVE TO be the sole wager earner? Maybe its because she can make more money. Not a good reason, I say, not worth it. I’ve watched others, friends and family sort through this, and its not a pretty thing when she is the main wage earner, while Dad works on the sideline. Yeah, I believe men and women are created differently and have different roles to fulfill.
    Rachael recently posted…Goals, Goals, GoalsMy Profile

    • workinprogress says:

      Rachael makes a good point about having time to get together with other Moms. SAHMs have Women’s Bible Studies, park play groups, etc to get out and have adult time… and for many women these things are their sanity, Men don’t have those opportunities.
      I would also agree with Rachael that you should examine whether this is the best arrangement. It doesn’t sound like it is, if he’s wanting to run out the door every night.

  3. In my experience, men’s egos and sense of manhood are very much based on what they do. Every man I have known has felt like a failure and less of a man when experiencing a layoff (even though the layoffs were company-wide things), and unemployment, or even pay cuts. What a man feels about himself is tied very much in his work and his ability to provide for his family financially.

    I would recommend what some other people suggested, to try to change the situation to where he works and she stays at home. That may sound old-fashioned, but it’s just what I’ve witnessed.
    Jenny recently posted…the serenity prayer – a breath of fresh, calming airMy Profile

    • I agree with this. Men simply don’t do that well as non-working caregivers. Their mental and spiritual health is tied to providing for their families. The Bible says, “He who does not provide for his family has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” – the assumption being that it is the man who is providing, not the woman. We can try all we want to erase nature, but it doesn’t work. Women do better as homemakers and caregivers, and men do better as protectors and providers. I would recommend doing anything and everything to reverse this situation so that mama is at home and daddy works to provide the income.

  4. Maybe try something like this: “Honey, I so appreciate everything you do. It means a lot to me. I miss spending time with you, and as a family, in the evenings. I also totally understand your need for a break! Here’s what I propose: Could we work out a weekly schedule where we have certain nights for family time and certain nights where you can go have a break?”

    See that way, you’re expressing your needs while honoring his need to have breaks. I know my husband responds very well when I present things like that.
    Melissa recently posted…Stuff I’m Going To Do This YearMy Profile

  5. some great ideas and insight are posted above, but as an adult that agreed to be the at home parent (not Mr Mom, come on, he’s the children’s father) he needs to figure out what works best for him and his family. he can arrange for a sitter or day care for the kids. if the sahd gig isn’t working for him he can use the days the kids are in daycare to look for a job.

  6. I really don’t have much to add except to echo what everyone else said! There’s some good advice there! I think the biggest things are:

    1) Compromise–both of you need to *give* AND take a little
    2) See if there’s a way where he could get a part-time job so you can have some time at home with your kiddos
    3) Realize that as a man, being home all the time is probably frustrating for him (that would drive my husband NUTS; as others have said, it’s men’s God-given role to be the primary provider for their family)
    4) Give it to God in addition to doing something about it.
    5) Be respectful when you approach him–do your best to see things from his perspective, and kindly explain yours to him.
    Jaimie recently posted…Two Original Recipes– Steak Enchiladas and Fish & PastaMy Profile

  7. Just Some Guy says:

    I’d ask myself, is it nice for him when you get home? does he get compliments? is he respected for the work he is doing? have you helped him feel needed and is he your knight or Prince? is there plenty of intimate time together? Or does he feel like “he’s not going to get some at home, no respect, no sex, I might as well go hang out with the guys”?

  8. My husband and I have run an in-home childcare for over 20 years now. We’ve (I dare say) seen it all. He also was a SAHD for 2 years when our first 2 children were young.
    I think some planning would be a great thing:
    Plan a week night for him to go out alone-with the guys, to the gym, to a bible study…
    Plan a family out night for dinner or to the park…
    Plan a support group day or two during the day for Dad. Even story time at the library or community building would be good. It will get him out for some adult contact and support as well as social time for the kids.
    Plan to put the kids in daycare or preschool a couple mornings a week. This will pay off BIG! It means social readiness for the kids, an outlet for them too-they make friends there and consider it a playdate. AND it gives Dad time to shop or clean quietly and uninterrupted. As Moms we know how nice that is!

    I truly believe if he’s given a daytime break, some support from others, and had some pressure taken off by having the kids’ needs met by others for a bit, he won’t feel the need to leave-trust me.

  9. Hi, I didn’t read everyone’s comment so if my idea is already out there – sorry.

    My husband told me to take one night a week to myself each week and he doesn’t mind when. That frees me up to feel guilt free to go and do something. I haven’t stuck with it because it became more work to figure out something to do at times but it feels great to know I have the freedom to say I need a break.

    Later we got a gym membership and we can go as a family there to spend time together or seperate and we’re still in the same place. That allows for family snack and visiting after so it’s a neat compromise that leaves me feeling fulfilled.

    As a SAHM, having a gym membership is really a treat because it allows me to have time to shower without worrying who is about to fall down the stairs! Not to mention the workout time and time to clear my head.

    Maybe a combination of these suggestions will give him some tools to feel less isolated and desire to be around everyone together.

    Mostly though, pray.

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