Please don't praise my husband for being a stay-at-home dad

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"You're so lucky to have a stay-at-home husband."

"He BAKED COOKIES with the kids? Wow! I'm impressed!"

"I saw him helping out at the school; how good is he!"

These are just some of the things people say to me when they find out my husband is a stay-at-home dad.

While I understand that it's rare to come across a father who is the primary carer – according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, just 4 per cent of dads in two-parent families do this – there's something a little off about the sheer amount of praise they receive when they look after their kids.

So much praise. What message is this giving parents?

With stay-at-home dads being in the minority, it's important to encourage men to take on a more active role in their children's lives. From that perspective, praise is good; the right praise is important for those who are pioneering any change from the well-established norm.

However, the things my husband is praised for are very basic. They include showing up at school events, getting the kids to activities (even, gasp, on time!), and preparing healthy snacks for school and preschool lunches.

Recently, he took one of our children out for lunch, and several people stopped to praise the fact that he was spending time with his child.


These things are considered above and beyond a dad's role, and so the majority of people will add some surprised commentary when witnessing these actions.

I guess it comes down to this: you don't have to do much to be admired when you're a dad.

Let's compare this to the six-and-a-half years that I was a stay-at-home mum.

I did all the same things my husband now does; I baked with the kids, took them on outings, ferried them around to various activities, did most of the housework, and helped out at our child's school.

I wasn't praised for any of these things, and nor did I feel I should be. I was simply being a mum in the best way I knew how.

Oh, and my husband was never once told how lucky he was to have a stay-at-home wife.

Not only are mums treated very differently to dads, we're actually invisible – unless we're doing something perceived as wrong.

Yes, as a stay-at-home mum I was often criticised. I've been told off by random people for letting my child splash in a puddle, glared at for answering a phone call while at the park with my toddler, and when I baked with the kids I was told I shouldn't be giving them sweets.

My husband has never been told he's doing something wrong with the kids; people are too busy admiring him for simply being around.

Our low expectations of dads aren't doing anyone any favours. They make mums feel underappreciated and dads feel a bit stupid.

Perhaps we should be praising stay-at-home dads for being part of a shifting family dynamic, but there's no admiration necessary for simply being a parent.