As our bonds to historic roles loosen, fathers are finding new ways to express themselves within the family dynamic. In 2014 Pew Research Center identified two million stay-at-home-dads in the United States. Those men tell us that tending their children is more rewarding than chasing a paycheck. Being liberated from the hunter-gatherer role has allowed more men to incarnate aspects of the Father archetype infrequently seen since the industrial revolution. Being caregiver and homecreator does not diminish their experience of masculinity but rallies inner resources that had been set aside. Despite the national call for a redistribution of family duties and liberation from traditional paradigms, at-home dads face isolation, suspicion, and stigma.
Historically, as father’s left the home to work at factories and offices, their presence in the family psyche dimmed. Children often lost touch with the significance of their fathers, and family courts consistently relegated them to providers of income. Poet Robert Hayden captures this ambivalence and regret in his poem Those Winter Sundays.
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
Growth and change are central to Jung’s ideas. Making room for the incarnating Self in all its complex diversity is the task of humanity. When we muster understanding and support, cultural and personal transformation might be a little less painful
Here’s the dream we analyze:
“I am in New York with my sister. We are in the reception of a hotel, and it is cavernous, with walls and arches made from rich brown marble. The light is golden. We are taken to our room, and we are jetlagged and tired. This feels OK; we didn’t have anything planned in our itinerary anyway. Our room is big, but we go into the small bedroom and get into the bed, one of us at each end. Later, I go to a Victoria’s Secret in a mall. All the clothes are really expensive: the sale rack is not really reduced, and I find it annoying. Other people don’t seem to mind, and they are clamoring for the clothes. I return to the hotel room and find that I have accidentally stolen some underwear: I have no idea how it got into my bag. My dad has arrived, with some of my friends and my sister. The bedroom feels really cramped. Everyone seems to be in New York. I’m embarrassed about the ‘stealing,’ and everyone tells me I have to take it all back. I don’t know how to do this surreptitiously without getting into trouble.”
Dad Saves the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6YmKIoUdZc, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEPq2rGLKZU
Farrell, W. (2019). The boy crisis: Why our boys are struggling and what we can do about it. BenBella Books. Available on Amazon: https://a.co/d/abRKOzW
Hayden, R., & Glaysher, F. (2013). Robert Hayden: Collected poems. Liveright. Available on Amazon: https://a.co/d/ay0nLoi
National At-Home Dad Network: https://athomedad.org/advocacy/statistics-on-stay-at-home-dads/
Pew Research Center: https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2014/06/05/growing-number-of-dads-home-with-the-kids/#:~:text=Just%2024%25%20of%20stay%2Dat,%2Dat%2Dhome%20mothers).
Warren Farrell: https://warrenfarrell.com/
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There are alot of stay at home dads that are divorced or widowed and have our kids much or most of the time. We work from home and balance our work life with the care of kids. I’ve done it for 8 years since my first child was in 1st grade and other was in kindergarten. It’s not an easy thing to do. Even if the kids do go to Mom’s part of the time, when you have your kids it’s full on and you are only one person dealing with the multiple needs. I have a kid or two at least 5 nights per week. Fortunately we have arranged to have two days off per week which is a godsend. I am also a VP of my company…and have to also figure out travel since my HQ is in Washington DC.
I have evolved my “Cookie” persona where i get up and put the kettle on, make the meals, clean up camp and do the laundry when the cowboys and girls go off to the range. Maybe one day i’ll write a story about Cookie when he decides he’s done washing the cowboy’s dirty underwear ….done with complaints about the chili burned again.
It’s something that one can observe much more frequently with women–single moms who are having to balance all their work and the caregiving, ferrying the kids around..etc.. but there are also single dad households who do that too..even though honestly i’m the only one i know or have ever known. But we are out there.