As I write on this particular topic I understand what I am going to describe may not be universal. But, I do feel it will be relevant to some degree to most any man who decides to become the at-home caregiver or who is already serving in that role. The issue is the link between productivity and self-worth.
Men love to be productive and we value accomplishment. In fact, generally speaking, whether a man has a good day or a bad day is largely determined by if he feels he's been productive. I think that is why so many men concentrate on sports and business. Both are very objective pursuits and easy to measure success.
Men like to think of themselves as being key instruments "out there in the world" in solving problems or dealing with issues or helping the world advance. And it begins at a very young age. From the time we are little we gravitate toward those activities where we feel competent. Having trouble in a certain activity? We will probably switch activities. Find ourselves losing a lot in a particular sport? We will probably change sports to one where we have success and gain a feeling of confidence.
What is happening is that our success and confidence feeds our self worth and is actually becoming linked to it. Deepening these connections is that we receive praise throughout our lives for doing things well. All of this is natural and normal but it feels good and it feeds our sense of usefulness and our sense of belonging.
However, the unintended result is that we grow up having attached our sense of who we are with what we do. Not only is this situation unintended it is also unknown by most people. For example, if you had asked me if my self worth was tied to my career I would've said "no". In fact, I think if you ask most men if their self worth is tied to their careers they would say "no". Why is this? Why do so many men so readily admit their self worth is operating independently of what they do but go into a tailspin when they lose their jobs? Or, why is it when you ask a man about who they are with a question like, "So, tell me about yourself?" they respond by telling you what they do? Ask the question. See what you hear.
Because so many people (especially men) are unaware of the links that have rooted themselves it doesn't seem like any big deal to leave your job and begin being the at-home caregiver. But what I found, and many men might also find, is that you will eventually begin to struggle under the daily tasks of childcare and child raising, the seemingly futility to the role, and the sense of isolation that accompanies it.
I think this will be one of the greatest challenges you will deal with as you navigate the at-home role. How you choose to keep yourself rightly related to who you are in the midst of your new role will be important. Likewise, the support system you have around you will be important. And finally, the measures you choose to keep yourself mentally and emotionally refreshed will be important.
There may be some women reading this who are struggling with similar types of dynamics. I would encourage you also to think about having the aforementioned things in place, or a plan to begin putting them in place. I think you will find it will make a huge difference.comments powered by Disqus