DEAR ABBY: Dad suspects he’s judged for his stay-at-home status

Abigail Van Buren
Advice Columnist

DEAR ABBY: I’m at my wits’ end. I have been unemployed for almost two years. My wife has been working during that time. We have two girls I take care of as a stay-at-home dad. Although I have consistently searched for work, I haven’t found anything, and it’s driving me crazy. I have edited and re-edited my resume, but nothing has happened. 

My question is, do women (and men) think stay-at-home dads are lazy people who leech off their wives? I have to admit negative thoughts have crossed my mind, and I sometimes worry that people — relatives — think I’m a low life or incompetent. Is this true? — STAY-AT-HOME DAD 

DEAR DAD: I know you are frustrated, but you are being needlessly hard on yourself. While some people still think that way, an increasing number no longer do. The traditional roles of the woman staying home and the man being the breadwinner have, of necessity as well as choice, become increasingly reversed since the beginning of the new millennium. 

The realities of today are far different than they were 10, 20, 30 years ago. I don’t know if your relatives feel the way you suspect they do, but if you think that’s what’s happening, talk to them and straighten them out. This truism isn’t original, but it applies to much that’s happening in the world today: The only thing that’s constant is change.

DEAR ABBY: I come from a large family. We are not wealthy but always loved dressing our children up for holidays. Because the outfits were expensive, as our children outgrew them, we passed them on to my sister-in-law. 

When my youngest daughter was born, I asked her about the dresses, and she informed me they were not her style so she had given them away. I was heartbroken, but I never said anything. 

My older daughter is not a practicing Catholic, and my younger daughter is not having children at all. I saved their christening gowns, but they don’t want them. I would love to pass them on to another family member so they can be used instead of sitting in a trunk, but I don’t want them to leave the family or be sold. Is it OK to put stipulations on something you are passing on? — UNSURE IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR UNSURE: You can stipulate whatever you like, but there is no guarantee that the garments will remain in the family. Once a gift is given, it becomes the property of the recipient to keep or dispose of.