Category Archives: Matt Peregoy

Matt Peregoy left his job as a retail store manager to stay at home with his little girl. His blog, The Real Matt Daddy, describes the good, the bad, and the hilarious things that happen to him as a stay-at-home parent. Matt also shares delicious recipes and honest reviews. He contributes to various sites including The Balancing Act, The Good Men Project, 12 Most and Daddy’s Home: The National At-Home Dad Network.

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Dealing With Another Dad Double Standard

I was talking to someone the other day who I hadn’t seen in awhile. He asked if I was “still doing the Mr. Mom thing.” I understand that I can’t expect him (or his older generation for that matter) to understand how difficult it was for me not to shout “DON’T CALL ME MR. MOM!” But just as I pat myself on the back for withholding my disdain for that particular statement, he said something else, “So, you’re really using that college degree, huh?”

I hadn’t given his statement that much thought at the time. I just continued the conversation, and we went our separate ways. My wife later said to me, “I can’t believe he said that.” I thought she was talking about “Mr. Mom” because she knows how much I hate the phrase. “No,” she said, “About you going to college.” She was right. I didn’t even stop to think about how much of a double standard that really is. I was so upset about his repeated use of the “Mr. Mom” phrase that I totally missed what might be an even bigger put down.

Our country spends millions of dollars a year to market science and mathematics to young girls so that they stay interested and pursue careers which require advanced degrees. If a woman gets a college degree, she is praised for her ambition. If she later decides to stay at home with her children, nobody questions her choice to get a degree. It makes her better educated person, which, presumably, adds to what she has to offer as a mother. Her choice to get a college degree is viewed as a good choice, even if she later decides to stay at home. So why, then is my choice to get a college degree all of a sudden a bad choice because I decided to stay at home?

I think that this is where negative stereotype of “idiot dad” comes into play. Our culture does not expect very much of fathers; therefore, when one spends money on an education just to stay at home, it is seen as a waste. We are not supposed to have anything to offer our children anyway.

I am happy that this just isn’t true. I believe that any education is valuable, and we should aim to pass along that knowledge to our children. All degrees earned by mothers AND fathers are valuable to the future success of that family, whether it increases their potential income levels, their ability to help with homework, or even their ability to teach their children how to be better students.

What other double standards are out there? I know that there are a lot toward moms, but what about others that are directed at fathers? Why do you think this double standard exists?

Toddler Milestone: Real and Fake Emotions

Sometime between ages two and three, your child should start to be able to identify emotions.  Some parents might not see this as a big deal, but for anyone with a challenging or sensitive toddler, you know that emotions are what dictate how your day is going.  Today, I’m going to help you identify your child’s emotions, real and fake, and give you a crash course on what to look for in this stage of development so that you can make the most of the great moments and also stop potential problems before they get out of control.

REAL EMOTIONS

The “real” emotions are the easy ones to spot.  Pain results in tears, sadness results in tears, being scared results in tears, and happiness is usually recognized by uncontrollable giggles and tiny baby farts.  These are the moments you live for as a parent.  This is what makes life fun!  Pain, sadness, and  being scared give you the chance to love on your child and shower them with affection and comfort.  Happiness and laughter are what make parenthood so special, keep you young, and give you stories to tell.

My daughter said to me yesterday when I gave her a cookie, “That makes me happy!” She can now identify and name her emotions.  She frequently says, “That’s kind of scary,” or “Why is she sad?” when a friend is crying.  Teaching her the healthy way to handle these emotions is my job as her parent.  I must unselfishly allow her to cry sometimes, even though I’d prefer peace and quiet.

If your child cries easily, let them know that it is okay to cry when they are hurting, sad, or scared.  Don’t hold these emotions in check.  Let them freely express that.  Enjoy, engage, and celebrate the happy moments too.  If your child is laughing in the other room, go ask them, “What’s so funny?” and let them tell you a story.  Happiness (and I suppose sadness too) are best when shared.

FAKE EMOTIONS

Some “fake” emotions are much more difficult to identify.  Fortunately, there aren’t that many.  Let’s start with the easy ones.  Toddlers don’t need to fake happiness.  A teenager, however, might fake happiness so that you don’t “interfere” with major life changes, friend drama, or bullying.  Thankfully, a toddler can’t perceive that sort of benefit yet, so there is no need to worry about it.

Being scared is a genuine emotion that is difficult to fake, and there are very few instances where it would be beneficial to the toddler.  The most obvious is bedtime.  A toddler saying “I’m scared,” makes mommy or daddy come back into the room, turn on the light, and prolong the inevitable sleep the toddler is trying to avoid.  This is very easy to identify as “fake” and you can reassure your child that they are safe.  You shouldn’t make a habit of giving in to what they want (you coming back in, turning the light on, and delaying bedtime).

In the same way that being scared is hard to fake, pain is also hard to fake.  But it is even more rare than being scared because kids don’t realize that pain is supposed to keep them from doing things.  No toddler is going to fake an injury to get out of playing with blocks.  They want to play with blocks, broken leg or not!  Adults fake injuries, mostly in sports and insurance fraud.  Toddlers don’t.

The most difficult “fake” emotion to identify is sadness.  Real sadness sounds like wailing.  Real sadness is accompanied by real tears (although some children are gifted in the area of lacrimal secretion).  Real sadness probably means that your child can’t talk while they are crying.  Fake sadness sounds like whining.  Fake sadness is usually a dry cry.  And during a fit of fake sadness, your child will be able to communicate by talking.  Add a toddler’s new-found love of logic and reason, and you get statements like, “But I need ______ because I’m crying!”  Fill in the blank with whatever your kid is attached too – a pacifier (guilty), a blanket, ice cream, whatever.

This type of fake emotion is so hard to ignore.  Our typical parental reflex is to meet our child’s need.  The difference is, that at the moment of fake emotion, your child needs tough love.  Don’t give in!  Giving in causes bad habits that are even harder to break.  Ever see a mom at the grocery store and her kid throws a fit until he is wailing on the floor and she is completely embarrassed?  Granted, sometimes it just happens, but more often than not, I would be that it’s because a child was not given tough love and told “No” when he whined for things.  Now he believes that he has to whine even louder and more aggressively to get what he wants.  If you nip it early, it won’t be a problem later.

Is It Okay For Parents To Give Up On Their Kids?

Our family was driving in the car yesterday when my daughter uttered a statement in a fit of two-year old, tired, toddler angst.  She said, “I cry every day because of mommy and daddy.”  She was upset because she was tired and we did not have her pacifier (I know, I know… we’re trying to give it up, but it really works).  She was entirely serious about her statement.  How do I know?  My wife asked her to repeat it.  “I cry every day because of mommy and daddy.”  Wow.  If our parenting is so bad, I guess we should just give up, right?  Should we just stop trying since she’s not happy?  Of course not.

The point here is not what my daughter said.  She’s not old enough to understand how what she says affects other people.  She’s just a toddler.  But it made me think.  Would I ever give up on my kid?  What would she have to say to make me stop loving her?  What would she have to do to make me stop trying?  When I asked myself those questions, I couldn’t think of anything that would make me walk away from my love for and responsibility to her as a father.

What if she said she hates me?  What if she robbed a bank?  What if she developed a drug habit and stole from us?  What if she killed someone?  What if she tried to harm me or my wife?  What if she rebelled against all of the values that we tried to model for her?  What if…?  And then I came to realize – as a parent, I will never give up on my kid.  Did you read that?  Don’t skip over it.

I WILL NEVER GIVE UP ON MY KID.

I know the phrase she said in her tired tantrum is meaningless.  I know she will probably say she hates me at some point for discipline that she thinks is unfair.  I know she will probably not like my opinion of the boys that she becomes interested in.  But that’s my job.  I’m her dad.

My job is not to try to be her best friend to fulfill my own selfish need for affection.  My job is to be the sort of person that she wants to be like.  My job is to raise her to be a bright, successful, happy young woman that can be self-sufficient and have the skills to raise a family of her own.  My job is to protect her from teenage boys those that would try to take advantage of her.  My job is to try to instill a values system of black and white that will help her navigate this murky world of gray.  It involves patience, discipline, and unconditional (sometimes tough) love.

If she strays away from the path, I will always try to get her back on track.  If she walks down a dark road, I’ll take the light out to look for her.  If she is ever lost at sea, I’ll be throwing the life preserver.  If she wants nothing to do with me, I will still pray for her well-being and long for a restoration of relationship.  No matter what she does, I will NEVER give up on her.

Thinking about this made me feel for those parents who have a severed relationship with their child.  I can’t even imagine the difficulty of what you’re dealing with.  Only you can make the decision to keep trying, and I would encourage you by saying “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”

If it means saying you’re sorry, say it.  If it means offering undeserved forgiveness, give it.  If it means that you have to give up everything in order to make it happen, do it.  That child and your relationship is worth it.  Don’t give up.

3 Myths About At-Home Dads

It happened again yesterday.  While updating my information at my doctor’s office, I had three things said to me that totally typify the common response to what I do as an at-home dad.  Once I negate all of these “myths” for whomever I am talking to, they begin to see a little differently.  If I have to do this for each person that I meet, one person at a time, it is worth it for all of the dads out there doing what I do.  Here are the three myths of the at-home dad and why they are dangerous for families.


We Are “Unemployed”

I was updating my information at the doctor yesterday when the receptionist came to the question about my employment.  I’m not sure why they need this information, but I assume they have some reason to ask for it.  She asked if I was still with Tractor Supply Company, and I said, “No.  I’m an at-home dad now.”

“So, you would say you’re currently unemployed?”

“No.  I’m an at-home dad who is not looking for a full-time job,” I replied, “Do you have ‘homemaker’ as a category?  Can I pick that?”

If a woman stays at home with her child, she is considered a “homemaker.”  I know there are a lot of women who hate this label, but it’s really not that bad.  The home is the one place in the world that the ones you love are supposed to feel safe and loved.  Who wouldn’t want to be a part of creating that kind of environment?

If a man stays at home with his child, it is assumed by those outside of his situation that he is unemployed.  This has as much to do with the current economy as it does with the aging stereotype that the man needs to be the breadwinner.  The good news is, as the economy improves and unemployment among men decreases, this assumption will become less prevalent among our younger generation.  But I do fear that we will be stuck with the male-breadwinner stereotype for at least another decade.

The male-breadwinner stereotype is dangerous because it is not always the best situation for the modern family.  There are more and more situations where a woman can make more money than her husband because she is more qualified or because there are more opportunities.  There are also plenty of cases where the man is better suited to be the primary caregiver for his children.  There are a lot of women who really want to work because they enjoy it, and yes they love their children to death, but they don’t necessarily have the urge to be “motherly” all day long, and that’s okay.  In the current economy, there are a lot of instances where the jobs available to the man of the house are extremely limited, and having his wife go to work is the better temporary option until the economy improves.  The bottom line is that the old stereotype doesn’t work anymore.  We are outgrowing (or evolving beyond) the male-breadwinner stereotype, and it would benefit everyone to start thinking outside of those boundaries.

The second reason the male-breadwinner stereotype is dangerous is because it puts an unnecessary emphasis on money.  We all know that money doesn’t buy happiness.  We all know that family is supposed to be the most important thing in a person’s life.  Why don’t we live that way?  Why are we still comfortable with dads being absent from the family in order to earn enough money for us to live outside our means? When you say that a man must be a slave to his job to provide for his family, it isolates half of the leadership of the family unit and gives him a competitor for his top priority.  What I mean is that a lot of men have a difficult time with divided loyalties.  It is very difficult to be the dad that you want to be for your family and still be everything your employer is asking you to be on the job.  The work-life balance is extremely difficult, and if we could free men from that, it would probably help improve families in general.  If we could get dads to value family above money and possessions, and if we could get corporations to see families as valuable instead of an excuse to miss work, we could begin to strengthen families everywhere.  I realize this may seem like a pipe dream, but this is something I passionately believe in, and I will continue to write about it as long as this blog exists.

We Are “Mr. Mom”

My conversation with the receptionist at the doctor’s office continued.

“No.  I’m an at-home dad who is not looking for a full-time job,” I replied, “Do you have ‘homemaker’ as a category?  Can I pick that?”

“Oh,  you’re Mr. Mom!” she said as if she thought she understood me.


I smiled and said, “Nope. I’m just dad.”  I think she thought I was being rude.

Everyone loves the idea of dads at home in aprons doing chores.  It’s supposed to be funny, right?  It’s not.  The stereotype (and comedic portrayal of said stereotype) of Mr. Mom is also dangerous.  Thinking that at-home dads should be like mom in proxy is ridiculous.  We are dads.  We might have a list of things that mom wants us to do around the house, but the bottom line is that we are going to have our own style of parenting.  Even the notion that every mom parents in the same way is ridiculous, so how silly is it to think that dads parent in the same way that moms do?

This stereotype also feminizes the role of dad.  It leaves out all of the benefits that a child receives from their father being involved in their life.  Those benefits vary from family to family, of course.  I like to compare parents to apples.  For example, if you take a Granny Smith apple, a Golden Delicious apple, and a Red Delicious apple and put them all three on a table, you still have three apples on the table.  One is known for its tartness.  One has a softer, yellow skin but is deliciously sweet.  And the Red Delicious has a balanced sweetness with an incredible crunch.  They are each amazing in their own way, but they are all apples.  The idea that a dad staying home with his child must behave like a stereotypical “mom” caricature is really limiting in the very same way that saying the household chores are for women is incredibly limiting.  It would be like biting into a Red Delicious and expecting it to taste like a Granny Smith.  We’re all parents.  We all try to work together to make our homes run smoothly.  If we can get away from the stereotype that at-home dads are supposed to be like moms, that frees dad to be just what he is supposed to be – a great dad!  He doesn’t have to fit anyone’s definition; he just has to love his kids, do what is best for them, and take care of his household in any way that he possibly can.

We Are Babysitting (aka We’re Incompetent)

After my doctor’s appointment, I went to the lab to get some routine blood work done.  Again, we needed to update some information in the system, so I was at the receptionist’s counter for a few minutes.  I had my daughter up in my arms, and the receptionist asked my daughter, “Is daddy watching you today?”


“Nope. We do this every day. I’m an at-home dad,” I said as she gave me the look of surprise that is so common when I say this phrase.


I had another conversation today with a mom at the local library, and she made the comment that her husband wanted to be an at-home dad but “he would probably just sleep all the time.” Really?  Why are women (and sadly, some men) not convinced that a man can acquire the same parenting abilities that a woman can when given an equal opportunity to do so?  I will admit, it took me a while to get a good routine going with my daughter, but now we are on auto-pilot and barreling full speed ahead.  I had quite  a learning curve since I spent the first year of my daughter’s life working seventy hours a week.  There was quite a bit to learn!  But once I caught up, I was able to find my own parenting “groove” so to speak.


What I do is called parenting.  It’s the most important job in the world.  Why?  Because I have the power to make or break the future for this innocent child.  It’s true. I could be a terrible father and cause my child all sorts of future issues, or I can be a great dad that is full of love, advice, discipline, grace, acceptance, guidance, forgiveness, fun, etc.

I know not all men feel this way, but that is probably because somebody is not expecting them to.  It is a reasonable expectation for my wife to want me to be a good father.  It was part of what she liked about me before we got married.  Because I love her, I am willing to meet her expectations. If nobody expects a man to be a great dad, then what is he most likely to do?  Not be a great dad.

Ladies, if you don’t expect your man to step up and be a good parent, he never will.  If you are a mom reading this, I want you to stop making excuses for dad.  Don’t let him off the hook.  Don’t cover for him by not expecting him to be a great father.  Work your womanly magic that made him fall in love with you in the first place, and work with him to get back on track.   Start expecting him to be more involved.  Get him up to speed, and help him get more active with your kids.  Encourage him to take charge of planning family activities each week.  Encourage him to spend quality time with each of your kids.  It is not an easy transition for him, but if he loves you, and you begin to make that an expectation (remember, be reasonable), then hopefully, he will rise to the challenge and meet that expectation.

If you’re a dad reading this, I expect you to be a good father!  Stop making excuses.  Stop believing the stereotype.  Step up, and do the manly thing – take care of your family by being a great dad.  Get involved with your kids.  Take over some of the household chores.  Work together with your partner to make your house a home.  Work with other men to end the myth of the incompetent father.  Don’t tell your co-workers you have to “babysit” next time mom is out of town.  Tell them you are spending quality time with your family and there is no place on earth you’d rather be.

Spring Clean Your Schedule

By: Matt Peregoy, TheRealMattDaddy.com

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As we have had several days of temperatures at or above sixty degrees here in the Mid-Atlantic, thoughts of spring cleaning are coming to mind. In fact, just last weekend, I spent all day cleaning out two cars and detailing the insides to showroom quality. I was never actually aware of just how many Cheerios my kid was dropping in the back seat until I emptied the vacuum canister. This time of year gives us a chance to not only clean up the clutter in the play room, but to also clean up the clutter on our calendars. It’s time to spring clean your schedule, and find out where you can get more quality family time.

Eleven months ago, I made a drastic change in my life. I walked away from a career to become a stay-at-home dad to my then one year old daughter. My entire concept of fatherhood was changed. I had previously been content to be the “provider,” meaning my biggest contribution to the household was my paycheck. When I decided to become an at-home dad, I learned to live without the career and the recognition and the paycheck. I learned that the most important thing I could ever provide for my daughter is my quality time.

The biggest thing that was cluttering up my schedule was work. The hours are endless, the work is aggravating, and the concept of “evening” and “weekend” are non-existent when you work in retail. This was not a problem for us before we had our daughter. I even worked two jobs back then. My wife and I joked that absence made the heart grow fonder. We were able to carve out time together whenever I had a day off or just stay up late together when I arrived home. But when the baby came along, my wife was on the baby’s schedule 24/7. That meant that I had to make a special effort to put in quality time with both my wife and my daughter, and it just was not working with my work schedule. Absence was making the heart grow cold and bitter. When I came home one day, and my wife said, “I can’t do this alone anymore,” I knew we had to make a change. That began a series of conversations that lead to me staying at home and my wife going back to work on a normal nine to five schedule.

Looking back, walking away from that job was the best decision I ever made. Instead of being over-committed to my job and under-committed to my family, my life is back in balance. I am more involved at home. I am more involved at church. My marriage is better off, and my health will improve once I start to exercise regularly. At the very least, I’m not as stressed as I was when I was working, so I guess I can claim that my health has improved too. The bottom line is that my job was my clutter, and I cleaned house.

What do you have that is cluttering up your calendar and stealing your valuable time from your family? To what projects, clubs, activities, or people are you over-committed? Who would benefit if you were suddenly more available? Aren’t those the people you want to make happy? You should just go ahead and tidy up a bit. Let me know if you find a bunch of Cheerios.

Matt Peregoy is an at-home dad and owner of TheRealMattDaddy.com, his blog about parenting. He lives with his wife and daughter in Gettysburg, PA. He is also involved as a guest blogger for Daddy’s Home, Inc. – The National At Home Dad Network, The Good Men Project, and The Balancing Act.

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