Near the halfway point of his informative, funny, and alternatingly sweet and salty book debut, The Ultimate Stay-at-Home Dad: Your Essential Manual for Being an Awesome Full-Time Father, Shannon Carpenter sums up his overreaching goal.
“Everything that we read online and in magazines is geared toward mom and has a tendency to treat dads like total dipshits,” he writes. “Get that condescending shit out of here.”
And he does.
Carpenter, a Midwestern stay-at-home father since 2008, has created an instructional guide for the modern father, whether he be of the at-home or working variety. The Ultimate Stay-at-Home Dad combines insight, practical tips and frequent laughs about this wonderful, exhausting and crazy adventure called parenting. Moms will also be entertained. They will also learn more than a few things not covered in those websites and magazines aimed solely at them.
(DISCLOSURE: Carpenter is a longtime member of our Kansas City Dads Group. He is also a contributor to this blog. He devotes a whole chapter to dad groups and their importance in helping fathers find their bearings. He gives particular praise to City Dads Group. Thanks!)
Carpenter uses his own experiences as a parent of three to guide The Ultimate Stay-at-Home Dad from topic to topic. Along the way, he peppers in advice from other fathers. These include recurring tales and tidbits involving his personal KC posse of four SAHDs (or “magical unicorns” as one of them dubs men like themselves).
“You don’t parent in a vacuum, even though sometimes our minds makes us believe we do,” Carpenter notes in a section dealing with the stress and anxiety he and many dads experience but rarely gets discussed or taken as seriously as much as what moms experience. “Those relationships are your support system — or sometimes the reason your mental health gets worse.”
Along with detailed discussions on how to properly outfit both a diaper bag and a minivan for a day out and tips on meal prep and house cleaning (hint: get a wet/dry vacuum), Carpenter writes about the importance of helping your children with valuable life lessons and skills. Whether assisting you with dinner or burying a bunny that your wee one witnessed you whack with a shovel after it may or may not have been attacked by a hawk (detailed under “How To Take Advantage of Magnificent Disasters”), it’s always the children whose well-being he keeps in mind.
“Don’t teach your kids to cuss,” he advises, for example, at one point, “but when they do, give them credit if it’s said in the right context.”