My husband is depressed about being a stay-at-home dad. He started off doing a great job, and the transition to staying home seemed to go really smoothly. But he recently told me that he resents the situation he’s in. He no longer seems interested in doing anything with our 8-month-old, he doesn’t shower very often, and he’s putting on weight because he uses food as comfort. What can I do?
What a difficult spot. There’s no question that he’s depressed: overeating, resentment, not taking care of himself, and losing interest in activities that used to bring him pleasure such as your baby) are classic signs.
I’m guessing, though, that the real issues is that your husband is having a crisis of masculinity. Most men are raised to think of themselves in terms of how much money they make and to see themselves in the role of provider/protector. It’s very hard for some men to get past this kind of socialization–even when logic and finances say that him staying home with the baby is the right thing.
A few possible suggestions: if your financial situation really requires him to be at home, help him find some other stay-at-home dads or daddy/child playgroups in the area. He needs to get out of the house and hang out with some guys who are in the same situation he is. Finding out that you’re not alone may boost his mood. You may be able to find some at www.slowlane.com, which is a site for stay-at-home dads.
If you can afford it, consider hiring non-daddy day care and sending your husband back to work. That might help with his depression and enable him to be a more hands on (and better washed) dad.
If neither of those alternatives work, explore the possibility of getting some professional help.