A stay-at-home dad calls to schedule a play date for the kids—can you get them together without “dating” him?
Because while the tots race around the park, you are spending time alone with someone else’s husband. Maybe you never thought of it that way. But experts say you should and for good reason.
“There is a potential for attraction, a closeness that is generated when you spend time together,” says Dr. Alexandra Solomon, assistant clinical professor at The Family Institute at Northwestern University in Evanston. “I want people to be mindful that there is some inherent amount of ‘loaded-ness’ to that situation. Acknowledging it goes a long way to reducing risk.”
It doesn’t mean you should avoid play dates with stay-at-home dads, Solomon says. You just have to be smart about it.
- Complain about your husband to him
- Confide in him
- Schedule play dates with a dad you find attractive
Dr. Edward Christophersen, co-author of “Parenting That Works,” (Magination Press, 2003) thinks one-on-one play dates give the appearance of an impropriety. Rather than isolate and shun stay-at-home dads, he suggests moms:
- Arrange group play dates
- Put the kids in a class or sport together
- Send their husbands to chaperone
There is the exception
“If the families know each other, then it’s less of a big deal,” says Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, co-author of “Smart Parenting for Smart Kids.” (Jossey-Bass, 2011) Dads can get to know other parents by volunteering in the community, just like moms do, and become known as a family as opposed to a lone wolf.
Signs of trouble
Watch out for emotional infidelity, Kennedy-Moore says. It can be just as devastating to a family as sexual infidelity.
“If his first impulse is to call his friend, rather than his wife, when something interesting, funny or upsetting happens, you might want to ask him about it,” she says. His primary energy and sharing should be going on in his primary relationship.
Other red flags include:
- Chatting on the phone with a mom friend
- Concealing how often he sees her
- Gushing about her to you
Stay-at-home dads can practice “good marital hygiene” by:
- Informing their wives of all play dates
- Introducing their wives to their mom friends
- Sending their wives to “mom’s night out” events
Word to the wise
End a friendship that makes your spouse jealous, because it’s not worth it, Kennedy-Moore says. “It’s a short period of time, and then, the kids make plans for themselves.”