Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Stay-at-Home Dad Feeling Self-Conscious

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am the breadwinner in my family. My husband is a stay-at-home dad. We decided this would be best for our family because we both wanted a parent to raise our kids, and my job paid more. Recently, my husband has seemed very self-conscious of the fact that he stays at home with our kids. Last week we were out at a dinner party and someone made a snarky comment, which is what I think set off this feeling. What is your take on the stay-at-home dad culture? -- Working Mom, Cincinnati

DEAR WORKING MOM: We live in a culture that still values the man of the house as the breadwinner, even though family structures vary widely. What is important for you and your husband is to be on the same page about how you are caring for your family. There will always be that snarky person who tries to put you or your husband down for your choices. Learn to brush that off.

Celebrate your husband for what he does to guide your children. This is important for you to remember, because whoever stays at home usually receives few acknowledgments of the hard work that they put in each day.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I hate how I look. I have never been confident in my figure. My friends believe I have body dysmorphia, and they are always complimenting me on how great I look. I need some advice and help on how I can accept my body. I want to be at peace with how I look and not constantly be worried about my appearance. -- Body Dysmorphic Attitude, Los Angeles

DEAR BODY DYSMORPHIC ATTITUDE: We are plagued by body image questions. Just look at the ads that fill magazines, billboards and TV commercials. There are more products designed to improve your looks than you could ever buy. It is no wonder that you question your body. The fact that you live in LA only exacerbates an already overly sensitized subject.

Since your friends seem to be seeing someone different from the person you see in the mirror, there is a chance that your perceptions are off and you do have body dysmorphia.

Start by getting a complete physical where you learn if you have any health issues that need to be addressed. Be sure to tell your doctor about your body-image concerns. Ask for a referral to a psychologist. Talking to a professional about your feelings about yourself will help you to come to terms with the truth about your body. If you need help, a professional will be able to guide your steps.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)