Men making the decision to stay at home have become a more common decision these days, with extended paternal leave benefits, and partners who are making as much or more money than their spouses. Stay-at-home fathers are more accepted nowadays too, socially, with more men making the decision with their spouses that the family as a whole would be best served by dad doing the bulk of the child-rearing, while mom heads off for work. I recently read that more women than men are working now.
In the decades previous, it was usually the dad who had the career. Women held the title of caregiver to the children, while men pursued their employment and brought home the paychecks. I couldn’t imagine my dad wanting to stay home with us, nor could I imagine my mom wanting to give up that role, as she always says it was the best time in her life.
With the advancement of equal-pay-for-equal-work initiatives all over the world, disparity between the incomes of men and women is not as large a factor in career viability; in fact, it’s often the women in traditional marriages who bring home the larger paycheck. Interesting!
Most often, men making the decision to stay at home starts off with financial reasons. Who earns more, which parent has the more comprehensive insurance policy, which one has a more flexible career or schedule, and whether either parent is able to work from home all need to be weighed and decided upon. If you can take the financial hit from losing a portion of the parents’ combined income and still be a viable bill-paying team, then your options about primary care-givers are much more flexible. However, if you will be extremely challenged to make your monthly financial obligations, you need to consider other options, such as both parents staying at work, and placing the child into a daycare situation.
New challenges still face the parents who choose to have dad stay at home, with this option still not being seen as socially conventional. While it’s true that it is becoming more popular, it is still not the norm, and some men do not fare well with the unconventional arrangement. Stay-at-home dads need to pay attention to their needs, just as women have had to do for centuries. These include socialization with your peers, and perhaps making sure you stay employable. Going to the park with your baby may be nice, but if you are a more social person, really dependent on your former office or job-site personal interactions, you may want to seek a healthy outlet for your needs.
As I was doing research for this article, I wondered if there were groups or resources for stay at home dads. When my children were babies, I joined MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) which saved my sanity by meeting every other week with moms in my position (little ones at home) for food, talk, speakers, crafts and ADULT TIME. I have been looking all over the internet and so far haven’t seen any groups similar. Hmmm…. maybe someone should start a “FOPS” group?
No matter what your career, there are probably refresher courses or seminars in your field that can provide the social stimulus you might be craving, as well as keeping you up to date in your line of work. There are lots of available resources online and in-print that can help partners not only make the initial decisions regarding which parent stays at home, but also valuable information about how to deal with that decision once it is made. Parenting classes, financial planning seminars, social gatherings for similarly-situated parents…All can be found with a little research and an honest look at how you want your child-rearing situation to happen. Good luck!