When Daddy stays at home
Being at home with kids is challenging, but highly rewarding.
In journalist Matt Chandler’s touching essay on being a stay-at-home dad, he relates how, after he lost his job he became a stay-at-home dad to his daughter while his wife worked. The experience helped him become closer to his daughter, he says.
Because of the recession and job losses, and some women earning more than men, a considerable number of fathers are choosing the role of stay-at-home-dad, taking the role which has been traditionally reserved for women.
This new phenomenon has its advantage. Fathers, who in the past were mainly responsible for hunting for cash outside, now get to share in the day to day parenting of their children. They get to bond effectively with their children.
I can attest to some benefits of working from home. I’m less stressed than I was when I had to go to the office. I’m healthier because I’m more aware of what I eat as I never eat on the run. I’ve got more control over my time and I’m more flexible when it comes to the needs of my family.
There are challenges though. There is also the possibility of a drop in income if you decide to leave full time employment. When you work from home it’s easy to lose contacts. Thank goodness for the internet, it helps me keep in touch. Because there is little competition at home it’s also easy to also neglect one’s appearance.
Doing the drudge work
For centuries women have complained that men do not pull their weight and it seems that it’s still the case today. When, for economic and other reasons, a father might opt to stay at home, does that mean that he will participate equally in parenting and in household chores?
According to my own personal observation and to the discussions on most social networks the answer is a disappointing no.
While many working women admit that their stay-at-home-husbands do a wonderful job of looking after the kids, some still complain that their stay-at-home husbands do not do as much housework as a stay-at-home-mom would. One desperate woman could not understand why she had to spell out every household duty to her hubby, or else nothing was done.
In my own humble opinion, anyone who expects a stay-at-home-dad to be as effective as a stay-at-home-mum will be bitterly disappointed. The problem is that our society does not yet prepare us, men, to be stay-at-home-dads. Society makes us, men, to expect to be breadwinners, team leaders, and protectors. Although it’s becoming a trend for more man to be stay-at-home dads most men I know would rather their wives stay at home while they tough it out at work.
So when dad, out of no choice of his own, has to stay at home and look after the kids and do the laundry he may go through some depression. He’s no longer the ideal man that society made him expect to be. What’s more, he can’t go out and engage in small talk with stay-at-home-mums in the neighbourhood, because it’s unlikely they’ll welcome him with open arms. He can find himself in a lonely place.
But he does not have to worry. It’s likely that more of his buddies will soon be stay-at- home dads too.
Read more by Sipho Yanano
How many stay-at-home dads do you know?
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