There is a new baby joining your family and you are thinking about becoming a stay at home dad. Or perhaps your kids are starting to get a little bit older and you feel like you’ve been missing out because you’re away at work all day.
Making the leap from full-time employee to full-time at-home parent is a big decision.
It might also be one of the best decisions that you ever make. You, your children, and your partner may all benefit if you decide to become a stay at home husband.
Families Are Changing (For the Better)
We used to live in a society that had such a terribly limited view of what “family” could be. That view still persists in some places, but thankfully the options are expanding. A family no longer has to be a professional father, a housewife, and their 2.5 children. While that’s certainly one option, families can be:
- Single parents of either gender raising one or more children
- Blended families with multiple parents, children, and households
- Gay/lesbian two-parent households
- Non-binary/ genderfluid/ trans parents and their children
- Non-monogamous/ polyamorous adults co-housing and co-parenting
- Multi-generational families such as grandparents raising grandchildren
- One or more adults raising foster and/or adoptive children
People are increasingly free to choose the families that best suit them. In that process, there are more and more opportunities for men to take on the role of stay-at-home dad.
While this article speaks primarily to male parents married to working female wives, stay at home dads aren’t always in this box. You might be a dad with a husband, or a dad with two wives, or a single dad who wants to work from home while raising your children. Embrace the full opportunity to be who you are as you parent your children today.
Parenting Is a Full Time Job
Regardless of your own family configuration, if you have children then you probably already know that raising them is a full-time job. Yes, there are two-parent families in which both parents work full-time. There are also single-parent households where the parent may work two jobs. Despite all of those hours away at work, they still put in full-time hours raising the kids. Additionally, they have help in the form of family, caregivers, and schools to assist them in raising their children.
Although it should seem obvious that parenting is a full-time job, our society still seems to forget this important fact. As a result, the stay at home dad can be made to feel less-than because he doesn’t have a “real job.”
Therefore, it’s important for you to really examine your beliefs about what it means to be a full-time stay-at-home parent. You may find that you come up against both external and internal challenges as you transition to this role.
Working Part-Time While You’re the Primary Caregiver
Of course, one option is to continue working part-time while also fulfilling the role of stay-at-home dad. Your first job would be as primary caregiver to the child(ren). That means that you take on the major responsibility for your children’s day-to-day life including their health, education, and emotional wellbeing.
However, you can still work part-time if that suits you and your family. You might have the option to work from home, which you can do while the kids are napping or away at school. You may even work outside the home in hours that conflict less with your children’s schedule.
The Financial Aspect of Becoming a Stay At Home Dad
As you and your family determine whether or not it makes sense for you to become a stay at home dad, money matters are certainly going to come into play. Here are some things that you might have to look at:
- Can your family afford to have any parent be a stay at home parent or do you both/all need to work?
- Which parent earns more money? If both parents would prefer to stay home, this could be the deciding factor as to which one gets that option.
- What are the economic ramifications for your family if you quit your job to stay at home?
- On the other hand, how much money can you save on caregivers if you take on that role yourself?
- If you’re going to have to cut back financially to stay home, what changes must you make in order to make that happen?
Challenges for Families with Stay at Home Dads
Being a stay at home dad might be the best thing for you and your family. However, it won’t come without its challenges. Some of the most common challenges include:
- The aforementioned potential financial impact, particularly if you have been the primary breadwinner in the home
- Emotional conflict as you adjust to a new role that doesn’t include your professional identity
- Relationship conflict with your partner as you both adjust to the changes in your family dynamic
- Power struggles over parenting, household chores, etc. particularly if your partner has previously shouldered a majority of those responsibilities
- Feeling out of touch with the “adult world” as you focus more completely on raising your children
How to Deal with Questions from Nosy People
Hopefully your friends and family will support you if you decide to become a stay at home dad. Unfortunately, though, that’s not always the case. You may find yourself facing judgment. Even strangers or mere acquaintances may hurl rude questions in your direction, making you feel guilty for your choices. They may mistakenly assume that you are too lazy to work, can’t get a job, don’t really do much to care for the kids even though you’re home and so forth.
If you’re already going through a tough time in the transition then you might find those accusations overwhelming. Remember that you are under no obligation to explain your family’s decisions to anyone. You don’t have to justify why something is right for your family. You have several options for dealing with these people:
- Ignore them. Change the subject. Don’t give them the time of day.
- Sidestep the question by giving a short response then asking them about something else.
- Directly and honestly answer the question to educate them about non-traditional families.
- Any combination of the above as you see fit.
5 Reasons Why Becoming a Stay At Home Dad Might Be Right for You
Clearly, there’s a lot to think about before you become a stay at home dad. You have to consider the finances, the power dynamics in your home and marriage, and the reality that quitting your job could affect your own identity and sense of self-worth as you make that transition. However, there are also many wonderful benefits to consider. Here are five key reasons that you might want to become a stay at home dad:
- Fathers play a really important, often underlooked, role in their children’s lives. If you have the ability and desire to stay at home to raise them, interact with them closely, and nurture them daily then you could benefit them in immeasurable ways.
- The other parent(s) in the household might love their jobs and really want to work. You might not love your job at all. It’s a win-win if the person who wants to work can do so and the person who wants to stay home can do that. If both parents are happy, then the children are more likely to be happy at home.
- Your entire exnteded family might benefit. Perhaps you have an elderly parent that you and your child can visit regularly together. Maybe you have nieces and nephews that you can also watch during the day. If you live near your family (or your chosen family) and can help best by staying at home then everyone benefits.
- There is no better way to teach children about non-traditional family structures and the opportunities available to children of both genders than to practice what you preach by living that way in your own family.
- It’s fun! There are many downsides and bad days for stay at home parents but overall you might find the joys far outweigh the hassles. Your children will only be small for a short period of time. If you have the option to stay home, play with them, read to them, accompany them on play dates, and watch them grow, then why not take advantage of that amazing experience?