The number of men who are full-time stay at home dads in the United States has risen steadily in the last 20 years. This shows that in recent years, more fathers have been comfortable in manning the household and taking care of children in the absence of the mothers. However, the number of stay-at-home dads is still significantly smaller than the number of mothers who commit to parenthood full time.
It’s not a rare event to see a mother give up on a career just to take care of their children and raise them, but, it becomes extremely unsettling for society to see a man do the same. Even though stay-at-home dads are becoming increasingly common, certain stereotypes challenge this arrangement.
This brings us to the question: Why can’t men be a stay at home dads?
What are the challenges faced by men who choose to be a stay at home dads?
Parenting is not easy for anyone, be it a mother or a father. However, men who choose the course of full-time parenting, are met with some unique challenges not faced by women. Let’s explore some of the challenges of being a stay-at-home dad:
As if the pressures of parenting aren’t stressful enough for stay at home fathers. They also have to deal with the stereotypes and stigmas society hurls at them every step of the way. Men who choose to be dedicated parents are often deemed as “losers” and people assume that they have given up on their careers. Some people aren’t comfortable with men being the primary caregiver.
Stay at home fathers are also wrongly assumed to be lazy and lacking masculinity. These harsh judgments can affect the family structure, causing anxiety, embarrassment, and feelings of shame. However, in reality, these judgments have no basis in logic and are frequently based on misconceptions or a few bad examples. No man should be ashamed of being a stay-at-home dad and caring for his family.
2. Lack of support and respect
The negative comments can also come from people who are meant to be the support system of a family, like relatives and grandparents. Grandparents, not being used to such a progressive arrangement, can perceive the stay at home father as a failure and thus be unsupportive and disrespectful. Stay at home dads also receive judgments from other parents and single moms who could potentially be a source of support.
These issues coupled with a stay at home fathers not being appreciated or recognized can be challenging. Stay at home dad statistics show that only 8 per cent of Americans say that a child might better off with a stay-at-home father. Thus, It can be extremely difficult to face these negative views, and societal pressure leading men to want to go back to the workplace.
3. Depression and related mental health issues
Stay at home dad statistics and studies have shown that men find it hard to cope emotionally from the transition from a working man to a father. Breaking routine can cause depressive symptoms and lead to serious mental health issues. Besides, the wrong opinions of other people can make stay-at-home dads feel like an outcast in the child-rearing world.
4. Financial problems
Managing finances is not easy for anyone and it’s especially hard if a new family comes into being. Raising a child with only one source of income can be challenging and intimidating. Worries about paying for the child’s future can cause stay at home dads anxiety. Some stay at home fathers resorts to doing freelance work and working from home. With careful budgeting and planning of expenses, this challenge can be easily tackled.
Misconceptions about stay at home fathers
As we said, stay-at-home fathers are met with harsh criticisms and judgments regarding their choice. These opinions have a basis in some misconceptions:
1. Men can’t take care of children
Patriarchy not only oppresses women but men too. The notion that men can’t take care of children is wrong and unscientific. Men and women are equally competent in parenting. A father can take care of his child just as well as a mother can.
2. Men would rather be in the office
A Pew Research Center survey in 2014 reported that 48% of fathers wished that they could stay at home with their children. Thus, most men who decided to be a stay at home dads chose to be here and wouldn’t want to give it up for anything in the world. Assuming that a man’s place is in the office and a woman’s in the house is toxic and sexist.
3. The father must’ve lost his job
Jumping to a conclusion that a father chooses to stay at home to look after his kids just because he has lost his job is once again wrong. Stay-at-home dads willingly give up their jobs and careers to take care of their baby.
4. Stay at home dads are not masculine
This is the root of all the misconceptions and stigma attached to stay-at-home fathers and parenting. Thinking that the only thing that makes a man masculine is being the breadwinner is sexist and conservative. Stay-at-home fathers are as masculine as anyone else.
Is it okay for a man to be a stay at home dad?
It is okay to be a stay at home father irrespective of what society says. In fact, okay is an understatement. It is wonderful to be a stay at home dad and going that extra mile to care about your family. Men should look at this venture as a new opportunity to redefine manhood and to shun the age-old conceptions in society. This role offers fathers to reshape themselves and to question traditional masculinity.
Parenthood is a beautiful journey and every dad has the right to take a full part in it without being shamed for their choice of being a stay-at-home dad. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also said that involved fathers have a positive and lasting impact on the health and well-being of their children. Not to forget, stay-at-home dad statistics show there are several proven benefits of being a stay at home dad.
Benefits of being a stay at home father
When you move away from the struggles of parenthood, you will notice the wonderful things that come with it. Stay-at-home dad statistics show that there are several benefits when men choose to be active parents.
1. Positive impacts on children
The American Academy of Pediatrics shows that active fathers have lasting impacts on the well-being and growth of children. Children grow up to be better people and responsible citizens when they have their fathers around. They learn responsibility, taking action, and values integral to life. And, what’s better than a father setting an example for his son?
2. Reduction in child-care costs
When men choose to stay back at home and be fathers, the cost of child care like paying for a nanny, daycare, or a babysitter is eliminated. This is effective in the long run as the family will save thousands on child-care and the stress of finances will be managed.
3. Better relationship with the partner
Since women are typically seen as the primary caregiver and expected to stay back at home to raise their children, it can be empowering to see a man take responsibility. This can strengthen the couple’s relationship, reinforcing appreciation. Eventually, this will make the couple happy and cooperative parents.
4. Stronger relationships with the child
In a 2015 study of working moms, it was found that children have positive relationships with both the mother and father when the father stayed at home in a caregiving position and the mother left the home to work. Being a stay-at-home father increases involvement and participation in the child’s life in a healthy way. Children connect differently with their fathers and sometimes this can prove beneficial.
The decision to be a stay-at-home dad can be emotionally and financially challenging. And, no change is easy. However, it can bring new exciting opportunities for a father to bond with his child and partner. It is important to note that being a stay-at-home dad doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on your career. Like we discussed above, many dads continue their jobs through freelancing and working from home.
By making a thoughtful decision you will have the best possibility of making the right decision for your family. Sometimes, choosing to be a stay-at-home dad is just the mature thing to do.