Why We Need To Think Differently About Stay At Home Dads
Stay at home dads used to be something of a novelty - there weren't many of them, and those that did stay at home were often met with negativity. Now, many more Dads are looking after the kids whilst mum is out at work. Daddilife spoke to some of the fathers in their network to find out more about why being a stay at home dad works for them.
There was a time where a title of ‘Stay at home dad’ (SAHD) would be met with much confusion and ridicule. For decades the age old cliché of mum looking after the kids, and dad looking after the family bank balance ruled.
Shifting from Bread-winner to balanced parent
As Dr Peter West says in his piece about dads doing it better – “In fact up to about the late 1960s, work was seen as done by men. Nearly all men were breadwinners. They worked hard, long hours, six days a week in some cases. In most Western countries Sunday was seen as a day for church and rest. Mother stayed in the home to cook, clean and watch over the children. If a child misbehaved, Mother would say something like ‘just wait till your father gets home. Women charged into the workforce from the late sixties onwards. This helped force a re-thinking of what each sex did. In many families, mothers now worked as many hours as fathers; sometimes more. Many of us urged men to grasp the opportunities they were offered and become fathers actively engaged in their kids’ lives. In the words of Letty Pogrebin, we emboldened guys to ‘be the father you wish you’d had.’
SAHDs more prominent
Fortunately, change is constant, and as mum and dad find their roles increasingly balanced across work life and home life, stay at home dads are becoming more and more prominent. In fact there are now over 250,000 in the UK alone, and over 1.5m in the US.
Yet, even though these numbers are on the rapid rise, it is difficult for some to shift previous perceptions and clichés about the parenting dad. There are still a great number of misconceptions and hear-says that belie the real truth of this new dad era.
We recently asked a few Stay At Home Dads across the UK and US about their most common misconceptions that they hear every day. Here are some of the most common:
“Wow – how did he get away with that!”
Astonishingly, Eoin from The Walking Dad gets this little gem a lot – ‘how did he get away with that.’ We need to see it for what it actually is – a dad contributing to the welfare of his children, everyday.
“How sweet, it must be daddy’s day.”
Well, actually everyday is daddy’s day for Luke at daddynanydiaries, and number of stay at home dads in the USA has doubled in the last 10 years, and it’s clear that there are going to be a lot more constant ‘daddy days’ for more and more fathers. We should be celebrating this.
“That must be an easy ride.”
This one from Simon of Dadofboy probably sums it up best. While there are countless posts and articles about the pressures that mum faces, somehow when dad is the primary care giver, it’s got to be an easier job.
Changing the mindset
At DaddiLife, we’re here to celebrate the ever changing role of fathers. Stay at home dads aren’t just looking after the baby. They are the feeder, the story teller, sleep negotiator and much more. They aren’t trying to be mums, and SAHDs shouldn’t ever be perceived as a threat to the role of mums. Both parents have a role to play, and stay at home dads should be encouraged and celebrated, not pre-judged.
If we can start to realise that truth perhaps SAHDs can start to be seen less as a ‘baby sitter’ and more for what they really are – a parent.
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