when dad stays home
Along the cul-de-sac, at school pickup, and at the grocery store, stay-at-home dads (SAHD) seem to be more common than ever before. (In this post, SAHD is defined as the primary care giver and likely the one to run household duties. Some may work at-home or part time, but the SAHD maintains primary responsibility of the kids.)
When my husband left his law practice in 1995 to run the business side of my new biz, Moisture Jamzz, Inc., we both decided to always work from home (if possible) so we could be around for our son, with another on the way. Ron was the kind of guy who truly wanted to drive carpool and, as the kids grew up, wanted to be at every school event, sports game, music recital, etc. He lost his mom when she was only 48 years old and left him realizing that it was a privilege to be able to celebrate any moment with our own kids.
Frequently, Ron was the only dad at some of these non- “milestone” events, but he could attend, so he did. He thoroughly enjoyed being present for our boys and didn’t mind the stares that I saw from other moms. They always wondered what he “did” and why he was at home so much.
Home offices were not the norm, technology had not infiltrated every home yet but once it did, we both noticed more dads at kid events and driving carpool. Technology allowed them to work from home a bit more and take a more active role with their kids.
Now, SAHDs can find online support groups and communities to help them ban together like many moms have always done.
The National At Home Dad Network (www.daddyshome.org) formerly known as Daddyshome, Inc.), a national support group for at-home dads, was the vision of three at-home dads who saw a need. Active in a D.C. local playgroup, Mike Stilwell, Peter Steinberg and Matt Vossler wondered why there wasn’t a national network available for at-home dads around the country where they could find great local playgroups like theirs. They met with an attorney and by early 2006, incorporated the first and only national non-profit organization for at-home dads.
While all of their lives may be quite different, there’s one common feeling many experience -- isolation. “Being an at-home dad can be an isolating experience which can lead to depression,” according to the National At-Home Dad Network. “Every at home parent deals with isolation but this is magnified for at-home dads because our society is unfamiliar with men taking this role. On the playground, in the grocery store, or at pre-school, at-home dads often feel ignored or sometimes, feared, by the people they encounter. This makes it difficult for at-home dads to feel comfortable in their role or make many adult friends. While the number of men choosing to stay home with their children has grown by 60% over the last four years, at-home dads still have many difficulties finding and connecting with other at-home dads.” To date, the National At-Home Dad Network has approximately 50 local groups across the country and the group is planning their 17th annual conference in October.
How do the wives feel when hubby is at home? Leslie Blodgett, CEO of Bare Escentuals, is an outspoken advocate of her stay-at-home husband. “We agreed that whoever was making more money would keep working when we started a family,” Blodgett tells Inc. Magaine. “Our son, Trent, was three months old when I took a job with Neutrogena. Keith has been a stay-at-home dad ever since. He does everything around the house. I don't even know how to turn on the dishwasher.”
Trent is now 19 and Keith has continued to be the force at home while Leslie left her job to build Bare Escentuals, turning a start up into a 1.7 billion dollar business which she sold to Shiseido in 2010. “Once I knew my role was providing for the family, I took that very seriously,” Leslie recently shared with Bloomberg Business Week. “But there was envy knowing I wasn’t there for our son during the day. Keith does everything at home—the cooking, repairs, finances, vacation planning—and I could work long hours and travel a lot, knowing he took such good care of Trent. I love my work, but I would have liked to have a little more balance or even understand what that means.”
With nearly 40% of wives now out-earning their hubbies and/or husbands unemployed due to the economy, it’s a no-brainer for some families that Dad would stay home while Mom heads to work. And when the choice is between daycare or staying home, many more dads are welcoming this opportunity to be hands on.
Weigh in, does dad stay home in your family? Do you see yourself making that choice in the future?