When Daddy stays home

2011-04-11 00:00

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 went out to work. 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 function 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 the home, 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 because 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 neglect one's appearance.

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 opts to stay at home, does it that mean that he will participate equally in parenting and with household chores?

According to my own personal observation and to the discussions on many 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 children, 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 would be done.

In my humble opinion, anyone who expects a stay-at-home dad to be as effective as a stay-at-home mom will be bitterly disappointed.

The problem is that society does not yet prepare us men to be stay-at-home dads. Society expects us to be the bread-

winners, team leaders and protectors. Although it's becoming a trend for more men to be stay-at-home dads, most men I know would rather have 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 children and do the laundry, he may go through a bout of depression. He's no longer the ideal man whom society expects him to be. What's more, he can't go out and engage in small talk with stay-at-home moms in the neighbourhood, because it's unlikely they'll welcome him with open arms. He can find himself in a lonely place.

But he doesn't have to worry. It's likely that some of his buddies will soon be stay-at-home dads too. — News 24.

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