The old Michael Keaton Mr. Mom movie got laughs by playing off the public perception that men were out of place as full-time caretakers for their children. But more and more couples are discovering that, for them, having Dad stay home is the right decision.
Attitudes in our society have certainly changed in recent years. For one thing, fathers are generally more involved in their kids’ lives than a generation or even a decade ago. Their co-workers and bosses are also more open to family-friendly policies.
Being an at-home dad isn’t for everyone, but if you’re considering this option, let’s look at a few things you’ll want to think about.
First, and most obvious, look at the financial considerations. Even if you aren’t going to be the main breadwinner, you still have a responsibility to see that your children are provided for.
Second, find a support network to help you survive and thrive. At-home parent groups overwhelmingly cater to moms, but at-home dads are a rapidly growing group, and they face some unique challenges.
There are some great online resources and networks for at-home dads, but also be cognizant of activity in your neighborhood, at the playground, and throughout the community. When you’re taking care of your child, you’re bound to spy another dad doing the same. Go out of your way and make a friendly connection.
And third, be ready for how people will react. Sure, our society has changed a lot in recent decades, but many people will still make jokes about a dad staying home to care for his children. They may assign you any number of stereotypes, like you’re a bumbling Mr. Mom like in the movie, or you’re incompetent in the business world, or you’re a slacker, or even that your wife is the one who “wears the pants” in the family. It’s unfortunate that anyone would do react that way, and maybe they’ll eventually come around, but you have to be ready for it.
The best approach? Just smile and count each experience or comment as a blessing, because they will force you to re-examine your decision, remember the good reasons why you’ve taken on that role, and re-commit again and again to do what’s best for your children.