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While I know that I am a quasi-Stay At Home Dad (SAHD) since I work on the business with my wife, I do most of the things that SAHD’s would be…which is the same at what SAHM’s would do.  I found this to be interesting and something to really take a look at. So, SAHDs – fight the good fight! I am with you!  By the way, I love holding my baby while ironing in a plush terrycloth robe…makes me feel like a real man.

Increase in popularity

Stay-at-home dads have been seen in increasing numbers in Western culture, especially in Canada, the UK and the US since the late 20th century. In developed East Asian nations such as Japan and South Korea, this practice is less common.

There are several reasons why some families feel that it would be more beneficial for the father to be the primary caregiver while the mother works outside of the home. The decision to use a stay-at-home dad arrangement is most commonly due to economic reasons. There has been a disappearance of the types of white-collar jobs that men have traditionally filled. Many middle-aged men have become essentially unemployable, thereby causing a role reversal for economic reasons. At the same time, women are progressing into higher-paying jobs. There are now financial ramifications in deciding whether the mother or father should become the stay-at-home parent. In cases where the woman is the higher-paid parent, it makes more economic sense for her to continue to work while the man takes on the caregiver role. At times the mother’s job offers health benefits for the family whereas the father’s does not.

With the growth of telecommuting, many men are also able to work from home. In this regard, he is contributing financially to the family while also acting as the primary caregiver of the family’s children. Differences in parent’s schedules can also account for some of the stay-at-home dads. Sometimes the father works odd work shifts while the mother has a typical nine-to-five work schedule.

Fixed gender roles have become less prominent in the Western world in recent years, allowing men to make their own choice of career without regard to traditional gender-based roles. Some men who choose this role may do so because they enjoy being an active part of their children’s lives, while in other families, the mother wants to pursue her career. For example, of the 187 participants at Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women in the Business Summit, 1/3 of the women’s husbands were stay-at-home dads. Families vary widely in terms of how household chores are divided. Some retired males who marry a younger woman decide to become stay-at-home dads while their wives works because they want a “second chance” to watch a child grow up in a second or third marriage. Additionally, more career and lifestyle options are accepted and prevalent in Western society. There are also fewer restrictions on what constitutes a family. The rising number of single fathers and gay couples raising children means that there may not be a potential stay-at-home mother.

Disadvantages

Depending on the country or region, a stay-at-home dad might find more or less social support for his decision. In regions where traditional roles prevail, a stay-at-home dad might be shunned by stay-at-home mom’s peer group. In order to find support for their choice, these men have created and joined many support networks.

Still, many men struggle to find acceptance within the role of stay-at-home dad despite the many gains that have been made. Many worry about losing business skills and their “professional place in line”. There is a common misconception that stay-at-home dads cannot get a job and therefore must rewrite the typical family roles, forcing the wife into the workforce. Carrying the financial burden and dealing with children’s attachment to the dad can be difficult on a working mother.

One 2002 study suggested stay-at-home dads may face a higher risk of heart disease. The reasons for the health risk are not specified.

The role of stay-at-home dad is difficult for men who feel as though they had no option. It is hard for these men to adapt from being a financial provider in the family to being a homemaker. The men who willingly choose to become a stay-at-home dad are much more satisfied with their role in the family.

Advantages

For the child

There have been many studies done which suggest the importance of the paternal role in a child’s life and benefits of the stay-at-home dad.

A study conducted by Dr. Kyle D. Pruett found that infants between 7 and 30 months respond more favorably to being picked up by their fathers. Pruett also found that a father’s parenting style is beneficial for a child’s physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral development. Mothers reassure toddlers when they become frustrated while fathers encourage them to manage their frustration. This helps the children learn to deal with stress and frustration. A long-term study Pruett conducted proved that a father’s active involvement with his children, from birth to adolescence, promotes greater emotional balance, stronger curiosity and a stronger sense of self-assurance in the child.

Additional studies show that during the first five years of a child’s life, the father’s role is more influential than the mother’s in how the child learns to manage his or her body, navigate social circumstances, and play. Furthermore, a 1996 study by McGill University found that the “single most important childhood factor in developing empathy is paternal involvement in childcare”. The study further concluded that fathers who spent time alone bonding with their children more than twice per week brought up the most compassionate adults.

Robert Frank, a professor of child development at Oakton Community College in Illinois, conducted a study comparing households with a stay-at-home dad and households with a stay-at-home mom. His study concluded that women were still able to form a strong bond with their children despite working full-time outside of the home. Also, women working full time were often more engaged with their children on a day-to-day basis than their male counterparts. His study concluded that in a family with a stay-at-home dad arrangement, the maternal and paternal influences are equally strong. This contrasts with the more traditional family structure where the father works outside of the home and the mother stays home with the children. In this type of arrangement, the mother’s influence is extremely strong, whereas the father’s is relatively insignificant. The study found that both parents play an equal role in a child’s development, but the stay-at-home dad arrangement is the most beneficial for the child.

For the mother

The stay-at-home dad arrangement allows the mother to work without having to use a daycare or a nanny. This arrangement prevents the mother from having to deal with the stress of finding acceptable childcare, checking backgrounds, and paying for care. This arrangement also can help ensure that the family’s values are being upheld and instilled in the children. Free from the stress of childcare, the working mother is able to actively pursue their career. This allows for a more relaxed working environment for the mother and allows her to focus on her career. If the mother has a higher paying job, this extra income will allow for savings to be made for the children, these savings could help the mother later on pay for university for the child and/or children. Thus, she can advance her career and provide more money for the family.

For the father

It is becoming more important and more advantageous for men to establish fulfilling relationships with their children. They are beginning to value these relationships over financial gains. A survey conducted byMinnesota’s Department for Families and Children’s Services shows that men consider child care to be far more important than a paycheck. Of 600 dads surveyed, a majority said their most important role was to “show love and affection” to kids. “Safety and protection” came next, “moral guidance,” “taking time to play” and “teaching and encouraging.” “Financial care” finished last. Many men are now becoming more involved in their children’s lives, and because of that many men now have a better understanding of what life is like for their child growing up in the current times. Because fathers are immersed in their children’s lives, many of the so-called “manly” things men do are pushed aside for their children. This allows children, especially male children, to grow up without a misogynistic outlook on life given to them by their fathers. These children are more compassionate because they have learned compassion and caring from their father. These stay at home dads, however, are not embarrassed of themselves or their roles. They know that they are fulfilling their role as primary caregiver. Later in life the father will serve as a close friend of the teenager, and later, as the children become young adults and begin raising families of their own the father will be not only a good grandparent but a good source of advice as to how children should be raised. – Wikipedia

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