The Stay At Home Dad’s Guide to Being Taken Seriously
While there is a growing number of stay at home dads, they still represent a very small segment of the population. If you’re one of these pioneers, you may be amused to see that there’s a reality TV show on AMC in your honor. On the other hand, you may want a little more practical assistance than what you see on Modern Dads.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that the number of U.S. dads who stay at home while their spouses work full time has almost doubled since the 1970s. The number is now estimated at over 500,000 and still growing. Unfortunately, there’s also evidence that men may face stiffer career consequences than women for taking time away from the workforce.
If you’re a stay at home dad, you may want to consider these suggestions regarding yourself, your family, and your employment plans. They may help you take better care of your family and get taken more seriously.
Steps to Take with Your Family
1. Discuss expectations with your partner. Child rearing may be the most important issue to discuss with your partner. Ensure you agree on the major points.
2. Answer your children’s questions. Your kids are bound to realize their family seems a little different from their friends and classmates. Be open to their questions and answer them with age-appropriate information.
3. Divide responsibilities equitably. That same Pew study found that some men who stay at home appear to be doing curiously little housework. If that sounds like you, take some initiative and start cleaning.
4. Make a savings plan. It’s difficult for many families to get by on a single paycheck. Set money aside regularly, even if it’s a small amount, so you have some savings and an emergency fund.
5. Enlist broader support. Find strength in relatives who respect your decisions. Make an effort to stay in touch and seek their support.
Steps to Take with Yourself
1. Be positive. Family and friends will pick up on your confident and cheerful attitude. Your kids are especially sensitive to your mood.
2. Join a support group. Reach out to other men in similar circumstances. You may find a support group online or in your neighborhood.
3. Discuss differences tactfully. You may encounter people who hold strong viewpoints about traditional gender roles. Try to look at it as an opportunity to present yourself as a constructive role model rather than interpreting their reaction as a personal criticism.
Steps to Take with Employment
1. Explore innovative work arrangements. The nature of work has changed dramatically since the internet and the most recent recession. If you want to still work outside the home, think about taking on some freelance or contract work, working part time, or sharing a position. These options will help you stay connected to the workforce.
2. Assess the culture. If you receive a job offer, talk with your potential coworkers before accepting it. Check out their experience with being able to leave early for an occasional school event or if there’s the ability to work from home when your child is ill.
3. Study your benefits. Similarly, read the employment manual. Some employers offer paid parental leave and day care. Understanding your benefits and compensation will help you decide if it’s financially worthwhile for you and your partner to both work outside the home.
4. Promote fairness. Make allies by taking everyone’s needs into consideration when it comes to balancing work and home life. Your future colleagues may have elderly parents who they care for or other responsibilities outside of the workplace.
Compared to a generation ago, fathers are already spending about three times as many hours with their children, and most want to increase that amount even further. Staying at home with your children could be the best decision you ever make. You’ll probably end up feeling like it was well worth anything you had to sacrifice along the way.