Stay-at-home-dads, breadwinner moms, and making it all work

Photo by Kinderiffic.
Stay-at-home-dads are slowly making a cultural creep into relevance: we're seeing more dads who either by choice or circumstance are finding themselves happily keeping up the homestead while their partners work outside the home. Here's a recent piece from NPR with more:

The next time you see a father out shopping with his kids, you might need to check your assumptions.

"I'll get the, 'Oh, look, it's a dad! That's so sweet!' "says Jonathan Heisey-Grove, a stay-at-home father of two young boys in Alexandria, Va., who is pretty sure the other person assumes he's just giving Mom a break for the day. In fact, he's part of a growing number of fathers who are minding the kids full time while their wives support the family and who say societal expectations are not keeping up with their reality.

He and his wife, Dawn, a public health analyst, didn't exactly plan for Jonathan to be a stay-at-home parent to Egan, 5, and Zane, who's 4 months old. The Heisey-Groves were both working full time when he lost his job as a graphic designer two years ago. That also ended the company day care. Dawn says Jonathan stayed home at first just to save money on child care.

"And suddenly the world just became much calmer and quieter. Egan wasn't as upset and he wasn't as tense anymore. And our relationship, even though we were stressed about not having money, we weren't rushing around when both of us got home. And so, it was just a happier place," she says.

Head over to NPR to read the rest!

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  1. Good Article.

    My husband became at at home parent when we were dating. He had moved in with me 5 months prior and was still figuring out what he wanted to do since getting out of the military. When I had issues with the childcare I currently had, he just committed to me and my sons and said that he'd stay home (he found a job working nights). He's definitely risen to the job and does it much better than I ever did. I'm just not cut out to be home full time. He's been doing it for the past 7 years.

    1 agrees
  2. I do think a lot of our impressions of other people's thoughts are heavily and sometimes solely driven by our own thoughts and feelings.

    In this case, in one snippet above there's an assumption that other people are thinking he's "giving mom a break". It seems to me that this interpretation is more about his own world view than it is about what others are actually thinking!

    2 agree
  3. My husband was planning to quit his job when our daughter was due in February. Paying for daycare for two kids would have outstripped his income, so we had planned on it. He lost his job in November, and started watching my older daughter. Now little one is here, and he's the stay at home dad.

    I know he hates some of the comments/attitude he gets about it. People say how easy it must be, or how nice it is for him to stay home and play video games all day… no one understands how much WORK it is! I appreciate it so much, and I know he hates the demasculination of his work now. I really wish his family and friends would be more supportive of him. I am glad he's the one who's home, I don't know that I could do it nearly as well as he does!

    1 agrees
    • It's interesting how I bet people would never ever dare say that to a woman (how nice it is for her to stay home and play video games). Why on earth would it be any different for a man to stay at home?

      3 agree
      • People say things like that to stay at home Moms all the time. Just because that has been the cultural norm for so long doesn't mean it comes without stigmas. There is still this idea that, no matter what your gender, staying home and focusing on raising a child is considered "easier" than going into an office.

        For that matter I have friends who are contract workers without a traditional office and people tend to think they're staying home and playing video games all day as well. I think the reality is that, at least in Western Culture, we're still being raised with the mindset that work means going into a specific place that is "other" and comes with offices and cubicles and a boss you don't really like, and ties and business suits etc. If your path in life doesn't take you to a space like that five days a week then many people see you as having taken some sort of "easy" way out that they sure would love to take if only they could be as irresponsible as you are.

        Sorry to rant. The point being, I think we as parents have a golden opportunity to break down these thought patterns and help our children realize there is no check-list in life. There are no right answers as long as they are following their own Truths. maybe then we'll see less people shocked by stay-at-home dads or anyone else breaking from the norm.

        1 agrees
  4. Back in the late 80s/early 90s when my brother and I were in primary school my dad went back to uni to get his teaching degree and as money was tight my mum went back to work full time so dad took on the "home duties" as someone put it. Although it only lasted until he graduated he still looks back fondly on that time some 20+ years later. I think he really liked being so involved with the daily lives of his kids and, despite us not living in an especially progressive area, he mostly got a positive reaction in the community – the school was totally thrilled when he volunteered for canteen duty!

    Reading articles like this not only makes me appreciate my dad even more but also makes me a bit sad and a lot like going off on a big rant that dads staying home (or even staying at home in general) is still seen as being a lesser thing in some sectors – seriously, wtf!

      • Aww, sending cyber hugs to you (and your family!) I hope your husband's journey staying home keeps being an amazing and positive experience!

  5. I keep looking for an article on "part time parents". There is always stay at home mom or stay at home dad, what about parents who are splitting things 50/50 or 40/60? I just went back to work and my husband and I switch off who is taking care of our 11 month old. So he is "sort of" a stay at home dad who works part time, and I am "sort of" a working mom who stays at home part time- I think I have to write this article.

    7 agree
    • Go for it, and send it to us! 🙂

      My husband and I both have a 50/50 split when it comes to childcare and work. We both work full-time — he works mornings, I work afternoons and evenings, whoever isn't working is with our four-year-old, and in between that we all spend time together. Our work from home parent archives touch on this a little.

      1 agrees
  6. My husband is currently staying home with our infant twins. It's temporary — we couldn't get into our favorite daycare until the fall — but I am really enjoying it. I think more families should take paternity leave. It's a great crash course in child care and has instantly turned us into co-parents. He has his own set of tools for soothing them, now, which really takes the pressure off me!

    2 agree
  7. My husband will be a stay at home dad when we have a child, he's already my carer and we see no reason why he should 'go get a job' as no doubt he'll be told as soon as his family are aware of our future child. He doesn't want to miss out on parenting or making a great bond, yes we won't have as much money but we'll have a child who will be loved and cared just as much as any other. Plus he's looking forward to the night feeds and being the first person to introduce our child to the outside world.

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    • Friends of mine (mostely women) have said that they would love to be a stay at home parent, but not if it means they couldn't "go shopping" or take vacations etc. I think it's all about what you value most. I told my freind that she should do what whe values most for her family. I think she was offended, because she said soemthing like "Well I don't want to be poor!" Ok, then that's what you value. No biggie. Maybe she can't understand why WE would rather be "poor" than use day care. Oh well…

      Oh, BTW my husband stays home and has rarely helped out at night! Breastfeeding is a whole different lifestyle…

  8. I'm pregnant now (yay!!!) (extreme morning sickness boo!!!), due in December, which is the summer holidays for Aussies. James and I are both teachers, but to be quite honest, I'm better at it and like it more than him. So when the new school year comes around in Feb, I'm going back to work and he's staying at home. He's also currently doing part time external study, so staying at home will be better for that.

    To sum up, yay stay at home Dads!!

  9. I can't wait until the world realizes:

    Kids are work. You either do it, your spouse does it, or you pay someone to do it.

    Due to the nature of our different careers and my husband's potential to have double (or more) the salary I will, I MIGHT stay home with kids someday. But I don't want people to think it's because I'm the woman!!! I feel like I want to walk around with a big sign that says "they could have just as easily been with Dad or in daycare."

    2 agree

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