Stay-at-home Dads: On the rise and in need of support 

October 26, 2012

Being a stay-at-home dad (SAHD) can be hard, especially if you’re a new parent.  SAHDs face a lot of criticism, most of which are based on stereotypical gender roles.  Dedicating yourself to raising your children can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be a demanding, confusing and lonely job.  While more and more dads are joining the SAHD ranks (some estimates suggest the number has more than doubled in the last decade), a recent article in Time reports than men are still battling stigma.  To combat the negative aspects of being a SAHD, dads’ groups have started popping up. NYC Dads Group boasts more than 500 diverse members.  They go out in groups for activities with the kids, but also plan dad-only events so SAHDs can relax and spend time with friends.

NYC Dads Group offers these tips for stay-at-home dads (that also happen to be great tips for ALL at-home parents!) on their blog:

1. Be clear about responsibilities.
Make sure you and your partner agree on expectations about cooking, house care and how parenting will be handled on nights and weekends.  By talking about it ahead of time, conflict can be reduced or diminished.

2. Find time for yourself.
Don’t let your whole life be about parenting. Try to spend time with friends or do some activities alone.

3. Take your job seriously.
We often say parenting is the toughest job you’ll ever love. NYC Dads Group puts it like this: “Navigate parenthood with the goal to be the best dad you can be, the same way you strive to succeed at any job.”

4. Consider the future.
Being a SAHD may not be your job forever, so stay up-to-date on information in your field in case you return to work in the business world.

5. Connect with other parents.
Being a stay-at-home parent can be isolating, but you can beat that feeling by joining a stay-at-home parents’ group or a group just for SAHDs or SAHMs (Stay-at-home Moms). Carve out time to socialize, network and discuss childcare with other parents. There’s a group for DC Metro Area SAHDs (check it out at http://www.dcmetrodads.com) but there are also plenty of general parent support groups (like SCAN’s!) that can be helpful, too.

6. Establish a routine.
Having a routine is important when it comes to organizing your life and your child(ren)’s. It can reduce daily chaos and help them learn responsibility. See SCAN’s Parent Resource Center for a guide on the importance of routine, including a radio show and fact sheets in English and Spanish.

7. Get out of the house.
“Make sure you get out once or twice a day (even during winter) to take a walk with the stroller through a park, run a few errands, enroll in a parent and child class or to hit the local library or bookstore,” suggests a blogger at NYC Dads Group.

8. Seek advice or help.
It’s hard to be a parent and it’s even harder when you’re by yourself. Whether the topic is where to find good daddy-and-me classes or how to potty train efficiently, ask for help when you need it.

9. Embrace the experience.
“Sometimes it may be hard to realize, but caring for your child during the first few years of his or her life is a wonderful opportunity. You not only get to observe and witness the major milestones, but you get to share and enjoy the small wondrous moments that happen every day! “

10. Shatter stereotypes and inform society.
Many SAHDs face criticism because childcare is typically seen as a woman’s duty.  Part of your job as a SAHD is to defy those stereotypes and show that fathers can be just as loving, caring and competent as mothers.

Do you know a SAHD doing a great job? Are you a SAHD with questions? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!