Stay at home dad – say what?
By Melinda Hann
In this new age world of equality, one would not be surprised to be a stay-at-home Dad? Or would they?
We were a bit surprised when that became our family decision back in 2013.
I took 14 months leave with my first-born and was looking forward to the same “time off” with No.2! Not ever did I imagine I would return to work and leave my 4-month-old baby boy, but that is what I did!
It made sense for our family, but there were a few obstacles to overcome. Whenever we told people about our decision, their eyebrows would raise. I had to overcome the feeling of guilt. “I am their mother, shouldn’t I be taking care of my children?” I had a lot of thoughts about missing out on things whether it be milestones, appointments, or even just the lunch and coffee dates. I also felt like I lost ‘control’ of the household.
People would ask my husband ‘so, are you studying while you aren’t working?’ Do people ask Mum’s that question when they are on maternity leave? I don’t think so. Others would make comments about how great it was that I have a husband who cooks, cleans and looks after the kids. “My husband could never do that!” some would say.
And, I’m sure some of my husbands’ mates were jealous of what he was getting to experience and would make jokes about coffee dates or the family comedy, ‘Daddy Daycare.’
So what has our experience been like?
FANTASTIC! By breaking the traditional roles we have benefited in many ways, including my husband getting to create fulfilling relationships with the kids and I have been able to focus on my career. The kids are more aware of how important their dad’s role is in raising them. My husband tends to enable the kids to be more independent whereas I would perhaps ‘mother’ them too much and take away some of their independence. Also, let’s face it, by keeping me at work full-time I have less time to go out shopping!
So, although the world we live in is changing and we are reaping the benefits of this new flexibility, it appears the stay-at-home Dad is still unfamiliar to many people and is almost a novelty. Should we be annoyed that people are making jokes and sometimes insensitive comments? No, I don’t think so. We acknowledge that our choice made us a rarity among families and that change is a gradual process. We are both just so glad we were brave enough to try it!