Stay at Home Dads – Pros & Cons
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 by the American Heart Association 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 may be 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. Men who willingly choose to become a stay-at-home dad are much more satisfied with their role in the family.
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. It puts a sound mind for the mother knowing that the child/children are at a safe place. The father having also the same safety and values as the mother in most cases.
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 by Minnesota’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, followed by “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 modern society. Because fathers are immersed in their children’s lives, many of the stereotypically “manly” attitudes and activities historically prescribed for children may be circumscribed due to a more gender-neutral parenting approach that focuses on promoting independence and emotional well being. This allows children, especially male children, to grow up with a greater capacity for empathy and less rigidity in attitudes pertaining to gender roles than would perhaps be the case in more traditionally-structured households.
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