Dear Barb – Father Knows Best

Dear Barb:

My wife and I have been married seven years and we have two girls, ages 3 and 5. When my second daughter was born my wife and I decided that I would stay home with the girls. Since I was working at a low paying factory job, it made sense that I would stay home, while my wife is a teacher and making pretty good money. My wife took one year of maternity leave and since then I have been home with the girls. Initially I was feeling unaccomplished, so I decided to take some courses at AU and now I am on my way to obtaining my degree. Even though I have been home for two years, I still feel out of place, as very few fathers stay home with their children. I am usually the only father at most play dates with the girls. My biggest problem is dealing with comments from other fathers, such as “it must be nice to be a kept man”, or “don’t you miss work, or aren’t you bored staying home all day?” These are just some of the comments I have to deal with on a daily basis. I know it shouldn’t bother me, but it does. I am enjoying raising my girls, but I would like to be able to feel more confident and accepted in my role as a stay at home dad. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks Shane!

Hi Shane:

You are definitely in the minority, but stay at home dads are on the rise. According to Statistics Canada, in 1976 stay at home dads made up only 2% of families, while in 2014 this number rose to 11% of families, although this is still in the minority, of course. As you know it is a very rewarding experience to be able to bond with your children and care for them in this special way. Twenty years ago it would be a rarity to see a father at the park with his children in the middle of the afternoon, or even walking his children to the bus stop. Good for you to be working on your degree while you are at home raising your children. This is the perfect way to keep yourself stimulated and to prepare for your eventual return to the work force. The comments you are receiving from others is a very common complaint among stay at home dads. I don’t think you can do anything about that, except smile and continue with your day. I would suggest you go to your local library and see if there are support groups in your area where stay at home dads meet once or twice a month to connect and discuss common issues. As long as you and your wife and your children are happy with your situation, I don’t think you have anything to worry about, just continue on. As this demographic increases you will find more acceptance. The stay at home fathers of 20 years ago were considered lazy men who didn’t want to work, although you are still experiencing this, it is much less prevalent in 2016.

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