Lots of partners divide their roles as parents prior to giving birth. As welcoming a child can mean having to make major lifestyle changes, plenty of parents tend to plan things earlier. From arranging proper child care for the baby, to buying formula and paying hospital bills, a lot needs to be taken care of, even before the baby steps foot into the world.
However, problems arise when couples do not have the necessary funds required for child care. And if there is no helping hand, such as a close friend or family living nearby, different arrangements have to be made in order to avoid a chaotic situation afterwards.
With childcare becoming expensive by the day, the number of stay-at-home dads has increased in the last couple of years. Parents are having to make difficult decisions in order to cut down costs and adopt new lifestyle changes which are suited better to the child’s needs.
Nonetheless, being a stay-at-home parent comes with its own set of challenges. Let us take a look at them, shall we?
The Challenges of Being a Stay-At-Home Dad
Women are no longer the only stay-at-home parents anymore. Nowadays, men also opt for being stay-at-home parents by not working or working part-time. However, it comes with challenges that are yet to be normalized by society.
The Stigma Surrounding It
People often associate men being stay-at-home parents as shameful or ‘lazy.’ Some often go as far as to call these men ‘not man enough’ as they choose to stay back home to take care of the child. This type of judgment is generally received from the society as a whole, including family and friends.
But, this is a common misconception. Men wanting to be stay-at-home parents have nothing to do with masculinity. If anything, it shows that the couple took the necessary steps that were needed to be taken for the betterment of the child.
If the parents think that the child will have a better upbringing under the supervision of the dad, so be it. There is nothing flawed about this when the decision has been taken by both parents.
Therefore, this type of judgment or stigma surrounding men being stay-at-home parents might make you feel anxious and upset. Justin Baldoni has very recently written a book called ‘Man Enough’ which is an absolute must-read if you want to get in-depth knowledge about men and the stereotypes surrounding them.
Since people are yet to de-stigmatize men being stay-at-home parents, the lack of support can also be received from immediate family members, relatives and friends. This is why you may often feel lonely when you are having to face these challenges.
However, you should know that these types of stigmas exist due to cultural expectations. And you should only surround yourself with people who are more accepting and understanding about things.
Connecting with Other Parents
Thanks to the stereotype surrounding stay-at-home dads, there aren’t many of them to begin with. For example, at every school, you will only find one or two fathers who are stay-at-home parents.
This creates an imbalance in the number of parents participating in school-related activities. As they do not feel comfortable trying to build connections with other parents, stay-at-home dads actually end up spending time on their own. This prevents them from forming any connection with other parents during playdates or other social events.
Even the organized social activities or support groups for education on parenting are designed for women to take part in. Hence, most fathers tend to isolate themselves due to lack of people they can connect with or relate to.
Mental Health Issues
When you are constantly having to be in front of the public eye making your own attempt at trying to de-stigmatize stay-at-home dads, you end up with some mental health issues.
The lack of support and judgment will drive you away from loved ones, making you feel lonely. This may result in periods of extreme sadness, depression and other mental health issues.
Moreover, the emotional strain is a lot more for stay-at-home dads when they have to make a sudden shift from getting paychecks every month to receiving none.
The job market has never been this competitive before. With so many qualified people and lesser jobs, it isn’t an easy task to start working again if need be in the future.
The costs of raising a child will only increase every year. In fact. The main expenses really begin after you start paying for education. And not just that, both parents need to cover everything. Therefore, it can be a bother to have to manage finances.
The Benefits of Being a Stay-At-Home Dad
Although the stigma surrounding stay-at-home parents does not really enable you to enjoy the whole experience, there are still some benefits attached to it.
No Costs for Child Care
Child Care can be very expensive. And when it comes to matters related to handling babies, one should take no chances. And what better way to raise a child than to take care of them yourself? The cut down on the child care cost is just an added bonus to all of this.
Being an Active Parent of the Child’s Life
More often than not, fathers tend to be out of the loop with things that go on with their children when they work a full-time job. Their absence is felt greatly and it might be difficult for them to remember what new things their child is learning every day.
So, when you become a stay-at-home dad, you are being offered an opportunity to get to know your child better. As you spend more time together, you form a bond which is very special.
Better Connection with Partner
When you switch roles, it makes you appreciate what your partner used to do a lot more. This applies to men who have only recently taken up the job of a stay-at-home parent. And feeling acknowledged for hard work, whether at the office or at home, feels exceptionally good.
This is why the bond between parents also increases as it is rather empowering to see men take the lead at being stay-at-home parents.
Bond with Kids Strengthens
Kids love having both of their parents around. So if you have started your job as a stay-at-home parent, you will notice that the bond between you and your kid will automatically increase. They will also notice you are trying to be around and involved in their day-to-day activities.
For example, even doing the simplest of chores or running an errand together can add to the experience of being able to be around kids.
Breaking Social Norms
When you opt for being a stay-at-home-dad, you take a step for all the other dads who are unable to do the same due to receiving extreme levels of judgment from people. So you are actively trying to normalize the whole idea of dads being stay-at-home parents to their children.
Moreover, you never know, you might just influence another dad at school to do the same. So you might just end up being a part of something extremely valuable for society.
There are many reasons why a person may choose to be a stay-at-home dad. Although it will always vary from one person to the other, the first reason would still be a person’s ‘will’ or ‘choice.’ The rest of the reasons would include having a disability or chronic illness of some sort, or any other financial strategic move, or emotions which may help influence this decision.
So, as you can see, regardless of the challenges faced by stay-at-home dads, there are a bunch of benefits of being one. Perhaps the best is that you get to spend more quality time with your baby. You will get to be more present regarding matters related to them.
Beginning from their eating habits to taking care of them during sick days, a lot of effort will go into taking care of them. But it will all be worth it when you see how the decision has impacted all the lives in your small family, positively.
However, initially, you may require some assistance for mental health. In such cases, it may not be such a bad idea to get in touch with a doctor. He or she might help you gain a better perspective of things.