Editor’s note: Penned by Julie Bagley with courtesy photos, CEO of the Household is a regular column featuring tidbits about and for stay-at-home moms and dads who are in charge of the house, kids, pets, you-name-it. Share your ideas with Julie via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
For those Gen-X folks (born between 1965 and 1980) growing up was a time when you possibly saw your mother leave the house and enter the workforce climbing to the reach the glass ceiling. This left your father likely becoming more domestic, possibly braiding your hair before school.
These days more women are still reaching for the glass ceiling and becoming the bread winners of the family for the men to stay home to raise the kids. Whether it’s a forced economic issue or one by choice, many dads are embracing the Mr. Mom role and doing it the “Jack Butler” way as portrayed by Michael Keaton in the 1983 comedy.
Mike Harris is father to four-and-a-half-year-old Haley and three-month-old son Blake. Harris said most people assume he can’t find work in these tough economic times which is the reason he stays home.
The reality is his family moved to Northwest Arkansas from Connecticut for his wife’s job. Renee Harris works an assistant director for Novartis Consumer Health Inc.
When they lived in Connecticut, his daughter was in daycare and was constantly sick. Harris, being a science teacher would take a few days off every couple of weeks to care for his daughter. Once the move was inevitable, they made the family decision for him to be the main caregiver.
“We soon realized she was not getting sick anymore and she didn’t need her inhaler,” said Harris, “The fact that she was healthier, combined with the financial security we had by moving into an area with lower cost of living, make it clear that we didn’t want or need her in daycare anymore.”
The latest government census tracks those dads who stay-at-home and there numbers are more than 154,000. These married fathers with children younger than 15 have remained out of the labor force for at least one year primarily so they can care for the family while their wives work outside the home. These fathers cared for 287,000 children.
While their contributions are felt at home, it can leave the guy feeling a bit shallow financially.
Harris admits, “It’s weird not making any money to help pay bills. We are secure because of my wife’s job but I still feel strange spending her money,” he said.
However, he knows it’s all about perspective. He advises other dads to keep in mind they are providing a great service to their family, “It’s one that far exceeds any financial contribution they would make.”
Harris said he’s not wasting any time spent with this kids and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of his wife. “
She works hard to provide for us, her greatest contribution is her love to our family,” he added.
The societal change within families has evolved from the infancy stages of Mr. Mom to What to Expect When You’re Expecting with full-blown SAHD-mafia-style playgroups.
When Hollywood puts it out there with stars like Chris Rock, let’s face it, being a SAHD has turned cool.
But social scientists agree a real revolution will come when there’s no distinction on who stays home, just that someone does.