Let me start by a declaration: I am an extremely privileged man. Not only am I happily married to the most wonderful and smartest woman I know. And not only am I blessed with an extraordinary healthy, energetic and funny little two-year-old. My privilege is even larger than that. Why? Well, it’s quite simple: more than having a family that I love, I actually have an abundance of time to spend with them, and in particular with my son.
Historically, geographically and culturally, the concept of a stay-at-home-dad is very new, and it still is – unfortunately – extremely rare. The number is growing, but it is yet only a tiny proportion of all men who ever gets the chance to spend any significant time with their children. In almost every culture and society around the globe, women are considered most appropriate to bring up children full time, in particular small children. Some would even claim say it’s against “God’s will” or the laws of biology to do otherwise.
This is all nonsense, of course. Men are just as fit and capable to raise small children as women are, if only they had the will and the encouragement. The only thing that men can’t do is to breastfeed, which is why it might be more convenient for the woman to stay at home during the first 6-12 months. But this biological circumstance gives no excuse for continuing in this way when the baby grows older. Moreover, thanks to the invention of breast-pumps, men can in fact nowadays take care of this aspect as well.
For me, the decision to take a break from my career within the Swedish Government Offices and follow my wife to
This is not to say that being a full time parent is easy. Those who might think that being at home with the kids equals leisure and fun only are very much mistaken. Changing nappies, cleaning up all kinds of mess, making baby food and having to get up in the middle of the night to comfort a baby can sometimes be very tiring. What is more: the level of responsibility is immeasurable. Being responsible for a baby’s or a toddler’s safety, sustenance, clothing, hygiene, physical and psychological development etc is a HUGE task. The predominating idea that paid employment is somehow more important or valuable to society than raising kids is completely flawed.
To be a full-time dad anywhere is great. But to be a full-time daddy in
So, what are the downsides of being a stay at home dad in
It should be obvious by now that I am quite proud to be a stay-at-home-dad. And I call on all fathers to try it on for size for as long as they possibly can; ideally to (at least) the same extent as the mother. If you are working, take parental leave. If you are unemployed, take full responsibility for the kids for a while. And if you somehow find that being a full time father is incompatible with your opinion of what a man should or shouldn’t do, get over it! It’s not worth loosing your time with your kids just because of an obsolete prejudice. I’m telling you, you won’t regret it. It is a true privilege to be a full time dad.