1. Parenting

The Economy's Impact on Stay-at-Home Dads


When an economy turns sour, especially if the job market goes south, there is not a soul who doesn’t need to take a deep look at his financial situation. Stay-at-home dads are no exception.

Uncertainty hits all walks of life, no matter how secure those lives seem. Such doubt can be even more stressful with families involved.

Families with a stay-at-home dad are already walking the tightrope of a single income. To have to deal with the stress of that source of income going away, or possibly the need to add a second wage earner to the coffers, magnifies the stresses and can disrupt a household’s equilibrium.

A sliding economy can mean dads are losing jobs at a time when work is needed most. That could force them into a stay-at-home role, meaning they have even more to adjust to. Then, to some extent, those tough times could mean current stay-at-home dads are fairly safe in their situations, not that they shouldn’t keep up frugal living.

Most stay-at-home dads already had to do some pretty serious adapting to their situation, but is it possible to adapt again during shaky financial times? That may be a necessity.

Economy adds to SAHD Roster

One tricky situation a bad economy adds to the stay-at-home dad realm is the working father who is forced into an at-home role. Not only does he have to adjust to the shock, stress and disappointment of losing work, he has to further adapt to a difficult and completely different role.

And that comes with little or no advance prep work, which is an important part of success as a stay-at-home parent.

If a dad loses his job – say he’s in contact work that dried up or in the financial sector that’s crashing – and mom has a somewhat stable job or better employment prospects, staying home becomes a simple way to adapt.

But that means a lot of catching up to do to be ready for his new gig. Likely this dad didn’t want to lose his job. That could mean he doesn’t completely fancy himself a SAHD, which may lead to double the unhappiness.

Throw in the stigma that even veteran at-home dads have to deal with and the new SAHD is set up to fail. Going into such an unhappy hole can be a drain on the kids he is charged with caring for and the family in general.

He may never completely break that funk, but it is imperative that he at least live with it and adapt quickly. The new SAHD can connect with fellow stay-at-home dads and realize that there are some financial advantages, even in tough times, of staying and home. In the long run, hopefully he sees the bright side of not working: The benefit of the children.

And it’s not to say he shouldn’t aspire to do what makes him happy or to further his career. Keep looking for that new job while keeping the kids healthy and happy at the same time. If all works out, hopefully that is enough to get him and the family through tough times.

Back to Work

Money matters may mean other stay-at-home dads need to dust off the resume and start looking to re-enter the workforce.

Even with jobs disappearing, money is necessary for any household to march forward. And parents have to do what is in the best interest of their brood.

So if Mom’s career all of a sudden is on shaky ground or living off one income is no longer enough to pay the bills, it is a must to suck up that pride and take a peek at what work might be out there. That can be a tough pill for the longtime stay-at-home dad to swallow, and going back to work can be as difficult of a transition as deciding to raise children full time.

But if it is necessary to go back to work, take steps to integrate what you have been doing for the past years into that resume. Staying at home was still a job and it is likely you picked up work experience through many day-to-day activities.

Take other steps to close the employment gap. Brush up on interviewing skills and be flexible with what work you seek to be more marketable. Be truthful about what the duties as a stay-at-home dad are.

Full-time work may not even be a must to make ends meet. Don’t be afraid to look for a part-time job, work you can do from home or something temporary that can ease some money pressure. Even if pay is not great or it is not a dream situation, financial survival should trump all.

Job Security

Then again, a bad economy may not have any affect on all stay-at-home dads.

These dads have already been living off one income for awhile and their wives may have steady or recession-proof jobs, giving the dads a little bit of job security as well. Not having to worry about work during tough times is a convenience not everyone has, and the stay-at-home dad who is in such a situation can feel fortunate.

Still, nothing is a sure thing forever and dads with relative stability would be wise to remain cautious. Rising prices could still be a factor on family bank accounts and job situations can turn in an instant.

It remains wise to keep the same thrifty living strategy that a family adopted when it went to one income. Invest wisely and conservatively. If possible, even try to save money in case bad times do hit, so that there is something to fall back on.

After all, stay-at-home dads are not immune from the worry of a faltering economy.

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