Being called unmanly, getting trapped by the kids with no escape route and having less adult interaction than Tom Hanks in Cast Away often don’t compare to the fear that economic realities strike in the average stay-at-home dad. Here are a few of economic topics stay-at-home dads need to address before deciding to make the move to full-time fatherhood and revisit them from time to time after.
Losing an income probably strikes the most immediate fear. Reality can be tough for a family losing a significant chunk of its paycheck. Budgets need to be made and abided by, calculators need to work overtime to make sure the savings can handle the hit, and some expenses – or should we say luxuries – might need to be tossed out the window. But if the family can weather that storm, you just might discover there might be some advantages to the transition.
Once the fear of losing a wage earner subsides, many families with a stay-at-home dad may realize there wasn’t that much to be afraid of at all. Add up all the expenses that working incurs and a SAHD might wonder why he didn’t make the move a lot sooner. (And it could be enough to keep him in the role for a long time.) No commute, no work clothes, no lunches out (or snacks or coffee), no child care and all of a sudden there is a lot of change left over.
For all of time man and woman alike have been told what roles they should play socially, professionally and within the family. A stay-at-home dad immediately scrambles all those ideas. And it’s hard for everyone involved to deal with it. Friends, strangers, husband and wife will all have issues with the reversed gender role. More than any perception of the stay-at-home dad out there, this is the toughest to tackle. After all, he’s has been told virtually since conception that he needs to provide. And it’s not much easier for mom, who has been told just as long that she should be a mom and provided for. This is one area that must be nurtured and constantly addressed within the family.
There will be times when all aspects of stay-at-home dad life face the challenges of the economic climate. There will be SAHDs who are forced into the role against their wishes; there will be dads who may need to go back to work because of a lack of money or their wives lost jobs; and there will be at-home fathers who are in pretty situations because they don’t have to worry about job security. The uncertainty these situations may cause certainly will be stressful and could define the future of a father’s positions as a stay-at-home dad. Now, more than many, it is necessary to buckle that chin strap and tackle the economy head on.