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Distant Dads? Not Us, Many Say

Many more dads are taking a stay-at-home role and learning more meaningful roles in their children's lives.
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All-Day Dads continued...

"I'm glad I did it," Baylies tells WebMD. But at first, he says it felt strange to be home alone with a baby all day. "It's a major life change," he says. He looked to connect with other dads in his position, using his technical savvy and a new-fangled thing called the Internet. He found them, and started a newsletter.

After doing this for several years, "I found myself running the same articles over and over," he says. "Once the dads' kids were in first grade, most of them ended up going back to work, then I would have a whole new group of subscribers, and they wanted to know the same information."

Last year, he compiled a decade's worth of advice from his newsletter in a book, The Stay-at-Home Dad Handbook.

How many dads stay at home with their kids? Is it a tiny niche, or a growing trend? It's hard to say for certain. In 2003, the census counted 98,000 dads with working wives who stayed home explicitly "to care for home and family." That is not a lot, but many men who fit the commonsense description of an at-home dad were not counted among that number.

About 1 million, or 4% of fathers with working spouses, were out of the workforce for various reasons. But that includes only dads who didn't work at all that year. According to the Census Bureau's definition, to be employed means doing anything professionally, not just drawing a regular salary or wages. So that 1 million does not include dads who worked occasionally, part-time, or those working at home.

Peter Baylies, for example, would not meet the Census Bureau's definition of an at-home dad because he has made some money from his book.

"I don't think there's any doubt that the most recent numbers are an undercount," says Brian Reid, who lives near Washington, and writes a blog called Rebel Dad. Although he has stayed at home to care for his daughter for two years, while his wife works outside the home as an attorney, he still takes on work as a freelance journalist. The census wouldn't count him, either.

"About half of our staff works out of their home. I did it for about five years myself," says Warren, of the National Fatherhood Initiative. "It really gave me a tremendous opportunity not only to be effective in the workplace, but also to be even more engaged with my kids."

Even without counting dads like these, there were about 29% more at-home dads in 2003 compared with 1994.

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