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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.

All-Day Dads continued...

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.

The Work-Family Fulcrum

"My father never changed a diaper, and he had four children," says Jim DiRenzo, of Lebanon, N.H. He, however, changes diapers for his daughter Isabella, who was born in January 2005.

DiRenzo also works full time as a cancer researcher at Dartmouth Medical School. His wife Erica, a clinical social worker, has been staying home with Isabella. "During the times when I'm home, we both make an effort to share the responsibilities," he tells WebMD.

From the get-go, he was eager to be involved with his baby girl, attending classes with Erica at the local women's health center, and he took paternity leave after the birth. He was prepared for the extra duties that would come with caring for an infant, but he didn't fully anticipate the fine balancing act he would have to perform once he returned to work.

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