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...
"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.