A. Although the number of fathers in the United States who are full time stay-at-home dads or househusbands is still low, a December 2011 U.S. Census press release stated "Among fathers with a wife in the workforce, 32 percent were a regular source of care for their children under age 15, up from 26 percent in 2002." The U.S. Census Bureau report issued in June, 2003, stated that since 1984, there was an 18% increase in the number of stay-at-home dads and househusbands in the United States, with 189,000 children being cared for by a full time father in 2002.
Q. How do wives really feel about letting their husbands stay at home to be the primary caregiver to their children?
A. Many women have a mixture of feelings about role reversal that include relief, guilt, envy, happiness, frustration, regret, sadness, and thankfulness.
Q. What are some problems of a marital relationship dealing with role reversal?
A. Problems may occur when there is poor communication between spouses, and when couples abandon their traditional male and female roles rather than expanding and redefining their roles as parents and spouses. A woman doesn't quit being a nurturing mom just because she isn't a stay at home mother. A man doesn't lose his need to provide for his family because he isn't working a full-time job outside the home.
Q. What are some keys to successful role reversal in a marriage?
A. In order for this type of non-traditional role reversal to be successful, a couple needs to have good communication skills, discuss expectations with one another on a daily basis, and share appreciation of what mate is doing for the family. Also, the wife needs to be able to let go of having things done her way. Having a shared parenting goal is another necessity.
Q. What are the benefits of being a stay-at-home dad or househusband?
A. Some of the benefits include a happier family due to less stress, and a more balanced life for both parents and children. Along with having more time with your children, there is usually a greater understanding of the pressures that parenting and work related issues can create in your lives.
Q. What are the challenges facing stay-at-home dads?
A. The challenges that stay-at-home dads need to deal with include managing time, cooking and cleaning house, disciplining kids, coping with the lack of interaction with other adults, dealing with a sense of isolation, and low societal acceptance.
Q. Any advice for stay at home dads?
A. Stay-at-home dads need to keep life balanced by having some time to themselves. Schedule alone time with your wife. It's okay to hire a babysitter now and then. Realize that it will take some time to get used to your new routine. Volunteer to be involved with your kids' school and their activities such as sports, scouts, 4H, etc. Consider joining a support group with other full time fathers.