When Mark was offered voluntary redundancy it could have turned his life upside down but instead Mark used that opportunity to change his life in a completely different way.
Mark decided to swap roles with his wife and take full charge of the household and their children. Whilst this decision may be surprising to some, Mark now says he wouldn’t change it for the world.
Having being a stay-at-home dad for the last 6 years, Mark confesses he has no regrets in his decision. “I’ve really enjoyed being a stay-at-home dad. I get to be there for the first day at nursery, the first day at school, the Christmas plays. This way I’ve witnessed a lot of firsts, even walking for the first time.”
“Being a stay-at-home dad has brought me a lot closer to my sons, we have a much bigger bond.
According to the Office for National Statistics, “Britain has more stay-at-home dads than ever before. There are now 229,000 men who stay at home with their children – up from 111,000 in 1993.”
Whilst a study from Pew Social Trends shows that the reasons for this vary, from medical reasons to wanting to look after the family, the fact is more and more fathers are leaving the stereotypical ‘breadwinner’ role behind and embracing fatherhood.
This study conducted by Pew Research Center shows that the reason 35% of dads are home is because of an illness or disability, whilst 21% of dads opt to stay at home to look after the home and family.
Adrienne Burgess, joint chief executive of the Fatherhood Institute, said: ‘The number of women who earn as much or more than their partners is increasing, so it makes economic sense in some families for the father to be the primary carer.”
Whilst women may be earning more, another contributing factor to the rise of stay-at-home dads are the prices of childcare. The Family and Childcare Trust report finds “some nursery costs have risen by a third in five years, making it cheaper for one parent to stay at home to care for children.”
However, the increase in stay-at-home dads isn’t always because it makes ‘economical sense’. Many dads abdicate their career in order to build a bigger bond and relationship with their children.
John Adams is also a stay-at-home dad and gave up his job to look after his daughters.
“When I gave up work I was convinced I would become the butt of jokes, especially from my male friends.”
John has a blog where he shares his experiences as a stay-at-home dad. In his blog he confesses that even though he feared being mocked for being a stay-at-home dad that actually didn’t happen.
“Many men are absolutely desperate to spend more time with their children and families. I’ve been approached several times by guys of various ages telling me how much they wish they could do what I’m doing.”
Even though Isaac isn’t a stay-at-home dad, both him and his wife have set up an arrangement with their employers that enables them to look after their son without relying on childcare. Isaac explains that this is a unique set of circumstances, however this allows him to be very present in his son’s life.
“I get to spend a lot of time with my little boy and more importantly he gets to spend a lot of time with me. I know that childcare is expensive but this decision was not a financial one at all. I had precious little time with my dad and I ALWAYS wanted to be a dad myself, so when it happened, I made sure I was going to make the most of it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Describing his favourite moments as seeing his son’s ‘little progresses’ and ‘noticing that piece of knowledge or personality that wasn’t there the day before’, Isaac is relieved knowing he’s not missing any key moments.
“I can hand on heart say I am doing the best I can. Could I earn more money? Yes. Would it buy me more time with my boy? No.”
However not only do men want to spend more time with their children but it’s also been proven to be beneficial to the child.
The Father Involvement Research Alliance researched the effects of father involvement in children’s lives and found that:
“Infants of highly involved fathers, as measured by amount of interaction, including higher levels of play and caregiving activities, are more cognitively competent at 6 months and score higher on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. By one year they continue to have higher cognitive functioning, are better problem solvers as toddlers and have higher IQ’s by age three. School aged children of involved fathers are also better academic achievers. ”
In a time where traditional roles in the workplace have been challenged and torn down, it now seems to be occurring on the home front. As society continues to redefine the definition of the ‘modern family’ it seems that the number of stay-at-home dads will continue to rise.