Stay-at-Home Dads Succeed With Support From One Another

April 22, 2009 02:28 PM
by Cara McDonough
With unemployment soaring, men who have lost their jobs are choosing to stay home with the kids. Could “Mr. Mom” soon be a common character in today’s economic reality?

Diapers and Laundry for Dad

On a typical weekday morning, Chuck Hammond’s duties are now far different than those he had as a project manager in the tech industry.

These days he feeds Reagan, his 1-year-old daughter, breakfast, dresses her for the day and makes meals for the family. When the Concord, Calif. father lost his job in early 2008, he offered to stay home with the baby.

After discussing the matter with his wife, who runs a marketing company, the couple decided that the move made financial sense. She often works 12-hour days, while he stays home with Reagan, cooks, cleans and takes care of the house.

The Sacramento Bee reports that the number of stay-at-home fathers increased nearly 50 percent from 2003 to 2006, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Still, stay-at-home moms largely outnumber them, by about 30-to-one.

Background: Stay-at-home dads get support from each other

Minneapolis CBS affiliate WCCO reports that stay-at-home dads in their viewing area are helping each other by forming support groups. Justin McCarthy, who has stayed at home with his kids for nine years, joined the group Minnesota Dads at Home, which has more than 140 members, according to its Web site.

Before the group, he said he felt a bit lonely: “I started out going to moms groups … where I was the only dad there," he said.

Hammond also says that the isolation can be tough. His wife goes to the store with Reagan and comes home with telephone numbers from women who want to start playgroups, but he says the same never happens for him.

"You'd think women with children would be coming up asking me questions," he said. "I'm the leper. You don't get invited to that women's network."

That’s why he started his blog for stay-at-home fathers, DudesOnDiapers. He writes the blog with a friend who is also a fellow stay-at-home dad. According to an information page on the site, their “mission is simple: Present entertaining information that is stimulating, socially inappropriate, sometimes irreverent, yet pertaining to babies…and dudes…and a blog…  OK, so you get it: Two dudes, two babies, one blog.” DudesOnDiapers has also formed communities on Facebook and Twitter.

They hope the blog will help dads like them to network and make friends. They aren’t the only ones. In fact, a Web search for “stay-at-home dads” brings up a significant number of blogs, sites and news stories.

Brian Reid, who identifies himself as a former stay-at-home dad on his Web site, Rebel Dad, catalogues news and information about the subject on his site. He also includes statistics and detailed information about how to start a dads group.

Reid, like the other fathers, says he was frustrated by the lack of resources and support for fathers who made the decision to stay at home, and that’s why he created a Web site. “I searched the web, browsed my way through my local bookstore, kept a close eye on my local paper and flipped through the magazines at the newsstand, all in hopes of getting some insight into the new fraternity I had joined. It was a frustrating search,” he writes.

Related Topic: “Mr. Mom”

In the 1983 movie “Mr. Mom,” Michael Keaton plays Jack Butler, a father who decides to stay home with the kids when he loses his job, while he wife continues to work. The movie follows his comedic adventures as he realizes how clueless he is in managing the household. Keaton’s character eventually begins socializing with housewives in the neighborhood, while his wife, Caroline, played by Teri Garr, excels in her job as an advertising executive. 

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