A stay-at-home dad (SAHD) is a father who also takes on the role of primary caregiver of the child or children in his household. Typically the father assumes the responsibilities of the home as well as those of raising the children during the day, while the mother is the primary breadwinner and works full time. There are other variants of the stay-at-home dad, as well, since he can be in a non-married relationship, single, divorced, or widowed.
The typical stay-at-home dad sees himself as an equal partner with the mother, and both see child care as more important than yielding to traditional parental roles. These “traditional” roles of a working father and stay-at-home mother are no longer seen as the only option because of major changes of gender roles in recent history. Today, the mother’s career can provide greater incentives, money or benefits that encourage her to go to work while the father stays at home. Sometimes, however, the personality of the stay-at-home dad is simply a better fit for raising children full-time. The stay-at-home dad can also hold any of a variety of part or full-time jobs in addition to being the primary caregiver of his children.
The schedule of the stay-at-home dad is pretty much identical to that of the stay-at-home mom and involves many activities that depend on the ages of the child or children. On a basic level, the day includes keeping the children clean and fed, but it can also consist of countless other activities. Some of these include reading, playing games, cooking, play dates, and walks, but there are many more daily activities that depend largely upon the structure of the family. In any case, the stay-at-home dad takes on the role of primary educator for his children until they are sent to preschool or kindergarten. The father may also decide to continue his role as primary educator and home school his children.
Despite the recent shifts in society that have paved the way for fathers to raise their children at home, there are still many stigmas associated with stay-at-home dads. Many of these involve the assumptions that men are not “wired” to raise children in the same ways that women are. There are also many groups designed for mothers, such as playgroups, that frown upon the inclusion of fathers because of these assumptions. A stay-at-home dad can expect to have a difficult time socializing for these reasons, and will often seek out organizations that include other stay-at-home fathers.