I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to leave my job at a leading law office in the city to become a stay-at-home dad. I was already practicing meditation, which had actually benefitted Nancy (my wife) and myself. Due to a high-pressure job, I was unable to devote more time to spirituality. I had already decided to quit my job and practice it full time, only the right time was the question.
I Decided To Be A Stay-At-Home Dad
When our daughter turned five, we decided that one of the parents should be at home while the other worked to keep the kitchen fire burning. We didn’t want to leave her in the care of a nanny while we were away chasing our respective careers, so instead of Nancy leaving her job and becoming a stay-at-home mom, I decided to become a stay-at-home dad to be with our daughter. I also had a passion for spirituality which could not be followed with a full-time job.
A child would anyway be attached to a mother; staying at home with her would give the father an opportunity to be close to her. If I didn’t have a passion for spirituality, perhaps Nancy would have quit her job and I would have continued working like the accepted norm in our society. Stay-at-home dads are still not a common sight but are gaining a little bit of respect and momentum now.
I chose my own path
I knew I would be successful, but to be practical, I wanted to give myself 5-6 years that I feel like I had perhaps missed out on. I had told my wife that I would go back to a conventional career if things didn’t go according to plan. I am glad though that being a stay-at-home dad is working out fine now. Initially, for the first three years, Nancy supported the family completely as there was hardly any money coming from my end and I was still exploring, but of late, the efforts have started resulting in monetary benefits and a great work-life balance for my wife too.
Our working mom an stay-at-home dad dynamic is running so smoothly now. But it wasn’t like that initially. A husband leaving his job while the wife earns is not the norm, so obviously there was no acceptance from family or friends.
People mocked us, called it a crazy decision and said all sorts of demeaning things, especially to me. But I was sure of what I was doing and Nancy supported me fully, although I knew she wasn’t always sure if this was the right decision.
People Are Finally Accepting Stay-At-Home Dads
Now, things are falling into place and the family have not only accepted our decision it but are also appreciating it. When I first said, ‘I want to be a stay-at-home dad’, my own mother gasped in horror and couldn’t comprehend how badly I really wanted to do this.
But we have all evolved now and people around us are willingly accepting the stay-at-home dad benefits that are both personal and also for the family.
My own relationship with Nancy has improved tremendously. I never felt like I was dealing with an unsupportive spouse for which I am very grateful. I couldn’t have carved a path for myself alone at the cost of causing distress in the family. I understand her energy levels, there is less stress now so it seems to be working fine for both of us.
Being in IT, she needs to work long hours sometimes. Since now I am at home, she doesn’t need to rush home, so it’s a win-win for all of us. I practice meditation for about two hours every day. It’s been almost five years now since we made this change and I am so incredibly glad to be a stay-at-home dad.
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Giving time to my child
There were innumerable questions from the little one about me being a stay-at-home father and how that is different from all her friends at school. We answer some questions and some questions we ignore, as she is too young to understand everything. But the biggest joy of being a stay-at-home father is to be at home and answer those questions for her.
I know my daughter can depend on me fully and I am the first person she runs to when she needs anything. It is beautiful to get that kind of trust from her and learn the kind of parenting that perhaps I never would have, if I was still practicing law. Now I have come to the realization that I have always been ready for parenthood as it is the most beautiful joy in the world.
Yes, being a stay-at-home dad benefits me wonderfully but my child has also benefitted greatly from this. I am her rock now and we have gotten a chance to strengthen a waning father-daughter relationship.
When she grows up, hopefully she will realize that there needn’t be rules for everything in life. I’m sure she’ll also appreciate the support her mother gave me.
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His wife, Nancy adds:
We believe in simple living. Ours is a modest home and we don’t have too many materialistic desires so shifting from double income to single income wasn’t really a challenge and we never had too many money issues. We tried to cut some costs and plan our vacations to reduce unnecessary expenditure, and as our daughter is only nine years old, the expense on her higher education will come only later.
My husband has clear financial plans, so I don’t focus on those. Plus, he can always go back to a full-time job of being a lawyer if things are desperate.
Sometimes it is confusing, since on one hand, I want to support him in his passion but on the other hand, I wonder if he is on the right track. I only want the best for him and want to be sure that being a stay-at-home dad gives him that. However, when I hear about the people he is helping and the lives he is improving, I feel he should continue.
He was always very passionate about spirituality and finds a lot of happiness in guiding people across all ages and professions. Not too many people can do that. And one can’t deny the closeness he has developed with our daughter. Being a stay-at-home dad is giving him the holistic achievements he needed in life and I never want to take that away from him. I am incredibly proud of my husband for being the man he is today.
As told to Sujata Rajpal
If they do it by their own choice, yes they certainly can be. Stay-at-home fathers are consciously making the choice of quitting the rat race to focus on their own pursuits and their children which is really allowing them to find their calling and evolve as parents.
According to this study, dads made up 17% of all stay-at-home parents in 2016 in the United States.