SAHD stands for stay-at-home dad. While the 2010 US Census counted only the 154,000 fathers who cared for children while earning no income outside the home, a more realistic figure includes those dads who provide primary care for their children while their wives work, even if the dads work at other times. This number is closer to 1.5 million, and these dads care for a quarter of children younger than 5 years in the United States.
Finding Other SAHDs
While child care duties, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, and fixing the toilets leave little time for eating bonbons and watching soap operas, the real challenge is the sense of social isolation. Moms who work in the home can tap into a wide network of playgroups, neighborhood friends, and organized activities. But show up as the only guy at your local library’s reading hour and you can actually see the moms scooting away from you in the imagination circle.
- The Internet or your local newspaper may help you find groups of dads to hang out with so you don’t feel like a pariah on the park bench. Otherwise, start a group of your own!
- Check out www.daddyshome.org to see if there’s already a group near you.
Identity & Self-Worth
SAHDs also may suffer a crisis of identity. Many of us have been raised to equate our earning power with self-esteem. Doing a job that is unpaid, even if you doing that job is what enables your family to stay afloat, can threaten your sense of self-worth. Until you’ve shopped for groceries and gone to the dry cleaners with your toddler on a Tuesday morning, you don’t realize how few working-aged men there are out there at those times!
On the other hand, you can take pity on those men who don’t get to watch their children’s first steps or hear them learn their alphabets because they were working all day. What job really is more important than nurturing your child and creating a home? Here again, finding other men in your position will reinforce your sense that what you’re doing is possibly the manliest job of all.