It has been 2 years after Daniel Ryu traded his power suits for t-shirt and sweat pants. The former financial adviser left his high profile job to be a stay-home dad. Instead of spending hours in meetings, these days Daniel spends his time ferrying his sons around and doing house chores. Besides that, he also gets to meet his parents more often.
“It was the toughest but yet, most rewarding decision that I have ever made. I used to spend less than 4 hours a week for my family. Today, I get to watch my boys growing up and helping my parents around the house,” says Daniel while doing the laundry.
Being a stay-home father is still a surprise to many, especially in societies that are more male dominated. Public support for fathers staying at home is close to zero. A survey found that only 5% thinks that fathers should work part-time and the vast majority say that fathers should work full time. Fathers who choose to work part time or to be a stay home dad, are not only transgressing the social norms, they are also jeopardising the ability to fulfill the masculine role of protector and provider.
On the upside, fathers are getting more hands-on at home, which is equally important to families with kids. Their actual involvement provides practical and emotional support that eventually enhance the quality of the mother-child relationship. Plus, children get to be exposed to different kind of parenting when both parents are equally present and involved.
“I have never imagined the importance of planning in household chores. I always thought it was easy and unplanned, until I had to do it. It is as demanding as meeting the deadline of a project. Whether getting out of bed to make breakfast or sending the kids to school. It is about planning and planning,” says Daniel.
One dilemma that most stay-home fathers faced is establishing financial stability. Traditionally, most families rely on dual-income to sustain their livelihood and lifestyle. Hence, the switch from working father to a stay-home father will have financial impact to some families.
“It was tough at first as we were so used to going for long holidays abroad. However, my wife and I worked out a solution and we cut down on unnecessary expenses. In a way, we found our freedom as we no longer saw the need to work twice as hard to meet expectations that we created in our mind. We stopped sending our kids to the nursery as I could care for them and we took shorter vacations as I could plan for activities at home for the kids. It is more fruitful. Plus, I can spend time on the online business that I have been thinking for years,” says Daniel.
Stay-home parent isn’t a new, but having a stay-home father challenges the status-quo of masculinity. Although the society has accepted that fathers are not the sole-provider for the family, it is still a surprise to people that some fathers have ditched their traditional role to become stay-home parent.
“It was a surprise to my parents at first. It was hard for them to imagine that I could manage our home without my wife. Well, I am the living proof. Fathers can be equally useful at home. Most importantly, I know my kids better and we are enjoying every single day,” he adds.
Leong Kim Weng is a writer who writes about parenthood's articles. He uses this platform to reach out to the young parents. Writing for www.parentsdojo.com has given him the opportunity to learn and share interesting perspectives with others.