Stay-At-Home Dads: Is Dad The New Mom?
by Laura Monteverdi, Reporter
November 07, 2013 10:32 PM
For years, the mother has been known to be the primary caregiver. She takes care of the kids, cleans the house and runs the errands.
However, a trend is emerging that's transforming the American family - the rise of the stay-at-home dad.
“This is my choice. This is what I want to do. As much as someone wants to be a doctor or a pro-athlete I want to be a stay-at-home dad," said Alan Barch of Sioux Falls.
Becoming a stay-at-home parent wasn't exactly something 31-year-old Alan Barch had planned on when he graduated college. But when his wife wanted to go back to school to become a Nurse Practitioner, he decided he wanted to make a change too.
"She has her career and she asked me what I wanted to do and I think she was surprised when I said I want to stay at home with the kids," said Barch.
At the time they had just two children, but fast forward three years, and two more kids have been added to the mix, with another surprise on the way.
“We’re expecting again in April," said Barch.
Over the years, Barch has embraced the role of stay-at-home parent. He’s filled his resume with various titles such as housekeeper, chef and even hairstylist.
"I get a lot of looks. On the playground, I get a lot of looks. Some people will come up to me and say ‘hey, you're doing great, it's a great thing,’ but I think a lot of people kind of do a double take when they see I have four kids and they're all hanging on me," said Barch.
While he admits his job isn't an easy one, it's one Barch says he wouldn't trade for anything.
“The biggest reward is just getting to be a part of their everyday life. These are precious moments and precious days and so just to be part of that, and be a big part of that, is the best reward by far," said Barch.
And he isn't alone.
Barch is just one of the nearly 200,000 stay-at-home fathers across the country reshaping the family dynamic.
According to the U.S. Census, in 2002, 93,000 dads were stay-at-home fathers while the mother worked full-time. Over the next 12 years, that number more than doubled.
"It took me a while to get out of the archaic thinking that the woman should be one to stay at home and the male should work," said Ryan Walter of Sioux Falls.
When a start-up business failed to pan out, Ryan Walter found himself out of a job. He decided to take some time off to look for a new career. Six years and three kids later, he's gone from full-time job search to full-time diaper duty.
“We decided we could make it work with her income and thought, what a blessing for one of us to be able to stay home with the kids," said Walter.
While staying at home allows him more time with his youngest daughter Ellie, the choice did come with some sacrifices. However, they are sacrifices that Walter says are worth it.
“If I stayed working, sure we could have maybe moved into a bigger house or had nice newer cars, but that's materialistic stuff," said Walter. “I couldn't trade that for being at home with my kids. It was a no brainer.”
The U.S. Census report only includes fathers not working full-time for one year and not looking for work.
Another in depth study out of Appalachian State University suggests the number of stay-at-home fathers could actually be as high as 1.4 million.