Saturday, February 27, 2010

More Dads at Home in the 'Hood

When my husband stayed home with our young son a decade ago, he was a novelty on the playground. The moms of our son's playmates weren't sure what to make of a guy who chose the home front over career. And my husband rolled his eyes at being exposed to daily conversations about stretch marks, breast-feeding difficulties and how to lose post-baby fat.
So I was delighted when I walked by an elementary school yesterday and saw not one but FIVE dads picking up their kids in the space of a few minutes.
One guy was skipping down the street, hand in hand with his young daughter, and singing -- I kid you not.
I overheard another dad asking his son what he did that day.
"Math," the little boy said.
"What kind of math?" his dad asked.
"Math sheets," the boy said.
"Adding and subtracting?"
"Yup," the boy said.
When I was growing up, dads didn't show up at school and walk you home while chatting about your day. Dads went to work early in the morning and came home late.
What's happened in the intervening decades is a cultural shift. Staying home to raise children is now something a  guy can choose without incurring social scorn.
Less than one percent of couples include a dad who stays home with the kids. But there are three times as many as a decade ago, according to the Census Bureau. This year the number increased to an estimated 158,000 fathers from 140,000 in 2008.
The bad news is that for some dads, it isn't a choice but the harsh consequence of this recession's high unemployment rates.
But for others, it's a chance to share more fully in the wonder years that slip by so fast.
(Photo: by Roland)

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