We Need To Think Differently About Stay At Home Dads

02/05/2017 14:25 BST | Updated 02/05/2017 14:25 BST

There are over 250,000 stay at home dads now across the UK and nearly 2m in the US. As the dad-dynamic changes and more and more fathers become the primary care giver, why is there still such a stigma towards stay at home dads (SAHDs)?

In speaking to a few SAHDs across the UK, US and Australia, from the odd looks in the stores, to being the lonely minority in baby play groups, there's a range of situations where SAHDs are still incredibly stereotyped, and worse still, misunderstood.

Here are some of the most common in their own words.

"Wow - how did he get away with that!"

Astonishingly, Eoin from The Walking Dad gets this little gem a lot - 'how did he get away with that.'

As the workplace becomes more balanced and more opportunities are being given to mums (and rightly so), it's far from getting away with it. We need to see it for what it actually is - a dad contributing to the welfare of his children, everyday.

"But you don't change nappies, right?"

ME: Say "Super Yummy Dinner Time!" . . JACK: I'm unhappy. . . The broccoli WAS totally under cooked. But, seriously, I don't know where to put those moments. Yesterday was filled with everything from an early morning "I hate you" to an endless throng of Jack telling me that Charlie doesn't like me to, finally at dinner, his declaration of unhappiness. AND that he would not be happy again until morning. . . Yesterday was also filled with a ton of joy. I helped Jack climb the HUGE tree at Odie Park. We danced like crazy to ELO's Mr. Blue Sky. We played trains. He fed Charlie and he told a girl named Hope at the park that he loved her. It was a great day. . . So, while I may not know where to put those moments that hurt, I do know where NOT to keep them. If I dwell on them, let the ruminate and grow then they will eventually conquer me. Today, I know I'm a great dad. . . Despite what my kids might tell you.

A post shared by George (@sahdnesscomic) on

This one from George of sahdnesscomic is a particular gem. Dads have evolved from the stereotype of 'come-home from work, straight into arm-chair' mode into 'work is at home, and hey why don't I make a chair' mode!

Yes - we change nappies, we also change the vomit, the bogeys, and the random other stains that come with the territory. We do it pretty well too.

"How sweet, it must be daddy's day."

Well, actually everyday is daddy's day for Luke at daddynanydiaries, and there are now over 1.75m SAHDs across the US. That number has doubled in the last 10 years, and it's clear that there are going to be a lot more constant daddy days for more and more fathers. We should be celebrating this.

"Let you out on your own again has she?"

No, Chris at dadtastic_voyage hasn't been let out on day-release again, but rather his wife has apparently given him temporary access to being a dad.

A mother who stays at home to look after the kids is seen as a maternal right. A dad who stays at home to look after his kids is seen as a lesser man who couldn't hack it in the working world.

Daddydoobuddy has also experienced this same feeling at his local play groups - "When I go to many kid-friendly events in the community, such as story times or even just a park, I feel like some of the other parents are judging and questioning why I'm even there! One person even asked if I needed help carrying my son."

"You must have so much free time now."

When chatting to friends, Mark from The Newman Podcast in Australia often gets the sense that his friends think it's a far easier ride than it actually is - 'The big one I have is just when chatting to friends who think it's easy and that during the day you don't have anything and that now I must have so much free time.'

"His wife can't find him attractive now."

Love this one from Al at The Dad Network. The notion that somehow a SAHD doesn't drive the same sex appeal crops up a lot. This is actually rather judgmental on behalf of the mums out there - like somehow partners can only be attracted to a man for his wealth generating capability.

"That must be an easy ride."

This one from Simon of Dadofboy probably sums it up best. While there are countless posts and articles about the pressures that mum faces, somehow when dad is the primary care giver, it's got to be an easier job.

Changing the mindset

We're entering a new dad era, where fathers are more readily and actively becoming a primary care giver. They are the feeder, the story teller, sleep negotiator and much more. Stay at home dads aren't trying to be mums, and SAHDs shouldn't ever be perceived as a threat to the role of mums. Both parents have a role to play, and stay at home dads should be encouraged and celebrated, not pre-judged.

If we can start to realise that truth perhaps SAHDs can start to be seen less as a 'baby sitter,' and more for what they really are - a parent.