What do you do for a living?
This seemingly innocent question has caused great inner turmoil for me. I have obtained a college degree, have worked my entire life, and have been the CEO of an industrial engraving & sign company in Southeast Michigan for over six years. However, I am very self conscious admitting that I stay at home to watch our kids while my wife works. Let’s face it, the profession of a stay at home dad is not held in high esteem. According to the 2009 census, there are approximately 158,000 stay at home dads.1 Even though I am a societal anomaly, I have learned these benefits while staying at home with my kids.
Fun Activities -Staying at home as given me the opportunity to engage with my children in a variety of activities from craft projects to sports to pretend – all of which allow me to revisit my own inner child and enjoy being in the moment with them. Benefits for my boys include: increased imagination, improved social skills, and a well-rounded emotional well being.2
Custom Daily Structure – Without structure, my kids will watch too much television, play the iPad and video games for far too long, and fight constantly. This is why it is imperative to plan the day with learning activities, exercise and simply allowing them to be kids. Children with structure are shown to have less behavior problems that those who are not structured.3
Being Active in Their Lives – Because I am with my kids each and every day, I am a large presence in their lives. According to research conducted by Horn, Blankenhorn, & Pearlstein in 1999, indicates that fathers who are actively involved in raising their children can make a positive and lasting difference.4 In contrast, this same research reveals a number of potentially negative outcomes for children whose fathers are not involved. Additional studies have shown that children who grow up with a father who is involved will exhibit better school performance, lower crime rate, higher potential for career success, better relationship with others and higher self-esteem.5
Relationship Building – Being an involved father brings benefits to dads themselves. When fathers build strong relationships with their children and others in the family, they receive support and caring in return. Healthy family relationships provide the strongest and most important support network a person can have, whether that person is a child or an adult.6
With all of the information that I have learned, I may just hope that my children grow up and aspire to be stay at home dads as well.
United States Census. (2012). Heads Up Dad. (2011). Play Time Benefits Kids. Life Site News. (2008). Massive Study Finds Active Fathers are Essential for Well Adjusted Children. Texas A & M University. (2000). 20 Reasons Why Your Child Needs You to Be an Active Father. Baby Zone. (2012). Why Fathers Are Important. University of Florida. (2009). The Hidden Benefits of Being An Active Father.