Dads who help their wives doing household chores is romantic. But how about full time stay-at-home dads (SAHD)? Sure, caring for a household and children is a tiresome job, but aren’t these things closely attached to moms?
Traditionally, be it in Western or Eastern countries, husbands are the head of family, household rulers and breadwinners. True, parenting and household is the job of two people, but women are more likely to be seen handling this job; staying at home, interacting with children, doing house chores. A study by Femina (an Indonesian female lifestyle magazine) and McKinsey in 2012 shows that the higher a career level, the less the percentage of women’s presence. Most women chose to leave their career due to family reasons.
But as more women go to work and their income can afford only one working parent. This means that the dads can have more time at home. Career options are also more varied which allows the fathers to have flexible working hours and location, such as freelance. Although sometimes, the reason is not as respectable as that. Unexpected events such as the father getting fired or unable to work due to health problems can be a reason behind SAHD.
Whichever is the reason, in a patriarchal dominated society, SAHD is often seen as ‘embarrassing’ and ‘useless’ for the husbands are doing ‘feminine’ jobs. The narrow stereotype even goes beyond social norm. For instance, in Indonesian law about Marriage (Law No. 1 of 1974 Article 31), husbands are defined as head of the family and wives as housewives. Defying such deep-rooted stereotype has many tough challenges, yet most SAHDs said that the main reason that keeps them going is the opportunity to create meaningful moments with their children.
Women rights is rising and the labor market are more open towards women labor. It’s only unfortunate if women are still confined to the role of stay-at-home mom. Furthermore, we have a responsibility to teach the next generations of egality and invite fathers to participate more in providing physical and emotional affection to their children, be it by staying at home or not.