Saturday 10 December 2016

Dads at home: 'After a week, I was loving every minute of being a stay-at-home dad to my kids'

Once a figure of fun, men who bring up baby are on the rise. Deirdre Reynolds meets three fathers who traded the office for nappy duties

Published 24/08/2011 | 05:00

Booked up: Dad Darragh has time to read to Morgan and to brush up on his own education, too. Photo by Dave Meehan
Booked up: Dad Darragh has time to read to Morgan and to brush up on his own education, too. Photo by Dave Meehan
Happy family: Lorcán will have to turn care of Ronán and Deirdre over to a sitter in September when he returns to work. Photo by Ronan Lang
Superdad: Nick and Rebecca Cullen with Danny and Paddy. Photo by Dave Meehan

Just one generation ago, it was utterly unthinkable -- the man of the house pushing a pram, changing a nappy or lulling one of his large brood to sleep.

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By 1983, stay-at-home dads were being lampooned as incompetent morons in Mr Mom -- and two decades on, little had changed in Daddy Day Care starring Eddie Murphy.

But from laughing stock to domestic Adonai, in a recession-driven reversal of roles, these days the hand that rocks the cradle is just as likely to belong to dad as mum.

Juggling a high-flying career and nine children, British fund manager Helena Morrissey recently revealed her 'Superwoman' secret: partner Richard -- who took on the role of 'househusband' after the birth of their fourth child.

Here, more women in the boardroom has translated into more men on the school run.

With almost a third of women now taking on the role of breadwinner, more and more young Irish professionals are swapping their suit and tie for an apron -- and the child-rearing responsibilities that social norms prevented their own fathers doing for them.

"Culturally, our notion of fatherhood is changing," says psychoanalytic psychotherapist Ray O'Neill of Machna.ie.

"Ten years ago, we didn't have images of hands-on dads like Brad Pitt or Orlando Bloom. Being a stay-at-home dad has become more acceptable."

According to the Central Statistics Office, there are almost 7,000 'kept men' occupied full-time in 'home duties' in Ireland.

"We're definitely experiencing an increase in traffic to the site from stay-at-home dads (aka SAHDs)," says David Caren, editor of Dad.ie -- a parenting website for new and expectant dads. "As a result, we've started to feature regular articles especially for SAHDs on everything from how to survive in your new role to legal entitlements.

"Mostly SAHDs are looking for reassurance -- that there are other men out there going through the same thing."

And while one recent study found that men who earn less than their partner are more likely to cheat, 'work-at-home dad' David rubbished the claim -- arguing that relinquishing breadwinning-duties can actually have the opposite effect.

"If anything, members of the SAHD fraternity end up having greater respect for their partner after realising it's not all coffee mornings and Dr Phil re-runs."

"In these challenging times, I think both mums and dads can agree that it makes no difference who brings home the bacon," he adds, "so long as the family gets fed!"

Here, we meet three Irish SAHDs to talk taking over from mum, money and masculinity.

Irish Independent

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