Many men today want to be an integral part of their children’s growing-up years

House Husbands/Men

According to a survey some years ago in the U.K., four out of every five men expressed the desire to stay at home and look after the kids. On the Internet, there are approximately 63,300,000 entries for house-husbands and househusbands, with many blogs dedicated to the angst of the species. The number of men living as househusbands while their wives go to work has tripled in the past 15 years.

A more recent survey said that up to 1.4 million men in Britain were their children’s main care-takers. More than a third of fathers-to-be expressed the desire to give up their jobs and become full-time house husbands. Many polls of pregnant women and their partners in the West reveal that most men want to spend more time with their children and have a share in their upbringing with hands-on experience.

The only thing keeping them in their jobs, said the expectant fathers, was the money. The biggest concern for most prospective fathers was financial fears that caused them more worry than the loss of their freedom. Many men want to be real fathers taking an active part in the upbringing of their kids.

It is bad news though for men who want to stay home with the kids.... Wives want the husbands out of the house. According to a recent survey by salary.com, women do not want to support husbands who want to stay at home! As much as 91 per cent of men said they would support their wives who preferred to stay at home, but 70 per cent of women did not relish the idea. And almost 26 per cent of women were vehement regarding not wanting to work full-time while supporting a stay-at-home husband.

In control

Many women think that a major part of parenting and the home front are their domains, and do not like the idea of giving up control. In fact, many dads taking their kids out on their own to places where there are more mums around feel that their presence is frowned upon and disapproved by women. The one place that men are able to feel at home with kids is the video and games arcade!

One of the reasons for career-minded women who might reject the idea of a stay-at-home-dad is because they themselves think that being a housewife is greatly limiting and uninteresting. In fact, many women feel that house husbands lose their attractiveness and cannot be considered sexy.

The times however are inexorably changing. Paternity leave has become an accepted fact in today’s workplace. You get to see many fathers dropping and picking up kids from school at all odd times. Of course it makes you wonder if they are self employed, are on shifts, or just able to snatch time in their workday, or if they part of the unemployed looking for jobs. At PTAs many articulate fathers are taking an active part in the school’s agenda, with valuable inputs from their brain and brawn at fund-raising or gala celebrations. Men are working from home as well, especially in the IT and creative fields.

Why, even advertisements are using dad and kid combinations, often a daughter, to promote stuff, with the relationship getting a lot of exposure. Men are taking to cooking in a big way as well. Even stars are now boasting of cooking for people on the sets on location, something that used to be the privilege of stars who acted as mothers! In home cook or celebrity cook shows, it is mandatory to feature a man donning the apron and dishing out complicated and artistically turned out plats du jour. However, most judges in cook shows seem to be men!

Finally there are house-bound husbands incarcerated due to illness, retirement and old age. Learning to live with them — after the kids have left the nest — is like becoming a newly married couple, entailing adjustment, compromise and getting used to being in each other’s hair 24/7! The absence of some other relationships in the house, barring itinerant house help, provides an interesting counterpoint to likes and dislikes, ranging from food to reading, entertainment to planned touring, and attitudes to relationships.

Men at work and women at work used to be different scenarios. Now the lines are blurring between housewives and house husbands and this phenomenon is becoming a common feature, especially in the urban environment.