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Father's Day Special Feature on Stay-at-Home Dads

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By GreatDad Writers   Print
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This is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Bay Area Parent, June 2008 issue. Here are few father's day ideas for stay at home dads.

When Fathers Know Best

It's a whole new ballgame for Bay Area stay-at-home dads

- By Dana Young

They've heard it all: The "Mr. Mom" jokes, the quips about being able to spend the day watching ESPN. But for the thousands of Bay Area fathers who are primary care-givers for their children, life is a lot more than fun and games – although there is a lot of that, too.

Stay-at-home dads are everywhere, it seems, connected by technology to each other and supported by a Bay Area culture that realizes flexibility is a necessity for today's busy parents. While it is difficult to find data on the number of SAHDs in Northern California, Paul Banas, Founder of GreatDad.com and stay-at-home dad, says there could be well over 100,000 SAHDs in the Bay Area alone, and 1 to 2 million nationwide. While the U.S. Census reports only 159,000 stay-at-home dads, it excludes many who are staying at home for another primary reason – they may work from home, or take classes at night, and can be available as the primary caregiver. This month, in honor of Father's Day 2008 and the growing number of SAHDs, we spoke with several Bay Area dads who "stay home" about the joys and surprises of their unique fatherhood.

Matt Maiocco
Five years ago, Matt Maiocco, a Lafayette-based sports-writer who covers the San Francisco 49ers, took on a new assignment: stay-at-home dad to daughters Janie, 5, and Lucie, 3. During the off-season, Maiocco handles the majority of the daytime parenting responsibilities. And, during the football season, he can conduct 95 percent of his work via phone from his home office, which enables him to actively participate in the raising of his two daughters. Married for more than seven years, Maiocco and his wife, Sarah, who works for a financial software company, saw this as a wonderful opportunity for their family.

How do you and your wife differ on child-rearing issues?
I'm the softy; she's the one who lays down the law.

What are some of the joys?
I'm around the girls a lot. I have been able to be with them and haven't missed out on their growing up. Differences between SAHDs and SAHMs? I had our littlest one enrolled in a one-day-a-week class at nursery school called "Mommy and Me." Of course, I referred to it as "Daddy and Me," but I was the only daddy in the class.

Have you ever been referred to as a "Mr. Mom?"
I wear it like a badge of honor.

One thing you want people to know about being an at-home dad?
I think a lot of people are envious that I'm able to spend so much time with my children and have developed such a strong relationship with them.

Top Bay Area spots to go with your kids?
I regularly take them to the Oakland Zoo – thank goodness for the yearly pass! We can spend hours at the children's portion of the zoo. Lindsay Wildlife Museum is a good spot just to walk around and observe the birds and animals.

 

Seth Tator
Several years before Seth Tator and his wife of six years started a family, they looked at how they wanted to parent. While they knew people who had invested a great deal of time locating providers who are "like family," they felt this was the exception. "If you are going to have kids, then parent them," Tator says. "For us, turning over a newborn didn't fit that mold." In order to make their decision work, Tator, a former banker at Wells Fargo, began attending business school on the weekends. He studies at night and is a SAHD during the week to his two daughters, while his wife, a director of operations, works full-time outside the home.

How do you and your wife differ on child-rearing issues?
She is much more playful, while I am a bit more straight-laced.

What are the frustrations of being a SAHD?
I suppose the same frustrations of being a stay-at-home-mom – the complete lack of respect for the time demands the role places on you,

Funniest thing said to you about being a SAHD?
Someone asked me how we handled the breast feeding ... as if I was supposed to lactate!

One thing you want people to know about being a SAHD?
Daytime children's shows are HORRIBLE.

Do you think society is becoming more accepting of SAHDs?
Things have changed in three years, there are less inquisitive looks at playgrounds, and in the supermarkets, but I am still an odd ball. What we're waiting for is the same thing that would remove the glass ceiling in corporate America – a removal of unconscious stereotypes regarding roles.

Top Bay Area spots to go with your kids?
My daughter's all-time favorite ever is Children's Wonderland in Vallejo. It has five or six different play areas, a running stream for the kids to mess around in, and large grassy areas to run around on – this place really is great.

 

Vijay Bhaskaran
Pleasanton resident Vijay Bhaskaran assumed the role of full-time father twice. The first time was from June 2002 to October 2002, following the adoption of daugh­ter Maya. In July 2007, Bhaskaran took on the primary caregiver role once again because of his personal desire to be a stay-home parent and share responsibility with his wife Alna Chandnani, a manager at Cisco Systems. Noting that the choice was not a financial one, Bhaskaran says, "I had always desired to care for my children even before we had kids." A former technology marketing pro­fessional, he currently manages the household and attends business school in the evenings at U.C. Berkeley.

What's the difference between you and your wife regarding childrearing?
I take more risks and rarely follow the norm. I believe that kids can be part of our social life, rather than having a separate adult social life and kids' social life.

What are the frustrations of being a SAHD?
Explaining to others (especially other parents) that dads are also great in this role. Many people seem to think there is a hidden agenda or that this is an easy role or that dads are not as good as moms in this job.

Funniest thing said to you about being a SAHD?
"You must have made millions in the dot­com boom."

One thing you want people to know about being a SAHD?
Dads are terrific role models for kids even though most will not follow conventional wis­dom followed by moms over generations.

Top Bay Area spots to go with your kids?
We love the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Oakland Zoo and Santa Cruz beaches.
 

Brian Charette
For Brian Charette and wife Jennifer of Oakland's Rockridge District, stepping into the role of primary caregiver was an easy deci­sion and one he looked forward to with great excitement. "It was a simple matter of eco­nomics," he says. "We decided early on in our marriage that it was important to us that we handle primary caregiver duties for our chil­dren ourselves. Aid, we always said that who­ever was making more money would keep their job and the other would stay home." When their son Hudson, now 1, was born, "it made much more sense for me to quit my job at Western Union and become a SAHD," Charette says.

How do you and your wife differ on child-rearing issues?
We strive to create consistency between the two of us so that our son knows that the rules don't change regardless of which parent he's dealing with. This has worked out well for us so far, but I'm sure there are challenges ahead now that we've entered toddlerhood.

What are the frustrations of being a SAHD?
Feeling overwhelmed at times and feeling sometimes like I have no idea what I'm doing.

I definitely have gained a tremendous amount of respect for stay-at-home mothers who make it all work. Being a SAHD is ten times harder than the corporate job I had at Western Union, at least then 1 had two breaks and an hour lunch every day.

Funniest thing said to you about being a SAHD?
One of my single guy friends asked me "How awesome is it to lie around in your underwear all day drinking beer and watching ESPN?" He was completely serious.

Most annoying thing someone has said?
A lady at the grocery store said that it was nice that I took a day off during the week to be with my son. When I explained to her that I was a SAHD, she shook her head and told me that children should be with their mothers and walked away.

One thing you want people to know about being a SAHD?
If any prospective fathers out there have the chance to stay home even part time with their young children, I strongly urge them to take the opportunity. It will be some of the best-spent time of their lives.

Top Bay Area spots to go with your kids?
I am part of a dads group called East Bay Dads. We meet every Monday at a different park in the East Bay. Studio Grow is a fantastic indoor play space with multiple-themed rooms containing an art studio, climbing opportunities, parachute play, singing, storytime, and much more. On rainy days - hit IKEA.

 

Dana Young is a freelance writer living in Oakland.

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