You know what's even better than curvy Barbie? The new Stay-at-home dad Lego! I know, I know, it's a long three years until your newborn is able to play with such a choking hazard, so in the meantime, might I suggest a soothing bedtime reading of my friend Cristina Alger's brand new (and totally delightful) novel, This Was Not the Plan, about Charlie, a workaholic single-dad lawyer who ends up—er, ah, um—deciding to stay home with his adorably quirky son. Trying not to give away plot points but you catch my drift:
Stay-at-home fathers are having a major moment.
A HuffPost analysis of 2014 Census data estimated that 16% of stay-at-home parents are fathers. A less official analysis of my own T5T surveys and interviews for my book found that that 16% isn't enough—yet—to bust the cultural stigma that many men feel about being home with their babies when their wives go back to work.
One father I interviewed spoke so soulfully about his time at home with his infant daughter—and then asked that I keep him anonymous, lest future employers peg him as someone who opted out and isn't serious about his career. I asked my friend Lance Somerfeld, co-founder of City Dads Group, a multi-city network of SAHDs, for his advice for the guy (which easily applies to any moms heading back to work too): "It's normal to feel uncertainty about reentering the workforce after years of being an at-home parent," says Lance. "But being an at-home parent actually prepares you better than you think. The important parenting skills of time-management, love for learning, multi-tasking, and finding your inner child all help unlock a creative side that would be a valuable asset to many potential employers."
My take? Let's all seize upon this cultural "moment," Legos and all, not just as some novelty, but as an opportunity to break down any remaining stigma. We can do that at home by inviting the "should one of us stay home?" conversation, certainly. And at work...well, at work, don't be afraid to hire a former stay-at-home dad who supported his wife's career!