Though the concept is relatively still in its nascent stage in India, stay-at-home dads are quite common in western countries. With the rise in numbers of women working in corporate companies in India, the trend is not unheard of anymore, particularly if both the parents are working.
Many Indian men are now open to the idea of being the primary caregiver for the child, for time periods ranging from a few weeks to even the initial few years of the baby’s life. Those working as freelancers, or in organizations that allow work-from-home option can put a system in place that allows them to look after the needs of the baby without compromising with work life completely. Such kind of an arrangement also encourages the mother to continue working, without feeling guilty or being anxious about her baby’s well-being all the time. Hired help, no matter how well trained or reliable, can be a source of concern, especially if the baby has to be left alone with the help for long stretches of time.
Says a mother based in Mumbai, who works as the Sales Manager of a reputed FMCG company – “After my daughter’s first birthday, a situation arose because of which, either me or my husband had to be at home with our daughter all the time. I was on the verge of resigning, when my husband surprised me by saying that I should continue with my job as he had found a new assignment that allowed him the option of working from home. It felt like a huge load was lifted from my shoulders. I was not ready to compromise with the needs of my daughter, yet somehow the decision to quit my job was also rankling deeply. Though the corporate sector is quite sympathetic to a career break taken by a woman to devote time to her child, the fact remains that one is set back by few years when she starts looking for work again. There would be career progress and promotions during the time she was away and she may have to join work in the same rank as those who were juniors earlier. That can be difficult to come to terms with. “I am grateful to my husband who understood my dilemma and arrived at a perfect solution for it. We do have a nanny who looks after my daughter’s basic needs, but my husband is always around to monitor the situation.”
Women facing a similar dilemma, know how difficult it is to reach a decision on whether to keep working or to quit. It is not easy, and the decision is not only about career and personal ambition. The financial security brought in by both parents earning is also a big factor. Before making a hasty decision, it is advisable to sit down and discuss the options that can be availed by either parent. With changes in interpersonal relations and family dynamics, the father too is warming up to the idea of staying at home and looking after his baby.