“Probably the main factor is the expectation for fathers is changing. Women expect more involvement, men see peers becoming more involved, so it’s kind of self-reinforcing.”
Fathers are a growing share of stay-at-home parents, but mothers still constitute the majority. About 16% who stayed at home in 2017 were fathers compared to 84% who were mothers. However this is still a marked increase, compared to the 10% of stay-at-home fathers in 2000.
Reasons that fathers stay at home
- Caring for home and family – 21%
- Unable to find employment – 23%
- Ill or disabled – 35%
- In school/retired/other – 22%
So like an unmarried woman is seen as some sort of a burden to her parents, a married man who stays at home and takes care of the house is seen as being a ‘failure’ or something. Though the only thing he has failed is a dubious gender role decided by patriarchy, often, ‘house husbands’ or ‘stay-at-home’ fathers are subjects of ridicule.
So when someone on Quora asked what it feels like to be a house husband in India, the few answers that came in response offered interesting insights into what it’s like to be a man who doesn’t quite fit right into the patriarchal scheme of things.
“People will talk about you, no matter what. Amidst so many difficulties my father’s choice of being a house husband gave me something that I feel luckiest to have.”
Mohapatra says that after the death of his brother, his father decided he won’t join the college he was previously employed with. “Thereafter, he has been doing almost everything a housewife would do and rest of the time he is as usual busy reading books, gardening, performing prayers and rituals and leaving not a single dust in any corner of the house.” Though the family seemed to have found their peace, a majority of people around them didn’t take to his father’s decision too well.
It is perhaps important to remember here that, these detractors had no business to comment on a family’s personal matters. But hey, that’s how patriarchy works, remember? By being a meddlesome know-it-all.
“People will talk about you, no matter what. Amidst so many difficulties my father’s choice of being a house husband gave me something that I feel luckiest to have,” Mohapatra further adds.
Ajay Gollapalli, a stay-at-home dad himself recounted his story. Gollapalli aspired to be an IPS officer, was preparing to crack the exams. However, like it is with civil services examinations in India, Golapallu didn’t crack it immediately. When he married his present wife, he was unemployed and continued to be so for a while after their child was born. He stayed at home, took care of his child and the house as his wife worked.
He says. “I used to look after our baby all mid-night till early hours of morning. We both used to go to sleep in the early morning, sometimes after sunrise as my baby’s sleep cycle used to be erratic(as most new born babies are). This would not have been possible if I was a working male and to say I cherish every minute of every hour of time spent with my daughter every night for over a year, I used to talk to her, sing my own songs. I must say, she got me creative!!”
“I have been acting a role of house husband for past two years and I would like to continue as it is for near future.”
An anonymous user reveals, “I have been acting a role of house husband for past two years and I would like to continue as it is for near future.” While his wife was struggling and making her way up the ladder at work, he was working from home full-time and taking care of the child. He explained how he somewhat reclaimed his life after he quit his job and bonded well with his child.
He adds, “I am enjoying this phase of my life. I am spending time with my kid. I play along with him. I feed him. We watch cartoon together. Sometimes he watch sci-fi movies along with me. I make him sleep. We visit near by parks and play around. Sometimes, we just roam around in malls and shopping complexes. I am helping my wife to focus on her career. Now I talk to more people as compared when I was working in office. Now I am able to find time to talk to my parents everyday. I also find time for myself.”
Sindhu Hegde fondly recollects her father’s time at home and says, “He feels totally relaxed and happy except for a few moments when our relatives pose some stupid questions or taunts. He is a great help to mom. He cooks,cleans,and takes care of finance of the house.He is such a moral support to all of us. He may not earn money but he definitely has made life for us way better.”
Even if men want to be homemakers, societal pressure and parental expectations won’t let them be. Hence, it is understandable that things might not work out for all of them. Rahul Phalke writes in this thread about the fear that haunts all men and women in their lives — ‘what will people think?’.
“People think He has been bought and also that he can’t make his own livelihood and standing in the society. These are common perceptions. But is it a good choice? Hell Yes if you don’t give shit to what people think about you,” he says.
It is evident then that being a stay-at-home spouse hardly has anything to do with gender and maybe it is time people accept that.