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How To Be a Full-Time Dad

February 5, 2024

7 min read

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Author : United We Care
Clinically approved by : Dr.Vasudha
How To Be a Full-Time Dad

Introduction

For centuries, mothers have been assuming the role of primary caregivers and fathers of breadwinners. However, times are changing, and traditional gender roles are being dismantled. As the fluidity in family dynamics increases, we’re seeing more women take up the role of breadwinners and more men involved with homemaking. With the evolving gender roles, men are also navigating their role as full-time dads, i.e. primary caregivers. In this role, they are actively involved in their kids’ lives, be it by cooking a healthy meal for them or helping them with a school project. Not only is this role being accepted in society, but studies note that children with full-time dads have higher self-esteem, better social skills, and are more emotionally regulated.[1] Being a full-time dad plays an essential role in shaping the coming generations. In this article, we’ll discuss the perks, challenges, and impacts of this role, as well as strategies for better well-being of full-time dads.

What is the meaning of full-time dad?

Doing anything full-time means you are actively involved in what you’re doing, and you’re spending a significant amount of time doing it. Similarly, when one is a full-time dad, they’re fully involved in nurturing the children. This includes taking up traditional tasks such as feeding and grooming the children, as well as giving them emotional support, guidance, and disciplining them.

Some reasons why a father may assume the role of a full-time dad are: [2]

  • The flexibility of their employment or the relative earning power of the mother is higher
  • Being a single father with no other alternatives to childcare
  • Facing neglect as a child themselves and wanting to do better for their children
  • Family history and ideological values

A parent’s involvement in their child while growing up can significantly impact their physical, emotional, and intellectual development. Hence, the daily responsibilities of full-time dads include:

  • Attending to the physical health and hygiene needs of the children
  • Providing comfort, support, and guidance when the children face emotional challenges
  • Being involved in the learning process of the children by participating in homework and school extracurriculars
  • Socializing and guiding the children on how to develop healthy relationships

Full-time dad’s role extends to longer commitments

As the children grow up and learn to do the basics by themselves, the full-time dad’s role extends to longer commitments such as:

  • Providing children with guidance on moral and ethical values
  • Teaching practical life skills 
  • Developing emotional resilience for the children to be able to deal with more complex life challenges
  • Being a role model and exhibiting ideal behavior in terms of self-expression, creating and maintaining relationships, work ethic, etc.

Can a dad be a full-time dad?

The short answer is: yes, a father can absolutely be a full-time dad, i.e., take on the primary responsibility of raising the children and managing the house. However, due to rigid societal norms and the perception of gender roles, full-time dads are often subjected to ugly and unpleasant stereotypes. Some common stereotypes and misconceptions that full-time dads face are: [3]

  • Judgment of their masculinity based on the traditional view that men must provide for the family
  • Reduction of their role of a primary caregiver to simply a filler until the “mother” returns to it
  • Ignorance of their ability to care and nurture and not receiving the space and support to learn these skills
  • The belief that children need their mother more than their father, despite each primary figure bringing in their unique strengths

Fortunately, we are evolving as a society and learning to be more fluid and inclusive. Having full-time dads can bring more balance to our family dynamics and give space and support to women who want to pursue their career goals.

Mental wellbeing of a full-time dad

Due to the stereotypes and a general lack of social support, full-time dads face many challenges that affect their mental well-being. Full-time dads often feel lonely, disconnected, and isolated since they lack a network of fathers in similar roles to discuss their challenges and grow with.[4]

The rigid enforcement of traditional gender roles can also bring about an identity crisis for full-time dads. If they manage to come out stronger from this, they’re hit by the societal pressure of being unrealistically perfect fathers. This can make them feel stressed and inadequate.

The life of a full-time dad is filled with challenges as they have to fight for the basic respect they deserve from society. This can make them feel unvalued, frustrated, and overwhelmed due to emotional burnout.

Hence, given these challenges, a full-time dad needs to take care of his mental wellbeing. Only when a parent is mentally healthy are they able to cater to the child’s needs and model healthy behavior.

How to be stress-free as a full-time dad?

Being a full-time dad is a demanding role. Along with household responsibilities and added societal pressure, it is important for full-time dads to learn to manage their stress. If you’re considering taking up the role of a full-time dad, some practical strategies you can adopt are:

How to be stress-free as a full-time dad?

  • Learning to manage your time effectively: With the amount of work on hand, it can get difficult to prioritize. Yet, you need to set realistic goals for yourself in terms of how much you can do. Accept that you cannot do everything and delegate responsibilities or ask for support where needed.
  • Caring for yourself: You cannot give from an empty cup. Fulfill your own basic needs first, such as getting adequate sleep, eating healthy and timely, and scheduling some downtime for yourself.
  • Building or finding a network for support: Sharing experiences with other full-time dads can give you emotional support and make you feel less lonely. Parenting classes, workshops, and playdates can be resources for you to find like-minded people.
  • Engaging in your hobbies: It can be easy to lose yourself in a full-time demanding role like this. Hence, engaging in your favorite hobbies can provide a sense of identity for you outside your role as a parent.

Conclusion

Being a full-time dad is a rewarding yet challenging role. Despite the stereotypes, a father can assume the role of a primary caregiver and excel at it just as a mother would. Societal norms, expectations, and pressure can affect the well-being of a full-time dad. Hence, an individual in this role needs to manage their stress effectively to be able to model healthy behavior and coping mechanisms to the children. If you require additional support, book a session with one of our experienced mental health professionals to learn more about effective coping strategies. At United We Care, we offer the most appropriate, clinically backed solutions for all your needs for well-being.

References:

[1] Jones C, Foley S, Golombok S. Parenting and child adjustment in families with primary caregiver fathers. J Fam Psychol. 2022 Apr;36(3):406-415. doi: 10.1037/fam0000915. Epub 2021 Oct 7. PMID: 34618486.

[2] West AF, Lewis S, Ram B, Barnes J, Leach P, Sylva K, Stein A; FCCC project team. Why do some fathers become primary caregivers for their infants? A qualitative study. Child Care Health Dev. 2009 Mar;35(2):208-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2008.00926.x. PMID: 19228155.

[3] Sophie-Claire Valiquette-Tessier, Julie Gosselin, Marta Young & Kristel Thomassin (2019) A Literature Review of Cultural Stereotypes Associated with Motherhood and Fatherhood, Marriage & Family Review, 55:4, 299-329, DOI: 10.1080/01494929.2018.1469567

[4] Isacco A, Hofscher R, Molloy S. An Examination of Fathers’ Mental Health Help Seeking: A Brief Report. American Journal of Men’s Health. 2016;10(6):NP33-NP38. doi:10.1177/1557988315581395

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Author : United We Care

Founded in 2020, United We Care (UWC) is providing mental health and wellness services at a global level, UWC utilizes its team of dedicated and focused professionals with expertise in mental healthcare, to solve 2 essential missing components in the market, sustained user engagement and program efficacy/outcomes.

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