Stay-at-home Dad: The Never-ending Stereotypes

As if his day wasn’t hectic enough already, with the birth of his two-month-old daughter Charlotte, Corby Richmond, a stay-at-home dad from Ontario, will be busier than ever before (If that’s even possible.)

Corby and his wife of 16 years, never planned for him to become the caregiver of their three children: Grayson; four, Cohen; two, and Charlotte.

The decision, Corby explains, “Happened both naturally and out of necessity.” When his wife received a call informing her she had been accepted into medical school; they knew their lives had changed.

Having worked from home for several years previous to the birth of their children, the idea of him staying at home came very naturally. His wife has such passion and talent for medicine that Corby could not imagine her not doing what she loves, “I enjoy sharing her talents with her patients and the world.”

In Canada, while 87 per cent of stay-at-home parents are women, male stay-at-home parents represent only 13 per cent. Although this figure is certainly larger than the four per cent that existed back in 1986, the trend of males becoming primary caregivers has not been sufficient to abolish the misconceptions and taboos that exist regarding the subject.

Despite the growth in male caregivers, Corby’s daily interactions are only with mothers, who are usually shocked at the idea of a man being at home with his kids; and the males he interacts with have no idea of the effort it entails.

Judging from Corby’s experience of constantly having to deal with people who continue to believe males aren’t as qualified as females for parenting, it is apparent negative stereotypes prevail. Breaking down the gender norms of the “housemother” is something that many still find difficult to assimilate.

“The perception or feelings from others, that I am not as good as my wife, has had a very large impact on me and my own feelings towards parenting.”

His 7:00a.m. mornings are hectic to say the least, waking up to make breakfast for the family, packing lunches, taking the dog outside and driving his wife to work. Once his wife is at work he takes the kids to a playgroup (where he interacts with mothers only), and proceeds to finish all the errands of the day.

At nights he makes dinner and tries to get the kids tired out and ready for bed. His wife can’t always join them since her schedule does not allow for a lot of planning, and if she is on duty, she sometimes doesn’t make it home until the next morning.