Dads at Home with Kids and Still ‘Manly’


TIME magazine ran an interesting piece about stay-at-home dads who, in leaving their jobs to raise kids, fear they may be abandoning their masculinity. If being a caring, stay-at-home dad means being “less manly,” than what does that say about a woman’s role as a mom? For some dads, staying at home with the kids isn’t a macho demotion — its a testosterone booster.

TIME reports:

“I’m probably a little whipped,” shrugs Lee Roberts, 45. He’s a part-time copy editor, married to a full-time journalist, who has stayed home for nine years to raise their two children. “There are definitely some guys who look at me and think, ‘What’s up with him?’ Do I care? Well, I guess I do a little because I just mentioned it,” he says. Haley speaks up to reassure him: “Kids remember, man. All that matters is that you’re there. Being there is being a man.”

Roberts’ sentiments reminded me of a book my dad gave me for Christmas last year called “Why a Daughter Needs a Dad.” The book is filled with photos of dads twirling their baby girls in one hand high above their heads, dads and daughters painting pictures propped on easels, dads holding onto the seat of the bicycle their daughter is riding, afraid of letting go …

The book is a bit gimmicky, and it seems to be written under the assumption that everyone has a caring father, but it still speaks to the importance of having a paternal figure in life, whether that figure is your actual dad, a good family friend, or someone who isn’t related to you but might as well be your surrogate dad.

How visible that paternal figure is depends a lot on work. While dads like Roberts might be able to stay at home and take care of the kids, for many dads, it’s still a challenge for many. Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2006 show that only 6 percent of dads stay at home with the kids while their wives work. I wonder how many of these dads are jobless by choice. I wonder, too, how a child’s behavior changes depending on which parent/parental figure they spend the most time with as a child …

Click here to see an audio slideshow about dads that a friend of mine put together during Poynter’s six-week summer fellowship.

What do you think about stay-at-home dads? Do you think moms are more nurturing than dads?

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at

3 thoughts on “Dads at Home with Kids and Still ‘Manly’

  1. Actually, I wrote the book with the conviction that every daughter needs a caring dad. The book serves a dual purpose – to celebrate those daughter/dad relationships that are good, and provide a model for those that are a work in progress.

  2. On “Why a Daughter Needs a Dad”: Thanks for clarifying this, Gregory. You’ve written what I think is a very special book. I glance through it from time to time and whenever I do, I think of my own father and hope that daughters who might not have as good a relationship with their dads, or who have lost their dads, can grow from reading it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: