Economic recession increases number of US stay-at-home dads
Michael Kuykendall isn't a typical dad, as instead of hanging out with his son for a couple hours a day, he traded in his suit for the chance to be a full time stay-at-home dad.
“My previous job was 12 hours a day and I did not get to see him as much and spend as much time with him,” Michael Kuykendall says.
Now wherever Michael goes, two-year-old Sebastian is usually not far behind. Kuykendall had been serving in the Navy for many years and was deployed to the Middle East three times.
He says even though his life now is pretty different from what was earlier, he's enjoyed every minute of being with his son.
“I just have fun hanging out with him, he’s a blast,” Michael says.
But Kuykendall says being a parent 24/7 isn't all fun and games, and there are times when it can feel lonely.
“There still is a big stigma when you go to a playground and you are just this one lone dad, and there are all those moms there. I think they kind of look at you kind of funny,” Michael confesses.
That's why Kuykendall comes to the daddy playgroups. He says getting a chance to spend time with other men like him is fun for both him and his son.
“I can sit around and talk to other dads about what issues we may or may not be having,” Michael says.
There are about 150,000 stay-at-home dads in the US but during the current recession more men are finding themselves at home, and many say that’s beginning to challenge the traditional gender identity roles.
Sebastian’s mom, Jessica Kuykendall, works as a consultant for IBM while her husband takes care of their son during the day. She says that she hopes Sebastian sees that he can do anything he wants to in the future.
“Men are realizing that they don’t have to fit into a stereotypical role and can be the stay-at-home parents, as long as the household is being provided for by at least one of the parents,” working mom Jessica Kuykendall says.