5 Reasons Stay-At-Home Dads Are The Best Dads, Says Science

Moms are free to be at work, dads are free to be at home, and kids are free to flourish.

5 Reasons Stay-At-Home Dads Are The BEST Dads, Says Science Getty 

Let's go time traveling only for a thought. Say you're a grown woman in the '60s, '70s, even '80s in some cases. You spot a man wheeling a baby buggy along the road. Your bestie whispers in your ear, "His wife works and he takes care of the kids." How would you react back then?

Probably, you would feel sorry for the poor guy, for his high-powered lady certainly "castrated" him. Let alone the havoc around the house the bubbly a-la-Michael-Keaton-Mr.-Mom would wreak.


It's 2016, thankfully, and equality works both ways. In 2016, millennial and GenXer couples are free to decide the arrangement that suits them most. Dads are free to trade in their paychecks to become full-time stay-at-home dads (SAHDs), letting go off of outdated, macho, "Marlboro man" ideals. As a matter of fact, with the pace at which SAHDs are growing in numbers, the Marlboro man of the future might as well be a SAHD!

Now, you may catch yourself wondering, "OK, there's no reason why I cannot win the family bread (I spent so much time studying and building a career after all!) if my husband loves raising our child, and he can work at home in most cases. But what about the kids? Won't they need ME, first and foremost, by their side?"


Turns out, not that much. Backed up by science, the model dad-at-home-mom-at-work bears benefits strong enough to kick such concerns to the curb when it comes to the child's mental, emotional and physical well-being. For at least five reasons:

1. Dad melts hearts with empathy, but will still push his kids forward.

Have you observed dads and kids frolicking around in the playground? Do you sense the vast amounts of high-wattage yet positive energy flowing back and forth? He spurs the kid on to climb one step further on the staircase leading to the "magical fort." "Go chase it, you can do it!" he shouts, throwing the ball. The little one tests her limits, and daddy is beaming with joy. It's a win-win playground game.

Charles Schaeffer, new parenting and pregnancy expert and positive psychologist, says that fatherhood is an immensely transformative experience for men. It connects them to the present moment better than any other experience and showers them with empathy.


With daddy morphing into an empathy emitter, what's next for the child?

"When kids are responded to empathetically and mindfully, they feel much safer and more secure to take risks, to explore the world around them. To have fun while they grow and develop," says Schaeffer. Or else, the vital first seeds of confidence and independence are sawn in the mini life-explorer.

Wait a minute. Can't you, a woman, be empathic? Of course, but society has conditioned you to become a bit more empathic than necessary. Studies on how parents play with children agree that mothers tend to be overprotective and less arousing than fathers. For example, if you teach your child how to swim, you will most probably position yourself in front, anxious to maintain eye contact. A father, on the other hand, will stand from behind. He will let the child face the social environment.

"Fathers, raised as traditional males, will push their children to try new things and will push beyond failure, onward to success... A SAHD will comfort a boy crying in baseball, but will send him back out onto the field," says Rob Wilson, prolific author on human motivation and SAHD.


Wilson shoots off fireworks, starts fires with magnifying glasses, melts pennies with a blow torch, and makes toy soldiers from molten lead when having fun with his two kids. Does it smell like child spirit?

2. They encourage their children to excel academically.

Another benefit dads at home bring to the family table is intelligence. Yes, you heard right!

Science says that fathers who spend quality time with their children boost kids' retention and problem-solving skills, even grades. Science even claims that adults whose fathers spend more time with them in childhood have, on average, a higher IQ.

A.J. Marsden is an assistant professor of human services and psychology at Beacon College in Leesburg, FL. She tells me that these findings are by-products of the same sense of independence SAHDs imbue in children.


"SAHDs encourage their children to try to achieve a task on their own, while still offering support from the sidelines. Around a SAHD, children feel less stressed and more supported in their endeavors. These types of positive emotions increase cognitive skills, problem-solving and retention, and foster creativity."

3. A dad who's around 24/7 keeps sexual predators at bay.

In case you have a daughter and she enjoys at least an average-quality relationship with her dad, rest assure that she will be half as likely to get pregnant in her teen years. The quality of the relationship between girls and dads needs special mention, for it will define the male figures she will seek out in adult life.

BD Foley is a retired CIA operations officer and author of CIA Street Smarts for Women: Spy Skills to tell the Prince from the Predator. He spent many years in his life prosecuting predators. He noticed a pattern: a young woman who was fatherless or had little contact with her father was more likely to fall victim to sexual assault.


"She was also susceptible to manipulation and resulting pregnancies in puberty," Foley says.

Maybe it's his sheer physical size. Or this special, celebrated bond only daughters and dads have formed in history. Why would she really want to look out of the family for love and empowerment when he unconditionally provides both 24/7?

4. They provide emotional balance.

Though children need both you and dad to achieve a higher emotional balance, dads-at-home emerge as those who will supply kids with a stronger capacity to deal with stress and anxiety in life.

"SAHDs may be more imaginative, confident, optimistic, free-spirited and flexible as persons than parents in conventional homes," says Elizabeth Berger, child psychiatrist and author of Raising Kids with Character. "Their lively personalities might make their children more sociable, enjoying happier relationships with themselves and their peers."


Schaeffer agrees that SAHDs are a special beast. They break the tough, virile male stereotype and remold it in their own unique way: kids see them not afraid to exhibit courage and vulnerability at the same time, at any given moment.

"You can be empathic without sinking in self-pity."

"You can be strong without devolving to cruelty."


These are the ideals a SAHD will instill in your kid early on.

5. Their kids will become anyone they want to be.

What happens if a girl and a boy watch dad nonchalantly do the dishes? According to science, a turnover. The girl will "up the ante" in life, and the boy will pass the lesson of emotional literacy with flying colors. She will internalize that "good girl jobs" she doesn't have the knack for aren't her calling, and he will not waste his whole life "manning up." Where partners share domestic duties equitably, kids take notes. And follow suit.

We do live in exciting times. Every little inch of stereotypes about who does what, or who is what, is being challenged. So if you're out there making a living and dad is at home caring for the kid (working or not), and this is an arrangement pleasing everybody, stick to your guns. Chances are, you're a glimpse of the future.



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