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Stay at Home Dads I was put through things a mother would never face to get custody

I went through a long stressful time in the Family Law Courts trying in vain to get custody of of my children – but it was worth it.

I AM A father who stayed at home to raise his children. Am I a rare species of man? Yes, because not many men are allowed by society to do this type of thing. But I think it is happening more and more and men just get on with it and don’t want any praise or acknowledgement.

To make a long story short I have three beautiful teenage children. I went through a long stressful time in the Family Law Courts trying in vain to get custody of them against all the odds. The facts are that only 1% of fathers who apply for custody get it and many don’t even bother to try because they know the outcome. You could say that I am 1 in a 100 who got custody after going through all the rigours which a mother would never be put through. To make matters worse, my three beautiful children were taken into care by order of the courts before I could apply to have them.

I can see the benefits 

I had a very good public service job which I retired from early in order to be a full-time stay at home Dad. I was lucky that I had the option of retiring early but it was well worth it. I now see the benefits of one parent staying at home and not handing the children over to strangers to rear which, in most cases, is because both parents are out at work –sometimes through necessity and sometimes in order to have a better lifestyle.

Children up to the age of 18 years need parental care 24/7. The traditional method in Ireland over the years has been the mother and hence the father was seen as the provider. If the mother was in full-time employment she got maternity leave for a given period and when that ran out in the majority of cases she quit work altogether in order to be there for the children. Nowadays this has a devastating effect when it comes to separation and divorce.

A lack of male influence 

As it turns out, a short time after I got custody of the children their mother sadly passed away and I was left alone to bring up the three children. I think it is fair to say that men are deemed by society not capable of this task and that is why mothers have all the say when it comes to rearing children.

The two most important influences on children lives in my opinion are the home situation and initial education; I would say at present mothers account for 95% of rearing the children in the home. National schools in Ireland are 95% female and this has a big influence on children lives in the future. If children are sick for any extended period then everyday carers at a hospital, especially the Children’s Hospital in Ireland, are 95% female.

Being ‘the only male’

While being a stay-at-home dad is rewarding and very satisfying I find it intimidating at times to be the only male figure on a school board of management or on the school parents association or waiting in the hospital for an appointment for one of my children. Very few fathers put themselves forward for these tasks and maybe it should be encouraged in the same way women are encouraged to go forward for election to councils and the Dail. In all of these situations there needs to be a proper balance and equality based on gender and, of course, ability to do the job.

It is perceived by many that men are good at some things and women are good at others. Maybe that’s why men feel themselves they are better at other things and they leave motherhood to mothers. Fatherhood is big for me and I like to think that I am doing a good job.

The author of this piece is anonymous to protect the identities of his children. 

Stay At Home Dads: ‘For now, this is my career. My daughter is my priority.’

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