NYC Dads Group participates in local media opportunities to promote the group as a positive resource for fathers in New York City. Also important, is to participate in media stories that help move the involved fatherhood conversation forward here in the U.S. as well as abroad. Here is an interesting example of our caring community of dads sharing our story with families in Japan via the Nikkei Newspaper.
Recently, I received the below inquiry:
Dear NYC Dads Group,
My name is Hiroko Nishimura from Nikkei news paper, a leading business newspaper in Japan.
I am stationed in NY, covering various US business news.
I am working on a story about full time house-husband/dads. I would like to introduce to Japanese leaders that lately in the US, choosing to be an at home dad is becoming more socially accepted, creating a new form of family. I am looking for some at-home dads or an organization/group of at-home dads, who I can interview for the story.
Japan has serious problem of decreasing population and it was partly contributed by the social system which makes it very difficult for women to keep her career and have a baby/babies. I am always impressed about how fathers are more involved in child caring in the US, and I believe the story gives insights to Japanese family who are seeking new life-work balance. I would appreciate if you could contact me back for father discussion about possibilities for interviews.
Below is the translation of the article that was published in Japan’s Nikkei Business Newspaper. The article is available online at this link (but, unfortunately requires a registration to view the article). Thanks to Hiroki and Emily for taking the time to get to know our group & share a piece of our story with a global audience in Japan….
Stay-at-home dads who take the lead in child rearing a growing group in New York – meeting to give each other advice and support.
In New York, more and more groups of “house husbands,” who are devoting themselves to childcare, are forming. That’s partly because an alternative family pattern where the woman works outside the home and the man takes care of the house is becoming more established, and it’s partially because more fathers have questions about childrearing, or feel isolated in mostly-female childcare centers. Slow improvement in U.S. employment rates is also a factor, and as the numbers of “house husbands” increase the networks get stronger, offering a place for them to seek information and advice.
On a weekday morning in October, one man after another arrived in the playroom of a high rise apartment building near Wall Street, each pushing a stroller. They’re all at-home dads.
“Have you ever felt like a woman didn’t trust you to take care of children?” “First-time parents are in the same position whether they’re women or men.” (Some quotes from the dads during their discussion) On this day 8 members of the “NYC Dads Group” pulled their chairs into a circle and began a lively discussion (facilitated by Donald Unger: author of Men Can: The Changing Image & Reality of Fatherhood in America), all while they were soothing their crying kids and offering snacks and milk bottles.
Lance Somerfeld (37), who started the group, is a teacher. When his son Jake was born in 2008 he and his wife, who works in the insurance industry, both took 4 months of leave. After her maternity leave, she returned to work, but Somerfeld’s job as a teacher allowed him up to four years of unpaid childcare leave, so he chose to become a stay-at-home dad.
Once he actually started raising his child he realized that there wasn’t enough information aimed at dads, so he began scheduling regular meetings of male friends who were in the same situation – dads staying home with their kids. When he set up an online group for stay-at-home fathers to arrange to meet with their children in tow, within about two years more than 300 men registered.
According to the U.S. Census Department, there are about 160,000 married men with children under the age of 15 who have chosen to become stay-at-home fathers. The number of households where a woman is the only breadwinner increased in 2009 for the third year running, rising to its highest level ever. After the financial crisis of 2008, more American men than women are unemployed. There are also many cases where, in households with small children, the husband has temporarily become a stay-at-home dad to save on childcare costs.
But society still hasn’t caught up to this lifestyle. Matt Schneider (35), who has two children, doesn’t conceal his irritation when he says that “there’s more attention from people and the media, but the angle is always how rare it is to see a man pushing a stroller in the afternoon.” On the website, aimed at stay-at-home dads and involved fathers, men seek advice on what to do if they feel their wife doesn’t respect them now that they don’t have an income, or write about their feelings of isolation or social alienation.
Going back to work, or seeking a new job once the kids are grown, is another source of unease. Michael Ring (47), who lives in Brooklyn, quit his job at an educational institution two years ago, with the intention of changing careers. But the financial crisis struck immediately afterward, and the situation completely changed. Since his wife’s salary is enough to meet the family’s expenses, he has put his career search on hold and become a stay-at-home parent to his 7 year old twins. When he’ll go back to work is up in the air. “I’m sure that before long they’ll get annoyed having dad around all the time. I’ll think about it then,” says Ring.
While they find the stronger bonds with their children satisfying, the possibility that they won’t be able to go back to work until the children have become independent is still a concern for some American stay-at-home dads.
Article by Hiroko Nishimura