When I was little, I had a stay-at-home Mom. She was home to give me a snack after school, took care of me when I was sick and spent hours devoting time to the PTA and the community to make a better life for us. (Thanks, Mom!) My Dad worked long hours, spent time working on the yard on the weekends and drove us to family functions on the weekends. (Thanks, Dad!)
Sometimes - like on Mom's birthday or when she was sick - Dad would take over for Mom. It would be a little different, though: He'd make breakfast foods for dinner (or new concoctions like the spaghetti omelet), not worry about our clothes matching and tried to fit in a nap on the couch.
As part of a two-parent working household now, I wonder what life would have been like if I had a full-time stay-at-home Dad. It turns out - among other things - that his brain would have been altered.
Researchers have discovered that Dads who are the primary caregivers experience activity increases in their amygdalas. Like mothers, primary caregiver Dads fret more over their child's safety and emotional bonds. Those Dads worry about their little ones pushing new boundaries, and they develop more "nesting" habits. (There has been no research to see if Mothers assuming a secondary parenthood role experience fewer of these brain changes.)
After reading all that, I think back to my husband when our son was first born. My husband was the one who took the lead in showing our son the world. It is because of his boundary-pushing-thinking that my son probably started walking (and then running!) so early, learned how to ride a bike so well and likes to explore so much. I am happy with my role of family worrier. (I'd like to think that together my husband and I provide balance.)
Did you have a stay at home parent when you were growing up? How about now? What are the advantages for your family?