Stay-At-Home dads, who have seen their earnings stagnate for years, are finding that they are losing out financially, even if they do not see the need to sell their homes.
In India, where one in four people have no job, it is often said that stay-at is the new middleman.
“It’s a huge change, especially for young people, because it allows them to stay at home and save for retirement,” says Shashank Jain, a stay-home dad from Mumbai.
In an age of hyper-localisation, there is a lot of pressure to get work and a lot less work for stay- at-home dads, particularly in the age of smartphones and digital media.
Jain, who is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, says he has to stay home to take care of his son, who has been diagnosed with cancer.
“He is in a big hospital, and the doctors have told me he has a cancer, but I have no choice,” says Jain.
“It’s like they want to save me from losing my job, and I don’t want to give in to that.
I feel that my son’s life is in danger, but it is my choice.
But it is also a huge loss.”
He adds that he is not alone.
Many parents are losing their jobs and losing their children as well.
“We have lost our jobs in Mumbai and Bangalore, and now we are losing our kids,” he says.
“When I went to college, I didn’t have any money.
Now, my wife and I are making about Rs 4,000 a month.
My kids have had to do work too.”
In Delhi, a popular hub for stay at- home dads, most people still think stay at the home is the best option.
But even a stay at work could mean a long commute and time away from their children.
In Mumbai, many stay- the-at home dads say they are frustrated.
“I am very frustrated, and not at all happy with my son,” says Amit Bhatnagar, a father of five from Thane.
“Sometimes I wonder if he will have to do something to pay for school or college.
But he has already started his studies.”
In Kerala, a state where stay- home fathers have a higher profile than in other states, many are looking for ways to stay close to their children even as they are forced to work long hours.
“My wife is going back to school, but she doesn’t want me to come home at 4 in the morning,” says Rajesh Sharma, a son of a stay home dad from Madurai.
“That is my only option.
I am not able to go out for dinner or eat at the restaurant.
I do my work at home.”
A few years ago, the Kerala government started a scheme called ‘Vadakarama’ to encourage stay-behind dads.
“If a dad is in need of money, he can take his kids to the school or church for a meal, or even the library,” says Kerala Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.
“But if a dad needs to take a day off, he has the option to do so.”
In many cases, it seems that stay at house has become the new norm for young parents.
“A lot of stay- behind dads have lost their jobs, and they are living with their families,” says Vishnu Bhat, a social worker from Nagpur, who runs the ‘stay- at home’ support group in his village.
“Many of them are just getting by with their kids, and have not got the opportunity to start their own careers.
They have to work.
The problem is, if they lose their jobs they are not getting the support from their family.
They can only rely on the support of their partner.”
The new normFor many stay at homes, it has been a long journey to get the support they need to thrive.
In the 1990s, it was said that a stay was better than a job.
Today, stay-backs have become an accepted norm for many young people.
In 2014, in Kerala, where the percentage of stay athome dads in the workforce has risen to 35%, a survey found that over 50% of stay home dads work in the state.
The survey was conducted by the National Center for Women and Family Studies and the Centre for Family and Social Development (CFSD), an NGO.
The report also found that a large majority of stay back dads do not have children.
“Most stay back fathers work full time and do not want children.
It is their choice to have children, and if they choose to have them, they want them in the right environment,” says the report.
“This makes them very happy, but in reality, they are in a difficult position.”
The lack of a work visa for stay home fathers has made them