Blog: When Dads Stay Home...
4min read: Know many dads who stay at home?
Over here in Singapore, we've started to notice a bit of a trend. Occasionally, just occasionally, the 'trailing spouse' in a partnership isn't the wife, but the husband who's followed his (better!) half to a new life and a subsequent role as a 'stay-at-home dad'. Here, we sit down with Damien and Anisa, who have two kids and divide their time a little differently to most other expat parents, to find out what happens when the roles are somewhat reversed, as well as the challenges they've faced to keep it that way.
Hopscotch: Hello! Please introduce yourselves and tell us a bit about your background.
Damien: We are Damien and Anisa and we arrived in Singapore in 2017 with our two children. We had previously lived in Sydney, Australia. The move came as a result of Anisa being offered a relocation to Singapore with her company. We decided to take up the offer as career progress but also to have a bit of an adventure. Which is exactly what we have been enjoying about Singapore!
H: What do you both do for a living and how did your current division of labour come about?
D & A: Anisa works for an education publishing company as their business development manager for Asia. Damien's experience lies in Performing Arts venue management.
H: Was it a difficult decision to become a stay at home dad/working mum combo and what do you feel are the top 3 benefits?
D & A: Not difficult as such but it has occurred more as a result of what best suited our circumstances at the time. When our first child was born Anisa took the first year as maternity leave. We then decided that Anisa would return to work full time with Damien taking the second year off as a stay-at-home dad. This made financial and logistical sense for us at the time as Damien's job meant working evenings.
Damien did find this transition initially quite difficult as he worked in a public facing role in a very social industry and he struggled for a while to readjust mentally to not being surrounded by people but just one demanding baby daughter! He then worked in a part time role in his field during our first daughter's third year which meant we were both able to work and juggle home and family life.
In Singapore Damien is a full time stay-at-home dad and we feel fortunate that our children have the benefit of being cared for by a full time stay-at-home parent as they are growing up. We have two daughters and we can see the benefits of being close to their father, it shows in their confidence and their understanding that division of labour in families can come in many forms. Damien is very proud to provide homebase support for Anisa's career ambitions and believes it also provides a strong role model for our daughters that women can be, as we tell them, 'real go-getters'!
H: Have either of you come up against any resistance, discrimination or difficult/surprising conversations as a result of your choices?
D & A: It has been harder for Damien in Singapore as stay-at-home parenting by dads is less common here. In the beginning he took to wearing a fake lanyard when out and about during the daytime so it would seem he was working to deflect questions from strangers especially taxi-drivers who found the idea of a man cooking and cleaning very odd. Damien has had some funny moments with some supermarket cashiers with whom he has discussed the finer points of cooking Singaporean cuisine He is one of only a handful of stay at home dads in Singapore and it shows at the school gates at pick up time. As a result though he seems very popular with the school staff and parents!
H: What support systems would be useful to make you situation more common and easy to adopt?
D & A: We know just from the school gate that we are in the minority in Singapore with the dad as the trailing spouse. Our daughter's school and ANZA have men's groups for social activities but Damien hasn't really found it necessary to partake in them being pretty settled in his role and fortunate to have made good friendships through our condo and the wider expat community.
Damien did partake in a job orientation program offered to spouses through our relocation company but the upshot of that was to confirm that given our family's circumstances, the age of our daughters and the frequency of Anisa's business travel that the real benefit would be for Damien to continue in his support role and consider work opportunities further down the line. We have recently decided to remain at least another two years here so we may consider getting a helper then and Damien hopefully resuming some employment.
H: Finally, is there anything you’d change about your current set up…and would you ever want to trade places?
D & A: I don't think I could be a full time stay at home mum so hats off to Damien for doing such a demanding job! Damien would like to find work in Singapore, whether it be part time or something during school hours and he is on the look out for interesting opportunities.
Do you know any stay-at-home dads or would you consider adopting this strategy? Get in touch, we'd love to hear from you.
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