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Is it biblically acceptable for a man to be a stay-at-home dad?


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stay-at-home dad
Question: "Is it biblically acceptable for a man to be a stay-at-home dad?"

Stay-at-home dads are found in a variety of situations, the most common being a father who works from home while remaining the main caregiver for his children. Other parents tag-team; each carries on a job outside the home but alternate their shifts or workloads so that one of them is always at home with the children. For the purposes of this article, we will define stay-at-home dad (SAHD) as a father of minor children who does not work outside the home but has chosen the full-time career of raising his children, in the same way that a stay-at-home mother does.

Stay-at-home dads are obviously in the minority, since the role of caregiver is usually more emotionally and biologically suited for mothers. However, there are many situations where other factors need to be considered. Whether a mother or a father stays at home with the children, it is noteworthy that, in either case, these parents are taking seriously God’s commandment to train their own children, rather than entrusting preschool-age children to the care of strangers (see Deuteronomy 6:6–9).

Mothers are sometimes the reason a man becomes the stay-at-home parent. Some mothers don’t consider themselves the nurturing type and believe that their husbands are much better at interacting with infants and preschoolers on a day-to-day-basis. Sometimes the wife’s education or profession places her in a much higher income bracket, and it makes economic sense for her to remain in the workforce while her husband takes care of the children. Other women spend a few years staying home, then switch places with their husbands and go back to work while he takes his turn at home.

From the father’s perspective, there are men who love nurturing their little ones and are more creative at interacting, playing, and teaching than their wives would be. Such stay-at-home dads enthusiastically accept the sober responsibility of bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Some men never had a father figure themselves, and they embrace the opportunity to give their own children what they never had growing up. Other men have had the training and background to be excellent caregivers, whereas their wives have not, and they enter marriage with that expectation and desire in place. For a few, physical disability plays a role in the decision to be a stay-at-home dad. Injury or sickness can force a father out of the workplace, but he can find a valuable role in keeping the home running, which frees his wife to bring the income.

Those are some of the positive reasons a man may be a stay-at-home dad. But other situations are not so positive and do not provide acceptable reasons for a dad to stay at home. Men who are lazy and see staying at home as the easy way out are not following God’s command to provide for their families (1 Timothy 5:8). Men who refuse to better themselves and develop work skills are cowards, hiding behind their diligent wives who are keeping a roof over their heads. This puts a marriage out of balance and causes a wife to lose respect for her husband (see Ephesians 5:33). A husband who stays home simply because he can is causing his wife to violate her conscience. She may want to respect him as the leader, but, if he refuses to lead, she has little to respect. A lazy or irresponsible stay-at-home dad is disobeying God’s clear command to love his wife as he loves his own body (Ephesians 5:28).

Drug addiction and pot-smoking are increasing causes for men staying home. Substance abuse causes men to lose motivation to find work. They prefer hiding inside their altered reality and allowing their wives to shoulder the responsibilities. Men who pretend to be caring for the children but instead spend their days playing video games, smoking marijuana, or surfing the internet are not bringing dignity to an otherwise worthy occupation. They are forfeiting the opportunity to train their children, in the same way that a stay-at-home mother forfeits it by parking the kids in front of the TV and talking on the phone, drinking, or playing on Facebook all day.

The decision about who stays home with the children is an important one and will affect the future atmosphere of the home. The discussion of who stays home with the children should be had before children ever arrive. Both spouses need to be in agreement with each other and with God, recognizing the adjustments that will have to be made in their relationship and their expectations. If a couple agrees that the father will be a stay-at-home dad, it is a good idea to find other couples who have made that arrangement work and learn from them. Stay-at-home dads need the support of other men in their position, as it is not one that readily garners respect from the working world. A father needs to be settled within himself that this is the role he has chosen and embrace it gladly, or he risks communicating to his children that they are in his way.

Godly families come in all shapes and sizes. Some of those godly families have stay-at-home dads. The most important factor for a Christian couple is whether or not the Lord is leading their decisions (Proverbs 3:5–6). Whether that decision is who stays home, where the children are educated, or how they spend their free time, couples who keep God as the final authority in everything can make even the stay-at-home dad situation a successful one.

Recommended Resource: Your Family God's Way by Wayne Mack

Related Topics:

Does a wife have to submit to her husband?

What does the Bible say about women working outside the home?

Should all mothers be stay-at-home moms?

What does God have to say to single mothers?

What are the roles of the husband and wife in a family?

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Is it biblically acceptable for a man to be a stay-at-home dad?

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