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Stay-home dads put careers on hold to raise kids

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A UMNS photo by John Gordon

Michael Bouque looks over a homework assignment with his son, Tyler, 6, and daughter, Mallory, 3.

June 16, 2006

By John Gordon*

TROY, Mich. (UMNS) — It was right around Father’s Day six years ago that Michael Bouque decided to quit his job and stay home to raise his newborn son.

Now with two children, Bouque has no regrets about giving up his career as an electrical engineer to become a domestic engineer.

“This is certainly not anything that I had envisioned for my life,” Bouque says. “I certainly wouldn’t trade the time with the kids for anything — just the memories that we’re creating.”

A typical day for the United Methodist dad includes walking his son, Tyler, 6, to kindergarten; playing with dolls with his daughter, Mallory, 3; and taking care of household duties such as washing clothes and dishes and cooking.

His wife, Amy Bouque, is the family’s sole breadwinner. She works as a human-relations manager for a utility company.

“As long as it’s good for him, it’s great for me,” she says. “It’s been wonderful for me.”

The couple originally planned to hire a nanny soon after Tyler was born. But when a prospect for the job turned down their offer, Michael Bouque decided to become a stay-at-home dad.

“I would do it until either our money or my patience runs out. And we haven’t gotten to either one yet,” he says.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by John Gordon

The Rev. Rodney Quainton leads the DADS support group at his church.

The Bouques’ church, First United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Mich., offers a support group for stay-home fathers to share their experiences. The DADS (Dialoguing About Dad Stuff) group meets weekly during the school year.

“They’re an unusual beast in the overall culture,” says the Rev. Rodney Quainton, assistant pastor at the church and leader of the DADS group. “People asked when they were in the grocery store, ‘What do you mean you’re a stay-at-home dad; can’t you get a job?’”

Quainton has experiences of his own to share, since he cared for his children while attending seminary.

“What I’ve noticed is they’re much more secure in their role as a stay-at-home dad,” he says. “And if that’s the benefit of this kind of a group, I think that’s what I would point to, that they feel comfortable in who they are.”

In the minority

Stay-at-home fathers are something of a rare breed. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates 143,000 fathers are married and staying home with children under 15, and that they have remained out of the work force more than a year to care for their families while their wives have worked. That’s out of an estimated 66.3 million fathers across the country.

Another member of the DADS support group, Mick McClelland, quit his management job for an automaker nearly nine years ago to care for his two sons. The oldest, Joe, 18, is a senior in high school, and Dan, 16, is a sophomore.

McClelland’s wife, Sarah, is a banker.

“We have some common threads in terms of we talk about some current issues that relate to parenting and so on,” McClelland says of the support group. “But it’s just been a good group of guys to spend time with.”

‘A wonderful gift’

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by John Gordon

Michael Bouque stays home to care for Mallory and Tyler while his wife, Amy, is the income producer for the family.

Amy Bouque says knowing her husband is home caring for the children eased her mind and allowed her to advance in her career.

“It’s been a wonderful gift for the children and for me, both personally and professionally,” she says. “It’s not for everybody. You know, I couldn’t be the stay-at-home parent if the roles were reversed.’”

One year, she enjoyed a different dinner every night as her husband tried out recipes from a collection of magazines to find which ones the family liked best. For the past two years, Michael Bouque has also cooked for 100 or more church members attending weekly contemporary services.

Son Tyler says he enjoys having dad at home.

“When I come home from school, he’s always there, and we all get to play with each other,” he says.

And Michael Bouque also enjoys the trips to the park and the zoo, jumping on a backyard trampoline and watching his children grow.

“I certainly wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he says.

*Gordon is a freelance producer and writer based in Marshall, Texas.

News media contact: Fran Coode Walsh, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5458 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

 

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