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Family Law

Stay At Home Dads

Berger Kordos Lawyers
14.09.18

KUDOS to SAHD (Stay At Home Dads): Congratulations to the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford, following the birth of their daughter. Arden has since returned to her PM duties and her partner will be a SAHD.

In an article from the Guardian, Helen Clark, the former NZ PM writes: “For young women, the example Ardern is setting is an affirmation that they too can expect to have that choice. For young men, Gayford being the full-time carer of a baby sends a powerful message that they too can exercise that choice,”. Clark also goes on to say “These are the kinds of practical arrangements working women make the world over – the novelty here is that it is a prime minister who is making them. The signal this sends, however, is that this is life in the 21st century. Women can choose to combine family and career as Ardern has done.”

It is not an easy decision for a family to make, that is, to appoint a father to be the head honcho on the home front. As a mother I know the challenges we face when caring for children and running a household on a full-time basis. It is also difficult for a mother to hand over the reins to someone else. I know this from first-hand experience, from my own family situation.

So, what can mothers do, if they wish to follow in Arden’s footstep? I have found that one of the key things mothers can do, is to have an open and honest discussion with their partner about their desire to return to work. Mothers should not have to feel locked into being the main carer at home and fathers should not have to feel that they must work to support the family.

My own husband has taken time off work to be a SAHD to enable me to return to work after giving birth to our 6 month old daughter. I am very fortunate to have a supportive and understanding partner who values my desire to return to work and I am glad I had an open and honest conversation with him about it. This is often not the case with other couples and I have heard too many of my female clients say that after having children, they had no choice but to care for their children and give up their careers. Many years down the track, the relationship breaks down, the couple separate, and these mothers find it challenging to return to the careers they once had.

I hope my story and Jacinda Arden’s story will inspire more mothers and fathers to have more open and honest conversations with each other. In an endeavour to encourage more women to stay in leadership positions and have a family life, I will be writing more about this topic to help mothers (who wish to remain in paid employment) strengthen their “village” and to have better and longer lasting relationships with their loved ones after having children. On a final note – kudos to Arden’s partner and all the other SAHD.

By Sounita Viravout