Yes, I Am a Stay-At-Home Dad

People Gb36805e94 1920


Shannon Carpenter has been a stay-at-home dad for 14 years. “Initially, I was joking when I suggested to my wife that I stay home with our then 15-month-old son,” he says. “But the more we talked about it, the more we realized that it should be me. Financially, it made sense for my wife to be the one to work full-time since her career was on a higher track. But it also made sense personality-wise. I am more assertive, extroverted, and better suited to stay-at-home parenting.”

Carpenter knows many people are surprised when they hear it’s dad and not mom home full time with the kids. “There is a stereotype of a lazy guy or a Mr. Mom,” he says. “Contrary to what people may think, it’s not that I couldn’t get a job or am unemployed. My job is taking care of my kids. And anyone who is home full-time with their family knows you can’t be lazy when you are raising kids.”

We caught up with the father of three and author of The Ultimate Stay-at-Home Dad, Your Essential Manual for Being an Awesome Full-Time Father to find out what he wants people to know about his job.


“The stay-at-home community isn’t as welcoming of dads as they are of moms,” Carpenter says. “Men alone with kids, especially during the day, can be perceived as threatening.” In his book, Carpenter recalls taking his young son to storytime at the local library and sitting by himself. “When I tried to start conversations, there would only be a polite smile at best,” Carpenter writes. “Maybe I would get a head nod as the other parents scooped up their parents and moved away from me. I spent the majority of those first four months convinced that I was creepy and scary.”


“There aren’t as many resources for dads as for moms,” Carpenter says. “It can be very isolating and lonely.” 

He found comradery through a dad’s group called KC Dads (a local chapter of City Dads. Charlotte also has a local chapter.) He says he made five close friends through the group. “Not everyone in the group is a stay-at-home dad, but many are, and all of us take an active interest in fatherhood,” he says. “We support each other, from playdates to classes to family events and guys’ nights out without the kids.”


Teachers, coaches, and doctors tend to automatically call Mom when there is an issue with the kids. “I cannot begin to tell you how long it took for me to get the doctor’s office to call me first and not my wife when there was an issue,” Carpenter says. “It’s me. I know what is going on with my kids. My wife has no idea – I keep her informed and not the other way around.”


Even though Carpenter spends more time with their kids, he doesn’t believe it’s his job to tell his wife how to parent. “Each partner has their own style and way of handling things. There is no wrong way to do things, so I don’t feel the need to swoop in and tell Erin how to parent. I trust her to figure it out just as she trusts me.”


Carpenter and his wife have a rule that they each get 30 minutes of “me” time every day. Erin typically takes hers when she gets home from work; she goes upstairs for about 30 minutes to recharge before coming back down to be with the kids. “She does the same for me, making sure I have time to myself and also to go on a dad’s night out once a month,” Carpenter says. “We both need the downtime for our mental health.”


While our society has made great strides in bridging the gender divide, people still make assumptions about Carpenter and his masculinity, especially online. “While it doesn’t hurt me, I try to keep this type of wrong, negative thinking away from my kids,” he says. “There is no reason a mom should stay home or a dad should not. A friend once said, ‘A baby doesn’t care if a man or a woman changes their diaper.’ The truth is, I can remodel a home, I drink whiskey, and I also bake a fantastic tart. These skills and interests aren’t gender-specific.”

In the beginning, Carpenter admits it was hard to tell people what he did for a living. But today he is proud of his job. “I didn’t realize how different it would make my relationship with my kids when I first took on this role,” he says. “I have such a strong bond with all of my kids. We can talk about anything, but we can also sit comfortably in silence together.”

RANDI MAZZELLA is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, teen issues, mental health, and wellness. She is a wife and mother of three children. To read more of her work, visit ​