A shift has been happening in households across America for the past several years as more fathers are staying home with their children.

Society’s views about gender roles in romantic relationships, especially marriage, have remained largely unchanged throughout history. Traditionally, men have been expected to fulfill the task of provider and head of the family. Meanwhile, women have typically assumed the duty of homemakers, responsible for managing the household.

Women eventually fought for their rights as citizens, achieving the 19th Amendment for women’s suffrage in August 1920, the start of progressive change. As their voices began to matter in their communities, they charged forward and continued their fight for the women’s rights movement of the 1960s and ’70s. This crusade changed the landscape for women who had dreams for fulfillment outside of the home. Although more advancement needs to happen, “women CEOs led about 10% of Fortune 500 companies” last year, according to Forbes.

The mother or wife may be the breadwinner in some families. If they aren’t, they work just as much as their male counterparts. This sparked a new era for gender roles that didn’t fit the traditional format. It’s become more common these days as there’s been a significant rise in men taking on the caregiver role as a stay-at-home dad, especially following the pandemic.

“I’ve been spending some truly wonderful quality time with my girls. Growing up, dads often had long work hours and many household tasks to manage, causing them to not be as present,” Damani Anderson, a remote licensed marriage and family therapist and stay-at-home dad, told Blavity. “This season has allowed me to create unforgettable moments with my daughters that I’ll cherish. My little ones know their daddy now, and we share a deep, fulfilling relationship. Being home with your kids full-time allows you to bond and connect magically.”

“Being a stay-at-home parent has also given me a newfound appreciation for women and their role at home. I developed more empathy, increased my emotional intelligence, grew patience, [and] provided more grace,” he added.

In 2023, data gathered by Pew Research revealed nearly one in five “stay-at-home parents” are men, so fathers “now represent 18% of stay-at-home parents, up from 11% in 1989.” Although there is still a significant difference compared to the number of stay-at-moms, it shows society is expanding its perception of the topic.

It should be no surprise that getting rid of egos and old-fashioned beliefs of what it means to be a real man was a challenge for dads increasing their responsibilities in the household.

“At that point of my life [four years ago], I would’ve never expected this for myself. I’d had a job collecting a paycheck for 16 years and felt like I was in my creative prime at the time,” entrepreneur Mark Godbolt said. “And then you add the societal standards of what a man is, [and] I very much so subscribed to that norm. So, it would be nothing but God to patiently guide us in that direction.”

He continued, “It was very difficult. My wife had to give me constant encouragement on how God was using me during this season of our lives. Congruent to leaving corporate America, I was working on my spiritual self.”

The internal self-work was necessary to become comfortable taking care of their households.

“Throughout my relationship with my wife, I’ve had to reflect on masculinity and manhood. Society often tells us that men must be the breadwinners and that our value is solely tied to financial contributions,” Anderson said. “I graduated college as a social worker; I knew then that the probability of me earning the amount she is projected to make isn’t likely to happen for a while, if ever. According to societal norms, a man pursuing a relationship like that should be discouraged because that is out of his financial league.”

Leslie Ratliff, a full-time musician who has worked at home since 2018, shared it wasn’t difficult for him to make the transition as it’s a major benefit to him and his family.

“It was a mutual decision with my wife. Since I’m also a full-time musician, I’ll do daddy duties during the day and do music at night, [participating in] concerts, rehearsals, recordings, and more,” he said. “I love raising our kids during the day, and we save a lot on childcare. My wife is a respiratory therapist, which demands long hours on certain days. We adjust our schedules to accommodate each other’s work schedules.”

There is also a batch of dads and husbands who were forced into the position without a discussion due to companies offering more remote and fluid work models post the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It was weird because we would’ve never thought that working from home would lead me to stay at home with my son,” said Patrick Fuentes, who has been working from home for nearly three years. “I get to see him play, I get to enjoy him and his laughter. The silly things he does. I think most dads miss out on that when the kids are small and [don’t] become more involved until they are older. But it has really helped me to see what moms go through. It has been a life-changing experience because you usually hear women staying at home and men are always working.”

As the stigma continues to dissolve and evolve, women in these situations say they’ve grown more respect for their partners and husbands who stepped up to take on the role.

“I respect him more, trust him more, and admire the man he is today more than ever. He has done so much inner work, grown spiritually, [and] stepped into the person he was created to be versus who he had to be in order to be accepted by the world,” Jade Godbolt, a content creator and influencer, said. “He leads us so much better because he has the time and space to be focused on us while not being confined to an office. He was never that type to begin with but because of our society, that’s where he was. Nothing against those 9-5 jobs, it just isn’t for everyone yet we try to stick everyone into that lifestyle. Thankfully, what some may say looks like a ‘setback’ or a ‘downgrade’ for my husband, was such a gift.”

Although the role reversal wasn’t a choice for Darlene Tapia Fuentes, the wife of Patrick Fuentes, she’s happy to have his support in the home.

“It was something that happened automatically. His job decided he was staying at home after COVID and it was before we had Luka. After Luka, it made me feel better that his dad was there to care for him. I had lots of postpartum anxiety and it truly helped to ease it,” Fuentes explained. “I think since we were thrown into it we had no option but to adapt. I do feel angry sometimes because he’s seeing milestones before myself but he’s so good about taking pics [and] it helps.”

“Seeing him in that role has shown me his soft side, his nurturing side,” she added about Patrick getting quality time with their son.

Some advice these parents have for others considering the role is to just do it because the reward is way better than they could’ve imagined.

“I’ve been able to heal, which has allowed me to enjoy the life passages with my children the most. We’ve added three more children since this began and I couldn’t imagine how we’re raising them to be any different,” Golbolt said. “And the impact on my sons is huge. They get to experience the best versions of their dad. They get an example that I didn’t have. They get me present. They see how I serve their mother. They feel my emotional availability. They see me work in many different ways. Most importantly, they see my priorities as my wife, then kids, then everything else. Had I still been at Nike, this wouldn’t be the case.”

According to Healthline, an advantage of a father’s presence in the home leaves a long-standing positive effect on the “health and well-being of their children.”

“Don’t be afraid to embark on this journey. Challenge yourself and explore what manhood truly means to you,” Anderson gave as advice to other men debating whether they can be stay-at-home dads. “Consider who taught you these concepts and reflect on your adopted positive and negative traits. How do you personally define manhood? Consider how you support and contribute to your family beyond finances.”