- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2001

Parents who are contemplating staying home full time with the children say the biggest issue they face is the financial impact.

"That´s the big question," says Marc Sasseville, a stay-at-home father of two in Burke. "You have to sit down and figure out how much it´s going to cost and can you make it work?"

Mr. Sasseville is a member of the DCMetroDads, an informal group of stay-at-home fathers, most of whom live in Northern Virginia, who met over the Internet. Most of the fathers in the group say they all had a sit-down planning session with their wives to discuss how much income their family would lose if they quit work and whether they get by on their wives´ income.

Mike Stilwell of Alexandria, who leads the group now and has been a stay-at-home father for 14 years, says couples must look beyond the short-term when they have that discussion.

"You have to look at job stability, too," Mr. Stilwell says. "Your spouse may have a higher-paying job, but maybe they might be the first one if there is any downsizing."

Bruce Drobeck, an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas and a former stay-at-home father, says couples must talk seriously about the specific issues they will face in their individual roles.

"There has got to be an enormous amount of communication, because the situation is still outside the norm," says Mr. Drobeck, who lives in Southlake, Texas, and began life as a stay-at-home father when his daughter, Rachelle, was born 18 years ago. "You have to air out all your concerns, both of you, because for every stay-at-home father, there is a working mom, and there are potential issues and problems for both of them."

Defining roles is the key to working that out, fathers say.

"I think clarifying roles is important," says Peter Steinberg, a stay-at-home father of two for 18 months and the founder of the DC MetroDads.

"What does stay-at-home dad mean to you and your wife?" says Mr. Steinberg of Burke.

"Who is going to do the cooking and cleaning?" Mr. Stilwell adds. "For a lot of stay-at-home moms, it´s not as big a question sometimes. But it might be for dads if they haven´t done much of it before."

Mr. Sasseville says fathers should know they probably won´t have as much time to themselves during the day as they think.

"Even if you split a lot of the chores, time gets away from you," he says. "You have to consider those things so the working spouse doesn´t think, 'Oh great, I´m off the hook for all these things around the house´ when that might not necessarily be true."

Couples must also find time for themselves, members of DCMetroDads say.

"You have to work out how you´re going to spend time as a couple, because that´s very important, regardless who stays home," Mr. Steinberg says.

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