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Stay-at-home dads share lives online

Published: 01:47PM June 21st, 2012
Stay-at-home dads share lives online

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Jeremiah Fountain, with his 2-month-old son Noah, recently started an online meetup group called “Stay at Home Military Dads of JBLM.”

Jeremiah Fountain had planned on finding a job when he left the Army last October.

But with no interesting jobs open, and his wife Myra, a first lieutenant in the 709th Transportation Detachment, expecting their first child, he decided that it was time to go back to school while staying at home with their newborn.

“We felt pretty strongly that one of us needed to stay at home,” Fountain said. “With Myra’s career taking off it made more sense for me to stay home.”

Their son Noah was born in April and Fountain quickly learned that there was a lot more than he expected to staying at home and caring for his son.

“My expectations of (staying at home) were a lot more downtime than I get,” Fountain said. “I figured it’d be a whole lot of him sleeping, me changing diapers every once in awhile. He requires a lot of attention, which makes doing school interesting.”

The criminal justice major mainly takes online courses, but typing his assignments is a bit difficult with a baby in his arms.

“I had to actually buy speech software where you talk and type because Noah doesn’t let me sit down without holding him,” he said.

But completing school work wasn’t the only obstacle Fountain is overcoming; he also quickly came to realize that stay-at-home dads, while becoming more mainstream, are still rare in our society.

“I’m getting a lot of disapproving looks when I’m out in public with him by myself,” Fountain said. “It’s kind of strange to me because I thought the mentality was that people wanted dads to spend more time with children. Yet when the mom’s not around because she’s working, I get the disapproving glares — or if he’s fussy because I can’t give him a bottle right then, people have their inputs that they’d like to get in while I’m walking around the Exchange.”

Fountain started looking online for other stay-at-home dads in the area, but after finding a flood of groups for moms and none for dads, he decided to start his own, Stay at Home Military Dads of JBLM, on Facebook and tribe.net, a site for member-created groups more along the lines of message boards.

“It gives dads a place to meet other people, but also a place to just vent about their day or brag about their kid or ask questions,” Fountain said.

It’s similar to the groups for moms but in a setting that may be more comfortable for the dads.

The group has gained attention during the Mother’s Own Milk support group at Madigan Army Medical Center. The dads often come with their wives and sit together talking to one another, Dorothy Strobl-Lucas, a lactation consultant at Madigan, said.

“I think men speaking to men resonates,” she said. “I think when dads meet other dads that stay at home ... it seems more acceptable.”

There are only about 154,000 stay-at-home dads in the U.S. according to the 2010 census. That is less than 1 percent of all married fathers in the country.

Fountain’s group has only three members, including himself. He hopes to expand the group to help foster more relationships among dads.

“I like camping and hunting, others like computers and video games, with more people in the group people with similar interests ... can link up and find things they want to do together,” he said.

Fountain added that all dads are welcome in the group, even if they work. The name was chosen because that was his particular search, but he knows that all dads have questions about their kids or just want to brag about them.

“Even dads that are still working, may have questions don’t want to ask wife or someone else, I know I’ve had stupid questions,” he said. “You can ask in the privacy of the group.”

Strobl-Lucas thinks the group is a great idea and hopes it succeeds.

“I think dads putting together their own support group is great,” she said. “I hope to see it grow.”

While Fountain hopes his group gains more members, he is also just enjoying his time watching Noah grow up.

“My favorite part is watching the developmental steps he takes. He giggled for the first time the other day, if I wasn’t a stay-at-home dad I wouldn’t have witnessed it,” he said. “I haven’t found time to go to the gym yet, that’s okay we do a lot of hikes with him down by the waterfront, he keeps me active.”

To get involved

To join the group, visit www.facebook.com/#!/groups/440410139320414/ or http://tribes.tribe.net/militarysahds