Back in the early 1990’s, there were almost no stay-at-home dads. John, a dad of two young daughters, was excelling in his career at a venture capital firm. Until it was sold to a firm out west. His wife wanted roots for their girls and did not want to relocate. After a long and unsuccessful job search, they decided she would return to work and he would stay home with the girls. Oh, dear. John would become a Mr. Mom!
There were no at-home dad role models for John to tap into. Initially, he joined a play group and was not really surprised to find that he was the only dad. But after a couple of very awkward visits with the moms who coordinated the play groups, John knew he would have to define his own role as “Mr. Mom.” He loved his girls dearly, but there was just no way he could hang out with moms in a “coffee-klatsch”!
The arrangement he created was successful for both him and his girls. He found a half-day daycare program in the mornings for the girls to attend. John used that time to work on restoring older homes that he then turned into rental properties. The afternoons were spent with his girls. He set up projects and games and traveled around the local area to try different events. When the girls reached elementary school, Mr. Mom often found himself volunteering in the classroom helping with projects or doing “show and tell.” The class loved it when he brought in a vibrantly colored cockatiel and they all learned about the habits of this species of bird.
He treasured the time he got to spend with his girls as they were growing up, and has absolutely no regrets about staying at home. But, once both girls were securely in their school routines, John knew it was time to try something else. It was time for Mr. Mom to embark on a new venture and create the next part of his career. He chose law school! And, went on to become a litigator and tax attorney.
I met John while teaching a class about retirement trends at Bentley University a couple of weeks ago. There were about 30 students in the class. John and I were the only Baby Boomers in the entire class! At age 60, he’s now earning his master’s degree in taxation to further specialize and refocus his law practice. He had been doing mostly corporate tax litigation work, but found that working with individuals was much more rewarding.
John discovered several years ago that just working on litigations required too much customization, took up too much time, came with a high degree of stress and offered little satisfaction until the end of the case many months later. John discovered that with age came wisdom, and he wanted to shift his practice to focus more on areas where he could provide value and receive more gratification and appreciation.
Once again, John finds that he is setting new trends as he enters the decade of his 60’s. He’s creating another part of his career journey while focusing now on three things:
1 – actively turning his tax law practice into a tax planning and counseling practice for individual clients;
2 – exploring how he can set up offices and homes on both Cape Cod, Massachusetts and in Palm Beach, Florida; and
3 – finding more time to visit with his daughters who have moved away to set their own trends of the new generation. One is now in college in Indiana and the other in Sweden in graduate school.
Every step of his first 40 years has taken a twist or a turn onto a road that has not been traveled by many. John exemplifies the spirit and tenacity of the leading edge Baby Boomers and is busy redefining what he wants to do and where he wants to do it. His retirement will be defined by him and by what he wants to do. I expect John will keep creating new paths and setting the trends for the next several decades.
Lots more dads have the opportunity to stay home. Take a look at some of the trends over the years.