SPECIAL REPORT: Stay at Home Dad - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

SPECIAL REPORT: Stay at Home Dad

PHENIX CITY, AL (WXTX) -

Studies show more and more men are passing up the office job and tackling the job of staying with the kids.

Cooking, cleaning the house, and doing laundry are all a part of 41-year-old Paul Carroll Jr.'s job as a stay-at- home dad.

"I hope there is a special place in heaven for guys who have changed as many diapers as I have because I've changed a bunch," said Carroll.

For about nine years, Carroll has served as the main caretaker of his five kids ranging in ages from four to nineteen while his wife, Jennifer, works as a manager at a local restaurant.

"It is funny to me when people ask me what my husband does at work because I work and I interact with people all day long, and they are like ‘Oh what does your husband do?' And, I'm like, ‘He's a stay-at-home dad,' and they are like ‘Really, that is bizarre,'" said his wife.

However, it is not as uncommon as it might have been twenty or so years ago.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011 176 thousand married men with children under 15 years old said they were stay-at-home fathers. That is more than double compared to 81,000 ten years before.

"I hear that all the time, 'I wish I was doing what you are doing.' No you don't. You don't wish you were doing what I am doing. You couldn't last 30 minutes in this environment," said Carroll.

In the past, Carroll has had full-time jobs in restaurant management and at a local grocery store. He does work part-time some mornings and weekends but says nothing compares to being a dad.

"What I am doing right now is harder than any of that. Because you've got their lives, you're trying to raise them the right way, you're trying to teach them what is right, and then, you've got all the chaos that goes with it," said Carroll.

A new study by Boston College shows more dads are just choosing to stay at home, but reports show the growing trend of stay-at-home dads could be for multiple reasons including job loss, costs of childcare, or maybe the wife's job pays more.          

For this local family, it was by chance after Carroll had some health issues, but it quickly turned into a blessing.

"It is almost like we didn't choose to do it, but it just happened. And, now that he is healthy and he could go to work and stuff. It is better for him to just be here with the kids," said his wife.

Although it could seem strange to other kids, for the Carroll boys, having Dad at home is normal.

"When I see other parents, that don't come to games and stuff, I can't imagine my dad not coming to any of the games," said 11-year-old Paul Carroll III.

 Every afternoon, it is Dad who makes sure 11-year-old Paul and 9-year-old Christian get off the school bus and make it home safely.

"I feel sort of good knowing that he is over there to make sure that I am safe coming back home  from the bus," said Christian.

However, 14-year-old Andrew says they do notice a difference when they are around some other families.

"With my friends, I see their mom at their house, not their dad," said Andrew.

So, could having a stay at home dad versus a stay at home mom make any difference, positive or negative. for kids across the country?

Tara Scott, an instructor with the Early Childhood Division at Columbus Technical College, says it does not really matter which parent, if either, is staying at home as long as both parents are involved in their child's life.

"Make sure you are supporting their needs and make sure you are involved in that child's life in every aspect: at home, in the community, as well as school," said Scott.

She does say the growing trend of stay at home dads shows some men are taking more of an active role in their child's life.

"It shows more father involvement and also increase parental involvement as a whole for that child. They know that the dad or mom is going to be there to support them and it is all about the nurturing," said Scott.

Carroll says that is exactly what he wants to show his kids.

"I just want them to look back and know that I was there for them because I know there are a lot of dads that aren't there for their kids. And, you know, that is important to me," said Carroll.

Even though the job may be tough, the rewards can be pretty sweet.

"I love you Dad," said 4-year-old Crimson.

The number of stay-at-home moms is still the majority with close to 5 million in 2011 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Experts say you do not have to be a stay at home dad or mom to show your kids you care.

They say there are plenty of working parents who have just as an active, involved, and positive role in their child's lives.

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