For years, Corey Fontenot held a lucrative sales position that forced him to work long, irregular hours. But when his first child was born with some serious health problems, the now father of two decided it was time to make a change. Fontenot took on a lower-level operations job, which paid a lot less but allowed him to be at home and tend to his sick son.
"You have to keep a paycheck coming in," Fontenot tells Today.com. "But when it's a question of your wife's sanity for one thing and your children's health for another, there's really no question of where you should be."
Fontenot is just one of many dads who have decided to put parenting first. Whether it's taking a lower-level job, refusing a promotion, or leaving the office altogether, more dads are making career choices that allow them to spend more time with their families. So why are men suddenly doing something that women have done for, well, years? According to Gayle Kaufman, a sociology professor and author of Superdads: How Fathers Balance Work and Family in the 21st Century ($22), men are no longer "stuck on a certain view of masculinity that is all about being a breadwinner." Several of the dads in Kaufman's book say they want to start pulling their weight at home and avoid the mistakes that their fathers made.
Still, some wonder how long the fatherhood-first movement will last. Erin Kelly, a sociology professor at the University of Minnesota, says that while men may want to make career changes, they may face obstacles that women wouldn't.
"We see some changes in men's behavior, some changes in attitude," Kelly tells Today.com. "But we also know that these gender norms are very powerful, and that people who violate them can get slapped down or be at risk of getting slapped down."
Those who have made the transition, like Fontenot, say it was well worth the sacrifice. While he notes that the extra income would be helpful, he wouldn't want to go back to his old work life.
"I don't regret it because it's a family choice," Fontenot says. "They come first and that's all I can say. They're what matters."