Stay-at-home parents: Fundraising to fulfill the dream?

Being a stay-at-home parent isn’t cheap, but would you ask your friends to fund it? One dad blogger tested the waters, much to the Internet’s disdain. Jennifer Pinarski shares her thoughts.

Photo: iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

Money is the biggest barrier for most families who choose to have a parent stay at home to raise the children. Because unless you’re on parental leave in Canada or a handful of countries in the European Union, there’s no paycheque for a stay-at-home parent—and parental benefits are certainly nowhere close to the $113,000 that Salary.com estimates SAHMs should be paid. For example, my own maternity leave paid out little over $20,000 when I was off with my daughter in 2010, and since then, of course, zilch.

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But what if you so desperately wanted to lean out and raise your kids that you’d put a price on the experience to do so? How much do you think it would take to raise a child for a year? $26,728 is the maximum payable to Canadians on parental leave, but what about $50,000 per year? And what if that money came from the pockets of strangers?

That’s exactly what father and blogger Adam Dolgin, asked of the Internet when he launched a social media fundraiser earlier this month. The blogger behind Fodder4Fathers set up a GoFundMe.com campaign with a goal of $50,000 so he could leave his corporate job behind to raise his daughter and blog about his experiences.

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Dolgin wrote on GoFundMe.com:

“…It has always been my dream to show what this involved dad is really made of. I’d like to leave the corporate world behind for a year to take on the role of stay-at-home parent with my kids and prove once and for all that anything moms can do DADS can do equally—one year to chronicle my life doing the hardest, most rewarding job in the world and doing it well. But I’m just not in a position to do this financially, so I could really use your support.”

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Since launching the campaign two weeks ago, Dolgin has raised $30, despite campaigning on Facebook and having the story picked up on Huffington Post, The Stir and Babble.

Bloggers and commenters swiftly condemned the idea, calling it ridiculous, a joke and crazy. Within days of the media picking up his fundraising campaign—and the backlash—Dolgin started calling it a “social media experiment” and said he never intended to raise any money. On his Fodder4Fathers Facebook page, Dolgin has asked fans not to donate, although the GoFundMe page is still up and running—albeit with an adjusted goal of $10.

So whether or not a) Dolgin hoped to fulfill his fundraising goal and quit his job to blog about being a stay-at-home dad, or b) wanted to run a social media experiment, it is clear that no one thinks that an Internet fundraiser is a good way to go about being a stay-at-home parent (except for the three people who each donated $10 to Dolgin’s cause).

But, what is also interesting about Dolgin’s fundraiser is that it demonstrated people aren’t necessarily willing to put their money where their mouth is. When Jenny McCarthy said last year that stay-at-home parents deserve a salary, many of the people I asked on social media agreed, but no one had a realistic way of doing so. Dolgin’s fundraiser proves society isn’t ready to pony up to parents opting out of the workforce.

Being a stay-at-home parent is a very personal choice fraught with financial risk and career setbacks—an uncomfortable part of stay-at-home parenting rarely talked about. That said, most every family knows that it requires financial sacrifice, and, of all of the stay-at-home parents I know, not a single one would ask strangers for $50,000 to fund it, even under the guise of a social media experiment. It was bold—but was it a bad idea?

What do you think? Tweet me @jenpinarski.

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