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Publisher’s Page: The stay-at-home parent

I would not dare to presume that I know what it is like to guide a buyer looking for a family home as a real estate professional. I have plenty of advice but no credentials or claim of expertise. With that said, I note what seems to be a difference to home buying now compared to decades ago.

Today, most of the families looking for a home have two incomes. That was not so much the case before. It is just a given now that both are working folks and if there are children in the family, daycare is a main concern when buying a house. Is the home close to day care? What kind of day-care facilities are there?

I am not sure this is the best way to raise a family. I will be the first to admit that this kind of thinking probably sets me apart firmly in the mindset of old-school thinking. I have argued this point with many people including my own children about my own grandchildren. I am told how advantageous it is to have a child grow up in a good and qualified day-care situation where children learn social skills and elevate their speaking level and school preparation. Above all, children in day care learn the concepts of sharing that will be invaluable tools that they apply into adulthood. The key to it all is a good qualified and licensed day care.

Dare I say, much like real estate? Anybody can buy a house, but it takes the guidance of a good, qualified real estate professional to help a person make decisions that can help them avoid disaster.

My argument is that for all the talk about qualified day car; what could be better than care at home from a committed parent who gets professional training through courses on child development? Someone who takes the child out for social interaction at community centres, plays learning games and teaches sharing well? What if the spouse at home additionally takes courses in home maintenance and repair so they will be ready to apply those skills to renovation and adding value to the property while the other spouse works?

The bottom line question for me is, why is the stay-at-home parent still looked at like they are some kind of lesser partner than the one who leaves the home to join another social network at work?

Take for example; John and Margaret. They have a son and a townhome in the suburbs. Margaret has a marketing degree and works outside the home managing a grocery store. John works at home looking after the needs of their active two-year-old son Bobby. Every afternoon John takes Bobby out to the playground to play with other kids his age. John has organized a number of parents in the community with children in this age category. They have even brought in a professional who will spend an hour with the group teaching certain skills that are practiced by the group in subsequent days.

John took a night course in carpentry. He enjoys it so much that he is slowly rebuilding the kitchen, finding time occasionally at Bobby’s nap time as well as one evening per week to do the work. After five years, their home has increased far greater in value than the other homes around them due to John’s carpentry work and Bobby has turned into a good student at school, a tremendous soccer player and a gracious young boy with good manners. Margaret is credited with keeping the grocery store in business during a challenging economy. John has mentored a young boy who may one day be a leader in his community and maybe his country. Who did the most important work?

When John and Margaret are asked what they do for work at events and gatherings, Margaret produces a business card that says she is a “manager”, John says he stays at home with their son. Seems to me John does the most important work and he is looked at like he is some kind of laggard. That is so inappropriate.

Life is like that. I know some sales reps who say they are the best on their business cards. I know others who don’t do that yet they provide far greater service for their clients.

It makes you want to throw up your hands and smack your forehead.