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Daddy Day Care

Three Kane County stay-at-home dads run the household with pride

Jim Karner, 42, of Batavia, is a stay-at-home dad to his four children, (in blue) Haydn, 9, (in red) Harley, 8, Tillee, 6, and Milo, 4. (Photos by Melissa Emory)

Don’t call him Mr. Mom. Or describe what he does as “baby-sitting.”

“I get various reactions, which range from, ‘Good for you,’ to ‘I could never do that.’ And some people are jealous. It runs across the board,” says Jim Karner of Batavia, a stay-at-home dad to Haydn, 9, Harley, 8, Tillee, 6 and Milo, 4.

A generation ago, the comedy “Mr. Mom,” starring Michael Keaton as an unemployed man who bumbles his way through full-time caregiving, defined stay-at-home fatherhood.

Today, three Kane County stay-at-home dads see things a bit differently.

“There’s not a lot of us out there,” says Brian Singer, also of Batavia, a stay-at-home father of two. “It’s becoming more accepted, but in a traditional family, it’s still the husband at work earning money and the wife who is home with the kids.”

A practical solution

According to U.S. Census data, in 2011, about 176,000 American fathers spent at least one year out of the work force to care for their children while their wives worked. Seventeen percent of preschoolers were regularly cared for by their fathers during their mother’s working hours.

To read the full story, pick up the latest issue of Kane County Magazine.