It takes a certain type of person to decide to be a stay at home parent; and, in this day and age it really is a luxury. I believe there are significant advantages to raising children with a stay at home parent within a functional home; a home where the parents are together.
As a child I experienced a broken home that led to depression, my brothers' alcoholism and drug use, and poor relationship skills. With my mom hardly at home I was left to my own devices as a teen; it really put me through hell and back. She was a single working mother; she worked at night, and when we were home together she was sleeping. It took years of counseling and a very understanding husband to end up where I am today. I can recognize what I missed as a child, and what I need and want to provide for my children. It is unfortunate for my brothers; they were not so lucky. They never made it to happy and healthy families; none of their numerous marriages lasted.
"Children from broken families are nearly five times more likely to suffer damaging mental troubles than those whose parents stay together, Government research has found."
"Children from divorced families are more likely to have academic problems. They are more likely to be aggressive and get in trouble with school authorities or the police. These children are more likely to have low self-esteem and feel depressed. Children who grow up in divorced families often have more difficulties getting along with siblings, peers, and their parents. Also, in adolescence, they are more likely to engage in delinquent activities, to get involved in early sexual activity, and to experiment with illegal drugs. In adolescence and young adulthood, they are more likely to have some difficulty forming intimate relationships and establishing independence from their families."
These negative statistics point to the obvious; it is beneficial to raise children in a family unit. Just imagine the extra benefit of one parent being at home. The parent would have more energy to focus on their children. That parent would be less likely to ignore, and could spend more time in educational play.
In my adult experience with my three children I have seen firsthand evidence of the advantages to having one parent at home. My oldest son did not have the benefit of at least one parent being consistently involved in his time at home. As a result, he chose to be around "anyone" rather than be at home alone; which led to some shady friends. Had one of us been there with him, he would not have faced those decisions alone. When my youngest was six months old we moved to an area where we could be in a position to live from one income. I was able to spend more time on ABC's, books, and playtime at a time when my son was at his best; as opposed to when he had already spent a whole day with whatever stimulus came his way. Once my youngest started school I did go back to work; however, I made sure my hours allowed me to be there when they got home. My children knew I would be at home when they got off the bus. I was in a great position to instill our families' values for a better moral foundation. I was able to monitor the type of kids they played with, and took every confrontation they came across as a teaching or learning opportunity.
It has been suggested "extended periods of time together strengthen family relationships, not only between the child and his parents, but also with his siblings. As they get to know each other, the family members form bonds that last a lifetime. "
These things helped me to build a much tighter bond with my younger children; where in contrast; I never felt I truly reached that tight bond with my oldest.
Homeschooling is yet another advantage to being a stay at home parent. Children have a tendency to pick up behavior patterns and values of the people they are around the most; especially in their developmental years. Having the ones closest to them, their family, be the driving force in the foundation, it can be easier to ward off peer pressure.
Even though I was never able to home school my children; I had the opportunity to prepare my youngest for his schooling years. All of that time that I spent with him has proved to pay off; he is excelling in all of his elementary studies. I am lucky that the school district we live in is able to accommodate and challenge him with higher level work.
I have a strong conviction that being a stay at home parent contributes to the confidence, strong communication skills, self esteem, and substantial moral foundation in our children.
Resources: citations shown in quotes and resources are in my original paper.