No place like home for full-time Sheffield fathers

So proud: Keith Radford with children, from the left, Oliver two-and-a-half, Michael 13 and Haleigh 10.     PICTURE: STUART HASTINGS.
So proud: Keith Radford with children, from the left, Oliver two-and-a-half, Michael 13 and Haleigh 10. PICTURE: STUART HASTINGS.
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IT’S Father’s Day and The Star’s Rachael Clegg has been speaking to some of the region’s stay-at-home-dads.

WHEN Keith Radford’s wife died earlier this year, his world was torn apart.

Amanda, aged 34, and had been diagnosed with the rare Bechet’s Syndrome, which affects the body’s immune system.

Keith, 36, from Woodthorpe, was left to bring up their three children - Michael, 13, 11-year-old Hayleigh and Oliver, three - alone.

“It was very daunting at first,” he says. “I gave up work to look after my kids and now I do everything for them but they also help me a great deal - we are a good team and all the kids have their own responsibilities and muck in. I can’t describe how proud I am of them for how they have coped and what they mean to me.

“We all just mixed in together after my wife died. We always taught our kids about responsibility so they have their own responsibilities and the older one knows to get himself to school so I can see to Oliver. We all sit down and talk every day and share our feelings. I really don’t know what I’d do without my kids.”

However, Keith says being a widower has a stigma. “I think people see you as a lone parent and think ‘what has gone on there’,” he says.

Yet, in spite of Keith’s experience a recent YouGov poll showed the majority of people in the UK believe fathers play a pivotal role in the family unit, with 85 per cent agreeing fathers are instrumental in bringing up children.

Enrique Maaranen, from Netherthorpe, has been juggling the care of his two children - Oliver and Rania, aged four and six - and running his businesses for almost a year now. His wife, Janita, works full-time running her own translation company, while Enrique stays at home with the children and runs his creative digital design company, Vavi.

“I’m juggling business and children at the moment and as I am in the first stage of business it is particularly demanding, but the children are good and know to be quiet when I am on the phone or when I’m at my laptop editing.”

Matthew Burton, 39, is another full-time dad. His wife, Lisa, runs a wedding planning agency that specialises in organising weddings abroad. Lisa runs the business while Matt is based at home, doing the accounts and web design, but mainly taking care of three-year old Olympia.

However, he admits the role of househusband was something of a culture shock - for years Matt had worked in IT and before on cruise ships.

“Leaving full time employment to stay at home and look after our daughter brought mixed feelings,” he says. “Going from being a financially contributing ‘partner’ to all the financial pressure being on Lisa was hard, but we both knew we were working equally, whether at home with Olympia or at work earning money.”

Yet what Keith, Matthew and Enrique are doing is not uncommon.

Fathers are far more involved with their children’s upbringing with the number of stay-at-home dads trebling in the last 15 years.

Matthew says: “Staying at home is fantastic, it’s hard work, but so rewarding. Constant cleaning and tidying not so much, but being able to be such a big role in your daughter’s life is priceless.”