Neile's Hometown Hero: Stay-at-home dad Jonathan 'J.O.' Oliver

    J.O. Oliver with his daughters Journey and Justice. Picture Courtsey of J.O. Oliver Family.

    Stay-at-home dad Jonathan 'J.O.' Oliver explained to us how it all began,"It just started out with me starting, researching, asking questions trying to get an idea on what does it mean to be a stay-at-home parent."

    His wife, Dr. Saran Oliver, is a cardiologist and told us, for them, this plan just made sense.

    "I thought this would be the best path. I mean instead of having someone from outside the home come and raise my child, I figured, well, my husband would be the best person," she said.

    The couple made the decision for J.O. to stay home early on in their relationship, but it's one that also brought some challenges.

    "Being a black man and being a stay-at-home dad, it's a double-edged sword because not only is there very few stay-at-home fathers that I have interacted with, there are very few black stay-at-home fathers that I have interacted with, so it was truly one of those things where I felt like I was out on an island by myself," said J.O.

    Long before this journey began, he says he had a successful career as both a life coach and public speaker. Then, he found himself searching for a new sense of self in a world that, at times, could feel very isolating.

    "I just didn't look at another day like Groundhog Day like, oh, same thing again; wake up, bottle, use the bathroom, pat on the shoulder, burp," he said.

    He knew he needed something, just for him, that might even help other dads in the same role. "I didn't want to lose myself into her where she became my all and everything, then I didn't know who Jonathan J.O. was anymore, so writing the book and really staying connected on who am I and how do I want to be able to grow in this process that stays connected to me," J.O. said.

    His book, 'Joy in the Journey,' is all about the adventure of parenting, learning and breaking barriers.

    "I want people to know that that stigma, that black men are deadbeat dads, it''s a lie. I'm not the only stay-at-home dad that happens to be black, and I'm not the first one that's black," he said.

    And since the family has grown, he is even more determined to shepherd them toward the best life possible.

    "I'm fully engaged. This is not something that I'm just barely getting by, you know; I truly feel like this is a calling in my life, being a stay-at-home father."

    And his wife seems to agree, "He can be strong and be the protector of the home and fight whoever he needs to, if he needs to, but as well as he can be gentle and nurturing to our newborn baby. And I think that's amazing that he can do that."

    Along the way, he hopes to keep helping families learn to do what works best for them.

    J.O. also told us his book includes the struggles and joys of parenting and touches on everything from sleep training to learning to date his wife again.

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