That’s what CNN reported today, anyhow, in “Stay-at-Home Dads: More Men Choosing Kids Over Career.” The article report:
Of those with kids under the age of 5, 20% of dads in 2010 were the primary caretaker.
Indeed, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 16% of preschoolers were cared for by their fathers during their mother’s working hours in a study done in 2005.
That sounds like a lot of dads, but Census Bureau estimates there were 154,000 stay-at-home dads with kids under age 15 in 2010, which they place under the maddening title, “Mr. Mom.” And that stat isn’t much different from 2006, when there were 159,000 at-home dads, or 2004, when there were 147,000, reports the Census Bureau.
This, compared to the more than 5 million at-home mothers. Which means that even today, at-home dads make up just about 3% of at-home parents (not including single dads, for some reason.) That’s still not a lot of dads. Maybe that’s because society is still not cool with the idea of Dad as primary caregiver.
Nathan Greenberg wrote in the Huffington Post last week that at-home and single dads are slighted in “special ways.”
Hollywood developed a formula for portraying dads as a primary caregiver. Warren Farrell, Ph.D., called it, “If Dad is the primary caregiver, Mom must be dead.”… Movies like Sleepless in Seattle, Independence Day, The American President, Clueless, Contact, and Arlington Road helped cement the public perception of dads being forced into the role of a primary caregiver or stay-at-home dad rather than choosing it willingly.
So, why are dads staying home today? It isn’t “Mom must be dead.” Rather, CNN quotes Lynda Laughlin the the Census Bureau, who says, “It’s a combination of mothers going to work and fathers being out of work as a result of the recession.”
In other words, Daddy didn’t choose to be home. Home chose Daddy.
Judging by the, er, insightful comments under the CNN article, even in 2012, people think that at-home fatherhood is for losers and somehow not manly.
One man commented:
Stay at home with the kids…I don’t think so…Nurturing is just not in our DNA..Not just human nature but throughout the entire animal kingdom.
Another person commented:
A real man gets a job and pays a babysitter or for daycare. Claiming you can’t find work is a cop out.
And a woman said:
The person who makes the most money, works. And since we don’t marry down, the men work.
And then I sighed, a long, hard sigh, both for the men, who are “supposed to work” and the women who “aren’t”.
Are there more at-home dads these days? I dunno. Will