The ‘My dad is better than your dad’ brigade has a whole new challenge – My Dad Stays at Home – Does Yours?!
As a growing number of fathers are choosing to forego external careers in order to care for their kids, this question will trip up fathers who are brought up by ‘old school’ parents (yes, mothers too) who instill values which mattered to hunter-gatherers of yore; but hold little relevance today.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the number of stay-at-home fathers (men who are home for the entire year in order to care for home and family) stands at 214,000. However, their count only considers families of married couples living together. According to a report by Pew Research, as of 2012 more than 2 million men in America, with children aged below 18 years, are staying at home and not working outside. This number stood at 1 million in 1989. The number of fathers who elect to stay at home to care for the home/family rather than pursuing a career outside the home went up from 5% in 1989 to 21% in 2012 or 425,000 in number. Among all stay-at-home parents in the U.S., 16% are fathers, and 84% are mothers. In 1989, just 10% of all stay-at-home parents were fathers, and 90% were mothers. The number of fathers who said they would prefer to stay home and raise their children stood at 48%, as compared to 52% for mothers. This insight makes us look at the two million fathers, many of whom may be involved with raising their children even if they were staying at home for other reasons like going back to school, retiring, sickness, unemployment or disability. There are a growing number of men who choose careers that offer flexible hours and the ability to work from home so that they can play a primary role in child care.
How far can we expect this to go? Last week, a committee of the European Parliament in Strasbourg asked the European Union (EU) to launch a campaign to highlight the “equal division of domestic work” and take actions to ensure that men did at least half of the household chores as a part of its ‘strategy for equality’. The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality wanted the “unequal division of family responsibilities” to be tackled by introducing “measures encouraging men’s participation in domestic labor.” But, research and statistics are pointing to the fact that men are voluntarily and willingly undertaking such tasks – without requiring any ridiculous meddling from governments.
Changing Parental Roles:
As mothers are taking up paid work outside, there is a need for dads to undertake more housework, blurring conventional role expectations from either sex. A survey conducted by Pew Research in 2012, across 2511 respondents, found 46% of fathers conflicted about the little time they spent with their children. It also found that…
The astronomical cost of childcare may also be a contributing factor in encouraging fathers to play a significant role in the upbringing of a child. But if this means children will celebrate Father’s Day with as much enthusiasm and sincerity as Mother’s Day, it is probably a desirable outcome.
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