It wasn’t too long ago that it was virtually unheard of for a father to raise his children full-time instead of working for money outside of the home. In decades past, fathers spent the majority of their time focused on earning an income to support the family, while mothers spent most of their time on things like housework and childcare. In the era, it was considered taboo for a man to stay home a raise a family. A woman earning the family income was considered emasculating for a man. After all, taking care the children and the home was considered “woman’s work”. However; over the past few decades, the attitude towards gender roles has changed drastically.
According to a study completed by the Pew Research Center, it was estimated that almost 2 million fathers took on the role of stay at home dad by the year 2012 and that number will continue to climb. This is equal to about 16%, or almost one fifth, of the entire stay at home parent population. And interestingly enough that number only includes fathers who are presently unemployed. It does not account for the many millions of fathers who earn an income working from home in addition to raising a family. And since the introduction of technology such as Wi-Fi, automated phone systems, and cloud storage, parents who operate home based businesses are a growing trend.
But why the major change? The answer to that is that there is no one answer. The reasons why any parent might stay home can be complex and often very personal. Ranging from health reasons to financial reasons or simply personal choice. Since the economic recession of 2008, we have seen the largest increase in the number of stay at home dads. The ailing job market became quite competitive and as women’s pay has approached, or even exceeded, that of men in a similar position, “Mr. Moms” socializing at the playground have become much more common. The fact is, that men aren’t the only ones bringing home the bacon these days. This change has propelled a shift in the makeup of men and women in the workforce.
In addition, some men are leaving the work force by choice. Choosing to care for their family while their wives focus on their career. Men are taking on more of the domestic duties and spending more time parenting their children. In general, fathers today spend more time with their children than any generation before them.
But of course, it’s not just because of a shrinking job market. Women of the past few generations have many more opportunities for education than say their grandmothers or great grandmothers. And since a higher education generally means a higher income more and more women are earning a higher income than their husbands. This combined with the incredible rise of childcare costs have made it necessary for some families to make the decision to stay at home for financial reasons. It might still be considered unconventional, but it works for some families, and quite well too!
Maybe it’s because their spouses are gainfully employed or maybe it has something to do with the fact that just as gender roles are reversing for women they are reversing for men as well. Fifty years ago a man’s sole responsibility was to be the financial provider. But now men are seen as valuable contributors inside the home as well. Tackling household chores, play dates, and school events just as well as moms. As a result of a father’s influence on their children, boys generally tend to be more empathetic due to the benefit of a close relationship with the father. Likewise, girls grow up more confident especially in their ability to tackle fields that are typically male dominated such as math or science professions.
Several years ago, the term ”Mr. Mom” was used as a way to describe a man who was taking care of children, because at the time that was seen as a women’s responsibility. Women were traditionally seen as the caretakers as nurturers. But it seems as if there has been a shift in society’s perception. It has been proven that men can be just as loving when caring for their families. Instead of calling them “Mr. Mom” perhaps we should simply be calling them “Dad”.